Heidelberg University graduating seniors will have a rare opportunity to hear from a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen when retired Lt. Col. Harold H. Brown, USAF, is to deliver the commencement address May 12.
The board of trustees approved the slate of speakers for undergraduate and graduate commencement and baccalaureate services during its meeting in late February.
Brown has a distinguished military career as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American military aviators to serve in the U.S. armed forces. A Minneapolis native, he fell in love with flying as a young boy. Following military flight training, he became a single engine pilot and second lieutenant. Brown joined the 332nd Fighter Group and completed 30 missions before being shot down and held as a POW in Germany during World War II.
Following his retirement from the military, Brown embarked upon a career in higher education. He received master's and doctoral degrees and at Columbus State Community College, served as a faculty member, department chair and dean of the Engineering Division. He spent his last 12 years at CSCC as vice president of Academic Affairs, during which time the college's enrollment grew from 67 to 13,000 students.
Brown now serves as a part-time consultant for the State of Ohio Board of Career Colleges and Schools.
"Brown has a fascinating and successful background." Jim Troha, vice president for Institutional Advancement & University Relations at Heidelberg said. "We were looking for someone who can inspire the graduates and hear a personal story that they can relate and look up to Lt. Col. Brown's military background to his years in education and everything between. His career is outstanding and inspirational. He will be a tremendous asset to our commencement weekend."
Giving remarks at graduate commencement May 11 will be William Rayburn, co-founder, CEO and board chair of FNC Inc., a pioneering mortgage technology company whose clients include some of the largest mortgage lenders and industry-leading appraisal management companies.
Prior to establishing FNC, Rayburn co-founded two other successful ventures, a residential real estate development company and a seminar and training company. He also served on the University of Mississippi faculty for 12 years. He is active in philanthropy and on the speaker circuit.
Rayburn was recommended by Haseeb Ahmed, dean of the school of business and professor of finance.
"From his success as an entrepreneur, Rayburn will bring an academic and corporate viewpoint, which is a strong combination for the students," Ahmed said. "He is a great inspirational speaker. He will bring the excitement of getting into a new venture and focus on excellence at the same time the hard work and dedication to his success. I hope that he will instill in students to take risks and have an innovative idea and take it to the next level."
Heidelberg also will welcome the Rev. David Mark Greenhaw, president and professor of preaching and worship at Eden Theological Seminary as the baccalaureate speaker May 12. An ordained UCC minister, Greenhaw has served congregations in New York, New Jersey, Tennessee and Missouri. Although busy with administrative matters, teaching and preaching remain his passions. He has taught courses in homiletics (the art of writing and preaching sermons) and liturgics, and has published extensively in those areas.
"Heidelberg has a longstanding relationship with Eden and we wanted to highlight that," Paul Stark, director of campus ministry and religious life at Heidelberg, said.
"Greenhaw is known for his speaking and for the students graduating and parents we felt it was a natural fit for service on Sunday," Stark said. "Greenhaw will focus on the significance of faith of the world we are in and on integrating it into our daily lives and integrating education and what we learn into our faith. Through his message I hope people are inspired to live a more full and meaningful filled life."