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Wheatlake Named Recipient of 2014 Honorary Doctorate Degree

Susan P. WheatlakeSusan P. Wheatlake’s tireless advocacy and fundraising successes helped establish the Susan P. Wheatlake Cancer Center at both the Spectrum Health-Big Rapids Hospital and Spectrum Health-Reed City Hospital campuses.

In recognition of Wheatlake’s personal advocacy and her sustained cancer research efforts, Ferris State University will award her an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service at spring commencement. Wheatlake will receive her honorary doctorate on Friday, May 9 when she will address College of Health Professions graduates during the 3:30 p.m. ceremony inside Wink Arena of the Ewigleben Sports Complex.

“I was overwhelmed with emotion,” Wheatlake admitted about her reaction to news that she would receive an honorary doctorate. “I understand the rigorous work ethic and commitment of time and energy required to achieve an academic doctorate. To compare my journey to this level of accomplishment is humbling. I am truly honored to be receiving this honorary degree, Doctorate of Public Service.”

In addition to establishing the cancer center locations, Wheatlake’s efforts to generate awareness and raise funds further led to the founding of the annual Susan P. Wheatlake 5K run – also in support of cancer research. As a cancer survivor, Wheatlake personally understands the importance of expert care close to home for patients. As a result, she elected to look beyond even her own recovery needs and began work to help others dealing with cancer in the area.

The realization of a regional center, as a resource for patients, has been a dream come true for Wheatlake and others who have worked hard to turn the goal into an accomplishment.

“This is the culmination of a longtime dream – a regional center for enlightenment and encouragement along with state-of-the-art treatment solutions for comprehensive cancer care,” she noted during the opening of the Susan P. Wheatlake Cancer Center location in Reed City.

More than 1,300 of 1,700 Ferris students who are candidates for degrees will participate in spring commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5 in Wink Arena of the Ewigleben Sports Complex.

Wheatlake looks forward to sharing her personal experiences with the Spring 2014 graduates.

“I will share two experiences from my life emphasizing our common passion to help others,” she said. “In looking back on these experiences, I will offer the encouragement and support to assist all graduates as they choose their direction in life.”

Graduates will be honored during six total ceremonies. The five ceremonies in Big Rapids are: On Friday, May 9 at 3:30 p.m. for the College of Health Professions and at 7 p.m. for the colleges of Arts, Sciences and Education, Pharmacy and the Doctorate in Community College Leadership; and on Saturday, May 10 at 9 a.m. for the College of Engineering Technology, 12:30 p.m. for the College of Business and 4 p.m. for the College of Education and Human Services and the Michigan College of Optometry. KCAD’s commencement takes place on Saturday, May 10 beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the Fountain Street Church on 24 Fountain Street NE in Grand Rapids.

Also receiving Honorary Doctorates will be James Gartner and Steven Kolb. James Gartner has been honored twice as the recipient of the Directors Guild of America Award for “Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercials.” He has earned hundreds of other awards, including two Emmys and multiple Gold Lions at Cannes. Gartner’s feature film, Glory Road, opened at number one in box-office receipts in 2006. Kolb, chief executive officer of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, oversees all operations and activities for the designer trade association and its affiliated charitable foundation. CFDA membership consists of more than 400 of America’s leading women’s wear, men’s wear, jewelry and accessory designers.