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Rizek Abusharr And Kenneth L. Gladish, YMCA Leaders, To Speak At SC Commencement

April 26, 2004

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., April 26, 2004 -- Rizek Abusharr, retired director general of the Jerusalem International YMCA, and Kenneth L. Gladish, national executive director of the YMCA of the USA, will give commencement addresses at Springfield College’s 2004 ceremonies on the campus. Abusharr will speak to graduate students, Saturday, May 15, 2004, 9:30 a.m., on the Administration Green, and Gladish will give the address to undergraduates Sunday, May 16, 9:30 a.m., on Blake Track.

Both Abusharr and Gladish will receive honorary doctor of humanics degrees. Springfield College has, historically, awarded honorary degrees to a few outstanding individuals who, by their character and accomplishments, personify the college's guiding philosophy, humanics. The philosophy emphasizes the dedication of spirit, mind and body for leadership in service to others.

Abusharr has been recognized internationally for pioneering work with the Jerusalem International YMCA in which Jews, Muslims and Christians participate in joint activities. Upon Abusharr’s retirement in December 2001, the organization’s board established a fund in his name to advance youth programs in the quest for tolerance and democratic values.

Gladish is the leader of the YMCA movement in the United States. The more than 2,500 YMCAs collectively form the nation’s largest not-for-profit community service organization, serving 18.3 million people of all faiths, races, and incomes, including nine million children. They offer a broad range of programs including youth leadership and volunteerism, and are the nation’s largest providers of child care.

Springfield College has worked in partnership with the YMCA for 118 years. The college was founded in 1885 as the School for Christian Workers to educate YMCA leaders. Shortly later, it was renamed The YMCA Training School.

The YMCA and Springfield College recently signed an agreement to expand their partnership. Over the years, they have collaborated on innovations in sports, fitness, camping, group work strategies, and other areas. Both institutions have grown in the humanics philosophy, which emphasizes balanced development of the spiritual, mental and physical aspects of each person. The college’s first physical education director, Luther Halsey Gulick, who is widely recognized as the father of physical education and recreation, created the spirit-mind-body triangle symbol that represents both institutions. The college has prepared thousands of YMCA leaders in all 50 states and many nations.

At its 118th commencement, Springfield College expects to award almost 1,100 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, certificates of advanced study, and physician assistant certificates from 29 states and 10 countries. Faculty, staff and students from its main campus and nine satellite campuses of its School of Human Services around the country will participate in commencement events.

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