Oglethorpe to Award Two Honorary Degrees During Saturday’s Commencement for 2013 Grads

Oglethorpe’s 2013 Commencement Ceremony will be held this Saturday, May 18 at 9:00 a.m. on the academic quadrangle. President Larry Schall and Board of Trustees Chair Norman P. Findley will preside over the commencement ceremony for approximately 225 graduates. During the ceremony, Oglethorpe also will present honorary degrees (Doctor of Humane Letters) to two accomplished alumni:  John Frederick (“Fred”) Agel, Sr. ’52 and Donald J. Rubin ’56.

“Oglethorpe is pleased to honor two alumni who have remained committed to this university for the past five decades,” said President Schall. “Both have generously given back in their communities and invested in the ongoing success of today’s students, embodying the Oglethorpe ideal to ‘make a life, make a living and make a difference.’”

Both honorary degree recipients will address the Class of 2013. Other speakers will include Senior Class President Carl Anthony Golden II ’13, Oglethorpe University National Alumni Association President John Cleveland Hill ’01 and Debra A. Bryant ’13, the 2011-2012 David Wills Presidential Fellow. Additional commencement details are available online.

Honorary degree recipient Fred Agel '52

Fred Agel, a World War II veteran and an Oglethorpe alumnus of the class of 1952, is a retired sales agent for Bowman Distribution and a champion of leadership in public health. Mr. Agel has remained an active volunteer with the university for many years, including serving on the Oglethorpe University Board of Trustees since 2008. Mr. Agel formerly served as President of the Oglethorpe National Alumni Association Board and has volunteered in the University Archives, the Office of Admission and the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art. He is a 1985 inductee into the Oglethorpe Athletic Hall of Fame and is the 1987 recipient of the Talmage Award, which recognizes alumni who contribute time, talent or financial resources to one or more programs of the university and/or is distinguished in the business or professional world. Mr. Agel has been a generous donor to the university over the years, and established The J. Frederick Agel, Sr. ’52 Endowed Scholarship, awarded annually to two rising seniors who contribute significantly to student life and who have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Mr. Agel has been an active leader in his community, supporting and volunteering with numerous organizations, including the DeKalb County Board of Health, DeKalb County United Way Council, DeKalb County Council on Literacy, DeKalb County Community Service Board, Episcopal Charities Foundation, Jerusalem House, Brookwood Atlanta Rotary Club, and with his church, St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal. He is a founder of Senior Connections and founding member and organizer of the National Association of Local Boards of Health and the Georgia Association of Community Service Boards, Inc. In recognition of his ongoing and heartfelt commitment to his community, Mr. Agel has earned numerous honors, including the national Kentucky Fried Chicken Senior Citizen Award for Outstanding Community Service. Most recently, he was named the 2013 Distinguished Older Georgian by The Georgia Council on Aging. He and his wife, Cathy, reside in Atlanta.

Honorary degree recipient Donald Rubin '56 pictured with his wife, Shelley.

Donald Rubin, an Oglethorpe alumnus of the class of 1956, is the founder of MultiPlan, Inc., a major general service PPO health provider. Now retired, Mr. Rubin is a generous philanthropist and avid arts advocate. He and his wife, Shelley, founded The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, a family foundation based in New York City that began operation in 1995 and focuses on giving to arts and culture, health and human services, and civil liberty and social justice primarily in the Himalayan region and the New York City metropolitan area. The Rubins also established the Rubin Museum of Art (New York), where Mr. Rubin currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Board of Trustees. The Rubins started collecting Himalayan art in the early 1980s and amassed a significant collection that became the core of the museum’s holdings. Mr. Rubin also developed the Himalayan Art Resources website  to catalog Himalayan and Tibetan art online from collections around the world. He initiated the Labor Arts Project to gather, identify and display examples of the cultural and artistic history of American working people and to celebrate the trade union movement’s contributions to that history. A member of the Global Philanthropists Circle, Mr. Rubin has demonstrated a commitment to philanthropy throughout his life. Mr. and Mrs. Rubin have given generously to support the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, including a recent record donation to the endowment and numerous direct gifts to its permanent collection throughout the years. The Rubins have loaned artwork from their extensive personal collection for OUMA exhibitions, including: Goddess, Lion Peasant, Priest: Modern Indian Art from the Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin (2011); What is Cuban Art? Contemporary Cuban Art from the Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin (2009); Tibetan Contemporary Art: From the Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin (2009); A Shower of Jewels: Wealth Deities from the Rubin Museum of Art (2008); and, Lord of Compassion: Images of Avalokiteshvara from the Rubin Museum of Art (2008). The South Gallery of the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art will be renamed as The Shelley & Donald Rubin Gallery in May 2013 in their honor.

Day of Service Celebrates Extraordinary Alumnus Fred Agel ’52

Mr. Fred Agel '52 (center) is surrounded by Day of Service volunteers, gathered in his honor.

Chances are that you’ve met Fred Agel ’52, a devoted alumnus, loving family member, and incredibly generous personhe is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and the Board of Trustees, and you can often find him volunteering his free time in the library archives.  November 19th was a special day for Fred, who celebrated his 85th birthday with friends, family… and a big surprise.  To honor Fred and show how much they love and appreciate him, his entire family planned a Day of Service volunteer event with the OU community at Books for Africa.

“I hoped that we could find a way to work through OU since it has been, and continues to be, such an important part of my father’s life,”  said Laurie Agel Amerson, Fred’s daughter. ”I believe that my entire family has watched my father’s community service, and each and every one of us finds a way to be involved in our communities. He taught by example the importance of giving back, and three generations later, he is still teaching.”

The volunteer event on February 16th brought together more than 40 students, alumni, Center for Civic Engagement staff, and friends of Mr. Agel. Members of the newly established Thornwell Jacobs Society were especially excited to join in, as the project not only highlighted their goals of integrity, initiative, and perseverance, but took place during Thornwell Jacobs’ birthday weekend.

“Celebrating Fred Agel is celebrating Oglethorpe,” said Ruwa Romman ’15, historian of the Jacobs Society. President Antonio Mantica ’15 said with a smile that, if Fred were a sophomore, he would be a prime candidate for membership in the Society. 

In addition to the Day of Service, several departments have sent Fred thank you cards, and the baseball team (of which Fred is a former member) has given Fred a baseball, signed with all of the players’ names.

“This is a great way to celebrate his legacy,” said Heather Staniszewski ’02, assistant director of the Center for Civic Engagement, who helped plan the event. “It’s exciting to see family, alumni, and students working together in his honor.”

“The day was a huge success,” added Laurie.  “My dad spent a lot of time just looking at everybody working and sorting books with a big smile on his face.  The most wonderful thing for me was seeing all four generations of my family working side-by-side with OU students.”

If you would like to participate in future service projects, contact Heather Staniszewski.