Elmhurst College will award honorary degrees to two civic leaders and a prominent pastor this spring at its 141st Commencement.
The three degree recipients were recommended to the Board of Trustees by the College’s faculty and president. The Board approved the awards at its meeting on Saturday, March 17.
The 2012 honorary degree recipients are:
Rita Athas, the president of World Business Chicago, a public-private partnership that brings international business to the city. A 1976 graduate of Elmhurst College, Athas previously served as a top aide to former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and as executive director of the Northwest Municipal Conference, a consortium of 40 municipalities with a population of more than 1 million people in Northwest Illinois that is widely recognized as one of the most innovative regional councils in the United States. Crain’s Chicago Business has recognized Athas as one of “the 100 most influential women in Illinois.”
The Reverend John M. Buchanan, the longtime pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago and the editor and publisher of The Christian Century. Buchanan served as moderator of the 208th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., and as a member of its General Assembly Council from 1996 to 1999. The Christian Century is a progressive, ecumenical magazine founded in 1884 that is “committed to thinking critically and living faithfully.” It published Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and numerous contributions from the great theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, Elmhurst College Class of 1910.
Abner Ganet, a former mayor of Elmhurst, retired executive at the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, and trustee emeritus of Elmhurst College. A former president of the Elmhurst Rotary, Ganet served as president of the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce, as board chairman of the Elmhurst YMCA, and as a member of the Elmhurst Memorial Hospital Board of Governors. He frequently spoke at local schools and libraries about his experiences during World War II in the U.S. Army, when he participated in the invasion of Normandy and the liberation of Buchenwald. His service earned him a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars for bravery. Ganet passed away on March 31, 2012. His degree will be conferred posthumously at a later date.
The 141st Commencement will take place on Saturday, May 26.