Commencement Speakers

2022 Graduate Commencement Speaker

Dee Dee Bridgewater

Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts

Vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater is recognized as one of the most important jazz artists of all time. She is a three-time Grammy Award winner, a Tony Award winner, a Doris Duke Foundation Award winner, an NEA Jazz Master, and an inductee to the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.

Ms. Bridgewater has performed all over the world, and in 1999 she lent her international fame to a greater cause, becoming a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization to bring attention to the issue of world hunger. Her humanitarian work earned her the ASCAP Foundation Champion Award in 2017, when she was recognized as “a shining example of how the creative community can step forward and use their talent and influence to improve the human condition.”

Ms. Bridgewater also is a gifted educator with a genuine affection for Elmhurst University. She has been a mentor to our students and has performed with the Jazz Band on seven occasions, including in 2001, when she selected the Jazz Band to accompany her on the main stage of the Chicago Jazz Festival; and in 2017, when she performed with the Jazz Band at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy.

2022 Undergraduate Commencement Speakers

James S. Yerbic

Doctor of Humane Letters

James S. Yerbic has had a long and distinguished career as a senior financial executive, and served as a trustee of then-Elmhurst College for more than 20 years. Mr. Yerbic is the retired chief financial officer of Duchossois Industries Inc., and also served as group president at Eagle Industries, vice president and corporate controller at McGraw-
Edison Company, and corporate director and CFO at Jepson Corporation. He also worked for several years at Arthur Andersen LLP.

Mr. Yerbic was a trustee of then-Elmhurst College from 1994 to 2020, and was named a trustee emeritus in March of 2021. While on the Board he served as chair of the Development, Business and Audit committees, and also served on the Investment Committee. Longtime donors to Elmhurst University, Mr. Yerbic and his wife, Linda, established the James and Linda Yerbic Endowed Scholarship, which is awarded to a graduate of Canton High School in Canton, lll., Mr. Yerbic’s hometown. He is a CPA and a graduate of Bradley University.

Maureen L. Heakin ’72

Doctor of Humane Letters

Maureen Lamberty Heakin is retired from a successful 28-year career as a marketing research professional, primarily at Swift & Co. and ConAgra Foods; and is a longtime friend of Elmhurst University. In addition to her marketing research responsibilities for such brands as Swift Premium, Butterball and Healthy Choice, Ms. Heakin oversaw the
company’s Consumer Research Center at the Museum of Science and Industry’s popular Food for Life Exhibit.

Since retiring from ConAgra, Ms. Heakin has served on boards in the Chicago area and in Venice, Fla., where she currently lives. Since graduating from then-Elmhurst College in 1972 with a degree in psychology, Ms. Heakin has maintained a close connection with her alma mater, attending events and volunteering her professional expertise.

She has philanthropically supported the University for decades, especially in the areas of music, nursing and the Weigand Center for Professional Excellence. This past summer, Ms. Heakin made a $500,000 gift to the University to establish an international visiting artists series for the University’s acclaimed jazz studies program.

2022 Golden Anniversary Class Speaker

Steven W. Jemison ’72

Steven W. Jemison is the retired chief legal officer and secretary of Procter & Gamble Company, and an Elmhurst University trustee. Joining Procter & Gamble in 1981, Mr. Jemison specialized in labor and employment law during his 29-year career at the multinational consumer goods corporation, taking leadership roles in Central and Eastern
Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

In retirement, Mr. Jemison has stayed busy by serving as a trustee for the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, a member and former chair of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law National Council, and a volunteer and former board chair for the Law and Leadership Institute. He currently serves as a member of the Cincinnati Parks Foundation board. Mr. Jemison earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Elmhurst, and his J.D. from Ohio State. He has been an Elmhurst University trustee since 2019 and serves as vice chair of the Institutional Advancement Committee and the Trusteeship Committee.

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