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Dr. Joseph “Tip” McFadden, president of the University of St. Thomas in Houston, will give the commencement address, The Magnetism of Mediocrity,and receive an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Nebraska at Kearney during ceremonies set for 10 a.m. Friday, May 7, in the Health and Sports Center.
President McFadden is a nationally recognized educator and administrator who served as dean of the Kearney State College/UNK School of Natural and Social Sciences and a professor of history from 1970-74. He will be awarded the, will also be awarded an honorary doctorate, Doctor of Humane Letters, in recognition of his accomplishments in, and contributions to, education and educational administration.
During his tenure at KSC/UNK, he introduced the Advanced Placement College Level Examination (CLEP) and established programs in environmental studies, computer science, criminal justice and allied health. He was also instrumental in securing funding for environmental studies research projects on the Big Blue River; establishing an innovative home for juvenile girls that, at the time, utilized campus facilities; and enhancing the allied health program.
Further, Dr. McFadden served as president of the Kearney Catholic School Board, vice president of Campus House and president of the Central Nebraska Community Health Education Corporation. He was appointed by the governor to the Nebraska Developmental Disabilities Council.
He left KSC/UNK to serve as dean of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Slippery Rock State University in Slippery Rock, Penn., a position he held from 1974-77. He went on to serve as president of three universities: Northern State University, Aberdeen, S.D., 1977-1982; The University of South Dakota, Vermillion, 1982-1988; and the University of St. Thomas, Houston, 1988-1997. He has continued to teach history at St. Thomas. In January, Dr. McFadden was named interim president at St. Thomas, a position he will hold until July.
During his first term as president of St. Thomas, the university experienced a record-setting enrollment and endowment growth. Enrollment went from 1,800 to 2,500; endowment, $5 million to $35 million. The successful $35,000,000 capital campaign enabled the university to build The Chapel of St. Basil and a new science building.