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Northwood University Commencement Ceremonies Celebrate Achievement, Business Acumen

May 6, 2015

As Northwood University graduates participate in the institution’s Dallas, Texas; West Palm Beach, Florida and Midland, Michigan commencement ceremonies, many celebrate new milestones, and the transition from college life to the professional world.The graduate groups, lauded for their exemplary academic, community service and athletic achievements, joined the university in welcoming the following leaders as commencement speakers and honorary doctorate recipients:

  • Northwood University Texas: Dale Petroskey
  • Northwood University Florida: John McGowan
  • Northwood University Michigan: Steven Kelly and Beth Chappell

Dale A. Petroskey assumed the position of President and CEO of the Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC) on April 1, 2014. He works with the Board, staff, and more than 2,000 member companies to increase economic prosperity and enhance the quality of life throughout the region. The DRC focuses on economic development initiatives, improving education at all levels, and setting public policy direction designed to maintain a healthy business climate in North Texas. Petroskey brings to the Chamber a strong background in public policy, strategic communications, and non-profit management, having held leadership positions in all three sectors – public, private, and nonprofit – for more than 30 years. Early in his career he worked 18 years in Washington, D.C., serving as Chief of Staff to Congressman Bill Goodling (PA), Assistant White House Press Secretary to President Ronald Reagan, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation under then-Secretary Elizabeth Dole, and as Senior Vice President of Mission Programs at the National Geographic Society. From 1999 to 2008, Petroskey served as President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, and later as Executive Vice President of Marketing and Community Development for the Texas Rangers, and Vice President of Public Affairs for Occidental Petroleum Corporation, the nation’s fourth largest energy company.

John W. McGowan retired from Bank of America in 2007 where he served as Senior Vice President and Trust Officer in The Private Bank office in Stuart, Florida. He began his Private Banking career with Shawmut Bank of Boston where he advised clients on estate and financial planning matters and served as a Senior Trust Officer. Coming to Florida in 1982, McGowan served as President of NBD Trust Company of Florida in North Palm Beach. He joined The Private Bank of Bank of Boston-Florida in 1994 as Trust Counsel and Vice President in charge of Trust and Estate Administration in the Palm Beach office. Following a merger with Fleet, and prior to Fleet’s merger with Bank of America, McGowan served as Senior Vice President and Regional Manager in the Stuart, Florida office. A native of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, he is a retired member of the Massachusetts Bar Association. McGowan attended Thayer Academy following a move to Quincy, MA. He earned his undergraduate degree at Acadia University (BA), law degree at Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law (JD) and his Masters of Business Administration in Finance at the University of Western Ontario. He is a graduate of the National Trust School.

Steven D. Kelly is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Rehmann and its subsidiaries, one of the largest CPA, business consulting and financial services firms in the Midwest, with 800 associates in 19 offices located in Florida, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. Since joining Rehmann in 1974, he has served on the Audit and Tax teams where he concentrated his professional efforts on physician-based health care practices. He continued in this area when he served as the firm’s Human Resource partner, and later as a member of its Management Group. Kelly was named Chairman and CEO in 1985, and currently devotes his time to leading Rehmann to better serve its customers and associates. A graduate of the University of Michigan, with a Bachelor of Business Administration, he is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Major Firms Advisory Group; as well as the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants.

Beth Chappell is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Detroit Economic Club (DEC), one of the nation’s premier speaking venues for CEOs and government officials. The Club is a non-partisan, non-profit membership organization that is a platform for the debate and discussion of today’s business, government and social issues.  After graduating from Michigan State University in 1979 with a BA in marketing, Chappell spent 16 years at AT&T Corporation. She served in various capacities including Global Services Vice President where she led relationship-sales efforts with large international clients, and Director of Network Deployment, where she and her team oversaw the $14 billion installation of AT&T’s fiber optic network. She bid AT&T a fond farewell in 1995 to form the Chappell Group, a business consultancy. Four years later she joined Compuware Corporation as Executive Vice President, Communications and Investor Relations. In April, 2002 Chappell became the President and CEO of the Detroit Economic Club.

The highest award a university can make to an individual who has contributed to society in a meaningful way, Northwood University honorary doctorate recipients join a “Gallery of Distinction” of men and women whom Northwood has vested with degrees throughout the past 55 years. As their ideals, vision and accomplishments benefit their local communities and the nation as a whole, their support of The Northwood Idea continues forever. Northwood University salutes all the members of the Gallery of Distinction and pledges to them the dedicated continuation of The Northwood Idea into the 21st century.

In observance of one of Northwood’s finest traditions, all recipients of honorary degrees are presented with personal caps, gowns, and hoods. Every year they are invited back to participate in the commencement processional, enjoy social events, and renew old friendships.

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