SAN ANTONIO – The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) conferred degrees to graduates at two spring commencement ceremonies Friday, May 10 and Sunday, May 12. The Friday ceremony was held in UIW’s Alice P. McDermott Convocation Center. The Sunday commencement ceremony was held in the Joe and Harry Freeman Coliseum located at 3201 E Houston St. San Antonio, TX 78219. A total of 929 students were conferred degrees.
Friday evening’s commencement honored graduates of the university’s Ph.D. and professional doctoral programs including the inaugural graduating class of UIW’s Rosenberg School of Optometry (UIWRSO). The UIWRSO is one of only 20 optometry programs located on the U.S. mainland and one of two in Texas. Keynote speaker for the interdenominational Commencement Ceremony was Rabbi Mark Diamond of Los Angeles who was introduced by Fr. Thomas H. Dymowski, O.SS.T., D.Min, UIW Chaplain. Imam Abdur-Rahim Muhammad, a member of the UIW interfaith council offered the invocation.
Diamond has served as the Los Angeles Regional Director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) since 2012. Prior to joining AJC, he directed the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, a multi-denominational organization of 330 rabbis. He founded the acclaimed America Online internet forum “Ask a Rabbi,” created the Los Angeles Jewish Federation’s Interreligious Action Center, and served as a rabbi for congregations in metropolitan San Francisco, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and New York.
Diamond is a leader in collaborative projects including partnerships with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Fuller Theological Seminary, World Vision International, consulates general, and other diplomatic, intergroup and faith-based organizations. He is president of the Los Angeles Council of Religious Leaders and a member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.
Diamond received his master’s in Jewish Studies, rabbinical ordination and an honorary Doctor of Divinity from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York. He is a Magna cum Laude graduate of Carleton College in Minnesota. Diamond also studied in the Rabbinic Management Program of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, where he is a senior rabbinic fellow.
The Sunday commencement honored undergraduates and students earning their master’s degrees. San Antonio City Councilwoman Ivy Taylor served as the commencement speaker.
Taylor has served San Antonio District 2 since 2009. She began her career working for the City of San Antonio in the Housing and Community Development Department and the Neighborhood Action Department. After six years with the City of San Antonio, she left to become a Vice President at Merced Housing Texas. Taylor served on the City’s Planning Commission and as a Commissioner for the City’s Urban Renewal Agency (SADA).
She currently serves on the board for Healthy Futures of Texas and Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas. She completed the Leadership San Antonio class sponsored by the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, and in 2004 was acknowledged by the San Antonio Business Journal as a “Rising Star” in their “40 under 40″ class. In 2008, she completed Bank of America’s Neighborhood Excellence Leadership Training Program.
Taylor has a master’s in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s in American Studies from Yale University.
The 2013 Alumni of Distinction Recipient for Service in Mission was awarded to Julie Bell. After graduating from Incarnate Word College in May 1991 with a master’s in education, Bell began teaching special education with Northeast Independent School District (NEISD). In 1995, Bell was diagnosed with Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) and by 1998 was forced to quit working full time. Although faced with a debilitating condition, which caused functioning loss in her hands and legs, Bell realized she missed teaching and had to return to a career she loved. In 2002, she returned to North East Independent School District full-time, where she continued teaching students with severe and profound handicaps. In 2012, Bell was honored by NEISD as the High School Teacher of the Year of the Special Education Hospital Homebound Center School for her efforts in educating students with disabilities.
A Baccalaureate Mass was celebrated Saturday, May 11 in UIW’s Alice P. McDermott Convocation Center. Processional and recessional music was performed by the San Antonio Pipes and Drums.
Contact: Margaret Garcia, UIW associate director of public relations at (210) 829-6001, (210) 422-4052, (firstname.lastname@example.org)