Western Washington UniversityCommunications and Marketing
DATE: March 7, 2013 1:42:49 PM PST
Holocaust Survivor Noemi Ban to Receive Honorary Doctorate at WWU Winter Quarter Commencement March 23

Contact: Office of University Communications, (360) 650-3350

BELLINGHAM –Holocaust survivor Noémi Ban, an award-winning public speaker and teacher, will receive Western Washington University’s honorary doctorate degree at winter Commencement which starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 23 in Carver Gymnasium.

Ban will also give the Commencement address while graduating senior Wesley Ball of Maple Valley will give the student Commencement address.

Approximately 531 undergraduates and about 32 master’s candidates will receive degrees this quarter. Winter commencement includes all majors, and only one ceremony will take place.            

Admission into the gymnasium will require a ticket. Each undergraduate and master’s candidate who has signed up to participate in the ceremony will be issued five tickets. Tickets are not required for guests who wish to watch the live televis­ed ceremony in Science, Mathematics and Technology Education (SMATE) building room 150. The ceremony will also be streamed live at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/wwu-live-events1.

Ban, who will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree, was born in 1922 in Hungary, the eldest of three children. During World War II, Ban was deported to Auschwitz, where she lost almost everyone in her immediate and extended family to the horrors of the death camps. Soon after liberation, she married Earnest Ban, with whom she had two sons including Bellingham pediatrician Steven Ban. The family moved to the U.S. and Ban became an award-winning elementary school teacher and runner-up for Missouri’s 1981 Teacher of the Year.

Soon after retirement in 1989, Ban cofounded what is now Northwest Center for Holocaust, Genocide and Ethnocide Education, housed in Western’s Woodring College of Education.  She is driven by a passionate belief that sharing is healing: Ban has shared her story of resilience, hope, healing and love with thousands of people in classrooms, community centers, religious congregations and lecture halls throughout the Pacific Northwest. Her many honors include an honorary doctorate from Gonzaga University in 2001, the 1997 Golden Apple Award, the 2003 Washington Education Association Human and Civil Rights Award, the 2004 Award for Excellence in Holocaust Education and the 2010 Daughters of the American Revolution Americanism Award.

Ball, the ceremony’s student Commencement speaker, is graduating with a degree in Geology. While at Western, Ball played on DIRT, Western’s Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Team, and traveled with the Geology Department for field studies in summer 2012 in Montana and Idaho. Ball plans to go to graduate school to pursue a master’s or his doctorate while studying deep-sea sediments and micropaleontology. He has been accepted to Northern Arizona University for a master’s program and to University of Wisconsin at Madison for a doctorate program. Ball graduated from Tahoma High School, and came to Western in fall 2008. 

Following Commencement, graduates will proceed toward the stage, where they will pass through a corridor of faculty and the President’s party to deposit their Western identification cards or other mementos in a box to be buried beneath a “2013” paver in the walkway in front of Old Main.

Commencement parking is available at no cost in most lots. Visitors must observe regulations for handicapped and individually reserved spaces. Lot 14G will be reserved for faculty and staff.  A shuttle service to Carver Gym will be available from the tent in lot 12A off Bill McDonald Parkway near Fairhaven College. The shuttle cannot accommodate wheelchairs. Guests in wheelchairs may park in Lot 10G and 17G on East College Way. Parking attendants will be available to assist guests with special parking needs.

For more information or for disability accommodations contact the Registrar’s Office, (360) 650-3701. 

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