Five Arizonans to earn honorary degrees at spring commencement

NAU honorary degree recipients for May 2014
Honorary degree recipients are, clockwise from top: Paul and Amy Blavin, Rufus Glasper, Jack Jewett and Beth Maloney (photo courtesy of Dysart Unified School District).

Each of the five individuals selected to receive an honorary degree during Northern Arizona University’s spring commencement ceremonies have contributed significantly to the education of others.

Paul and Amy Blavin will be recognized during the 1 p.m. commencement ceremony Friday, May 9. The Blavins are philanthropists dedicated to supporting individuals that often fall through the cracks when they age out of foster care systems.

The couple established Blavin Scholars Programs at Northern Arizona University and the University of Michigan, which combined support 25 young men and women each year. The Blavin Scholars Programs identify funding for housing, books, fees and other expenses in order to enable the students to graduate debt-free.

An honorary doctoral degree will be conferred for Beth Maloney, the 2014 Arizona Teacher of the Year, during the 9 a.m. commencement ceremony Saturday, May 10. Maloney teaches fifth grade at Sunset Hills Elementary School in the Dysart Unified School District in Surprise.

Maloney exemplifies excellence in the classroom with her students and serves as a teacher leader in her school and her district. A graduate of National Louis University in Chicago, she is in her 14th year of teaching. She is a national board certified teacher and a candidate support provider for the Arizona K-12 Center for National Board candidates in Dysart and around the state.

Jack B. Jewett, president and chief executive officer of the Flinn Foundation, will earn an honorary degree during the 1 p.m. ceremony Saturday, May 10.

A former member of the Arizona Board of Regents and the Arizona House of Representatives, Jewett is a long-time leader in health care, education and public policy. He joined the Flinn Foundation in 2009 and has served in a variety of leadership roles within the private, public and nonprofit sectors in Arizona for more than 40 years.

Jewett served on the Arizona Board of Regents from 1998-2006 and five terms in the Arizona House of Representatives from 1983-1992, the final two years as majority whip. A University of Arizona graduate, Jewett currently serves on the board of directors of the Tucson-based Thomas R. Brown Foundations, is a public member of the Arizona Judicial Council and is a member of the Greater Phoenix Leadership Council.

Rufus Glasper, chancellor of the Maricopa County Community College District, will be recognized for his contributions to higher education in Arizona during the 5 p.m. ceremony Saturday, May 10.

Glasper was appointed in 2003 to lead the 10-college district, the largest community college system in the United States. He has served in various roles for in the college district over the last 25 years, and was vital to forming the partnership that established the MCC2NAU program.

Glasper is active in numerous boards and councils including the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council, the Greater Phoenix Leadership and the Arizona Ready Education Council, co-chair on the Lumina Foundation on Education “Getting AHEAD” initiative and was selected by then-Governor Janet Napolitano to serve as her co-chair to the P-20 Council.