Concordia awards honorary degrees at commencement
Seven individuals were recognized with honorary degrees and awards at Concordia’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 11.
Honorary doctorates were awarded to Dr. Douglas Tewes of Lincoln, Neb., and Rev. James P. Brown, Sr. of Pensacola, Fla. Tewes will also delivered the commencement address.
Tewes was presented with the Doctor of Laws degree for his service and dedication to Concordia and the communities of Southeast Nebraska, as well as for his contributions to the field of orthopedic medicine. A 1983 graduate of Concordia College, Tewes earned his medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 1987. He then completed his orthopedic residency at the University of Kentucky before serving as a fellow in sports medicine at the Minneapolis Sports Medicine Center in Minnesota. He currently serves as an orthopedic surgeon and director of the sports medicine program at Lincoln Orthopedic Center in Lincoln, Neb., and as team physician for the Concordia Bulldogs, Doane Tigers, Lincoln Saltdogs baseball team and Lincoln Stars hockey club. Tewes was certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery in 1995 and has been peer-recognized as a member of Best Doctors of America since 2005. In addition to his medical service, Tewes has taught Sunday school for eight years at Messiah Lutheran Church in Lincoln, and served on the Concordia Foundation Board of Directors for 17 years.
In recognition of his distinguished and creative contributions to the world of learning and service, Rev. James P. Brown, Sr. received the Doctor of Letters degree from Concordia University, Nebraska. Brown received his associate’s degree from the Alabama Lutheran Academy and Junior College in 1965 before graduating from Concordia Teachers College in 1967. He then entered Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield, Ill., receiving his Master of Divinity degree in 1973. Brown served as pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Pittsburgh for five years before he was called to Saint Matthew Lutheran Church in Pensacola, Fla., in 1978. At Saint Matthew, Brown served as youth and ministry adviser and provided counsel for the Gulf States Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, supporting relief efforts in the aftermath of several Gulf Coast hurricanes. He retired from Saint Matthew in 2012 after 34 years of service. He has also served the Southern District of the LCMS as second vice president, circuit counselor and a member of the board of directors. He has served on the Task Force on Black Ministry and for the Black Churchmen Conference. He was also chair of the Concordia National Alumni Association for Concordia College in Selma, Ala.
Also receiving special awards at commencement were William Hartmann of Seward, Neb., Grace Mueller Hughey of Cedar Park, Texas, Wilbert Rusch of Saint Louis, Mo., and Thom and Joani Schultz of Loveland, Colo.
Concordia honored William Hartmann with the Crest of Christ Award for his support of public ministry and church work. Hartmann was honored in 2000 by the Concordia Alumni Association for his service to the university. He was a member of the Concordia Foundation for 23 years and a member of the Board of Regents for 18 years. He has contributed both gifts and service to Concordia through Hartmann Construction Company, which he founded in 1954. An active member of the Garland, Neb. community, Hartmann served on the Garland Village Board and on the volunteer fire department for 25 years. He has been a member of the Seward County Chamber of Commerce since 1994 and is currently a member of the Seward Rotary Club. Hartmann served in the U.S. Army from 1951-1953 and is a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Korean Veterans Association. Hartmann is a lifetime member of Zion Lutheran Church, where he has served as elder, trustee and president. He was a lay delegate to the Nebraska District lcms Seward Circuit for 12 years. In addition, Hartmann served as a lay delegate to the past four Nebraska District Conventions. Hartmann assisted in the construction of the Thom Leadership Education Center on the Concordia campus and co-hosted groundbreaking activities for the Walz Human Performance Complex in 2007.
Grace Mueller Hughey also received the Crest of Christ award for her dedication to mission work. Hughey and her husband, Rev. Barry Hughey, served as missionaries in Caracas, Venezuela for 11 years, focusing on the needs of women and children. After returning to the states, Hughey attended the University of Texas, majoring in journalism and mass communication. She served in children’s ministry and the women’s guild at Zion Lutheran Church in El Paso, Texas. In 1989 she began writing and editing for Stephen Ministries’ Christ Care series, based out of St. Louis, Mo. She then became the director of relational ministries at St. John Lutheran Church in Ellisville, Mo., until 2010. Since then, Hughey has worked as a mission guide for the Central American Lutheran Mission Society and has assisted Concordia’s medical mission team members in Guatemala. Hughey was involved in the development of Spanish VBS materials through Concordia Publishing House, and she has served on the grant committee for the Woman on Mission organization in St. Louis.
Concordia honored Wilbert Rusch, Jr. with the Master Educator Award for his outstanding service in educational ministry. Rusch earned his bachelor’s degree from Concordia Teachers College in 1961 before earning his Master of Natural Science degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1972. He then taught biology at Walther Lutheran High School in Chicago. Rusch also taught elementary science and 10 years of biology in Rocky River, Ohio. Rusch spent a year teaching at the Concordia International School in Shanghai, China, and developed a high school science curriculum for the school. Now in his 52nd year of teaching, Rusch teaches geology, astronomy, anatomy and physiology at Lutheran High School South in St. Louis, Mo. Rusch is a member of the National Science Teachers Association and a member of the Creation Research Society. He served on the board of education for Lakewood Lutheran School in Lakewood, Ohio, and has also served his local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
Thom and Joani Schultz received the Distinguished Service Award. Thom and Joani both serve on the executive leadership team at Group Publishing, a company Thom founded in 1974 with the mission to “equip churches to help children, youth and adults grow in their relationship with Jesus.” Thom earned his Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Colorado and currently serves as Chairman and ceo of Group Publishing, overseeing 24 lines of ministry publications for the church. He is also the President of Lifetree Café, a national network of programs that provide a time and place for people to gather to engage in one-hour, host-led discussions centering on a new topic each week. Thom also serves as the director of the Group Cares Foundation, a nonprofit division of Group Publishing that provides help to those in need through mission work and charitable giving. Joani attended South Dakota State University, Concordia College in St. Paul, Minn., and the University of Wisconsin. She currently serves as the Chief Creative Officer of Group Publishing, offering creative leadership and oversight of Group’s products and services for children, youth, adult and women’s ministries, Vacation Bible School, church leadership, magazines, books, curriculum and mission trips. In addition, Joani helps create and maintain programming and training for Lifetree Café and serves as a board member for Group Publishing.
Related link: cune.edu/commencement.