|U of M Will Award Degrees in Dual Commencement Ceremonies May 5
For release: April 23, 2007
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The University of Memphis will award an honorary doctorate to philanthropist and retired cotton executive Rudi E. Scheidt during spring Commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 5, at FedExForum. Scheidt will also be the featured speaker at both the morning and afternoon ceremonies, when the University will award a total of 1,800 degrees, including 36 doctorates.
In a 10 a.m. ceremony, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Communication and Fine Arts, the University College, and the School of Audiology and Speech Language Pathology will confer degrees.
At 2 p.m., commencement will be held for the Fogelman College of Business & Economics, the College of Education, the Herff College of Engineering, and the Loewenberg School of Nursing.
(The Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law will award 91 degrees in a separate ceremony Sunday, May 6, at 2 p.m. at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.)
As an energetic youth living in San Francisco, Scheidt was forced to endure what was, for him, torture. “Music was force-fed into me when I was a kid, kicking all the way,” he said as an adult. “My parents dragged me to string quartet concerts at museums when I was 12 or 13 years old; I would much rather have been doing something else.” Left with no choice, the boy listened. Slowly the musical events became bearable, then enjoyable. The young man eventually met a woman who learned to share his appreciation for music. She lured him to Memphis, where he began working in the cotton industry and supporting the arts.
Decades later their generous donation would help transform a growing university department into a world-class school: The Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music. Given with his wife, Honey Hohenberg Scheidt, the gift was part of a long and distinguished partnership between the Scheidts and the arts.
The Scheidt School offers Tennessee’s only doctoral program in music and educates more than 500 undergraduates and graduates from around the world each semester. The multi-million dollar gift made in 2000 has helped revive the University’s opera program. The funds also have been used to recruit and retain outstanding faculty and students.
The Scheidts put their time and hearts, as well as their money, into the University’s music program. They have attended master classes, dress rehearsals, performances and auditions. They befriend and mentor students, and encourage others to attend U of M events.
Rudi Scheidt’s passion for the arts doesn’t stop with the University. He is former president of Opera Memphis and has served on the boards of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the Memphis Arts Council, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, and the Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission. The Scheidts also have served on the boards of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, the Memphis College of Art and the Memphis Arts Festival. In 1985, the couple was instrumental in bringing the Ramesses the Great exhibition to Memphis, kicking off the city’s association with grand scale cultural events. In 2001, the state of Tennessee awarded the Scheidts the highest honor given to supporters of the arts – the Governor’s Award for Arts Leadership.
Scheidt is a member of the University’s Board of Visitors and the Economic Club of Memphis.
Since retiring as president of Hohenberg Brothers Company, a worldwide cotton merchant, Scheidt has been a private investor.
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