News & Events

Religious, Philanthropic and Business Leaders Honored

Lewis Honors Religious, Philanthropic and Business Leaders at December Commencement

Published: December 16, 2013.


Dr. Daisy Sherry, Assistant Professor of Nursing,
offers the Distinguished Faculty Address.

Lewis University awarded three honorary degrees at its Winter Commencement Ceremonies, recognizing the achievements of Diane K. Ballweg, President of Endres Manufacturing Company Foundation; Brother Peter Bray, FSC, Ed.D., Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University; and Brent Wadsworth, Founder and Chairman of Wadsworth Golf Construction Company. Ballweg and Brother Bray were honored at the Commencement Ceremony for Graduate Students on Saturday, December 14. On Sunday, December 15, at the Ceremony for Undergraduates, an honorary degree was presented to Wadsworth.

Lewis University graduated 315 graduate students during Saturday’s ceremony and 445 undergraduates during Sunday’s ceremony. The Distinguished Faculty address was given by Dr. Daisy Sherry, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Saturday’s ceremony. During Sunday’s ceremony, Jodi Steinberg of Crest Hill presented the Lasallian Student Commencement Address and Robert Sprunger of Plainfield was honored with the Father Aquinas Colgan Award.

Diane K. Ballweg

A Waunakee, Wisc. native, she is a humanitarian, educator, pilot, world traveler, volunteer and businesswoman. As President of the Endres Manufacturing Company Foundation, Ballweg guides her family company’s generous funding to non-profit organizations. Ballweg has bachelor’s degrees from Edgewood College in Special Education and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Music as well as a Master’s in Education Administration from Edgewood College. She launched her career as a Special Education teacher in the 1970s, but switched in 1978 to music, providing private lessons as well as teaching in local elementary schools. Ballweg, proud mother of three children, combined her professional career with performances for nearly 25 years in a female musical group that presented concerts across the country and in Russia.

Ballweg earned her private pilot license in 1997, then her instrument rating, complex and high performance aircraft rating, and finally her advanced ground school instructor license. She launched an aviation program at Edgewood High School in 2000 and remains the program’s instructor.

Ballweg is a member of several organizations that support the growth and excellence of aviation, and advocates aviation as a career for women. She has provided more than 250 Young Eagle Flights as part of a program. Ballweg also has been an advocate of the Lewis University Aviation Program, promoting it to her high school aviation students, and thoughtfully contributed to the University in 2012 to help launch an endowed scholarship for female aviation students.

Ballweg has enthusiastically committed herself to mission work both home and abroad, serving in Haiti with her son Ben after the 2010 earthquake, teaching conversational English in China, visiting orphanages in South Africa, as well as visiting with the homeless in Madison – experiences which she says have opened her eyes to the diversity in the world and the need to break down barriers globally. Ballweg is noted for her passion for organizations focused on music, children and family, and she generously dedicates her time and expertise through board leadership. She is the President of the Madison Children’s Museum Board, and serves on the Madison Symphony Orchestra Board, and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra Advisory Board, among others. She also devotes time as a member of various business, educational and arts organizations.

Frequently honored for her service, Ballweg was recognized in 1997 with the Wisconsin Aviation Person of the Year Award. In 2000, she earned the Dominican Award for Service to Humanity, from her alma mater, Edgewood College; in 2004, the Madison Community Foundation presented her with the Asset Builder Award; and the following year she received the Governor's Award in Support of the Arts. She also provided her talents as honorary chair for The Great Performance Fund at the Center for the Arts in Madison, helping to raise $23 million for resident art groups.

Brent Wadsworth

A nationally recognized expert in the building and restoring of some of the most famous golf courses in the United States, Wadsworth is locally known as a business leader and along with his wife, Jean, generous, yet understated philanthropists. Brent Wadsworth is the founder of the Wadsworth Golf Construction Company, based in Plainfield, which is one of the largest golf course builders in the nation. During the past 55 years, the firm has constructed more than 850 golf courses in the United States and restored many others, including the prestigious Augusta National Golf Club which is the home of the Masters Tournament.

Born in Buffalo, N.Y., Wadsworth moved with his family to Joliet, shortly after his birth. He attended Joliet public schools and is a 1947 graduate of Joliet Township High School. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the School of Landscape Architecture at University of Illinois and worked briefly for prominent golf course architect Robert Bruce Harris. He also earned a private pilot’s license at Lewis University, then known as Lewis College. Following his service in the U.S. Air Force, Wadsworth returned home and married Jean, in 1954.

Wadsworth then joined with Edward L. Packard in establishing the golf course design firm, Packard and Wadsworth. In 1958 Wadsworth decided to focus exclusively on building and restoring courses rather than designing them when he established the Wadsworth Golf Construction Company.

During his remarkable business career, Wadsworth served on several golf course industry advisory boards. His dedication to supporting the less fortunate in life through his consistent philanthropic efforts has earned him several prestigious recognitions, including a Doctorate of Humane Letters degree at Aurora University in 2008. He received the ExxonMobil Community Philanthropic Award from the Channahon Parks Foundation of Channahon, Illinois in 2010. He also was presented with the Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Illinois in 2011, and the Phi Gamma Delta Distinguished Fiji Award in 2012. Highly involved and generously supportive throughout this region, Wadsworth is a former Board member for the David Kinley Educational Foundation, and he was earlier active with Presence Health and the Girl Scouts—Fox Valley Council. Moreover, he has been generous in establishing numerous endowment funds for students, teachers, and programs within several area school districts, including Joliet Township High School District 204, where he once was a student, as well as being steadfast in his support of his alma mater, the University of Illinois.

Wadsworth’s exemplary work ethic and lifelong contributions to the game of golf have also earned him additional prestigious recognitions. Among them include his selection as a member of the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame in 1991; the Donald Ross Award, presented by the American Society of Golf Course Architects in 1993; the Illinois PGA Foundation’s John Gleason Ambassador of Golf Award in 2000; and the Humanitarian Don A. Rossi Award presented by the Golf Course Builders Association of America in 2000.

Proud parents of four children and two grandchildren, Brent and Jean, now married for 59 years, thoughtfully established the Wadsworth Golf Charities Foundation in 1997. The foundation has sought to make the character-building attributes of golf accessible to many more people by providing generous gifts and grants across the country to organizations, which support the foundation’s mission of responsible self-improvement. In addition, these remarkable grants have been provided to disadvantaged youth and physically impaired persons. Friend, advisor and advocate for Lewis University, Wadsworth has also made generous contributions toward scholarships for students with financial need as well as toward significant campus improvements.

Brother Peter Bray, FSC, Ed.D.

A highly dedicated De La Salle Christian Brother for more than 40 years, Brother Peter Bray, FSC, Ed.D., serves as the eighth Vice Chancellor and administrative head of Bethlehem University, which is celebrating its 40th Anniversary in educating both “the immediate Christian community and the larger Palestinian society.” Founded in 1973 and co-sponsored by the Vatican and the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Bethlehem University is the only Catholic university in the Holy Land and the first university on the West Bank. Brother Peter has been called to serve at the university since 2008.

Through Brother Peter’s steadfast, visionary and sensitive leadership, in partnership with the faculty and staff, Bethlehem University provides, as he states, both “an oasis of peace” and a “beacon of hope” for its students and staff, many of whom risk harm and face considerable challenges as they travel to the university under curfew through military checkpoints and areas occupied by the military. Moreover, Bethlehem University is a remarkable center of ecumenism and interfaith collaboration. Guided by Brother Peter, Bethlehem University continues to provide an “education for justice,” standing in solidarity with the students and the community, to give hope in meeting the challenges of military occupation.

Bethlehem University has enjoyed numerous accomplishments under the leadership of Brother Peter, including the recent completion of its first comprehensive capital campaign, raising approximately $30 million, to be used for a variety of initiatives, including faculty development, student scholarship support, career training, leadership and community service, and academic facilities. The newly-opened Education Building directly and indirectly serves thousands of educators and students from the Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron regions. The university is also the recent recipient of the Sciat vt Serviat Award from the International Federation of Catholic Universities for “significant and inspiring contribution to Catholic university culture.”

Brother Peter’s educational background, leadership experiences, and abiding faith provide the foundation for leading his university within such a challenging context. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Education at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia; a master’s degree in Educational Administration at Massey University in New Zealand; and a doctorate in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego, as well as certifications in Adult Education and Religious Studies. An expert in educational leadership and systems, Brother Peter has taught, consulted, and provided leadership in a variety of universities and other educational institutions around the globe.

Prior to being appointed to head Bethlehem University, Brother Peter served for 11 years as the Director and CEO of New Zealand’s Wellington Catholic Education Centre, which offers undergraduate and master’s level studies for the promotion of Catholic education and professional development for those working in Catholic schools and a variety of other ministries. During his tenure there, he created a master’s level educational partnership with the Australian Catholic University and developed online learning technologies and delivery systems for the Centre’s educational programs. Brother Peter earlier served as Principal of both De La Salle College in Aukland, New Zealand, for three years, and of Francis Douglas Memorial College in New Plymouth, New Zealand, for 12 years; as well as Principal of Benilde High School near Sydney, for three years.

Brother Peter also has served as a member of the Wellington Archdiocesan Synod organizing committee; the Board of Trustees for De La Salle College, Auckland, New Zealand; and the Australian Council for Educational Administration. He was elected to the Provincial Council of the De La Salle Brothers in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. Brother Peter’s publications focus on Lasallian spirituality and include “Collaborative Leadership in the New Millennium” and “The Evolution of a Quality School: A Case Study of Leadership.” He recently presented at the invitation of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference on “Religious Freedom & Human Rights: Path to Peace in the Holy Land.”

Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 6,600 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report. Visit www.lewisu.edu for further information.

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