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Mesa Mayor to speak at Benedictine University commencement

March 1, 2013

Thurs_birck_3678 edwebsmall2Mesa, Arizona ~ Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, who is credited with the city’s economic revival, including bringing a branch campus of Benedictine University to town – the first-ever Catholic university campus in the state – will address the University’s 120th Commencement Convocation on Saturday, May 11 at the Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex on the school’s main campus in Illinois.

An accountant and an attorney, Smith has taken an aggressive approach to improving city government while attracting new businesses to the area. He downsized the Mesa government by nearly 20 percent while improving services and increasing partnerships with the private sector.

Arguably his greatest achievement to date is bringing a branch campus of Benedictine University to downtown Mesa along with four other liberal arts colleges. His strong commitment to education was the motivating factor behind bringing more college options to the area.

"Mesa is excited to have Benedictine University as part of our community," Smith said. "I am honored for the opportunity to visit the main campus and speak to graduates at commencement this spring. I enjoy speaking to college students, especially on graduation day. They will certainly face daunting challenges as they begin the next chapter of their lives, but I am confident that this generation will lead us into better times."

Smith, who is also vice president of the United States Conference of Mayors and will become the organization’s first Arizonan president later this year, created initiatives that strengthened ties between Mesa city government and small businesses and corporations. His HEAT initiative – which stands for Health care, Education, Aerospace, Tourism and Technology – has boosted the Mesa economy through successful projects, including financing a Chicago Cubs spring training facility.

Raised in Tucson, Ariz., Smith and his wife, Kim, live in Mesa and have three children and four grandchildren.

“Mayor Smith is a visionary who believes higher education can improve the lives of American citizens and reciprocally the American economy. Benedictine University shares this vision and we believe many of the governmental, social and educational programs he has initiated in Mesa are in line with our values,” said Benedictine University President William J. Carroll, Ph.D.

“As a Catholic university in the Benedictine tradition, our goal is to bring Benedictine University’s values-centered liberal arts education to Mesa and the greater Arizona region. We have partnered with the city of Mesa to prepare area students who are not only good in their disciplines but know how to do the right thing.”

Commencement ceremonies are scheduled to be held outside at the Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex. Ceremonies will be held inside the Dan and Ada Rice Center if there is inclement weather. Information will be announced at www.ben.edu.

The associate and bachelor’s degrees ceremony is at 9:45 a.m. and the master’s and doctoral degrees ceremony is at 2:30 p.m.

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Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois and Mesa, Arizona. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 55 undergraduate majors and 15 graduate and four doctoral programs. Benedictine University is ranked No. 1 among the country's fastest-growing campuses between 2002-2012 in The Chronicle of Higher Education's list of private nonprofit doctoral institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the fourth consecutive year in 2014. Benedictine University's Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain's Chicago Business as the sixth largest in the Chicago area in 2014.

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