Wabash College Names Honorary Degree Recipients

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Wabash College has announced three honorary degree recipients for next week's commencement ceremony. They include Bloomington-based Cook Group Inc. Chairman Steve Ferguson, who graduated from the Crawfordsville school in 1963.

May 13, 2014

News Release

Crawfordsville, Ind. -- As part of Wabash College's 176th Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 18, the College will award honorary degrees to a trio of alumni.

Stephen L. Ferguson '63, David Warren Givens '56, and David J. Lahey '60 will receive the distinction following exceptional professional careers.

Stephen L. Ferguson majored in political science and economics at Wabash, and was a member of Kappa Sigma. After graduating with distinction from the Indiana University School of Law, he returned to his hometown of Bloomington, Ind., where he had a private legal practice and helped manage and grow his family's farm. He was elected to the Indiana General Assembly while still in law school, and served in that body — including as Chair of the Transportation Committee — from 1967 to 1974. In 1971, he joined his good friend, Bill Cook, as President of CFC, Inc., a subsidiary of the Cook Group, which focused on real estate and development. In that role, he worked tirelessly on massive revitalization projects in Bloomington, including the complete redevelopment of Fountain Square into offices, apartments, and retail spaces. He later led the restoration of the spectacular West Baden Hotel and French Lick Resort. Mr. Ferguson chaired the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and served on the Indiana University Board of Trustees for 12 years, including a stint as Chairman of the Board. For the last dozen years, he has served as Chairman of Cook Group Incorporated, one of Indiana's most impressive businesses, which boasts 11,0000 employees, $2 billion in sales, and makes more than one million medical devices each day. Mr. Ferguson has received Indiana's highest honor, the Sagamore of the Wabash, from four Indiana Governors, and was named the 2013 Indiana Chamber of Commerce's Business Leader of the Year.

A Broad Ripple High School graduate, David Warren Givens enrolled at Wabash in 1950, majored in political science, and was a member of Beta Theta Pi. After serving in the military, he returned to the College to complete his degree. He earned his law degree from Indiana University, and enjoyed a successful practice with Krieg DeVault Alexander & Capehart, including working with Indiana National Bank, for which he left his practice to become Vice President and General Counsel. After holding the positions of Vice President and Director of the bank's parent company, INB Financial Corporation, he served as President and CEO of the corporation in 1985. As a civic leader, Mr. Givens helped transform the city of Indianapolis into the amateur sports capital of the world through his service as chair the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee and the 500 Festival Committee. As a member of the Wabash College Board of Trustees, he served as Chairman of the Executive Committee and led the ad hoc committee that conducted an exhaustive study of coeducation in the early 1990s, during which Mr. Givens demonstrated objective leadership and a keen understanding of the complexities of the study. The alumni of the College paid tribute to him by honoring him with the Alumni Award of Merit. He and his wife, Betty, have endowed the Givens Scholarship for the Study of Western Art and have given to the College pieces from their collection of “Hoosier School” impressionist art. Their son, David, Jr., is a 1987 Wabash alumnus.

David J. Lahey was a Dean's List English major and member of Beta Theta Pi, the Glee Club, and Scarlet Masque as an undergraduate at Wabash. He pursued graduate studies in literature at Indiana University, but left to serve in the Army and later began a distinguished career in business with Procter and Gamble. He rose to become an industry leader in sales, marketing, and corporate leadership and branded products ranging from shampoo to peanut butter. Seeking new entrepreneurial challenges, Mr. Lahey left P&G in 1988 after serving as President and General Manager of the company's soft drink division. As the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Cincinnati Bell, he developed a long-term plan to create a business focused on innovative customer service and response. That led to the creation of Matrixx Marketing, for which Mr. Lahey served as Chief Executive Officer. He grew that vision into a $250-million company in less than five years. Cincinnati Bell spun Matrixx off into the publicly traded Convergys, which today boasts $2 billion in revenue and 100,000 employees in 34 countries. While still serving as Chairman of Matrixx, Mr. Lahey helped turn around struggling cellular billing for Cincinnati Bell, which turned record profits one year after he took the helm. Now in his retirement, Mr. Lahey and his wife, Ruth, are active in greater Cincinnati where they have been philanthropic leaders in the arts, museums, libraries, parks, and historic restoration.

President Gregory D. Hess will ring out the Class of 2014 while leading his first Wabash Commencement on Sunday. Nearly 175 men are scheduled to receive their sheepskin diplomas in the ceremony, which begins at 2:30 p.m. on the College Mall. Events will be streamed live at www.wabash.edu/live.

Source: Wabash College