Thomas More University 2022 Commencement


CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. (May 15, 2022) — In a break from the walk-through in-person ceremonies Thomas More held during the height of the pandemic, 2022 marked the first traditional ceremony since 2019. The University honored their newest alumni with a day of commencement fun, as more than 340 students gathered in the Connor Convocation Center with family and friends in attendance to celebrate their hard work.

“This community is proud of you and excited for the future you are going to pave with your new, well-earned degree,” said Thomas More University President Joseph L. Chillo, LP.D. in a message to graduates. “As you go out into the world, serving as great leaders in your future endeavors, I know that you will succeed because of the education and Saints experience you’ve received here at Thomas More. You have made an impact on this campus, and now you are equipped to make an impact in our community and world.”

Three hundred forty-four students received 350 degrees at two ceremonies that honored the achievements of the entire class of 2022. Degrees were conferred upon 292 undergraduate and 52 graduate students, with 117 undergraduate students being the first in their family to achieve this goal. The class has representatives from 10 states and four countries, with 12 military veterans among their ranks. Graduates from the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences and the College of Natural & Health Sciences celebrated their achievement at 10:30 a.m. and those who attended the College of Business were recognized at 2 p.m. 

The top senior from each college was honored with the Presidential Award for exemplifying the mission of the University and recognizing the importance of service to others, creating a positive environment on campus for students to thrive and engage more. Presidential Award winners were: elementary education major Caitlin Fangman from the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, biology major Brianna Hoegermeyer, graduating with a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in cellular and molecular biology, from the College of Natural & Health Sciences, and, from the College of Business, Victoria M. Raque, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in accountancy and minors in business administration and ethical leadership. The First Generation Student Award honored a student from each ceremony who demonstrates leadership in curriculum, promotes a life of faith, and is the first person in their family to attend college. Those two students were Ehmet Barrett Thornton-Ayres, who received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, with a concentration in clinical psychology and a minor in history, and Max Hennessey, who earned a bachelor’s degree in accountancy with a minor in business administration. Receiving the Dean’s Graduate Award in recognition of being the top student among graduate students and exemplifying the mission of the University is Jesus Avila, who earned a Master of Business Administration degree. Avila is a dual Thomas More graduate, earning his undergraduate business degree in 2018 from the University. Melinda Simpson Kellam was celebrated with the Lifelong Learning Award for epitomizing what it is to be a student in the Thomas More accelerated program, graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration.

“Not only did we persevere through the demands of pursuing higher education,” said Hoegermeyer in her commencement address, “but we also advocate for minorities, feed the hungry, and participate in cleaning up our environment. We thrive, even through COVID-19. Our community did not let the pandemic stop us. I want to recognize the faculty and staff that have been unwavering in their dedication to their students and to the community at large.”

Several stand-out faculty were recognized for that unwavering dedication. Overall faculty member of the year went to Amy Thistlewaite, Ph.D., from the sociology and criminal justice department. Thistlewaite has shepherded student success at Thomas More for over eight years. Debra (Dee) Allen, Ph.D., was recognized for her work as an undergraduate full-time faculty member, single-handedly developing and implementing the special education program. The part-time faculty award winner was Thomas More alumnus Christopher Bryson ’93/’00/’15, who is considered a top asset to the Business Administration program, being a two-time winner of this award.

The Thomas More University Board of Trustees also awarded an honorary doctoral of medicine, confirmed by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), to Garren Colvin, president and chief executive officer of St. Elizabeth Healthcare. The award was presented by President Chillo during the morning ceremony. Colvin graduated from Thomas More in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts in accountancy. He later served on the Thomas More Board of Trustees and was elected to the University’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016. In 2017, Colvin and his wife Susan (Kelsch) Colvin ’89 were the recipients of the Bishop William A. Hughes Award in recognition of the outstanding support they have demonstrated to Catholic higher education and to Thomas More specifically. Colvin has served as president and chief executive officer of St. Elizabeth Healthcare since June 2015, having joined St. Elizabeth Healthcare in May 1983 as a co-op student while attending Thomas More.

For more information about Commencement, including times, speeches, and programs, visit


About Thomas More University

For 100 years, Thomas More has created a university for the student who wants to Be More, Do More, Seek More, Win More, Achieve More, and Create More. Since its founding in 1921, Thomas More has provided a mission-driven, liberal arts education that is based in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. Students learn to harness the power of human reason to solve problems and discover truth, which allows them to begin the journey to become the person they were created to be. Entering into the second century, it’s time for More. Serving more than 2,000 students, Thomas More aspires to be the premier Catholic university in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region, to build upon the #1 ranking for return on investment among Kentucky private colleges/universities (2021 MSN Money), and share with this generation the transformative power of the Thomas More experience. To find out more, visit

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