Highlights 2016


101-Student Xi Class Graduated 
Joining more than four thousand alumni of the school, Western CUNA Management School’s (WCMS) 55th graduating class accepted their diplomas at a ceremony held July 21 at Pomona College. The 101 students of the Xi class of 2016 received their degrees at the end of WCMS’s 57th session, held July 10-22 at Pomona College in Claremont, CA.

Click here to view the WCMS graduation photo gallery.

During this year’s session, Credit Union National Association President and CEO Jim Nussle served as the speaker of the Richard Myles Johnson Colloquium in Credit Union Philosophy, held July 13. In addition, a special class on the theory and practice of regulation was presented by National Credit Union Administration Director of the Office of Examination and Insurance Larry Fazio; with all three classes attending.

At the graduation ceremony, Benjamin Greiving, a staff attorney from Public Service CU in Colorado, became the eighth person in the history of WCMS to graduate with highest honors. He also earned the Rick Craig Prize for Excellence in Project II recognizing excellence in the second-year project, an endeavor that usually takes each student of the school over 200 hours to complete.

Over a three-year period, students have five opportunities to earn academic honors. “Honors” and “High Honors” are awarded to the highest achievers on the examinations taken by all students at the end of each school year. Students may also earn “Honors” and “High Honors” for their analysis in each of their two projects completed between sessions. Seven students who earned distinction on all five exercises graduated with “High Honors,” while an additional 12 students earned distinction on four exercises and graduated with “Honors”. Grieving earned “High Honors” on each of the five exercises.

Students graduating with “High Honors” were: Scott Allen Baldridge, WA; Michael Carlos, CA; Nicholas Lowell Fugal, ID; John Martin Kaley III, HI; Kristen Mahlmann, CA; Kathleen Scholes, OR; and Jeff Takemoto, HI. “Honors” graduates this year were: Travis Allen, ID; Chrissy Bell, AK; Briana J. Chamberlain, WA; William H. Froehlich, WY; Magdalena D. Funk, AZ; Sabrina Page, WA; Richard G. Pearce, CA; Camille Sidoti, CA; Angela Sutherland, CA; Gytis A. Tuminas, CO; Robin M. Turner, CA; and Daniel Scot Williams, ID.

In addition, every year the senior student who best represents high moral character, leadership, credit union dedication, and academic achievement is nominated by his or her class to receive the Charles M. Clark Memorial Award. This year’s recipient was D. Jake Denning from Beehive FCU in Idaho. Denning served as class president for two years, and was called by his fellow classmates a great and inspirational leader as well as the “head and heart of the XI class.” He also was called an “individual with class and character.”

WCMS 1982 graduate Patsy Van Ouwerkerk received this year’s James D. Likens Alumni Recognition Award for significant service in the credit union field since graduating from the school. Before retiring as President and CEO of Travis CU in 2013, Van Ouwerkerk worked in the credit union industry for 39 years. She served on the WCMS board for 25 years and also served as a project reader at the school.

Van Ouwerkerk said WCMS “changed her life” and Dr. Likens, in particular, changed her career. Quoting the famous phrase, “to whom much has been given, much is expected,” she congratulated the 2016 graduates and challenged them to give back. “Make a difference in your credit unions, your members, and the credit union movement,” she said.

The long-standing tradition of giving back to WCMS funds earned in the service-learning activities continued with this year’s graduating class presenting a check totaling $100,500, representing the total raised over the past three years in Xi class-led efforts. It was the largest donation from service-learning activities by any WCMS class. Additionally, the class had a goal of 100 percent class participation and 1,000 hours of community service. It exceeded its goal by the entire class tallying more than 5,000 hours of service.

Commencement speaker, the recently retired CO-OP Financial Services President and CEO Stan Hollen, spoke about his lengthy credit union career and the future of the credit union industry. He had a number of advice points for this year’s graduates. One was to network. He also encouraged them to get involved outside their credit union and not be in a silo. In terms of mentoring, he said there are two options—seek one or be one.

“Communicate and stand out,” he said. “Become visible in your credit union. Don’t be shy. And finally, give back; put something back to the (credit union) movement.”