Best-selling Author to Address WWU Graduates

Best-selling author Rita Mae Brown, who set her most recent mysteryRita Mae Brown on the William Woods University campus, will come to WWU to speak at the undergraduate commencement Saturday (May 8).


Graduate students will hear from Dan Westhues, a WWU graduate and senior vice president, consumer banking, for Central Bank in Jefferson City.   


A total of 577 students will receive diplomas. With another ceremony in December, the combined number of WWU graduates since last May is 1,012.


Because of the large numbers, WWU will hold two commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 8—one for undergraduates at 10 a.m. and one for graduate students at 3 p.m. Both ceremonies will be held in Cutlip Auditorium of the McNutt Campus Center.


Prior to the undergraduate commencement, William Woods will hold its traditional Ivy Chain Ceremony at 9:15 a.m. around Senior Lake.


Following Brown’s remarks to the undergraduates, William Woods will grant four associate of arts, 13 bachelor of arts, 128 bachelor of science and seven bachelor of social work degrees.


During the afternoon ceremony for graduate students, WWU will award 40 master of business administration (MBA), 311 master of education (M.Ed.) and 74 educational specialist (Ed.S.) degrees.


In addition to being a best-selling author, the morning’s speaker, Rita Mae Brown, is an Emmy-nominated screenwriter and poet. She has also written an autobiography, a cookbook and a writer’s manual.


Author of the groundbreaking best-seller “Rubyfruit Jungle” in 1973, Brown has written about 40 books since then, including several mysteries “co-authored” with her cat, Sneaky Pie Brown.


After earning a cinematography degree from the School of Visual Arts and a B.A. in English and classics from New York University, Brown received a Ph.D. in English and political science from the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. 


Brown was the commencement speaker at William Woods University in 2000, and her latest mystery, “Cat of the Century,” takes place on the WWU campus.


Dan WesthuesIn his position as senior vice president, consumer banking, for Central Bank, the afternoon speaker, Dan Westhues, oversees 135 employees, 11 banking centers, marketing, corporate training, retirement planning, business development and a travel agency.


A 1993 Westminster College graduate, Westhues earned his master of business administration (MBA) at William Woods in 1997. He also graduated with honors from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Georgetown University in 2006.


A devoted supporter of William Woods, Westhues joined the WWU Board of Trustees in 2008. He is a member of the executive committee and the current treasurer. He is also a member of the President’s Club Giving Society.