Records are meant to be broken, and William Woods University will break another one next week.
On Friday, Dec. 12, William Woods will hold its largest commencement ever, with 363 students graduating. Never before has WWU graduated more than 300 students. In fact, the previous high was 255 in May 1999.
Raymond W. Gruender, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, will address the graduates during the ceremony at 7 p.m. in Cutlip Auditorium of the McNutt Campus Center.
Following his talk, the university will grant two associate of applied science, one associate of art, two bachelor of art, one bachelor of fine art, 51 bachelor of science, 57 master of business administration and 249 master of education degrees.
With increased campus enrollment and the growth of the university’s graduate and adult studies programs, William Woods now holds three graduation ceremonies each year. The combined total of graduates for 2003 is 831, which is 198 more than any previous year.
Gruender, the commencement speaker, has had much experience working in the legal system. Prior to serving as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) from 1990 to 1994 and from 2000 to 2001. As an AUSA, he specialized in significant fraud and public corruption matters.
He also spent nine years in the private practice of law. He was an associate with the St. Louis law firm of Lewis, Rice and Fingersh from 1987 to 1990. From 1994 to 2000 he was a partner at Thompson Coburn, LLP, another large Missouri firm.
Gruender obtained his bachelor of business administration, master of business administration and juris doctorate degrees from Washington University in St. Louis. He is a member of the Missouri and Illinois bars and has served as a member of the Eastern District of Missouri’s Criminal Justice Act Lead Counsel Panel.
Active in civic affairs, he served on the board and as president of A.L.I.V.E. (Alternatives to Living in Violent Environments), a not-for-profit entity dedicated to eliminating domestic violence and serving its victims. He also served as a director of the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, and currently serves on the allocations committee of the St. Louis Variety Club.