For many, commencement marks a time to celebrate bright young students entering a new chapter in their lives.
But the occasion is not only for students.
It is also a time to honor West Virginia University alumni, friends and donors whose hearts and minds have blessed the Mountaineer community in countless ways.
Four people who each embody the Mountaineer essence will receive honorary degrees from WVU during commencement exercises May 11-13.
They are: Gregory S. Babe, an engineer who rose to the top of Bayer Corp.; Ming Hsieh, also an engineer by trade and the namesake of Ming Hsieh Hall; G. Ogden Nutting, a longtime leader in West Virginia newspaper publishing; and Stuart M. Robbins, a financial expert who built one of the top equity businesses in the world.
Though each man excelled in a different profession, they share an unmatched passion and dedication to WVU.
- Babe, a West Virginia native, earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from WVU in 1980. That set him down the path to a successful career at one of the world's top chemical and pharmaceutical companies.
He had already joined Bayer in 1976 while in college as an intern in the polyurethanes group.
He has risen to become president and chief executive officer and is Bayer's senior representative for the United States and Canada. He is responsible for the North American activities of the worldwide Bayer Group, an international health care, nutrition and innovative materials organization based in Leverkusen, Germany. In addition, he is president and CEO of Bayer MaterialScience LLC.
Outside of Bayer, Babe serves on several boards and committees, including the American Chemistry Council's executive committee and board of directors, the WVU Foundation board and as chair of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce.
A Mount Lebanon, Pa., resident, Babe, who has announced his retirement from Bayer effective June 30, is married with four children.
- Hsieh may have earned his education at the University of Southern California, but the accomplished entrepreneur and philanthropist fits the Mountaineer mold.
Born in China, Hsieh co-founded Cogent Inc., a manufacturer of automated fingerprint identification systems, and served as CEO and chairman until 2010 when Cogent was purchased by 3M.
Hsieh developed a longstanding interest in training, mentoring and nurturing the next generation of forensic scientists. This desire fueled his generosity toward WVU. He has given the university more than $5.5 million, including contributions for the construction of Ming Hsieh Hall on the downtown campus in 2007.
He also established two distinguished professorships in teaching and research for the Forensic and Investigative Science Program in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. And he made possible a gift from Cogent to develop a state-of-the-art teaching and research facility for the Forensic Program's home in Oglebay Hall.
As a philanthropist, he has donated more than $100 million to high schools, research institutions and universities. He has served on the University of Southern California Board of Trustees since 2007 and on the Board of Trustees of Fudan University since 2011.
- Nutting's Mountaineer roots date back to the 19th century. Nutting, publisher of the Ogden Newspapers Inc., had a grandfather, H.C. Ogden, who graduated from WVU in 1887. Ogden published the first edition of the Wheeling News in 1890. Ogden Newspapers, West Virginia's largest newspaper company, has had its headquarters in Wheeling ever since.
Nutting's involvement with the Perly Isaac Reed School of Journalism is unparalleled. He was a member of its Visiting Committee and helped establish the Ogden Newspapers and Nutting Family Journalism Endowment Scholarship Fund. His family also created the Ogden Newspapers Seminar Series and the Ogden Newspapers Endowed Visiting Professor, which was held for 10 years by the late George Esper.
Nutting also has been a member of the WVU Foundation board and was inducted into the Order of Vandalia and the WVU Business Hall of Fame.
Nutting and his wife, Betty Woods Nutting, have two sons, William and Robert, vice president and president, respectively, of Ogden Newspapers.
- Robbins earned a bachelor's degree in history from WVU in 1965, and he has never forgotten the Mountaineer community.
After leading one of Wall Street's leading investment banking firms, Robbins and his wife, Joyce, have given back to the university. They established the College of Business and Economics Center for Global Business and Strategy, a chair in history, a Distinguished Professorship in Epidemiology for the emerging School of Public Health and several other funds and scholarships.
WVU has honored Robbins by inducting him into both the Academy of Distinguished Alumni and the Order of Vandalia.
He is former chair of the WVU Foundation board and has served on advisory boards for the College of Business and Economics and the Eberly College, and is a founding member of the Mountaineer Athletic Club Development Council.
Robbins and his wife split time between Florida and Michigan and have two children.