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William Penn University to Hold Commencement Ceremony


William Penn University will hold it’s 142nd commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 6 at 10:00 a.m. in the Penn Activity Center (PAC). Doors will open to the public at 8:30 a.m. Shuttle service provided by the Mahaska Community Recreation Foundation trail carts will drop attendees off at the appropriate entrances. For those that are unable to attend, the Communication Research Institute will live stream the ceremony via the web on William Penn University’s homepage,

The 2017 commencement speaker has been announced as Jerry Ellis (’58). Serving as current Chair of the William Penn University Board of Trustees, Ellis has experience in leadership within and outside of the university. Born in Iowa City, Iowa, Ellis moved around southeastern Iowa during his youth, graduating locally from Oskaloosa High School in 1956. Knowing that college was the best path for him, he chose to continue his education at William Penn College.

After his time as a student at William Penn College from 1956–1958, Ellis transferred to the University of Iowa, completing his BBA in 1960 and his MBA in 1962. Although he transferred from one college to another, Ellis maintains that William Penn was the solid foundation for his college experience.

Following his college education, Ellis joined the international accounting firm of Arthur Andersen in 1962 and spent 38 years with the firm in Dallas, Texas; Madrid, Spain; and Chicago, Illinois. His hard work and dedication paid off and he was admitted to the firm’s partnership in 1973. Over the years, he served as an audit partner on clients, ranging from large international public companies to smaller non-profit companies. In the last few years, he was a project leader for the design and development of firm-wide audit training.

Ellis and his wife Lucy (Calef) Ellis moved their permanent home to Pella in 1998, and from 2000–2006 he served as an adjunct professor, teaching advanced auditing at the University of Iowa. From 2001–2009, he served on the Board of Directors and Audit Committee of two public pharmaceutical companies (Sciele Pharma and Akorn, Inc.). He joined the William Penn Board of Trustees in 2004 and became the Chair in 2011. Ellis has coached youth soccer in Pella for 12 years and continues to do so. He also scouts future opponents and serves on the film editing team for the girls’ soccer coach at Pella Community High School. Other leadership positions he has held include: Dallas Chapter President of the National Association of Accountants; President of the Board, North Texas Food Bank; President of the Board of the Special Care School for Developmentally Challenged Students; President of Lake Highlands Soccer Association; President of Pella Soccer Club; Chair of Pella’s Fall Festival; and Vice President of the Consistory of Pella’s First Reformed Church

Ellis and his wife Lucy have three sons: Brooks (Christie) Ellis of Dallas, Texas; Berry (Sheila) Ellis of Wilmette, Illinois; and Collin (Stephanie) Ellis of Houston, Texas. They currently have eight grandchildren: Ford, Caroline, Lauren, Jack, Ryan, Keegan, Max, and Quinn.

Following commencement exercises, the William Penn University Alumni Association will hold the traditional Blue and Gold Ceremony. This ceremony serves as the official induction into the Alumni Association for all members of the class of 2017. For questions or further information on commencement exercises, contact Christy Boston, Executive Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, by calling 641-673-1010.

The ceremony will also be aired live on MCG Channel 7 and MCG Channel 12, in addition to the web live stream at


For more information, contact:

Hailey Brown
Communications/Event Coordinator
William Penn University
(641) 673-1078 |

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