At its 143rd Commencement on May 31, Elmhurst College will confer honorary doctoral degrees on two individuals whose commitments and achievements embody the College’s mission, vision and core values.
The 2014 honorary degree recipients are Richard Blomquist, an Elmhurst College alumnus who has devoted his career to advancing quality health care, and the Reverend Geoffrey Black, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ, the denomination with which Elmhurst College is affiliated. Blomquist will give the commencement address.
Commencement 2014 is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. on the College Mall. For information about tickets, live-streaming the event, local hotels and more, see our Commencement website.
Richard Blomquist received his bachelor’s degree in economics and psychology from Elmhurst College in 1974. He will receive his honorary degree in recognition of his contributions to the health care industry and his advocacy of quality patient care and ethical billing practices.
The president of Blomquist Benefits LLC, Blomquist has focused his career on advocating for and helping to bring about policies that promote quality, affordable health care. From 1984 until 2001, he owned and operated Associates for Health Care, Inc. (AHC), headquartered in Brookfield, Wisconsin. In 2001, AHC represented $732 million to the Wisconsin health care market, making it the largest private-sector purchaser of health care in the state. That year, Blomquist sold AHC to BCE Emergis and managed the company until March of 2002. Today the company is part of the Multiplan group, which represents more than $2.5 billion to the Wisconsin market.
A member of the board of directors of Independent Business Association of Wisconsin, Blomquist chairs the association's Insurance Committee. He also serves on the boards of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Council of Small Business Executives, the Milwaukee chapter of the American Heart Association and the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts.
The Reverend Geoffrey Black was elected general minister and president of the United Church of Christ in June of 2009. In recent years, Black and Elmhurst College have worked together to articulate the College’s understanding of itself as an institution of historical affiliation with the UCC. In 2011, when the College announced its then-controversial decision to offer undergraduate applicants the option of self-identifying with the LGBT community, Black provided strong public support of the College’s decision.
Before becoming general minister of the UCC, Black served as conference minister of the UCC's New York Conference. He also has served as a minister with the then-Office for Church Life and Leadership, a national agency of the United Church of Christ housed at the UCC's national offices in Cleveland.
Ecumenical commitment, concern for equal justice, African-American empowerment and community improvement have shaped Black's ministry in the church and the communities in which he has lived. This has resulted in his work with organizations such as the Nassau Coalition for Safety and Justice, the Long Island Interracial Alliance for a Common Future and the Amistad Cultural Center of Long Island, which he co-founded. While living in Ohio, Black has been an active member of Caring Communities of Shaker Heights, Ohio, and Partnership 2000 of the Shaker Public Schools.