Raikes brothers to receive commencement honors

May 7th, 2010 | By | Category: Campus News, May 6, 2010

Jeff Raikes, chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and benefactor of the Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management, will deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree at UNL’s May 8 undergraduate commencement exercises. Raikes’ talk is “Nebraska Can Change the World.”

The late Ron Raikes, Jeff Raikes’ brother, will receive the UNL Nebraska Builder Award. This award, one of the highest presented by the university, is given periodically at UNL to an individual who has contributed to building the programs or reputation of the university or the state of Nebraska. This award dates to 1946. Ron Raikes died Sept. 5, 2009, in a farming accident.

Ron Raikes served 10 years in the Nebraska Legislature as the 25th legislative district representative and for many years chaired the education committee. As chair, he significantly influenced the financing and advancement of K-12 education. He was a member of the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Board, the Nebraska Farm Business Association, Nebraska Agriculture Relations Council, Nebraska Land Improvement Contractors Association and Agriculture Builders of Nebraska. He graduated from Ashland High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in farming operations from Iowa State University, and master’s and doctoral degrees in agriculture business management and agricultural economics from University of California, Davis. He and his wife Helen were parents to three children.

Jeff Raikes gives the keynote address during UNL’s Water For Food conference on May 3.

UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman noted that Ron Raikes was a true builder of Nebraska and a strong supporter of the university. Raikes was a champion for education during his years in the legislature, his two most prominent initiatives being bills requiring merger of Class 1 school districts and the creation of a learning community to resolve disputes over financing schools in Omaha and surrounding suburbs, and he was an expert in the nuances of the state financing formula for K-12.

He also served the university as a member of the search committee for the vice chancellor for agriculture and natural resources, and as a member of an ad hoc committee to review proposals for enhancing collaboration of the life sciences. He cared deeply about agriculture in Nebraska and worked to assure that IANR was positioned to help farmers and ranchers meet their future challenges. He introduced the initial bills designed to create a master plan for the State Fair that eventually led to the transfer of State Fair Park to the university for Innovation Campus.

“It is an honor for the university to recognize this extraordinary family whose roots in Nebraska extend for more than a century,” Perlman said. “Both Jeff and Ron, in their own ways, have made lasting contributions to the state of Nebraska and to this university.”

Ron Raikes

Jeff Raikes leads the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s efforts to promote equity for all people around the world. Before joining the foundation, Raikes was a member of the Microsoft Corp.’s senior leadership team, setting strategy and direction for the company. Raikes was president of the Microsoft Business Division. He previously served as group vice president of the Worldwide Sales and Support Group, where he was responsible for providing strategic leadership for Microsoft’s sales, marketing, and service initiatives. Before that, he served as senior vice president of Microsoft North America. Jeff Raikes joined Microsoft in 1981 as a product manager and was instrumental in driving Microsoft’s applications marketing strategy. Promoted to director of applications marketing in 1984, Raikes was the chief strategist behind the company’s success in graphical applications for the Apple Macintosh and the Microsoft Windows operating system and the creation of the Microsoft Office suite of productivity applications. Before joining Microsoft, he was a software development manager at Apple Computer Inc.

Jeff Raikes holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering-economic systems from Stanford University. He and his wife, Tricia, have three children. They are founders of the Raikes Foundation and are active members of the United Way of King County (Wash.), where they served as co-chairs of the 2006-2007 fundraising campaign. Raikes also serves on the board of directors for Costco Wholesale Corp. and the Microsoft Alumni Foundation, where he is chair of the board. In June 2008, UNL’s J.D. Edwards Honors Program in Computer Science and Management was renamed the Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management. Raikes, a longtime supporter of the highly selective and renowned school, was a part of the initial conceptualization team and has served on the board since its inception in 2001.

The undergraduate commencement exercises begin at 9:30 a.m. May 8 in the Bob Devaney Sports Center where approximately 2,000 students will receive diplomas.
Commencement exercises for Master’s and doctoral candidates and the doctoral hooding ceremony begin at 3 p.m. May 7 in the Devaney Center. P. Stephen Baenziger, university professor and Eugene W. Price professor of agronomy at UNL, will deliver the address to approximately 470 recipients of advanced degrees. The title of his talk is “Education: What it Means.”

A renowned expert in grains research, Baenziger is the primary small grains breeder at UNL. His work emphasizes the improvement of winter wheat, barley, and triticale as well as improving wheat-breeding methods. Baenziger is committed to working for agriculture sustainability and profitability in Nebraska and the Great Plains region. In addition to his leading-edge research, Baenziger also teaches plant breeding at the graduate level locally and through distance education involving students from around the world in the rich educational environment of interdisciplinary research. Baenziger came to UNL in 1986 as an associate professor and was named a professor in 1991. Among his many awards are the Crop Science Research Award from the Crop Society of America and the Distinguished Service Award from the Nebraska Crop Improvement Association. He was elected to the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement in 1997 and became one of its honorees in 2009. Baenziger received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1972, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in plant breeding and genetics from Purdue University in 1974 and 1975.

The College of Law will conduct its commencement ceremony for 120 graduates at 3 p.m. May 8 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. The Hon. William Jay Riley of Omaha, chief judge of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, will deliver the address. Riley earned his bachelor’s and law degrees at UNL (1969, 1972) and served as a clerk for Judge Donald Lay of the 8th Circuit before working in private practice in Nebraska from 1973 to 2001. President George W. Bush nominated him to a seat on the 8th Circuit in 2001 and he was confirmed in a 97-0 vote of the U.S. Senate that year. On April 1, he became chief judge of the 8th Circuit, which includes Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Handicap-accessible shuttle buses will be available for easy access to the Devaney Center entrance and handicap permit parking will be available on the north side of the building.
All ceremonies are free and open to the public, and tickets are not required. Graduate and undergraduate ceremonies will be Web-streamed live from the Devaney Center through a link at the UNL website, www.unl.edu.

A drop-off area for graduates and mobility-restricted guests will be available on the south side of the Devaney Center. Closed captioning for hearing-impaired individuals will be provided through the HuskerVision screens. Reserved seats for guests who are ambulatory-restricted will be available next to the stage on the arena floor (for the May 8 ceremony, a reserved area will also be available in Section B-11, accessible from the upper concourse). Guests in wheelchairs will be seated on the northeast corner of the arena floor.

Because of security concerns, parcels, handbags and camera bags will be subject to search.

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