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Muskingum University Honors 2017 Graduates at 172nd Commencement Ceremony
Suzi Egli Hanna ‘69 Addresses Graduates, Urging Them To Seek ‘Ultimate Joy’ By Serving Others

Muskingum University honored its undergraduate class of 2017 during the university’s 172nd commencement ceremony on Saturday. The ceremony featured an address by wildlife conservationist, world explorer and Muskingum alumna Suzi Egli Hanna, who — with the help of a sloth, penguin and a pair of cheetahs — encouraged graduates to seek ultimate joy through service to others.

President Susan S. Hasseler“You will leave these hills today no longer a Muskingum University student, yet you will forever remain part of the Muskingum University community,” said Dr. Susan S. Hasseler in her first commencement ceremony as Muskingum’s President. “Your Muskingum education will be your foundation for your professional, personal, and spiritual lives. It will ground you and it will guide you. It will lead you in your calling to have an impact on the world around you.”

Bachelor of arts, bachelor of science and bachelor of science in nursing degrees were conferred to graduating Muskingum students. In recognition of her achievements, the university bestowed upon Mrs. Hanna the honorary degree of doctor of humane letters.

“As you go through life, gaining wisdom, you will realize that fame, fortune and power only bring temporary happiness,” Mrs. Hanna said. “Ultimate joy comes from the love of God, family, and friends. Treasure those relationships. Ultimate joy also comes from knowing you have made a positive difference in a person or animal’s life, leading to a better world — what a powerful legacy to leave behind!”

A New Jersey native, Mrs. Hanna — then Suzi Egli — enrolled at Muskingum to study physical education and health. During her time on campus, she also was a cheerleading captain. In 1968, she and fellow student Jack Hanna — an animal enthusiast from Tennessee — married in Brown Chapel on the university’s campus.

Suzi Hanna and cheetas“Besides my wonderful education, Muskingum gave me something else that proved to be very valuable — my best friend, Jack,” she said. “He was this charming guy from Tennessee, with a cute southern drawl and a great sense of humor. The added plus was his beloved donkey, Doc, who became the school mascot. I used Doc in all pep rallies and at every football game.”

Together, Suzi and Jack Hanna have traveled the globe, been involved in wildlife conservation on every continent, and educated others about the animal world through frequent media appearances. They have focused particular efforts on Rwanda, dedicating wildlife, educational, and humanitarian support to the endangered Mountain Gorilla habitat and the residents of its surrounding communities.

As a co-star on “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild,” Mrs. Hanna has helped bring the complexities, challenges and realities of global cultures into the living rooms of families across the United States. “Into the Wild” is currently airing in its tenth season and has been awarded four Daytime Emmy Awards. She also regularly appears on “Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown.”

During the ceremony, the university recognized retiring faculty members Shelia J. Ellenberger, the Henry S. and Katherine W. Evans Director and Distinguished Librarian; Jeffrey D. Harman, Professor of Communication and Director of Broadcasting; Ronald N. Lauck, Associate Professor of Communication and Theatre; and Jean A. Morris, Associate Professor of French. Each was given the honorary title of Emeritus Faculty Member.

Graduate on stageThe charge to the class from the faculty was presented by Associate Professor of Sociology, Dr. Sandra Schroer, and the charge from the Board of Trustees was presented by 1962 alumnus and Board of Trustees Chairman Harold W. Burlingame. The faculty marshals were Professor of Communication Dr. Jeffrey D. Harman and Harry and Mary Evelyn Laurent Distinguished Professor of Psychology Dr. Larry Normansell. Student Marshals were Morgan Stocker and Trevor Wilkinson.

To watch Muskingum’s 2017 commencement ceremony in full, including Mrs. Hanna’s address to the graduating class, visit the Commencement page.