Arnold Palmer and Tom Ridge to Receive Honorary Degrees at 2012 Commencement Ceremony

April 19, 2012 – In its 197th year, Allegheny College will award honorary doctorates to two distinguished Pennsylvanians — Arnold Palmer and Tom Ridge — at the college’s 2012 Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 12.

“Allegheny College is honored that two such distinguished individuals as Arnold Palmer and Tom Ridge will be joining our community of scholars for this year’s commencement,” said Allegheny College President James H. Mullen Jr. “They embody the values that Allegheny has represented for almost 200 years. They are Pennsylvanians who have achieved the highest levels of national and international greatness while always remaining true to their Pennsylvania roots.

“To have either one of these amazing Pennsylvanians on the graduation platform with us would be an honor, but to have these two dear friends together is a special privilege,” added Mullen.

Ridge and Palmer became close friends during Ridge’s tenure as Pennsylvania governor. They golf together frequently and Ridge has even caddied for Palmer. Ridge has made joining Palmer at his Bay Hill golf tournament an annual tradition.

One of the greatest athletes of the 20th century, Arnold Palmer is known for having set the highest bar of excellence, sportsmanship and generosity in competition and public life. He amassed 92 championships in professional competition of national or international stature. Sixty-two of the victories came on the U.S. PGA Tour, starting with the 1955 Canadian Open. Seven of his victories came in what the golfing world considers the four major professional championships. He won the Masters Tournament four times, in 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1964; the U.S. Open in 1960; and the British Open in 1961 and 1962.

Highly successful as a businessman and entrepreneur, Palmer is president of Latrobe Country Club and of the Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Fla., which hosts the annual Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard, on the PGA Tour. In 1999 Palmer and a group of investors purchased the famed Pebble Beach golf complex. Since the mid-1960s, he has helped design about 300 new courses throughout the world.

He played a major role in the fund-raising drive in the 1980s that led to the creation of the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Women and the Arnold Palmer Medical Center in Orlando.

Palmer received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009. He has received virtually every national award in golf and is a charter member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and the PGA Hall of Fame.

Twice elected governor of Pennsylvania, the Honorable Tom Ridge served in the top position in the Commonwealth from 1995 to 2001, earning widespread respect as one of the most effective public servants of his time. Under his leadership, which was marked by his willingness to build coalitions that crossed party lines in order to best serve the people, the Commonwealth experienced major advances in economic development, education, health care and the environment.

Following the events of September 11, 2001, Ridge became the first Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The creation of the country’s 15th Cabinet Department marked the largest reorganization of government since the Truman administration and another call to service for the former congressman and Vietnam War veteran, who had earned the Bronze Star for Valor, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

Ridge is now the president and CEO of Ridge Global, leading a team of international experts who help businesses and governments address a range of needs throughout their organizations, including risk management, global trade security, emergency preparedness and response, strategic growth, infrastructure protection, technology integration, crisis management and other issues.

A graduate of Harvard University and Penn State University’s Dickinson School of Law, he has received numerous honors, including the Woodrow Wilson Award and the John F. Kennedy National Award.

The Commencement ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. on Bentley Hall lawn. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will take place in the Wise Center Sports Forum. Tickets are required for admission only if the ceremony is held in the Wise Center.

Media coverage of the ceremony is invited. For more information, contact Kathy Roos at 814-332-5950 or Mary Solberg at 814-332-6202.