More than 500 receive honors at summer commencement


By Josie Loza

UNO Professor William Wakefield and the late Neil Morgensen were among more than 500 UNO students and faculty and community members receiving degrees and honors at UNO’s summer commencement, held Aug. 16 at the Omaha Civic Auditorium.

During the commencement, Wakefield and Pat Morgensen, the late Morgensen’s wife, were both presented with the Chancellor’s Medal, which recognizes their contributions for embodying the university’s missions and values.

Wakefield is a professor in UNO’s criminal justice department and has been serving the university since 1974.

During his time at UNO, he has been actively involved in teaching, research, community service and the criminal justice doctoral program.

Since 1976, Wakefield has conducted an annual study tour to London comparing the American and English criminal justice systems. He has accompanied more than 1,000 students on the tours.

Morgensen, who served UNO for 24 years, was the assistant vice chancellor of business and finance and director of facilities management and planning. He died April 17. He oversaw the construction of the Durham Science Center and the Weber Fine Arts Building.

Clair Fleener, assistant to the chancellor, said the medals are a means of recognizing extraordinary service to UNO.

“The award has existed since 1976,” Fleener said.

No more than two people are awarded during the academic year. Full-time faculty or staff members who have performed an excellence in their profession are nominated for the award.

Others honored during the commencement ceremony:

*Rodrigo Lopez received the Citation for Alumnus Achievement from the UNO Alumni Association. The award is presented to graduates who have achieved distinction in their vocations.

Lopez is the president and founder of AmeriSphere Multifamily Finance, LLC. He serves on the Housing Impact Advisory Council of Fannie Mae, the board of governors for the Mortgage Bankers Advisory Board.

*Rosemary Skrupa received the Order of the Tower, UNO’s highest non-academic award. The award is given to community leaders whose service and or financial support has made possible for the university to address the academic, cultural and economic needs of the people of Omaha and the citizens of Nebraska.

Skrupa is a former municipal court judge and two-term member of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.

*Dumitru Oprea received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. Oprea is rector of UNO’s sister university, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasdi in Romania, and director of the Iasi Romanian-American Business Development Center.