For Immediate Release: 4/4/2011
Television Icon John Ratzenberger Named 2011 Commencement Speaker
Providence, R.I.-- John Ratzenberger, the former Cheers star and a leading voice in the most successful animated films in movie history, will present the Commencement Address at Providence College's Ninety-Third Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 15, 2011, at 11:00 a.m. at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence.
Ratzenberger, whose movie roles--when measured by box office totals--make him the sixth-most successful actor of all time, is one of five distinguished individuals who have been chosen to receive honorary degrees from the College.
The others--all PC alumni--are William J. Christie '61, David A. Duffy '61, John J. Partridge, Esq. '61, and Dr. Stephen B. Fawcett '69. Christie, Duffy, and Partridge are celebrating their 50th class reunions this year.
Best known for his Emmy-nominated role as know-it-all mail carrier Cliff Clavin in the landmark sitcom Cheers, Ratzenberger has enjoyed an acting career that has spanned more than 30 years. In addition to Cheers, he has appeared in episodes of hit shows that include Magnum P.I., St. Elsewhere, Wings, Murphy Brown, The Simpsons (voice), and Hill Street Blues.
Ratzenberger also has had roles in a number of iconic films, including Superman, Superman II, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and Gandhi. He has provided a voice part in all of Pixar's feature films, including all three Toy Story movies, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars and Cars 2, and WALL-E.
From 2004-08, Ratzenberger produced and hosted Made in America, a show on the Travel Channel that celebrated American-made products. He is the co-author of We've Got it Made in America: A Common Man's Salute to an Uncommon Country (Center Street, 2006).
A champion of many charitable causes, Ratzenberger has served as chairman of www.childrenwithdiabetes.com, the world's largest Internet venture connecting diabetes information and research. As National Walk chairman for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, he has helped raise more than $100 million for diabetes.
He is the creator of the non-profit Nuts, Bolts and Thingamajigs Foundation, whose mission is to inspire the next generation of engineers, artists, craftsmen, and carpenters. He has developed packaging alternatives made from biodegradable and non-toxic recycled paper as a safe alternative to Styrofoam "peanuts" and plastic bubble wrap.
He serves on the University Board at Pepperdine University and is an active board member of the Center for America, a nonprofit organization whose educational programs and learning resources encourage people to analyze and help solve issues that affect the future quality of life, economic prosperity, and freedom in America.
Ratzenberger has received numerous honors for his work as a humanitarian and actor. In 1992, Sacred Heart University presented him with an honorary doctorate for his contributions to the American arts. He earned the Father's Day Council of America's "Father of the Year" award in 1996 and the "Outstanding Role Model" award from the American Diabetes Association.
Ratzenberger attended Sacred Heart University, where he later served on its Board of Trustees.
Ratzenberger is the father of Nina K. Ratzenberger, a member of the PC Class of 2011, and James Ratzenberger.
William J. Christie '61 is president and CEO of William J. Christie Associates, Inc., and W.J. Christie International Planning Corp., businesses which provide financial planning advice, insurance planning, and retirement and asset management programs.
Commissioned an officer in the United States Marine Corps, he served from 1961-65. Christie began his career in the insurance and financial services field in 1966 after finishing two years of law school at American University's Washington College of Law. He also completed advanced business courses at The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa., Purdue University, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
A registered insurance consultant in New York, Christie achieved the designations of CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter) and ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant) from The American College. He is a member of the Association of Advanced Life Underwriters, an organization comprised of the top life insurance professionals in the U.S.
Christie, who earned a bachelor's degree in economics from PC, is a former member of the College's Board of Trustees. He served as chairman of the board's Building and Property Committee and also was a member of the Investment Committee. In 1991, he was honored by the Metropolitan Club of New York with its Personal Achievement Award. In 2002, an endowed scholarship was established by the Christie family to provide financial aid to a qualified lacrosse student-athlete.
Throughout his life, Christie has demonstrated a deep passion for numerous Roman Catholic and humanitarian causes. He is a member of the Order of Malta, a Catholic lay order that serves the poor and sick worldwide. He currently is supporting a Malta project, Happy Houses, which provides newly constructed concrete homes for the poor of Haiti. He served twice as chairman of the Special Gifts Committee of Catholic Charities of Suffolk County, Long Island, N.Y.
He has been involved in volunteer efforts to renovate a Catholic church for migrant worker families in central Florida. Currently, he is working to establish a dental clinic for the poor in northeast Washington, D.C. and volunteers at a soup kitchen and homeless shelter in Vero Beach, Fla. Along with his wife, Maryann, Christie also volunteered after Hurricane Katrina to rehabilitate damaged homes in New Orleans.
Christie is a past president and past 25-year board member of The Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, N.Y. He also served as a regional board member of The Bank of New York for many years.
The Christies are the parents of Kerry Christie McConville '86, William J. Christie, Jr. '93, Emmett P. Christie '93, Marybeth Christie Redmond, and Kathleen Christie Hillsman. They are the proud grandparents of 16 grandchildren.
David A. Duffy '61 is chairman of the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority and the retired founder and chairman of Duffy & Shanley, a Providence-based marketing communications firm.
A U.S. Army veteran, Duffy served two years' active duty and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for meritorious service. Prior to founding Duffy & Shanley in 1973, he served as a special assistant to the assistant U.S. secretary of transportation in Washington, D.C., and worked on special projects for the late New York governor and U.S. Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller. In 2002, Duffy served as transition director for then-R.I. Governor Donald L. Carcieri '10Hon.
A former vice chair of the College's Board of Trustees, Duffy served as the chair of the Providence President's Council for 12 years and remains a council member. In 2005, upon his retirement as chair of the President's Council, he received the College's Lifetime Achievement Award. He also served as president of the National Alumni Association and received the Distinguished Service Award for his contributions as an alumnus. He has chaired or served on numerous other College committees as well.
Extremely active in the community, Duffy is a member of the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. He is the founding chair of the Rhode Island Sports Council, a member of the Board of Advisors of the Rhode Island Commodores, a director of Delta Dental of Rhode Island, and a director of Citizens Bank of Rhode Island and of Connecticut. He also is a trustee of the Churchill Tax-Free Income Fund of Kentucky and chairman of the Narragansett Insured Tax-Free Income Fund.
Duffy, who received a bachelor's degree in letters from PC, is past chair of the national Board of Directors of the National Conference for Christians and Jews (NCCJ), now the National Conference for Community and Justice. He also is past chair of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, a past trustee of Rhode Island Hospital, and the founding chair of the Advisory Board for the Little Sisters of the Poor in Pawtucket, R.I.
Duffy has received numerous honors for his community service efforts, including the NCCJ's Lifetime Achievement Award, the "Never Again" award from the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island, the Amby Smith Award for contributions to Rhode Island sports from Words Unlimited, Leadership Rhode Island's Annual Community Service Award, and the "Anchor of Hope" award for lifetime service to Catholic education from the Diocese of Providence.
Duffy is the father of three children: Jennifer, Jonathan, and Jeremy '93. He is married to Heidi Kirk Duffy, who is also a former member of PC's Board of Trustees and is currently a member of the Providence President's Council.
John J. Partridge, Esq. '61 is a founding partner of and currently senior counsel to the law firm Partridge, Snow & Hahn LLP, which has four offices in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. His practice focuses on strategic business decision making, corporate governance, regulatory concerns of profit and non-profit entities, and family wealth transition.
After earning his juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School in 1964, Partridge served as a captain in the U.S. Army for three years, receiving the Joint Service Commendation Medal for Services Rendered in Vietnam. He spent the next 21 years as an attorney at Tillinghast Collins & Tanner before founding Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP in 1988.
A history major at PC, Partridge graduated with summa cum laude honors and was a member of the first four-year class of the Honors Program. Long active in alumni affairs, he was awarded the Providence College Alumni Recognition Award from the National Alumni Association in 1999. He is a former secretary of the alumni association, a former member of the College’s Board of Trustees, and a former vice chair of the Providence President’s Council.
His current service to the College includes serving as chairman of the Liberal Arts Honors Program Leadership Council and the Honors Program’s Thomson Fund. He also remains a member of the Providence President’s Council.
Partridge is recognized in Chambers USA America’s Leading Lawyers for Business as a leading lawyer in corporate/commercial work among his peers and as among The Best Lawyers in America. Super Lawyers, in its inaugural Rhode Island edition, included Partridge in its list of the top 5 percent of attorneys in the state.
Affiliated with numerous civic and business organizations, Partridge served as legal counsel to the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce for 27 years. He was chairman of the Old Slater Mill Association, Common Cause of Rhode Island, and Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island. He was the co-founder and co-chairman of The Pawtucket Foundation, and an officer and director of enumerable not-for-profit entities.
He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Pawtucket Boys & Girls Club and is the treasurer of the Ocean State Charities Trust.
Partridge was the private sector chairman of the Coalition of Northeastern Governors and served on numerous local and state commissions. He fostered the passage of legislation which opened up public records in Rhode Island to scrutiny and, as a member of the 1974 Constitutional Convention, secured the first disclosure of campaign contributions. He also is a trustee of three mutual funds.
A published mystery novelist, he is the author of Carom Shot (Chukar Books, 2005) and the soon-to-be-published Scratched.
Partridge and his wife, Regina, have three children: Sarah, Gregory, and David.
Dr. Stephen B. Fawcett '69 is the Kansas Health Foundation Distinguished Professor of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas, where he has served as a faculty member since 1975. He also is the director of the university's Work Group for Community Health and Development (KU Work Group), a World Health Organization Collaborating Center and an affiliate of the Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies at KU.
Fawcett is a leading voice nationally and internationally in community health and development. In his work, he uses behavioral science and community development methods to help understand and improve conditions that affect health and well-being, especially of people experiencing poverty and social injustice.
As director of the KU Work Group, Fawcett promotes community health and development through collaborative research, teaching, and public service. Its research projects have included local and national efforts to prevent chronic disease and childhood obesity, prevention of substance abuse and adolescent pregnancy, and community development with groups experiencing disparities.
Fawcett is the co-developer of the KU Work Group's Community Tool Box, a worldwide, Internet-based resource for building capacity for community health and development. The 7,000-page Community Tool Box is also available in Spanish, with other languages, including Arabic, forthcoming.
A former scholar-in-residence at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences, he served as a member of the IOM's Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice. A former visiting scholar at the World Health Organization (WHO), he serves as a member of the WHO Expert Panel on Health Promotion.
A former VISTA volunteer who worked as a community organizer in public housing and low-income neighborhoods, Fawcett has been honored as a fellow in both community psychology and experimental analysis of behavior by the American Psychological Association.
He is co-author of nearly 200 articles and book chapters and several books in the areas of health promotion, participatory research, capacity building, and community-based research. The books include Learning Counseling and Problem-Solving Skills (Routledge, 1982) and Evaluating Community Efforts to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease (U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 2004).
Fawcett, who earned his bachelor's degree in biology from PC, has consulted with a number of private foundations and national organizations, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the California Wellness Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Pan American Health Organization. He also has served as a visiting scholar at the World Health Organization in Geneva.
Among several career honors, he received the Distinguished Practice Award of the Society for Community Research and Action and the Higuchi/Endowment Award for Applied Sciences.
Fawcett, who was a first-generation college student at PC, earned his master's degree in human development and his doctorate in developmental psychology from the University of Kansas.
Fawcett is married to Kathleen McCluskey-Fawcett, and they are the parents of four children: Jake Fawcett, John Paul Fawcett, John McCluskey, and Thomas Fawcett.