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Dennison, Washington to deliver commencement addresses May 11; Wolf to receive President’s Award

ISSUED: 18 April 2019
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University alumnus Brandon Dennison, CEO of Coalfield Development Corporation, and The Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington, president and founder of the Washington Consulting Group, will deliver the commencement addresses during Shepherd University’s 146th Commencement on Saturday, May 11.

Dennison, who will deliver the undergraduate address at 1:50 p.m. in the Butcher Center, will be awarded a Doctor of Business honorary degree during the ceremony. Alumnus Karl Wolf will be awarded the President’s Award for his service to the university.

Washington, who will deliver the commencement address to master’s and doctoral degree candidates at 11 a.m. in the Frank Center, will receive a Doctor of Business honorary degree during the ceremony.

Both ceremonies are by ticket only. A livestream of the ceremonies will be available at on the day of the ceremonies.

Brandon Dennison is a native West Virginian and social entrepreneur. In May 2010, Dennison founded Coalfield Development Corporation, a family of social enterprises that blends the efficiencies of the for-profit world with the compassion of the nonprofit world. He built Coalfield Development on a business model with three bottom lines—financial, social, and environmental. Coalfield Development raises money through grants, fundraisers, sales, and contracts. It trains people through its five social enterprises—Reclaim Appalachia, which finds a use for mined land; Rediscover Appalachia, which deconstructs old, abandoned buildings and uses materials from them to make furniture and other products; Refresh Appalachia, which trains people in innovative sustainable agriculture; Revitalize Appalachia, which offers on-the-job training to renovate dilapidated buildings; and Rewire Appalachia, which coordinates community-based solar projects.

His vision to reimagine and revitalize the Southern West Virginia economy has led to extensive media coverage, including appearances on Moyers & Company, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, CNN, the 2014 National Geographic documentary “From the Ashes,” and the Starbucks original series “Upstanders,” as well as feature stories in the Chronicle of Philanthropy and Wall Street Journal.

Dennison graduated from Shepherd University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in history and a Bachelor of Science in political science. He served five years as youth director at Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church, and simultaneously served three years as faith outreach coordinator for the West Virginia Wilderness Coalition. In 2014, Dennison was named to the 40 under 40 list by the West Virginia State Journal. He recently completed the Community Progress Leadership Institute at Harvard University Law School and participated in the Clinton Global Initiative. He holds a master’s in public affairs from Indiana University, with a concentration in nonprofit management. He was honored in October 2018 by Shepherd University as a member of the inaugural class of the Alumni Association’s Finest Under 40.

The Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington is the president and founder of the Washington Consulting Group (WCG). In October 2015, WCG was named by The Economist as one of the Top 10 Global Diversity Consultants in the world. Washington has served as an educator, administrator, and consultant in higher education for more than 34 years. He is the president and co-founder of the Social Justice Training Institute and the immediate past president of ACPA: College Student Educators International.

Washington earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Slippery Rock State College; two Master of Science degrees from Indiana University-Bloomington; a Ph.D. in college student development from the University of Maryland College Park; and a Master of Divinity degree from Howard University School of Divinity. He has received many awards and honors—most recently he was honored with the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s Legends of Excellence Award for his contribution to the lives and education of Black and LatinX faculty, staff, and students. He is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Golden Key, Alpha Phi Omega, Phi Delta Kappa, and a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He serves as pastor of Unity Fellowship Church of Baltimore and is an elder in the Unity Fellowship Church.

Karl Wolf graduated from Shepherd in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and earned an M.B.A. from George Washington University in 1973. For more than 40 years, he has served his alma mater in various capacities of both a professional and civic nature. He served as director of admissions from 1970 until 2004, at which time he was named director of athletics. In 2009, he was named assistant to the vice president for academic affairs for compliance and athletic initiatives, a role in which he served for four years until his retirement in 2013.

During Wolf’s five-year tenure as director of athletics, the football team participated in four NCAA regional postseason championships, and women’s basketball, softball, and baseball each participated in NCAA regional postseason championship play. Under his leadership, Shepherd joined the honor society of Chi Alpha Sigma to recognize outstanding academic achievement by Shepherd athletes, completed the five-year NCAA institutional self-study, and added women’s lacrosse as a sixth women’s sport. Facilities improvements included new chair-back seating and a new center-court hanging scoreboard in the Butcher Center, and new bleachers and press box at the softball field.

Now retired, Wolf remains involved with several student organizations at Shepherd. He has served as advisor of the university’s Lambda Chi Alpha chapter since its 1975 inception. He also serves as advisor to the Epsilon Kappa chapter of the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity.

A longtime donor to the university, Karl has established four named funds through the Shepherd University Foundation, including the Karl L. Wolf General Scholarship, the Karl L. Wolf General Athletic Scholarship, the New and Emerging Sports Scholarship, and the Lambda Chi Alpha Scholarship. He is also a member of the Joseph P. McMurran Society, a special group of donors who have chosen to share their lifelong financial achievements with Shepherd University through estate and other planned gifts.

A longtime member of the Shepherd University Foundation Board of Directors, Wolf now serves in the role of director emeritus. In 1992, he received the Richard Apperson Award from the Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling in recognition of his extraordinary service to students. In 2003, the Shepherd University Alumni Association recognized his achievements by naming him Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.

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