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Renowned artist and Ohio University alumna encourages graduates not to fear failure

ATHENS, Ohio (June 11, 2005) -- World-renowned artist and Ohio University alumna Arlene "Phoebe" Beasley used life experiences to teach lessons to more than 3,000 graduates at Ohio University's undergraduate commencement ceremonies on Saturday, June 11, in the Convocation Center.

Click to watch video"Sometimes the world has bigger ideas and dreams for you than you have for yourself if you just keep doing the work," she said.

Beasley specializes in oils-on-canvas as well as prints and collages, and her works are featured in the homes of celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Gordon Parks and Maya Angelou. She is the only artist to twice receive the Presidential Seal on her artworks. Her commissions include the official artist of the 2000 National Democratic Convention, the 1987 and 2000 Los Angeles marathons and the 100 Black Men National Convention in Detroit in 1999.

"Someday you may get to a place in life where you want or need to make changes - to change direction, add new information to your skill set - but you're worried about failing or making a mistake, and that constant fear of rejection. As artists, we learn a lot about rejection very early in our careers. But, if you're not making mistakes, you're not learning anything new. You're just marking time," Beasley said.

The morning undergraduate commencement ceremony recognized bachelor and associate degree candidates in the colleges of Business, Communication, Fine Arts, and Health and Human Services. The afternoon session honored candidates in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education, and Engineering and Technology, as well as those in Honors Tutorial College, University College and Regional Higher Education.

Senior Class President Nadine Wise greeted the graduates and shared words of wisdom, discussing life in a post-Sept 11 world.

"We are the first class to finish an entire four years of college in a post-Sept. 11 world...we carried on in courage. I urge you to proceed here with optimism and hope in a world that has been forever changed," she said.

Also at today's ceremonies, honorary degrees were conferred on Charles Stuckey Jr., who received the doctor of engineering, and Beasley, who received the doctor of fine arts. Ohio University professors Daniel Modaff and Richard Greenlee were honored with Presidential Teacher Awards.


Photos by Rick FaticaStuckey began his career even before he finished school. While attending Ohio University's Lancaster campus, he worked full-time at Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation. He later commuted to the Athens campus while working part-time jobs in Lancaster and Athens. He received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Ohio University in 1966.

Considered an expert in the field of e-security, he has a background in general management and sales in high technology spanning more than 35 years. From 1987 to 2000, Stuckey was CEO of R.S.A. Security Inc., a software company that helps organizations protect identities and information access. Under his leadership, R.S.A. grew from 18 employees in 1987 to 1,000 employees in 2000 and is ranked in the top 100 software companies worldwide.

A trustee of The Ohio University Foundation, Stuckey is a respected and admired professional in the fields of engineering and technology. He serves on the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology's Board of Visitors and was inducted into the college's Academy of Distinguished Graduates in 2000.

Stuckey and his wife, Marilyn, endowed a named professorship in the School of Electrical Engineering and a Cutler Scholarship. They also made a gift for a new addition to the Russ College's Stocker Center.


An Ohio University faculty member since 1995, Modaff is an associate professor in the School of Communication Studies in the College of Communication. He earned his doctorate in organizational communication, and language and social interaction from the University of Texas at Austin.

The co-author of a textbook on organizational communication, he also has written two book chapters and numerous articles published in leading professional journals. He also is the co-developer of Communi-Coach, a speech and performance evaluation software, and has produced a variety of public radio features.

He is the professor not only voted most outstanding graduate faculty member in 2004 but also a 2005 University Professor. He served as commencement speaker at the graduate commencement, Friday, June 10.

Photos by Rick FaticaGreenlee is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Social Work, in the College of Arts and Sciences. He earned his master's degree in social work at the University of Pittsburgh and his doctorate in social work at The Ohio State University.

He was the previous recipient of the University Professor Award in 1994-95 and the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Outstanding Teacher Award in 2001. He also received the Division of Student Affairs Faculty Contribution Award in 1999.

Greenlee teaches courses in social work administration, social work practice and alcoholism. He has published in the areas of mental health, workfare, rural homelessness and poverty. He is a frequent presenter at local, state and national conferences on cultural competence and Appalachian culture.

The Presidential Teacher Awards were established to identify faculty for their excellence as teachers both inside and outside the classroom. Those selected for the Presidential Teacher Award receive a three-year stipend and hold the title "Presidential Teacher" for that time.

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Media Contact: Media Specialist George Mauzy, (740) 597-1794 or mauzy@ohio.edu; Pager: (740) 290-4479

Editors: Photos of today's undergraduate commencement ceremonies can be downloaded from the Web after 4 p.m.:

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