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Posted on 04.15.2014 1:04 p.m.

Pastor Rick Warren to Speak at Westmont Commencement

Source: Scott Craig for Westmont College

Pastor Rick Warren, founder of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and author of the book The Purpose-Driven Life, will speak at Westmont College’s commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 3 on Carr Field.

Pastor Rick Warren
Pastor Rick Warren

President Gayle Beebe will give the Westmont medal to longtime Montecito neighbor Annette Simmons and her late husband, Harold, who died Dec. 28, 2013.

Commencement is free and open to the public, but no parking is available on campus. Guests must park their cars at Santa Barbara City College and use Westmont’s free shuttle service to campus, arriving at City College no later than 9:30 a.m.

A total of 367 students will participate in commencement this year, the largest graduating class in Westmont history. Thirty-six percent (132) will graduate with honors, 22 summa cum laude (at least a 3.90 GPA), 31 magna cum laude (3.75 to 3.89 GPA) and 79 cum laude (3.50 to 3.74 GPA). Golden Warriors, who graduated in 1964, will march in the procession and celebrate their 50th reunion.

“Rick Warren lives out his faith on a global scale, serving his own congregation and people worldwide through hundreds of ministries he has established to meet both physical and spiritual needs,” Beebe said. “It’s a privilege to welcome him to campus and award him an honorary doctorate.”

A global strategist, philanthropist, pastor and author, Warren has lectured at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the World Economic Forum in Davos, the United Nations, the Global Health Summit, the Aspen Ideas Institute, TED and numerous world congresses. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Saddleback Church attracts about a 100,000 attendees and offers more than 300 ministries.

Warren graduated from California Baptist University and earned a master of divinity from Southwestern Theological Seminary and a doctor of ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary.backcrowd.

Harold Simmons, one of the few self-made American billionaires, prospered as a brilliant and creative financier who controlled numerous companies, including five corporations listed on the New York Stock Exchange. As the middle son of rural schoolteachers, he graduated from the University of Texas-Austin in 1952 with a master’s degree in economics and a Phi Beta Kappa key.

Annette Simmons, born in Tyler, Texas, graduated from Southern Methodist University with a degree in education. The Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development opened in 2010 at SMU to integrate theory, research and practice of education and human development. She has served on numerous boards, including Dallas Women’s Foundation, Parkland Memorial Hospital, Baylor Hospital and the Crystal Charity Ball, which benefits children and many other organizations in the Dallas area. The ball has distributed more than $82 million since 1953.

In 2007, the Simmonses gave Westmont $1 million for student scholarships and the R. Anthony Askew Chair in Art. In 2010, they donated $1 million to campus improvements.

The Simmonses’ recent philanthropic gifts have benefited the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, Dallas Zoo and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. In 2011, the Dallas-based Harold Simmons Foundation distributed more than $17 million to various charities.

— Scott Craig is the media relations manager for Westmont College.

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