Heidelberg announces ’17 commencement, baccalaureate speakers

John Buccigross, one of Heidelberg University’s most distinguished alumni, will return to campus to deliver the 2017 commencement address, President Robert H. Huntington has announced. Buccigross, co-host of ESPN’s SportsCenter nightly telecast, will speak to the graduates, their families and friends and the Heidelberg community on Sunday, May 14, in Hoernemann Stadium.

Baccalaureate services will be held Saturday, May 13, and will feature a sermon by the Rev. John Dorhauer, the ninth General Minister and president of the United Church of Christ.

Buccigross, who graduated from Heidelberg in 1988, landed his dream job at ESPN in 1996 when he was hired as an anchor. In his early days at the network, he was the primary host for NHL 2Night. Today, he can been seen nightly as the co-host of ESPN’s SportsCenter at 11 p.m. He also serves as the play-by-play voice of the NCAA Hockey Championship.

Before joining ESPN, Buccigross had been at WPRI-TV in Providence, R.I., starting as the station’s weekend sports anchor in 1994 and later becoming the weekday anchor. His career started at local news network Cape 11 News in Massachusetts.

A native of Pittsburgh, Buccigross grew up in Steubenville. He majored in communication and theatre arts at Heidelberg and has never forgotten his ‘Berg roots or his faculty mentors. Heidelberg honored him with a Young Alumni Achievement Award in 2003. He has returned to campus numerous times to speak with Heidelberg students about his career in broadcasting. In 2013, he taught a Principles of Media Management class via Skype.

In 2012, Buccigross began a charitable venture utilizing social media called “BucciOvertimeChallenge,” which raises funds for hockey-themed or hockey-led charities. He has served on the advisory board of You Can Play, a campaign dedicated to fighting homophobia in sports.

Dorhauer previously served as the Conference Minister of the Southwest Conference of the UCC, serving congregations and clergy in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Passionate about justice and the future of the denomination, Dorhauer has called on the UCC to rethink itself and consider new ways of “being church” in light of reduced societal interest in institutional religion and the decline in UCC membership since the 1960s. He is the author of Beyond Resistance: The Institutional Church Meets the Postmodern World (2015) and Steeplejacking: How the Christian Right is Hijacking Mainstream Religion (2007).

Under his leadership, UCC congregations have addressed the issue of racism through the Black Lives Matter movement and the UCC’s 2016 White Privilege curriculum, which Dorhauer initiated. He has campaigned against discrimination, including that aimed at the LGBTW community and offered visible and welcome public support for Muslim neighbors through the UCC’s Bridge Building initiative.

Heidelberg will present Buccigross and Dorhauer with honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees. 

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