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Lebda, Burr to speak at Wingate commencement ceremonies

by Luanne Williams

The founder of a $3 billion disruptor in the financial services industry and the U.S. lawmaker leading the Senate’s ongoing probe of Russian election meddling will share their wisdom with 590 Wingate University graduates at spring Commencement next week.

The ceremony for those earning graduate degrees is set for May 10 at 6:30 p.m. and will feature Doug Lebda, CEO of LendingTree. Sen. Richard Burr will address undergraduates at their May 11 Commencement, which will start at 9 a.m. Both events will be held outside in the University’s Academic Quad.

doug Lebda

Lebda, whose online lending company was born out of his own struggles to find the best mortgage for his first home, has been in the news this week: LendingTree has announced that it will move its headquarters from Ballantyne to South End, becoming the anchor of a new upscale development. Already employing nearly 500 people in the Queen City, the company has promised to bring 436 new jobs to Charlotte, including marketing and technology positions with an average salary of $101,000.

Lebda will address 29 graduates from the Porter Byrum School of Business, 28 from the College of Professional Studies and more than 100 from the Levine College of Health Sciences.

Burr’s audience the following morning will include 428 undergraduates receiving degrees: 347 bachelor of science, 40 bachelor of arts, 21 bachelor of science in nursing, 11 bachelor of liberal studies, and nine bachelor of music education.

Combined with those who walked in December, there are about 850 receiving Wingate degrees during the 2018-19 academic year.

Richard Burr

First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994, Burr served five terms in the House and is currently in his third term in the U.S. Senate. He has led the Senate Intelligence Committee as its investigation into Russian interference has stretched into its third year. Burr told the media recently that committee staff has interviewed more than 200 witnesses from multiple countries and reviewed more than 300,000 pages of documents. He says some questions raised over the investigation could occupy the committee for another decade but also that he doesn’t plan to run for re-election in 2022.

In addition to speeches from Lebda and Burr, the ceremonies will include the presentation of a handful of graduate awards and also awards for top faculty at both the undergrad and graduate levels. At each ceremony, the University will award honorary degrees.

Tickets are not required for attendance, and parking is free. A live video feed will be available in Austin Auditorium, which is air-conditioned and handicap-accessible.

May 3, 2019

Graduates with decorated mortarboards.