Ryan Saddler '95, '06 MEd, Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Director of the Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) at St. Ambrose University, will be the Commencement speaker at the 2020 Winter graduation ceremony for undergraduate students on December 19.
A total of 264 degrees are expected to be conferred during three ceremonies, which are scheduled to be held in-person unless Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds extends a state-wide restriction on the size of gatherings through Dec. 19. The university is monitoring the situation closely and will keep students and employees advised as more information becomes available.
If held as planned, the undergraduate ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. at the RiverCenter in Davenport. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, attendance will be limited to undergraduate degree recipients and two guests each.
The ceremony will be live-streamed; a link will be available on the Commencement website.
Separate hooding ceremonies for students earning graduate degrees will be held on Dec. 18 at 5 p.m. in the Allaert Auditorium of the Galvin Fine Arts Center for degree candidates in the Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, Master of Science in Internet Technology Management, Master of Organizational Leadership, Master of Pastoral Theology, Master of Physician Assistant Studies, and Master of Public Health programs.
Candidates in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program will be hooded and awarded degrees at 7 p.m. in the Rogalski Center Ballroom for the DPT graduates.
2020 Winter Commencement Speaker
Saddler, Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Director of the Accessibility Resource Center, will be the Commencement speaker on Dec. 19.
Saddler graduated from St. Ambrose in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Psychology. He added a Master of Education degree with a Postsecondary Disability Services emphasis from St. Ambrose in 2006 and has built the ARC into a primary set of student services over the years.
Changes to the federal definition of disabilities has allowed more students access to accessibility resources during the past 15 years, and Saddler encourages his lean team to focus on each and every student.
"I tell our staff, ‘The most important person to you is the person sitting in front of you. That person is to be valued, so we're going to listen and with the intent of discerning what this person is asking and how we can be of service,'" he said. "It's not always easy, but we are trying to establish relationships with every person who walks through our door."
Saddler co-chaired the university's Diversity Work Group for more than a decade, was named Director of Diversity in 2013, and elevated to Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion a year ago.
Saddler said the challenge of achieving real diversity, equity, and inclusion is ongoing.
"I don't see that as a negative," he said. "This concept is so complex, and we continue to learn each day. We are always present and we are always learning."
Saddler is well known in the Quad Cities for his work on enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the community, and has represented the University through a number of professional and community boards and networks. He served 10 years in various capacities including president for ILLOWA AHEAD (Association on Higher Education and Disability); is a founding member and Vice-President of the Quad City Minority Partnership, Inc. (2006); serves as a reader for the Scott County Regional Authority Grant; a founding member of the Mottet Leadership Institute core leadership team; and a Tri-Chair of the African American Leadership Society.