Two well-known and widely admired Fox Cities community leaders, one of the country’s most celebrated scholars of American colonial history and the founder of the world’s largest contemporary blues record label will be recognized for their achievements with honorary degrees from Lawrence University Sunday, June 15 during the college’s 154th commencement.
Lawrence will award an honorary doctor of laws to Oscar Boldt, chairman of The Boldt Group, and his wife, community volunteer Patricia Boldt, an honorary doctor of humane letters to acclaimed Yale University historian Edmund Morgan and an honorary doctor of music to award-winning record producer Bruce Iglauer.
In addition, Lawrence will confer 279 bachelor’s degrees during commencement exercises, which begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Main Hall Green. A baccalaureate service, featuring Peter Fritzell, professor of English, will be held Saturday, June 14 at 11 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Both events are free and open to the public.
All four honorary degree recipients, along with Lawrence President Richard Warch, Lawrence Board of Trustees Chair Jeffrey Riester and student representative Tetteh Otuteye, a senior from Accra, Ghana, will address the graduates during commencement.
Born and raised in Appleton, Oscar Boldt has spent more than 50 years with the family construction business. Under his leadership, first as chief operating officer, later as president, then as chief executive officer and finally as company chairman, Oscar J. Boldt Construction Co. has grown into the largest contracting and construction management firm in Wisconsin and one of the nation’s top 75 general contractors. The firm earned national recognition in 1995 after playing a key role in the rescue operations following the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
During his decades-long tenure as a business and civic leader, Oscar Boldt has served as president of the board of directors of the Appleton Medical Center, the Appleton Area Chamber of Commerce, the Appleton Family YMCA, the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Inc., and the Appleton Rotary Club.
He also has served as a member of the Lawrence Board of Trustees as well as the board of directors of M & I Bank, Valley Bank, Midwest Express Airlines, the Boy Scouts of America – Valley Council and Pierce Manufacturing, among others.
The recipient of Ernst & Young’s Master Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 1991, Oscar Boldt was inducted as a charter member into the Appleton West High School Hall of Fame (Class of 1942) in 1999 and the following year he was inducted into Appleton’s Paper Industry International Hall of Fame. Earlier this year, he was honored as a member of the Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame. A 1948 graduate of the University of Wisconsin, his alma mater recognized him with its Distinguished Alumni Award in 1999.
Patricia Boldt, a 1948 graduate of Lawrence, has developed a reputation as a woman who never says “no” when it comes to getting involved in meaningful community projects.
Since moving to the Fox Cites to attend Lawrence in the mid-1940s from Ontonagon, Mich., Patricia Boldt has been a tireless advocate, volunteer and mentor for countless area organizations. She has served as president of the Infant Welfare Circle since 1974, spent six years (1970-76) as president of the board of the United Way as well as serving on the board of directors of the Salvation Army, the Fox Valley Symphony and the Girl Scouts.
In addition, she has devoted volunteer time with LEAVEN, Meals on Wheels, Friends of the Appleton Library, Mosquito Hill Nature Center and the Lawrence Alumni Board of Directors and Founders Club. From 1974-82, she served as a member of the St. Olaf College Board of Regents.
Her generous efforts have been recognized with numerous honors and awards, including 2002’s Paul and Elaine Groth Mentoring Award, Aid Association for Lutheran’s prestigious Walter Rugland Community Service Award in 1988, which she shared with her husband, Oscar, and the St. Olaf Regents Award in 1993.
Morgan, the Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale, is widely considered one of America’s most distinguished historians. His award-winning body of work includes more than a dozen books, among them “Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular Sovereignty in England and America,” which won Columbia University’s Bancroft Prize, and “American Slavery, American Freedom,” which was honored with prizes from the Society of American Historians and the American Historical Association.
Two of his early books, “Birth of the Republic” (1956) and “The Puritan Dilemma” (1958) have been required reading in many school history courses for decades. Among Morgan’s other works are biographies of Ezra Stiles and Roger Williams and a book on George Washington.
His most recent book, “Benjamin Franklin,” which he wrote at the age of 86, has been critically heralded as one of the best short biographies of Franklin ever published. It was a finalist for the 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award.
In 2000, President Clinton awarded Morgan one of the most prestigious honors among his many awards: a National Humanities Medal. One of the country’s highest civilian honors, it recognizes distinguished individuals who have made “extraordinary contributions to American cultural life and thought.”
Morgan retired from the Yale faculty in 1986 after a 31-year teaching career. The honorary degree from Lawrence will be Morgan’s 10th honorary doctorate.
Iglauer, who earned a bachelor’s degree in theatre and drama from Lawrence in 1969, turned a passion for the blues and a burning desire to record his favorite band into the world’s largest and most successful contemporary blues recording company.
In 1971, at the age of 23, Iglauer single-handedly founded Alligator Records, an independent label based in his one-room Chicago apartment, with the intent to make one album, a recording of Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers, his favorite group. He recorded the group live in a studio over two nights, producing a direct-to-two-track master tape and paid to have 1000 copies of the album pressed.
Since that initial recording, Iglauer has helped Alligator Records produce more than 200 titles and win more awards than any other blues label. Alligator recordings have garnered 32 Grammy Award nominations, winning twice (1982 and 1986), 18 Indie Awards from the Association for Independent Music and three Grand Prix du Disque awards. Alligator and its artists also have captured a total of 72 W.C. Handy Blues Awards, the blues community’s highest honor.
Iglauer is the co-founder of Living Blues, America’s oldest blues magazine, and is a three-term president of the Blues Music Association, which he also founded. He has been honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Montreux Jazz Festival and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1997. Last year, Iglauer was recognized by Chicago Magazine with its “Chicagoan of the Year” award.