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Thomas More to confer two honorary degrees during 2023 spring commencement ceremony May 13

Thomas More University will award two honorary doctorates during the 2023 Commencement Ceremony May 13.

Recipients include Robert W. Plaster, posthumously, a former member of the U.S. Treasury Department who founded the Empire Gas Corporation, and internationally renowned litigator, advocate, and author, Robert A. Bilott. Bilott will also serve as the commencement speaker.

The ceremony will take place at Thomas More Stadium in Florence May 13 at 10:30 a.m.

Robert Bilott, left, and Robert Plaster (Photos from TMU)

Bilott, who has been a guest lecturer at Thomas More University several times over the years, will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from the New College of Florida and a Juris Doctor from the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. Bilott currently serves as a partner at Taft Law in Cincinnati and is married to Thomas More alum Sarah Bilott.

Bilott gained international recognition through his work uncovering and disclosing the worldwide impact of environmental contamination by the “forever chemicals” known as per and polyfluoroalkylated, or PFAS. The original case involved a West Virginia farmer whom Bilott assisted with an environmental suit that arose due to issues caused by run-off chemicals from a DuPont production plant.

In 2020, Robert Bilott wrote a book about his experience with DuPont and PFAS entitled “Exposure.” In addition, his life’s work was made into a movie entitled “Dark Waters” which was released in 2019.

“Bilott has been engaged in a number of organizations in Cincinnati, along with environmental and sustainability issues,” said Joseph L. Chillo, Thomas More University president. “His work aligns with our mission and commitment to sustainability.”

Plaster will receive an honorary Doctor of Business Administration. Prior to his passing in 2008, Plaster devoted his life’s work to the promotion and sustainability of the American free enterprise system. In 1983, he established the Robert W. Plaster Foundation which is dedicated to helping students by providing transformational gifts to colleges and universities to expand educational opportunities, pride in America, and belief in the American free enterprise system.

In recognition of one of the first gifts to the University’s Second Century Campaign: It’s time for More, Thomas More announced the official naming of the Robert W. Plaster College of Business. Plaster attended Missouri Southern State University and has since been awarded honorary degrees from Southwest Baptist University and Missouri Southern State University.

“We are looking forward with great excitement to Commencement and the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2023,” said Chillo.

For more information about Thomas More University, visit www.thomasmore.edu.

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