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Peter J. Rea returns to campus as BW commencement speaker

With YJ4L ties that span employment, service and philanthropy, Dr. Peter J. Rea is being welcomed back to campus as the keynote speaker for Baldwin Wallace University's Fall Commencement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 9.


Rea, who is vice president of integrity and ethics at Parker Hannifin Corporation, will speak to approximately 165 undergraduate and 66 graduate students at the celebratory event being held at 2 p.m. in Ursprung Gymnasium (Lou Higgins Recreation Center).

A familiar face on campus, Rea had an impressive career trajectory at BW for 30 years that included being a faculty member and division chair* in business, the first Burton D. Morgan Chair for Entrepreneurial Studies and his culminating role as founding director of the Center for Innovation and Growth.

While at BW, he built key networking contacts and partnerships within Northeast Ohio's business sector that expanded BW's role in helping generate economic growth in the region. In addition, he brought visionary thinking and strategic leadership to new programs that created revenue-generating opportunities for BW. For students, he was a mentor and liaison who connected them to real-world learning initiatives and employment opportunities with top business leaders.

At Parker Hannifin, Rea leads the Fortune 250 company's integrity and ethics initiatives with the purpose of preserving the organization's reputation and protecting its financial strength. The mission is to help individuals and teams perform at a high level despite pressure and uncertainty, guided by character defined as virtue. The strategy is to understand and apply a strength-based approach to support existing priorities. The business impact of the virtues has been increased engagement, enhanced teamwork and leadership development. Rea joined the international company in this newly established position in 2012.

Lauded Author on Infusing Virtue into Business

Rea is the co-author of several books that focus on character-based leadership rooted in the seven classical virtues of trust, compassion, courage, justice, wisdom, temperance and hope. He believes "character-based leadership encourages ethical practices, collaboration and open communication, and the creation of high-trust business environments."

In addition to being an author, Rea has lectured and consulted internationally in the areas of strategy, leadership, culture and ethics. His volunteer work includes being chair of the Ohio University Medical School Advisory Board and BW's Center for Innovation and Growth, where he and his wife, Julie, have been mentors to numerous students.          

Rea earned a B.S. from Ohio University, an M.A. from Bowling Green State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Akron. He completed postdoctoral studies at the University of South Carolina, Memphis University, Carnegie Mellon University and Duke University.

*Rea's role as chair of the Division of Business Administration pre-dates BW's current academic structure that utilizes the Carmel Boyer School of Business.

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