Chick-fil-A Founder Honored at CIU

December 16, 2011

By Abbey Le Roy

CIU Student Writer

A man who took an Atlanta diner and transformed it into the second largest fast-food chicken restaurant chain in the United States, was recognized with the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Columbia International University at December commencement exercises.    

Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy built his business on a work ethic forged during the Great Depression and a business philosophy based on the Bible.  His business success has allowed him to pursue his passion of developing young leaders through the WinShape Foundation.

“My life calling is to minister to people, young and old,” Cathy told the 118 CIU graduates.   

Cathy, now 90 years old, has spent 52 years of his life teaching Sunday school to 13 year olds.  His life verse is Proverbs 22:1

A good name is to be more desired than great wealth,

Favor is better than silver and gold.   

Cathy reminded the graduates to consider the value of an excellent reputation. 

“We can’t buy a good reputation,” Cathy said.  “That’s something we have to earn every day.”

Following in her father’s footsteps in reaching out to youth, commencement speaker Trudy Cathy White and her husband John co-founded the Lifeshape Foundation, which includes IMPACT 360, a gap year program based in Georgia for young adults who are between their high school and college careers. 

White, who also served with her husband for 20 years as a missionary to Brazil, used the acronym of STAR to challenge the graduates in four areas:  Stewardship, Teamwork, Acts of excellence, and Relationships.  By faithfully cultivating these, she said the graduates will be “S.T.A.R.s” whose lights will shine before men, bringing glory to God.

Of the 118 December CIU graduates, 41 percent indicated God’s call to missions; 34 percent are planning to serve in church or para-church ministry; and 25 percent are heading to the marketplace. 

For local news coverage of the CIU Commencement visit WIS TV at: