Benjamin Wilfond ‘81 scheduled to speak at ‘Berg’s 174th Graduation Ceremony

Wilfond and Director Karen El-Chaar scheduled to receive an honorary degree at the Commencement.


On May 22, the PPL Center in downtown Allentown is set to hold Muhlenberg’s 174th Commencement Ceremony. The event will feature multiple special guests to help celebrate the class of 2022 and their accomplishments. Two in particular: bioethicist and physician Benjamin Wilfond ‘81 and Karen El-Chaar of the Allentown Parks Department will be in attendance at the graduation.

Wilfond graduated from Muhlenberg College in 1981 with a double major in philosophy and biology. He continued his academic career at Rutgers University where he received his medical degree, followed by his attendance at the University of Wisconsin for residency in the field of pediatrics. Wilfond finished with a fellowship in pediatric pulmonology and medical ethics.

Following his years of study, Wilfond became very involved in the Washington area. He became an investigator at the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics and a pulmonologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital in Washington. He also currently stands as a  professor of bioethics and palliative care at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Outside of Wilfond’s involvement in an occupational sense, he explored the ethical issues surrounding genetics and disabilities as shown through his scholarships and extensive research in these areas. He is also the author and co-author of over 250 papers covering a variety of topics and research disciplines. Wilfond continued his interest in scholarships with new studies in providing more access for medical technologies in diverse communities across the U.S.. 

Paired with Wilfond, El-Chaar will be the recipient of an honorary degree. El-Chaar graduated from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania with a double major in German and science in secondary education. She continued her academic studies at Wilkes University for her master’s degree in business administration in addition to a juris doctor certificate from the Temple University School of Law. 

She spent eight years as the director for the nonprofit Friends of Allentown Parks where she became heavily involved in the fundraising efforts to better the organization. She has also attended multiple biology and environmental classes at Muhlenberg College where she educated the students on the natural aspects of the surrounding area. 

El-Chaar is currently a director of the Allentown Department of Parks and Recreation, serving for the entirety of Allentown’s parks amounting to 2,000 acres of land. 

These two educated and experienced honorary degree recipients are expected to enhance the ambiance of the commencement ceremony to celebrate the class of 2022 and to send them off for their future endeavors.

Matthew '25 is a double major in Biology and French. When he's not in class or writing for the paper, he is usually swimming, skiing, playing volleyball, lifeguarding, or listening to music!


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