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posted: 3/22/2013 6:00 PM

Jill Biden unavailable, so College of Lake County picks Dean DeBiase to speak at commencement

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  • Dean DeBiase

    Dean DeBiase

  • Video: Dean DeBiase on CNBC


After striking out with Vice President Joe Biden's wife and the U.S. education secretary, College of Lake County officials have selected a successful business graduate and author to give this year's commencement address.

With the approach of two graduation ceremonies in the physical education center May 18, CLC President Jerry Weber said, the school connected with Dean DeBiase, co-founder and chief executive officer of Reboot Partners in Lake Forest. Reboot Partners is a growth management and board advisement business.

DeBiase, who graduated early from Lake Forest High School in 1975 and then attended CLC, cowrote the best-seller "The Big Moo: Stop Trying to Be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable."

DeBiase's lengthy resume includes a two-year run as chairman and CEO at and serving on advisory boards for Amway and other companies. Called a "serial CEO" in his official dossier, DeBiase has led more than a dozen private and publicly held companies.

"It looks like a great option," Weber said of DeBiase.

DeBiase's commencement speech is expected to preview content from a new book he's developing that will show students, parents and faculty how they can reboot themselves to participate in what he says is an entrepreneurial movement expanding across the world.

Weber said Jill Biden, the vice president's wife, was CLC's first choice to speak at the graduation ceremonies. However, he said, Biden was not available, so CLC already has requested her presence for 2014.

Biden, a community college teacher for more than 30 years, is known to give commencement addresses at two-year schools. She spoke at Broward College's graduation ceremony in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in May 2012.

Weber said after learning Biden was unavailable, a request was made for Education Secretary Arne Duncan to speak to CLC's graduates. Because CLC still had not received word about Duncan as of last week, Weber said, officials decided to pursue DeBiase.

DeBiase said he originally planned to travel the world after graduating from Lake Forest High. Instead, his father gave him a pamphlet about the 6-year-old community college in Grayslake and insisted he visit the campus immediately.

After graduating from CLC, DeBiase transferred to Northern Illinois University where he received a bachelor's degree in marketing. He received a master's in business administration at DeVry University's Keller Graduate School.

DeBiase gives scores of keynote speeches, but he expects the CLC commencement to stand out for him.

"I did a commencement at Keller Graduate School and that was special for me, but going back to CLC where my life journey began is a very rare and truly remarkable experience that I am lucky to have," DeBiase said. "It will probably be more of an emotional talk for me. Hope I don't choke up too much."

DeBiase, who lives in Lake Forest and Scottsdale, Ariz., appeared as a CEO guest host on NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice" with Donald Trump in April 2012.

Last year's commencement speaker was scientist Walter Leise, a CLC grad. He serves as president and CEO of a large manufacturing company.

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