American Sentinel University awards honorary degrees to recognize outstanding achievement. Recipients receive a Doctor of Letters degree. They are amongst one of the highest honors conferred by the university. Previous recipients have been models of excellence and service to our students, to our graduates, to our community and to the world.
Craig Leipold is the majority owner and principal investor in Minnesota Sports & Entertainment, a regional sports and entertainment leader that includes the National Hockey League’s Minnesota Wild, the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League, 317 on Rice Park and the facility management of Xcel Energy Center, TRIA Rink at Treasure Island Center, Saint Paul RiverCentre and the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium. He oversees the day-to-day business operations of the organization and serves as the team’s Governor at NHL Board of Governors’ meetings.
Under Leipold’s ownership, the Wild is dedicated to building a Stanley Cup contending franchise, playing an important role in the community through service initiatives, providing a fun and entertaining game-night experience and building strong relationships with its fans and corporate partners.
A resident of Racine, Wis., Leipold completed the sale of the Nashville Predators to a local ownership group in 2007, a team he owned since the expansion franchise was awarded to Nashville in 1997. During his time as an NHL owner, Leipold has been a tireless advocate for the professional hockey industry. Appointed by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Leipold serves on both the League’s Executive committee and Audit committee. He was a member of the League Negotiating Committees that negotiated the Collective Bargaining Agreements with the NHL Players’ Association in 2005 and 2013. He is also a strong advocate for the new, more “fan-friendly” NHL, including the rule changes to promote a more entertaining competition and increased fan access to the product.
Craig and his wife Helen (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Johnson Outdoors, Inc., and Chairman of Johnson Financial Bank Corp.) have five sons and own five dogs.
W. Lucas Simons
W. Lucas Simons (Luke) is an Operating Partner at Council Capital. Simons has expertise in the financing of all stages of healthcare and financial services companies from startup to IPO to large-cap public companies as well as going-private buyout financing and advisory work. In addition, he has expertise in healthcare and financial services mergers and acquisitions.
From 1980 to 2000, Simons was the Chief Operating Officer at J.C. Bradford & Co. Following the sale to UBS in 2000, he remained active with UBS as a senior advisor to the UBS healthcare investment banking team.
In 1995, Simons organized a community networking group of CEOs and CFOs from the Nashville healthcare community. Simons convenes as many as 100 healthcare executives quarterly for a private forum with invited healthcare speakers. The speaker forum has been underway without interruption for 24 years. In recent years, the forums have been sponsored by Council Capital and American Sentinel University.
Simons was born and reared in Charleston, S.C., and today serves on board of that city’s annual Spoleto Festival. He is a member of the Society of International Business Fellows and participated in a leadership program for people from former Soviet states. Simons earned his bachelor’s in industrial management at Georgia Institute of Technology in 1957 and his MBA at the University of Virginia. He served two years as a U.S. Navy officer, including sea duty.
He serves as a Director of Medaxion, LLC and PatientFocus, Inc. Simons was a founding board member of the Frist Museum of Art and the Music City Convention Center Authority. He is a Trustee of the Harpeth Hall School for Girls and a member of Leadership Nashville.
Luke and his wife, Susan, reside in Nashville, TN and have three daughters and seven grandchildren.