What an exhilarating week it has been, with the series of Commencement exercises for our colleges and the celebratory events associated with them! The first one was at the New Bedford Whaling Museum honoring the 11 graduates of the UMass Dartmouth Clemente Program in the Humanities. Directed by Professor Mark Santow and taught with faculty colleagues Dean Jen Riley, Professors Catherine Gardner, Memory Holloway, and others, the goal is to teach the humanities to people living in economic distress. Since its inception in 2006, about 90 individuals have graduated from the program. As each graduate rose to speak, the poignant stories they imparted about their lives tugged at the heartstrings. From the bonds they developed with their peers over the nine-month program, to the success in withdrawing and being free from drugs, and to the development of self-esteem and confidence, the narratives of personal transformation were powerful and moving. Thank you to Professor Santow and the team for their steadfast commitment to the students and the program!
On Thursday, Josh Encarnacion and the officers of the Class of 2014 held an alumni champagne toast in front of the Claire T. Carney Library. With Paul Rudolph's monumental staircase serving as a dramatic backdrop, they presented to me a $25,000 check to establish a Class of 2014 scholarship endowment; another one of many traditions this class has begun. Hats off to you, Josh and the Class of 2014!
Despite a blustery day that blew my tam-o'-shanter airborne, the Charlton College of Business Commencement on Friday morning proceeded smoothly with 492 students receiving their diplomas. Kudos to Nikita Rao, an MBA student in Marketing and Finance who delivered the student address! Honorary doctorate recipient Robert Leduc -- Engineering alumnus, former CEO of Hamilton Sunstrand, and donor who established through a philanthropic gift with his wife Jeanne the Leduc Center for Civic Engagement -- enjoined the students not to be afraid to fail and to lead moral and ethical careers. Katherine Craven, who served as the Director of the UMass Building Authority, was recognized for her financial acumen and admirable stewardship of a $3.5 billion capital construction plan for the UMass System's five campuses.
At the College of Arts and Sciences Commencement in the afternoon, despite the inclement weather with dark gray clouds looming on the horizon, some 600 graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences were awarded their degrees. The Chancellor's Medal was bestowed on Senate President Therese Murray, the first woman President of the Massachusetts Senate, whose leadership led to legislation addressing transportation systems, child protection, health care reform, and job creation, among others. Reverend Liz Walker, a former Boston news anchor and now an ordained minister, exhorted the graduates to treat each other with grace and dignity. Congratulations to student speaker Tricia Breton, a single mother who dropped out of college 15 year ago and who has now completed a double major in English and Women and Gender Studies!
On Saturday, the Commencement exercises for the College of Engineering, College of Nursing, College of Visual and Performing Arts, and the School of Marine Science and Technology were shifted indoors at the Tripp Athletic Center because of the forecast for stormy weather. U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, who grew up in Fall River and studied at BMC Durfee High School, received an Honorary Doctor of Science. Secretary Moniz spoke about the necessity for clean energy not only for energy conservation but also for job creation and assurance of national security. An Honorary Doctorate of Nursing was awarded to retired U.S. Army Colonel Susan Annicelli, one of the highest-ranking nurses in the military, whose brave and brilliant service in health care around the world was recognized. A Chancellor's Medal was awarded to Professor Emeritus Les Cory, whose SHARE Foundation and Center for Rehabilitation Engineering has transformed thousands of lives. Kudos to student speaker Rola Hassoun, a Civil Engineering graduate and Treasurer of Engineers Without Borders, who traveled to Panama to build a water pump for an indigenous tribe in a hillside community.
On Monday, Governor Deval Patrick will be awarded the Chancellor's Medal for his estimable service to the Commonwealth at the Law School Commencement exercises in the Main Auditorium at 10 a.m.
Congratulations to Professor Andrea Klimt and her sociology students, as well as BMC Durfee High School's Mark Carvalho and his photography students, for the exhibit "Fall River Portraits: People, Neighborhood, Community" that opened last weekend at the Narrows Center in Fall River to great success!
Have a good week, everyone!