July 1, 2013

UMass Boston Celebrates 45th Commencement Ceremony

BOSTON, Mass. - Thousands of graduates were joined by friends and family under sunny skies Friday at the University of Massachusetts Boston's 45th commencement ceremonies.  Prior to the commencement UMass Boston Athletics hosted it's annual Graduates Breakfast in the Clark Athletic Center Study Hall.  Seniors from a variety of teams were on-hand for the great event as they each received their special athletics sashes as a thank you for their dedication to the Beacons nation.

James Gustave “Gus” Speth, co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Resources Institute, delivered the principal address. Speth urged the new graduates to consider how the decisions they make today will affect their great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, and reminded them that universal change begins at home.

"There's no Washington-style gridlock stopping us from acting where we live," said Speth, who has served as an advisor on conservation for Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. He most recently wrote the book "America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy." 

Speth decried a culture of consumerism in American life, but noted that value is found "in people, not possessions."

"You can't find meaning at the mall," he noted. 

Speth also received a honorary degree at a Thursday dinner, along with fellow recipients Jack Dangermond, the president and founder of Esri; and Tererai Trent, founder of the Tinogona Foundation.

More than 3,600 graduates and their families filled the Campus Center Circle Lawn for the commencement ceremony. UMass Boston graduated a record-breaking 3,906 students this year, the largest class in school history. More than half of these students are the first in their families to graduate.

Chancellor J. Keith Motley also awarded a posthumous bachelor of arts degree in sociology to former student Krystle Campbell, a victim of the April 15 bombing attacks at the Boston Marathon.

College of Management student Samuel Chandler, a Sudbury native, received the 2013 JFK Award – the university’s highest honor for graduates.

Three UMass Boston professors were honored at the ceremony. Professor of Psychology Lizabeth Roemer earned the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Scholarship, Professor of Accounting and Finance Arindam Bandopadhyaya received the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, and Professor of Political Science Paul Watanabe earned the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Service.

The following degrees were awarded:

James Gustave “Gus” Speth, Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa
Speth has held multiple roles in the United Nations, working to protect Earth and its people from the effects of climate change. He was one of the first policymakers to link the environmental movement to movements against global poverty and for economic empowerment, creating holistic strategies for healing the Earth while promoting the sustainable progress of its people. For ten years, he headed the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and is currently a professor of law at the Vermont School of Law.

Jack Dangermond, Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa
Dangermond is a pioneer in the field of geographic information systems, mapping software that matches data sets to physical locations. In 1969 he launched his highly successful company Esri with his wife, building it steadily into what is now the fourth largest privately held software company in the world. In that time, Esri has helped one million users in government, NGOs, academia, and industries such as healthcare, transportation, telecommunications, homeland security, retail, and agriculture target services to populations with its data maps.

Tererai Trent, Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa
Trent is a testament to the power and importance of education for all. Denied schooling as a girl in Zimbabwe, Trent yearned for the chance to earn a doctorate in the United States. She now has her PhD in interdisciplinary evaluation, and has served as a professional evaluator of international development programs and policies for nearly 20 years. In partnership with The Oprah Winfrey Foundation and Save the Children, Trent is building a new school and improving learning for nearly 4,000 children in Zimbabwe.