More than 1,700 UMass Dartmouth graduates received diplomas today at the university's 107th commencement exercises, held under sunny skies on Memorial Day Weekend in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Peace Amphitheater.
U.S. Senator John F. Kerry, who delivered the commencement address, told more than 6,000 graduates, family members, friends, faculty, and university officials: "What we have is not guaranteed, and some of it is at risk...Go out and build your families, build your net worth, build whatever you want, build your careers; just don't forget to build your country while you are at it."
The video of Sen. Kerry's address, as well as remarks by UMass President Jack M. Wilson and UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack, will be posted online at www.umassd.edu/ as soon as possible.
Prior to delivering his address, Senator Kerry was presented with the university's prestigious Chancellor's Medal in recognition of his service to the region, Commonwealth and nation. The citation on the medal read as follows: "For a quarter century your passionate and skillful leadership in elected office, from Beacon Hill to Capitol Hill, has served the citizens of our region, Commonwealth, and nation. As a highly decorated Vietnam combat veteran, your career in office has been defined by principle and action. You have worked tirelessly to protect our natural environment, provide health care for millions of people, support the men and women of the armed forces and their families, improve public education, and strengthen our economy."
Honorary degrees were conferred upon:
* Teresa Heinz Kerry, chairman of the Heinz Family Philanthropies;
* Edmund Barry Gaither, Director and Curator of the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists;
* Robert P. Lawrence, pastor of the First Congregational Church in Fall River; and
* Julie Moir Messervy, landscape designer and author
(see biographies below)
UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack urged members of the Class of 2007 to always remember the many people who helped them earn their diplomas: parents, family and friends for their "encouragement, occasional cajoling, and love"; faculty who "endlessly inspire, mentor, challenge, and educate"; staff members who "provide the many forms of light, nourishment, support, security and the other necessities of life and learning"; and state legislators who respresent the graduates' neighbors and "so ably and passionately advocate for you and this university."
"So many people have done so much to make today possible,'' Chancellor MacCormack said. "Please, always remember that, always appreciate that, and return the favor to someone else when you have that opportunity."
UMass System President Jack M. Wilson, told students, "Today is about you--your hopes, your dreams and your families and all that you have accomplished. I'm the parent of two adult children and two children in high school so I have been through this day as a parent and I know how excited you and your families feel."
President Wilson also noted UMass Dartmouth's special role in the life of southeastern Massachusetts. "I want to acknowledge the outstanding leadership of Chancellor McCormack,'' he said."The UMass Dartmouth campus is a model for partnerships between the University and the community---for education as well as the social and economic development of region and the Commonwealth. And what I think we need to do is model those successful partnerships and increase collaboration across the University. So, I also want to thank all of the partners and supporters of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus in this region--including local civic, business and political leaders."
The main ceremony was followed by ceremonies at the colleges of Arts & Sciences, Business, Engineering, Nursing, Visual and Performing Arts and the School for Marine Science and Technology
The Class of 2007 includes 1,764 students, including 1,457 undergraduates, 304 master's degree students, and three doctoral candidates. The class is 15 percent larger than the Class of 2006. The class came to UMass Dartmouth from 16 countries, 21 states, and 231 Massachusetts communities. The youngest member of the class is 20. The oldest will be celebrating his 77nd birthday in October. The class contributed thousands of hours of service to communities near and far, including 6,000 hours of reading tutoring for New Bedford children.
ABOUT UMASS DARTMOUTH
UMass Dartmouth is part of the five-campus University of Massachusetts system. Founded in 1895, the university is a public institution with a proud history of making high quality education accessible and providing research and service that strengthens the economy and culture of the region and the Commonwealth. Located in southeastern Massachusetts (one hour from Boston, 30 minutes from Providence), the main campus was designed by eminent architect Paul Rudolph and is situated on 710 wooded acres. The university also has satellite campuses in nearby Fall River, New Bedford and Fairhaven.
The university comprises five colleges--the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Engineering, the Charlton College of Business, the College of Nursing, and the College of Visual & Performing Arts--as well as the School for Marine Sciences and Technology. UMass Dartmouth offers more than 70 fields of study, with minors in more than 30 areas. There are a total of 8,800 students, which includes nearly 1,000 graduate students.
Senator John F. Kerry
Sen. Kerry and Mrs. Heinz recently released This Moment on Earth: Today's New Environmentalists and Their Vision for the Future, a book that celebrates environmental innovators, with the proceeds of the sales going to environmental causes. Sen. Kerry served two tours of duty in Vietnam. On his second tour, he volunteered to serve on a Swift Boat in the river deltas, one of the most dangerous assignments of the war. For his leadership, courage, and sacrifice under fire, he was decorated with a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with Combat V, and three Purple Hearts. He was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1982. In that office, he organized the nation's governors to combat the acid rain that was polluting lakes, rivers, and the nation's water supply. Two years later, he was elected to the United States Senate and he has won reelection three-times since. He is now serving his fourth term, after winning again in 2002 by the largest margin in Massachusetts history. In 2004, he earned the Democratic nomination for president of the United States.
Teresa Heinz Kerry
Mrs. Heinz and Sen. Kerry recently released This Moment on Earth: Today's New Environmentalists and Their Vision for the Future, a book that celebrates environmental innovators. As chairman of the Heinz Family Philanthropies, Mrs. Heinz is a philanthropic innovator. She is a leader in the movement to approach philanthropy as venture capital--requiring accountability, leveraging resources, taking risks, and using collaborative responses to conquer complex challenges. But she also cares deeply and passionately about empowering people. She has done pioneering work on women's retirement security and designed strategies to help guarantee that every person over 65 has access to affordable prescription-drug coverage.
Edmund Barry Gaither
Since 1969, Edmund Barry Gaither has been Director and Curator of the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists (NCAAA), and Special Consultant at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. At the MFA, he has served as curator for eight exhibitions including Afro-American Artists: New York and Boston, a ground breaking show of l970. For the NCAAA, he developed the Museum from a concept to an institution with collections exceeding three thousand objects and a 32-year history of exhibitions celebrating the visual arts heritage of black people worldwide.
Robert P. Lawrence
Rev. Robert P. Lawrence, the senior minister of the First Congregational Church in Fall River since 1985, has been an inspirational fixture of the South Coast civic community for more than three decades. Rev. Lawrence is completing a 50-year ministry, having served churches in Little Compton, Rhode Island and Fall River, Massachusetts and was responsible for beginning the Pastoral Care Department at the SouthCoast Hospitals -- Charlton site. He is a trustee on three charitable foundations and serves on the boards of 18 community organizations. He has received 19 community awards for his involvement in getting 2,300 guns off of the streets of Fall River and providing cash awards for illegal weapons.
Julie Moir Messervy
Julie Moir Messervy's vision for composing gardens of beauty and meaning is furthering the evolution of landscape design and changing the way people think about their outdoor surroundings. With more than two decades of experience, four books and numerous high-profile lectures, Messervy has emerged as a leader of a movement in which landscape design is as much a personal journey as it is leaving a unique imprint upon the earth. She has inspired a new generation of landscape designers, homeowners and others to create soulful gardens that reflect an inward vision deeply rooted in outdoor archetypes, childhood imagination and aesthetic impulses.