Sara J. Bloomfield, director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, will speak to the approximately 1,200 undergraduates at UMass Dartmouth's 109th undergraduate Commencement exercises on May 24 and receive an honorary degree from the University. New Bedford entrepreneur William Whelan will also receive an honorary degree at the undergraduate ceremony while architect Grattan Gill, who led the construction of the UMass Dartmouth campus, will receive an honorary degree and speak at the May 23 graduate Commencement where approximately 350 master's and doctoral candidates will receive their diplomas.
Both ceremonies will take place in the Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial Amphitheater. The undergraduate ceremony will begin at 10:15 a.m. on Sunday, May 24, and the graduate ceremony will begin at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 23.
"Our 2009 Commencement celebrates individuals who are builders of both physical structures and inspiring ideas,'' UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said. "Each of our honorary degree recipients is a shining example of perseverance and innovation for the Class of 2009.''
Sara Bloomfield joined the Museum in 1986 when it was a project in development, grappling with the complex issues of building a "living memorial" to the Holocaust on the National Mall. She served in a number of positions before becoming director in 1999. Under her direction, the Museum created a series of innovative leadership training programs for law enforcement, the military and diplomats, and launched its Academy for Genocide Prevention. She also established the National Institute for Holocaust Education and the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies.
Ms. Bloomfield has led several complex negotiations on behalf of the Museum, including diplomatic efforts to open the largest closed archive in the world, the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany. She also negotiated sensitive agreements to rescue endangered artifacts and archives that document the Holocaust in Croatia. For the Museum's 10th Anniversary, she secured the first-ever loan of a variety of Anne Frank's original writings, including parts of her world-famous diary. Some of these historic manuscripts have never been on view; none had been displayed outside the Netherlands.
William Whelan, the former chairman of Spaulding & Slye Colliers International and chairman of Whelan Associates, has been one of the region's leading commercial real estate developers and managers, shaping the physical landscape of the SouthCoast since 1973. An avid flyer, Mr. Whelan is founder and president of Sandpiper Air at the New Bedford Airport. As a board member of the Nativity Prep School and Wentworth Institute, Mr. Whelan has devoted his time, expertise and energy to creating educational opportunity for people, and he has been a steadfast advocate for opening the Ocean Explorium in downtown New Bedford, which is designed to inspire young people about science and environmental issues.
Grattan Gill played a crucial role in the physical development of the UMass Dartmouth campus as the lead on-site architect, or "job captain," implementing the concepts of noted design architect Paul Rudolph. Compelled to re-design some buildings, most notably the library and campanile, Mr. Gill played a key role in making the campus an architectural treasure and one of the few campuses in the country designed and built on a unified plan. Mr. Gill began his architectural education with a fellowship under famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesen East and West.