Nobel Peace Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, the President of East Timor, who survived an assassination attempt during the fight for his nation's independence, will deliver the keynote address at UMass Dartmouth's 110th Undergraduate Commencement on Sunday May 23 and be awarded an honorary doctoral degree.
On Saturday, May 22, Fall River native Julia Plotnick, who graduated from the St. Anne's Hospital Nursing School and went on to become the U.S. Assistant Surgeon General and a global health advocate, will be the lead speaker at the Graduate Commencement and receive an honorary doctorate at the undergraduate ceremony.
Gerald Mauretti (UMass Dartmouth class of 1965), the Fall River-born entrepreneur who founded EY Technologies, a model of a manufacturing company that has leveraged innovation into global competitiveness, will also receive an honorary doctorate at the Undergraduate Ceremony.
Approximately 1,500 students will receive degrees over the weekend, 1,100 undergraduates and 400 graduate students. Both ceremonies will be held in the Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial Amphitheater on the University's main campus, with the undergraduate ceremony starting Sunday at 10:15 a.m. and the graduate ceremony starting Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The three honorary degree recipients will also be honored at the annual honorary degree dinner on Saturday evening.
"We are honored to have this opportunity to celebrate the life achievements of these three amazing individuals,'' said Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack. "President Ramos-Horta's life has been a lesson of unwavering commitment to freedom. Julia Plotnick's belief that health care is a human right has spurred her into real action around the world. And Gerry Mauretti is the personification of the American Dream, combining an unparalled work ethic with an adventurous spirit to create jobs here at home while helping to modernize the global textile industry. Each has demonstrated the courage, innovative spirit and perserverence necessary to change our world for the better and represents shining examples for our graduates."
MORE ON JOSE RAMOS-HORTA
Jose Ramos-Horta is an East Timorese political activist who, along with Bishop Carlos F.X. Belo, received the 1996 Nobel Prize for Peace for their efforts to bring peace and independence to East Timor, a former Portuguese possession that was under Indonesian control from 1975 to 1999. Ramos-Horta became prime minister of East Timor in 2006 and president in 2007.
Ramos-Horta's mother was a native Timorese, and his father was a Portuguese national who was deported to East Timor for participating in a revolt against the dictator António Salazar. After studying law in the United States, Ramos-Horta returned to East Timor (then under Portuguese rule) to participate in the independence movement. His activities brought the ire of the Portuguese rulers, and he was forced to flee to Mozambique in 1970.
Returning in 1972, Ramos-Horta sided with the pro-independence Fretilin faction in the East Timor civil war. The Fretilin gained control of the government on Nov. 28, 1975, and declared East Timor's independence; Ramos-Horta was named foreign minister. However, nine days later Indonesia invaded East Timor, and Ramos-Horta was again forced into exile.
Eventually settling in Sydney, Australia, Ramos-Horta joined the faculty of the University of New South Wales. From that position he became one of the primary voices for East Timor in the international arena, becoming East Timor's de facto ambassador to the United Nations (UN). He spoke out against human rights violations by the occupying Indonesian military forces and promoted a peace plan to end the violence in his country.
After receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1996, he gave the award and prize money to a program called Microcredit for the Poor. He returned home in 1999 after the UN Security Council established the UN Transition Administration in East Timor.
Ramos-Horta continued to urge forgiveness and reconciliation and was appointed East Timor's foreign minister in 2000; he continued in that office after East Timor achieved full sovereignty in 2002. In 2006 fighting erupted in the country after Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri fired hundreds of soldiers who had gone on strike to protest against discrimination.
Criticized for his handling of the crisis, Alkatiri resigned and was replaced by Ramos-Horta, who took office in July 2006. In May 2007 Ramos-Horta was elected president, garnering nearly 70 percent of the vote. The following year he was seriously injured after being shot by rebels outside his home in Dili, East Timor.
MORE ON GERALD MAURETTI
Gerald Mauretti, UMass Dartmouth Textile Engineering Class of 1965, is the President and founder of EY Technologies. In 2005, Mauretti received the singular honor of being named World President of the Textile Institute International. The organization, incorporated in England by Royal Charter in 1925, has members in more than 90 countries, covering all sectors and disciplines of the textile industry.
EY TEchnologies is a specialty materials company located in the Fall River Industrial Park. He has international experience in the development, marketing and manufacturing of technical fiber-based materials and yarns used for industrial products and composites.
He is a business and community volunteer in education, economic and workforce development. He is the current Chair of the UMass Dartmouth Foundation and Vice Chair of the UMass Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Center Outside Advisory Board.
Mauretti's ascendance to the Textile Institute International world presidency is evidence of the continuing influence of the U.S. and southeastern Massachusetts textile industry. He is often a featured speaker at forums around the world. e has carried the message of textile innovation from his Fall River headquarters to South Korea, Japan and China and into Europe.
UMass Dartmouth magazine profiled Mr. Mauretti in fall, 2006. "We're in a global economy," he said. "The manufacturing base keeps moving. It's no longer the function of the U.S. to be the manufacturer."
As the textile industry continuously and radically evolves in the private sector, so does UMass Dartmouth's role in the global transition to advanced materials. Sometimes those materials are synthetic and other times they are biological, giving rise to cross-campus, interdisciplinary collaborations among textile engineers, chemists, biologists, computer scientists and others. Mr. Mauretti has been a suppoter of the university's evolution in this area.
In constant search of what he describes as "the whiz bang", Mauretti stays connected to those scientists at his alma mater and also does his part to support the campus' continued development as an economic engine.
MORE ON JULIA PLOTNICK
A native of Fall River, Julia Plotnick graduated from the St. Anne's Hospital School of Nursing and built an extensive career in public health including service as the assistant surgeon general and chief nurse of the U.S. Public Health Service.
During her time at the U.S. Public Health Service, as a community health and maternal/child specialist, she has held various national positions and accepted special international assignments with the World Health Organization (WHO) including assisting the WHO Iraq office to develop a plan of action to re-establish health services in Iraq and assisting the Ministry of Health in Romania in developing plans to improve health services for mothers and children.
She also has served as an international consultant on nursing and health care in numerous countries, including Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zaire and Croatia, and she represented the United States on the Global Advisory Group on Nursing to the director-general of the WHO.
She has received numerous awards and citations including the Audrey Hepburn Sigma Theta Tau International Award, the Surgeon General's Medallion, and the Distinguished Service Medal from the U.S. Public Health Service. She is also an American Academy of Nursing Fellow. "Nursing is a calling. Without that, you just can't do it," Plotnick has said. "It has to be your lifework, and you have to care."
Although now officially retired, Plotnick continues to promote the nursing profession around the world, and was recently named chair of the Health Volunteers Organization.
She has said that she has no choice but to do what she's doing, "Everyone has something to give and most of us don't even realize our potential. If you have the ability to make an impact, you have to give back or the opportunity is lost forever."