University of Massachusetts President Jack Wilson, who is concluding his tenure at the helm of the 5-campus university system this year, and Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick Ireland, the first African-American appointed in the three century history of the state's highest court, will deliver the UMass Dartmouth undergraduate and graduate commencement addresses, respectively. Both will also receive the Chancellor's Distinguished Service Medal in recognition of their accomplishments and commitment to service.
President Wilson will deliver his address at the undergraduate commencement to be held May 22 at 10:15 a.m. when an estimated 1,500 graduates will receive bachelor's degrees. Chief Justice Ireland will deliver his address at the graduate commencement to be held May 21 at 2:30 p.m. when an estimated 325 graduate students will receive master's and doctoral degrees, including the first law degrees awarded by UMass. The ceremonies will take place in the Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial Amphitheater located next to the Claire T, Carney Library.
"This year we are excited to honor these two individuals who have worked their entire adult lives to shatter barriers to opportunity," UMass Dartmouth Jean F. MacCormack said. "Jack Wilson has been a champion of sustaining access to high quality education and this was especially evident in his strong support of creating the UMass School of Law here in Dartmouth. Chief Justice Ireland's life story is one of unparalleled commitment to social justice and integrity, an example for all of us to embrace."
Under President Wilson, who came to office in 2003 pledging to make UMass campuses the catalysts for economic and social development in every region of the state, the University captured its first Nobel Prize (Dr. Craig Mello of the UMass Medical School) and established the state's first public law school (at UMass Dartmouth). In addition, UMass research has grown from $320 million to $541 million, institution-based financial aid from $36 million to $132 million, the endowment from $146 million to $507 million, and intellectual property revenue from $20 million to $41 million. President Wilson, who grew up in Pittsburgh, originally came to UMass to serve as CEO of UMassOnline, which has become one of the nation's leading providers of online higher education, now providing nearly 100 degree and certificate programs and serving 45,000 enrollees.
Prior to arriving at UMass, Wilson was the J. Erik Jonsson '22 Distinguished Professor of Physics, Engineering Science, Information Technology, and Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he held positions as Dean, Research Center Director, and Provost. President Wilson is currently Chair of the Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness and Economic Prosperity for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU).
Appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court by Gov. William Weld in 1997, Justice Ireland was the first African-American Justice in the court's then 305-year history, and when appointed Chief Justice in 2010 by Gov. Deval Patrick he became the first African-American Chief Justice of the court.
A native of Springfield, Chief Justice Ireland began his legal career in 1969 as a Neighborhood Legal Services attorney, then worked as a public defender with the Roxbury Defenders Committee, as chief attorney, deputy director, and executive director. He was Assistant Secretary and Chief Legal Counsel for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Administration and Finance, and Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Appeals on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bond. Justice Ireland is also known as a tireless mentor for young lawyers, and has been a pivotal figure in the Council for Legal Education, which works to expand opportunities for minority and low-income students to attend law school. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Lincoln University the same school attended by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; and later earned his law degree from Columbia Law School; Master of Laws from Harvard Law School; and Doctor of Philosophy in Law, Policy, and Society from Northeastern University.
In addition to President Wilson and Justice Ireland being honored, New Bedford Symphony Orchestra Music Director David MacKenzie, late Charlton College of Business Dean Richard Ward, and Biomimicry Institute Founder Janine Benyus will receive honorary degrees at the May 22 undergraduate ceremony. Outgoing School of Marine Sciences and Technology Dean John Farrington, who earned his undergraduate degree from UMass Dartmouth 45 years ago, will receive the Chancellor's Medal and deliver the faculty/student address at the graduate ceremony.
Janine Benyus is a natural sciences writer, innovation consultant, and author of six books, including her latest − Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. In Biomimicry, she names an emerging discipline that seeks sustainable solutions by emulating nature's designs and processes (e.g., solar cells that mimic leaves, agriculture that models a prairie, businesses that run like redwood forests). Benyus has cultivated a deep knowledge of the natural world, beginning with direct observation in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, continuing in habitats from Maine to West Virginia where she worked as a backcountry guide, and now, in her home wilds of Montana. In addition to her biomimicry work, she teaches interpretive writing, lectures at the University of Montana, and works towards restoring and protecting wild lands. She serves on a number of land use committees in her rural county.
Dr. John Farrington was named dean of the UMass Dartmouth School of Marine Science in 2009, following a lengthy career at the McLean Laboratory at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. His appointment at SMAST closed a professional and academic loop that began when he earned his undergraduate degree and graduate degrees from UMass Dartmouth in 1966 and 1968, respectively. Dr. Farrington, a scientist of international renown, was awarded the distinction of American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow in 2010 for his "distinguished contributions to the field of biogeochemistry and organic geochemistry of the oceans and for leadership in graduate education in oceanography." He lists more than 90 scientific publications and 15 publications in the lay press on research interests that include marine organic geochemistry, biochemistry of marine organisms, and environmental quality issues. He has served on committees and panels for international, national, and local organizations including the UNESCO-Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, National Academy of Sciences, National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Lloyd Center for Environmental Studies, and Bermuda Biological Station for Research (Trustee). He has participated in four major field programs and 18 oceanographic cruises, eight as chief scientist.
Dr. David MacKenzie is conductor and music director of the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra. Under this leadership the NBSO has placed the world's finest music at the center of the cultural life of the SouthCoast community. Not only performing concerts at the highest level of professional standards, Dr. MacKenzie and his orchestra provide educational programs for children and listeners of all ages to deepen their enjoyment and understanding of music and make it a part of their daily lives. The educational outreach programs include SchoolsMusic!, an in-school performance by NBSO musicians, the New Bedford Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Catholic Schools String Program, Pre-Concert Talks by MacKenzie, and Master Classes, where guest artists performing with the NBSO meet with local students and provide them with musical instruction. In addition to his duties with the NBSO, Dr. MacKenzie is resident Conductor of Rogue Opera in Oregon and Music Director of Mastersingers by the Sea on Cape Cod, and is much in demand as a guest conductor with orchestras in the United States and South America. His more than 30 years of experience as a conductor spans the gamut of orchestral and choral music, opera and musical theater, and ballet.
Dr. Richard Ward who passed away in 2010, was the Dean of Business at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, who served his nation as a naval officer and liaison to Jordan, and his university as an administrator and post-retirement volunteer extraordinaire. An economist, professor, academic administrator, and perpetually aspiring writer, Dr. Ward was author of several books in economics and published reviews in numerous professional journals. Since retiring as Dean in 1996, he wrote three memoirs Grandpas are for all Seasons, The Fragrance of Heliotrope -- for his late wife, Cecilia Butler Ward -- and My Last Dungarees, an autobiographical retrospective. Dr. Ward was awarded the Distinguished Service Citation for his work in Jordan for U.S. Agency for International Development. His papers on the Middle East are in the archives of The Middle East Center, St. Anthony's College, Oxford University, England. A veteran of World War II, he served as Division Leader and Executive Officer on the U.S.S. Gage, retiring as a U.S. Navy Lieutenant. He and his shipmates were in the Pacific during the massive invasion of Okinawa. An archive of his sketches, titled "Doodles," has been featured at Gallery X, an art gallery in New Bedford. Later in life, he participated in the mentoring program at The Nativity Prep-School in New Bedford, was a President of the UMass Dartmouth Retirement Association, and served on the Advisory Board of Gallery X. He was also an Advisor to the SHARE Foundation program and frequent lecturer at the Dartmouth Council on Aging programs.
For more information on the 2011 UMass Dartmouth Commencement exercises, please visit umassd.edu/commencement.