DARTMOUTH, Mass. -- Approximately 1,387 undergraduate and graduate students were awarded diplomas today at the 106th UMass Dartmouth commencement exercises.
The Class of 2006 includes graduates from 15 countries, 19 U.S. states, and 209 Massachusetts communities; 187 graduate students and 1,200 undergraduates. The ages of the new graduates ranges from 20 to 82.
Janet L. Robinson, the President and Chief Executive Officer of The New York Times Company, delivered the commencement address and received an honorary degree along with former UMass trustee William Giblin, Wall Street executive William Hayden, and Lincoln historian Harold Holzer.
At a commencement eve dinner celebrating the honorary degree recipients, Hayden announced that he was creating a scholarship fund at the university for disadvantaged students from southeastern Massachusetts. Also announced at the dinner was a donation from retiring Provost Louis Esposito to endow a distinguished lecture series in Italian-American history and culture.
Robinson, a native of Somerset, Massachusetts, spoke to graduates about the importance of making the right choices in one's life: "Starting today, when you leave this beautiful campus and begin the next chapter of your lives, you will become what Winston Churchill once called masters of your fate, captains of your souls.
"The choices that you make from now on about your life and your career will help you move forward, will help set your course for the future and will help shape your destiny."
Robinson said that the best way to ensure that one makes good choices is to study the decisions of great leaders, from Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln to business leaders Andy Grove and Meg Whitman to civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks.
She advised graduates to focus on eight critical choices that they will face going forward, including the choice to challenge conventional wisdom, the choice to give back to one's community and the choice to change one's minds. Robinson noted she herself changed her life's path in her early thirties. After spending eleven years as a teacher in Rhode Island and in Massachusetts, she moved to New York and began a career in media.
"I made that choice because, although I enjoyed teaching, I was intent on pursuing a career in publishing. I wanted to work for a news organization devoted to quality journalism -- and devoted to truly making a difference in the world in which we live," she said. "Do not be afraid to change your mind. I have never regretted my choice. Neither will you."
Robinson also emphasized to graduates the importance of continuing their education. "You have received an outstanding education here at UMass Dartmouth. Build upon it. If you have an opportunity to pursue an advanced degree, do it. If you cannot enroll in a formal program, then find a mentor or create your own curriculum by reading every book or online news source or newspaper that you can. By doing so, you will give yourself a critical advantage over your competition and you will also never lose your wonder of the world."
Speaking to an audience of approximately 5,000 graduates, faculty, friends and family gathered in and around the Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial Amphitheater, UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack told the Class of 2006, "We honor your academic achievement and send you forth to change the world. We are confident that your future will be filled with more achievement, more service, and more learning."
James Karam, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees and an alumnus of UMass Dartmouth, told graduates, "Your accomplishment is powerful, undeniable evidence that the Commonwealth's investment in public higher education is a smart investment that will generate a priceless economic, social and cultural return. We'll be watching for the individual contributions that you, as educated citizens, make to the community. Make us proud."
UMass Vice President Keith Motley said, "With aspirations linked directly to the opportunities and challenges present here in southeastern Massachusetts, UMass Dartmouth is a highly respected member of the UMass family. People love this place because you -- students, faculty, and staff -- are deeply embedded in the community."
UMass Dartmouth Student Trustee Brian Silver thanked the faculty, staff, and administration of the university, focusing on those who work behind the scenes. "Across this campus you will find people giving their all on a day to day basis- an infectious trait that trickles down to the student body,'' he said.
At the commencement eve dinner, all four honorary degree recipients offered moving remarks about the professional and educational paths. The evening began with a brief tribute by Chancellor MacCormack for Provost Esposito who is retiring after more than three decades in higher education, the last three as chief academic officer at UMass Dartmouth. The tribute included the announcement of Esposito's gift to the university, which drew a standing ovation from the faculty, alumni, staff and friends of the university in attendance.
"Three years ago I asked Lou to step into a very challenging job -- chief academic officer of an institution in rapid transition,'' Chancellor MacCormack said. "Lou Esposito accepted the challenge and helped us all balance the challenges and opportunities of transition. He has devoted three decades of his life to higher education, consistently pushing the envelope in pursuit of higher quality, and always being an advocate for the student."
For more details on the 2006 UMass Dartmouth Commencement, including photos and video, please visit www.umassd.edu.
About the honorary degree recipients
Janet L. Robinson, a native of Somerset, Massachusetts and a former school teacher, became president and chief executive officer of The New York Times Company on December 27, 2004. As CEO, she oversees and coordinates all of the company's print, digital and broadcast operations and business units. She has held major leadership positions with the company since 1990. In August 2005, Ms. Robinson was named to Forbes magazine's annual list of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women.
Also receiving honorary degrees on May 28 will be former trustee William E. Giblin '57, Wall Street executive William H. Hayden '62, and historian Harold Holzer.
William E. Giblin is President and Chief Executive Officer of Tweave Incorporated in Norton, which has been on the leading edge of innovation in the design, development and manufacture of stretch woven fabrics for half a century. He also served a decade as a trustee of the University of Massachusetts, beginning his service as the Dartmouth campus was making becoming part of the UMass system. He graduated from UMass Dartmouth in 1957 with a B.S. degree in Textile Engineering and has been a strong advocate for the U.S. textile industry.
William H. Hayden is Senior Managing Director of Bear, Stearns and Co. The New Bedford native and 1962 UMass Dartmouth alumnus has designed and implemented investment plans that have shaped the skylines, landscapes and neighborhoods of states and major cities across the country. Mr. Hayden has served a politically diverse cast of public leaders -- from U.S. Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. In 1992 Black Enterprise magazine named him one of the "25 Hottest Blacks on Wall Street." In 1999, Mr. Hayden was honored by the NASP for "a lifetime of excellence and commitment to diversity' with his installation into the New York Wall Street Hall of Fame.
Harold Holzer is one of the country's leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. A prolific writer and lecturer, Mr. Holzer has authored, co-authored, and edited 23 books and 375 articles for both popular magazines and scholarly journals, including Life Magazine, American Heritage, Civil War Times, American History Illustrated, North & South, Blue & Gray, the Chicago Tribune, and the New York Times. Mr. Holzer has contributed chapters to 21 additional books, including Lincoln and His Contemporaries (1999) and The Lincoln Enigma (2001). Most recently, he was the historical advisor to the book Why Lincoln Matters by Mario M. Cuomo (2004).
About the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth distinguishes itself as a vibrant public university actively engaged in personalized teaching and innovative research, and acting as an intellectual catalyst for regional economic, social, and cultural development. Its approximately 8,700 students choose from more than 60 academic programs. Its nearly 400 faculty members in the colleges of arts and sciences, business, engineering, nursing, visual and performing arts, and the school of marine science and technology are engaged in teaching, research and service that focused on the southeastern Massachusetts region but have impact around the globe.