Date: April 24, 2007
Honorary degrees will be 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
"We are honored to have Senator Kerry as our commencement speaker this year,'' Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said. "For four decades he has served the Commonwealth and nation, and has been a stalwart advocate for our university and region. His perspective on the issues that our nation will face in the coming years will be highly valuable to our graduates as they go forth."
"We are also pleased to be granting honorary degrees to Teresa Heinz, Rev. Robert Lawrence, Julie Moir Messervy, and Edmund Barry Gaither -- four extraordinary individuals who have used their immense talents and generous spirits to enhance the social, cultural, and physical landscapes of communities near and far,'' Chancellor MacCormack said.
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 celebrate 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.
Go to the UMass Dartmouth 107th Commencement web site.