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Press Release: UMass Dartmouth announces 2012 commencement speakers and honorees


UMass Dartmouth announces 2012 commencement speakers and honorees

Roxana Saberi, journalist and human rights activist, to deliver undergraduate commencement address; Susan Avery, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution president, to deliver graduate address; Rep. Barney Frank and Elizabeth O'Neill LaStaiti to receive Chancellor's Distinguished Service Medal; Honorary doctorates to be conferred on Susan Avery, Hubie Jones and Gil Santos; UMass President Robert Caret to attend; Last commencement for Chancellor MacCormack

Author:  Robert Lamontagne [Contact]
Date:  May 9, 2012
Department:   Chancellor's Office
Roxana Saberi, an award-winning author, journalist, and human rights advocate who was jailed by the Iranian regime in 2009, will deliver the UMass Dartmouth undergraduate commencement address on Sunday, May 27 at 10:15 a.m., when an estimated 1,550 graduates will receive bachelor's degrees.

Dr. Susan K. Avery, president and director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, will deliver her address at the graduate commencement to be held Saturday, May 26 at 2:30 p.m. when an estimated 325 graduate students will receive master's and doctoral degrees, including the first doctoral student in Nursing.

The ceremonies will take place in the Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial Amphitheater located next to the Claire T. Carney Library. In case of rain, the ceremonies will take place in a 5,600-seat tent adjacent to the Amphitheater.

"We are proud to welcome our speakers and honorees to the 112th Commencement," said Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack, who will preside over her last Commencement as leader of UMass Dartmouth. "Their achievements in so many fields, coming from so many walks of life, reflect the diverse accomplishments of our outstanding graduates in the Class of 2012."

More about Undergraduate Commencement honorees and speakers

Roxana Saberi / Undergraduate Commencement speaker / Journalist, activist
Roxana Saberi is a journalist, author, filmmaker, activist and political prisoner who was imprisoned by the Iranian regime. Saberi was raised in Fargo, North Dakota, the daughter of Iranian and Japanese immigrants, and went on to earn master's degrees from Northwestern and Cambridge Universities. She began her career as a freelance reporter after moving to Iran in 2003, broadcasting her work worldwide. In 2009, she was arrested without warning and placed in solitary confinement in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison. After a short trial, she was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment -- a sentence quickly overturned after an international uproar. Since then, Saberi has distinguished herself as an advocate for social justice and human rights around the world.

Hubert E. Jones / Doctor of Humane Letters / Civic entrepreneur
Hubie Jones is a vital member of the social justice movement in Boston where he has held numerous positions in academia, served on multiple boards and played a leadership role in the social development of the city and its people. Mr. Jones is Dean Emeritus of the Boston University School of Social Work, and served as Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Urban Affairs at the University of Massachusetts and acting President of Roxbury Community College. Professor Jones has played a key role in the formation, rebuilding and leadership of at least thirty community organizations within the black community and across the city. In twenty of these organizations, he served as chairman of the board or executive director. Since 2002, he has been founder and president of the Boston Children's Chorus.

Gil Santos / Doctor of Humane Letters / Broadcaster
Gil Santos is the longtime radio play-by-play announcer for the New England Patriots of the National Football League, and morning sports reporter for WBZ radio in Boston. He retired from WBZ was inducted into the WBZ Radio Hall of Fame in 2009. He has called Patriots games continuously since 1966, except for a stretch between 1980 and 1990. His 30 years of service makes him the longest-serving current announcer in the NFL, tied with Merrill Reese of the Philadelphia Eagles, and he is the last play-by-play announcer from the American Football League era still broadcasting. He was born in Acushnet, Massachusetts and grew up in neighboring Fairhaven. From 1959 to 1971, when he joined WBZ full-time, Mr. Santos worked at WBSM and WNBH in New Bedford, and WSAR and WALE in Fall River.

Barney Frank / Chancellor's Distinguished Service Medal / Congressman
United States Representative Barney Frank represents the Fourth Congressional District of Massachusetts, and he is also the Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee. Last year, he helped pass the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a new law that the Washington Post has called, "the most sweeping overhaul of the nation's financial regulatory system since the Great Depression." Congressman Frank began his career in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he served for eight years before winning a seat in the U.S. Congress in 1980. Although he is widely-recognized for his work on national issues, Congressman Frank has also fought to help New Bedford fishermen, bring commuter rail to the SouthCoast, and provide affordable rental housing.

More about Graduate Commencement honorees  

Susan K. Avery / Doctor of Science / President and Director, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Susan Avery took office as president and director of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 2008. Dr. Avery is the ninth director in the institution's 78-year history, and the first woman to hold the position. As an oceanographic leader with a background in atmospheric research, Avery has used her unique position to underscore the importance of ocean-atmosphere interactions in understanding whole Earth systems. Since taking the helm at WHOI, Avery has delivered Congressional testimony and presentations at scientific conferences such as the American Meteorological Society, the IEEE International Geoscience & Remote Sensing Symposium, the American Geological Union, and the Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO), often directing her comments at the intersection of atmospheric, earth, and ocean science.

Elizabeth O'Neill LaStaiti / Chancellor's Distinguished Service Medal / First Justice of the Bristol County Probate and Family Court (Ret.)
Elizabeth O' Neill LaStaiti retired in 2011 as the First Justice of the Bristol County Probate and Family Court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts following a 23-year career as a judge. Judge LaStaiti is a Trustee of the SouthCoast Health Systems and a former Chairman of the Board of St. Luke's Hospital. She served as President of the Schwartz Center, a children's rehabilitation center and the New Bedford Child and Family Service, and incorporated the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center. In partnership with the the U.S. State Department, the Massachusetts Judges Conference and the Russian American Rule of Law Committee, Judge LaStaiti worked to develop and promote the Rule of Law in Russia, Macedonia, China, Mongolia, and Romania.  She served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Southern New England School of Law, which became the University of Massachusetts School of Law-Dartmouth in 2010.  

More about Commencement Ceremonies  

Family and friends should plan to arrive no later than 1:45 p.m. on May 26 for the graduate ceremony and no later than 9:30 a.m. on May 27 for the undergraduate ceremony as the Commencement will begin on time. Please plan extra time for local traffic and parking.

For more information on the 2012 UMass Dartmouth Commencement exercises, please visit umassd.edu/commencement, or call 508.910.6971.
 

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