Date: May 12, 2013
Department: Chancellor's Office
Sheri McCoy '80, the CEO of Avon Products and one of just 21 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, delivered the undergraduate commencement address and received an honorary Doctor of Business at the ceremony.
McCoy shared the lessons she learned at the campus of what was then Southeastern Massachusetts University and over her career with Johnson & Johnson and now Avon. She focused, as many alumni do, on the mentor relationship with a professor: Dr. Ronald Perry, who encouraged her to pursue a master's at Princeton:
"I was skeptical, and frankly, I was not sure I could do it," said McCoy. "But Professor Perry saw something in me that I didn't see in myself at the time. I applied and was accepted, with a scholarship. I worked hard--and it changed the course of my career, and my entire life."
Bringing that lesson home to graduating students and their families, she concluded, "UMass Dartmouth has given you a wonderful foundation. Now it's up to you to go out and build a great life."
Former trustees Robert S. Karam '67 '91' (Hon.) and James J. Karam '71 '01 (Hon.) were honored for their combined 29 years of service to the University of Massachusetts system, UMass Dartmouth and its predecessor, Southeastern Massachusetts University, as members of the Board of Trustees. Their service included 12 years as chair and 9 years as vice-chairman, in total.
The Karams received Chancellor's Distinguished Service Medals, joining honorees including Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. John Kerry.
Amber Eusebio '13, the student speaker, also mentioned her mentor professors - Profs. Richard Golen and Michael Griffin - and dealt straightforwardly with her experience in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings:
"Just recently UMass Dartmouth had to come together for everyone's safety," she said. "The e-mails I got from my professors and from other students offering a helping hand, the communication, and the camaraderie I felt that day will never be forgotten. I've never been prouder of my school. At that time we weren't just individual students. We became one student body, a student body that wouldn't allow anyone to be missing, neglected, or not looked after. And for that, I think we are all forever grateful to each other. Please keep that feeling going forward and spread peace and love to a world that desperately needs it."
The ceremony also honored the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings with a Moment of Silence observed by approximately 10,500 attendees.
"This campus was tested last month by its personal connection to the tragedy in Boston. But yet you pulled together as a campus community," said University of Massachusetts President Robert Caret. "I must say I have never been prouder of UMass Dartmouth and its response to these unspeakable acts of evil."
In another example of the University community's desire to understand our past in order to move forward, student leaders announced that they are organizing a Torch Relay to benefit the One Fund and show support for all those impacted by the Boston Marathon attack.
During the Torch Relay, students will take turns passing the torch at each one of the 55 miles from the UMass Dartmouth campus to the Boylston Street marathon memorial site in Boston.
"The real UMass Dartmouth is about strength, spirit and community, and this event will bring together students, alumni and residents throughout Massachusetts,'' said relay organizer Joseph Melo, who will be receiving his diploma Sunday . "Our campus has been profoundly affected by the Marathon tragedy, and we are proud that we are coming together as one community to support the One Fund."
This event, tentatively scheduled for the weekend following Independence Day, will showcase the spirit of UMass Dartmouth students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends, while bringing together the community to support victims of the attack. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the One Fund.
This will be the third Torch Relay in UMass Dartmouth history. The first was held in 1965 to rally against state legislation that would have downsized what was then Southeastern Massachusetts Technological Institute. The second Torch Relay was held in 1982 and organized by then-sophomore and now State Senator Mark Montigny (D- New Bedford) to gain equal support from the state budget at what was then Southeastern Massachusetts University.
"The Torch Relay has always been a powerful rallying tool for the entire university community in times of trial or concern. I am proud to again be associated with the organization of a third Torch Relay which this time will not only illustrate the real character of UMass Dartmouth's students to the world but will also aid the victims of the horrific Boston Marathon bombing. I am certain that this walk will play a positive role in helping the entire state heal from the tragic events of the last month," said Senator Montigny, a member of the track team at the time, who led off the relay.
The July Torch Relay will begin at the UMass Dartmouth campus and end at the marathon memorial in Boston. Participants are being recruited now to take part in all or specific segments of the 55-mile journey to Boston. All attendees are invited and encouraged to participate in the final segment of the relay through Boston to the Boylston Street marathon memorial site.
More about Undergraduate Commencement honorees and speakers
Sherilyn McCoy '80
CEO, Avon Products, Inc.
Honorary Doctor of Business
Sheri McCoy '80 was appointed last year as CEO and a director of Avon Products, the world's largest direct seller and fifth-largest beauty company, where she oversees six million representatives working in more than 100 countries. She is one of just 21 female CEOs of a Fortune 500 company, and in 2012, Fortune ranked her # 17 of "50 Most Powerful Women in Business."
Ms. McCoy joined Avon after 30 years with John¬son & Johnson, where as Vice Chairman she oversaw the 60,000 employees of that company's Pharmaceutical, Consumer, Corporate Office of Science & Technology, and Information Technology divisions. Prior to that, she served in a number of leadership roles including Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals Group from 2009 to 2011; Worldwide Chairman, Surgical Care Group from 2008 to 2009; and Company Group Chairman and Worldwide Franchise Chairman of Ethicon, Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, from 2005 to 2008. Earlier in her career she was Global President of the Baby and Wound Care franchise, and she served as Vice President, Research & Development for the Personal Products Worldwide Division and as Vice President, Marketing for a variety of global brands including Neutrogena, Aveeno, and Johnson's Baby Oil. Additionally, Ms. McCoy had oversight for Baby Center, the world's leading online community for new and expecting mothers. She is a passionate advocate for customer focus and product quality.
Ms. McCoy is a research scientist who holds four patents. As a community leader, she advises FIRST, a non-profit organization created to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. She serves as a board member of the economic development and business innovation organization, Partnership for New York City and as a board member of Stonehill College. A native of Quincy, Mass., Ms. McCoy earned her BS in Textile Chemistry from Southeastern Massachusetts University in 1980, her MS in Chemical Engineering from Princeton and her MBA from Rutgers.
Robert S. Karam '67 '91 (Hon.)
Principal, Karam Financial Group
Chancellor's Distinguished Service Medal
Robert S. Karam '67 '91 (Hon.) is Principal of Karam Financial Group, President of Karam Insurance Agency, and Principal of SNE Broadcasting (WHTB 1400 AM) and Bristol County Broadcasting (WSAR 1480 AM). He also develops senior affordable housing developments.
Mr. Karam has served for many years as a member of the Board of Trustees, both of the University and the UMass system. He was appointed to the former Board of Trustees of Southeastern Massachusetts University (now UMass Dartmouth) in 1982 and was Chairman from 1989 to 1991. Mr. Karam was appointed to the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees in August 1991 and re-appointed in 2000, and served as Vice Chair to the Board of Trustees from 1991 to 1996. He was appointed Chairman of the Board in 1996 and served until 2000, serving as a member of the Committee on Administration, Finance and Audit.
In 1997, Mr. Karam became Chair of the Board of the UMass Memorial Health Care, Inc. He is on the board Savings Bank Life Insurance, and on the board of A.D. Makepeace, a publicly traded company. He is a member of the Association of Advanced Life Underwriters (AALU), a founder of the Center for Family Business at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, a member of the National Association of Life Underwriters, Registered Representative for Guardian Investors Service Corporation, and a member of the Fall River Area Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Karam holds professional designations as a: Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), and Registered Employee Benefit Consultant (REBC).
Born in Fall River, Mr. Karam graduated from Southeastern Massachusetts University in 1967 with a BA in Business Administration, and received an honorary Doctor of Business in 1991.
James J. Karam '71 '01 (Hon.)
President & CEO, First Bristol Corporation
Chancellor's Distinguished Service Medal
James J. Karam '71 '01 (Hon.) is President and founder of First Bristol Corporation which has developed retail shopping centers, multi-family housing, and office buildings throughout southern New England since 1975. He also co-owns WSAR and WHTB radio stations.
Mr. Karam was appointed to the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees in January 2002 and appointed as Chair of the Board in August 2004. After stepping down in 2006, he was reappointed chair in 2011, and stepped down at the end of 2012. Over the course of his service, he served a member of the Committee on Administration and Finance, the Development Committee, the Trustee Governance Committee and the Compensation Committee, as well as Vice Chair of the Committee on Administration, Finance and Audit, the Committee on Athletics and the Investment Sub-Committee for the University of Massachusetts Foundation, and as co-chair of the Athletic Task Force.
Mr. Karam is renowned for his community leadership, including on the SouthCoast Development Partnership and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), the SouthCoast CEO Group, former Chair of the Board of Caritas Christi, Massachusetts' largest community health system, and now on the board of Steward Health, New England's largest community health care system, a for-profit health care system.
In addition to recognition by his peers, he is also the recipient of numerous awards including: Citizens for Citizens' Hubert Humphrey Award, the Fall River United Way's Lantern Society, the Fall River Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen award, the University of Massachusetts Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the New England Board of Higher Education David Knapp Award for Outstanding Trusteeship.
A native of Fall River, Mr. Karam and his wife, Janis, reside with their four children in Tiverton, Rhode Island. He graduated from Southeastern Massachusetts University in 1971 with a bachelor's in business, and received an honorary Doctor of Business from UMass Dartmouth in 2001.