UMassD announces 2016 Commencement honorees

Nearly 2,000 to receive diplomas

Commence crowd shot
Nearly 2,000 members of the Class of 2016 will receive undergraduate and graduate diplomas over the course of four Commencement ceremonies.

UMass Dartmouth announced today that NAACP National Board of Directors Chair Roslyn Brock, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky will offer the keynote addresses and receive honorary degrees at the 116thCommencement exercises May 13-16. Dr. Brian Rothschild, founding dean of the School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST), will receive the Chancellor’s Medal. UMass Dartmouth Interim Chancellor Peyton R. “Randy” Helm will offer the keynote address for the Charlton College of Business ceremony.

Nearly 2,000 members of the Class of 2016 will receive undergraduate and graduate diplomas over the course of four Commencement ceremonies.

“It is with great excitement that we will be honoring four individuals whose talent, intellect, and determination have produced profound benefits for society," said Interim Chancellor Helm. "For the Class of 2016, each is an inspirational example of the impact that a single individual can have when committed to excellence and improving the lives of others."

UMass Dartmouth 2016 Commencement schedule:

Friday, May 13

10 a.m. - Charlton College of Business at the Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial Amphitheater

Keynote address: Interim Chancellor Peyton R. “Randy” Helm

2:30 p.m., Colleges of Engineering, Nursing, and Visual and Performing Arts; School for Marine Science and Technology at the Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial Amphitheater

Keynote address and honorary degree: Roslyn Brock, national chair of the NAACP

Chancellor’s Medal: Dr. Brian Rothschild, founding dean of SMAST

Saturday, May 14

10 a.m. - College of Arts and Sciences at the Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial Amphitheater

Keynote address and honorary degree: Dr. Robert Pinsky, three-term U.S. poet laureate

Monday, May 16

10 a.m. - School of Law at the Main Auditorium on the Main Campus

Keynote address and honorary degree: Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

More on the UMass Dartmouth 2016 Commencement Honorees and Speakers

Roslyn Brock

Chairman, NAACP National Board of Directors

Roslyn M. Brock made history in February 2010 when she was unanimously elected as 14th Chairman of the National Board of Directors for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She is the youngest person and fourth woman to hold this position. Brock is employed as Vice President, Advocacy and Government Relations for Bon Secours Health System, Inc., where she is the lead policy advocate on health care policy and reform, population health, health equity and social justice legislative and regulatory efforts. Prior to working at Bon Secours, Brock worked 10 years in health programs at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan. She is an ordained Baptist preacher and serves as Associate Minister at the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia.  She has been a servant leader with the NAACP for more than 30 years and is a Diamond Life Member. In 2005, Brock created the NAACP Leadership 500 Summit.  The Summit’s goal is to recruit, train and retain a new generation of civil rights leaders to the NAACP. Brock's leadership skills have been recognized by several national publications and organizations. The September 2010 issue of Essence magazine listed her among the 40 Fierce and Fabulous Women Who Are Changing the World. Black Entertainment Television's (BET) 2010 Black Girls Rock, honored her in its inaugural broadcast and she received the 2010 National Urban League’s Women of Power Award. Brock is a member of the George Washington University Board of Trustees and Board of Advisors Chair for the University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Ralph D. Gants

Chief Justice, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants was appointed as an Associate Justice of the Superior Court in 1997 by Governor William Weld. Governor Deval Patrick appointed him to the Supreme Judicial Court in January 2009 as an Associate Justice. In 2014, he was appointed the thirty-seventh Chief Justice by Governor Patrick and was sworn in on July 28. Chief Justice Gants served as co-chair of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission from 2010 to 2015, and chaired the Standing Committee that revised the Model Jury Instructions on Homicide in 2013. He received his B.A. from Harvard College and completed a Diploma in Criminology at Cambridge University in England. In 1980, he earned a J.D. degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School where he was note editor of the Harvard Law Review. In 2012, he was awarded the Boston Bar Association Citation of Judicial Excellence and the Suffolk Law School Public Service Award. Chief Justice Gants has been an outspoken defender of civil rights and equal access to justice and has shown support toward a re-assessment of the state’s criminal justice system, including the practice of mandatory minimum sentences. He has also been a supporter of the Commonwealth’s only public law school, and its mission to prepare justice-centered lawyers. He has also been a supporter of UMass Law’s Justice Bridge law practice incubator, which provides low-cost civil legal services to clients of modest means in Greater Boston and on the SouthCoast.

Robert Pinsky

U.S. Poet Laureate (1997-2000)

Robert Pinsky served an unprecedented three terms as the nation's official poet. His Selected Poems was published in 2011. His previous books of poetry include Gulf MusicJersey RainThe Want Bone and The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996. His best-selling translation The Inferno of Dante was a Book-of-the-Month-Club Editor's Choice, and received both the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award. His prose books include The Life of DavidThe Situation of Poetry and The Sounds of Poetry. The CD PoemJazz, with Grammy-winning pianist Laurence Hobgood, is released by Circumstantial Productions. Robert has also performed reading poems with Ben Allison, Bobby Bradford, Vijay Iyer, Mike Manieri, Stan Strickland and other jazz musicians. Among his awards and honors are the William Carlos Williams Prize, the Harold Washington Award from the City of Chicago, the Italian Premio Capri, the PEN-Volcker Award and the Korean Manhae Prize. He recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the PEN American Center. While serving as U.S. Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky founded The Favorite Poem Project, including the videos that can be seen at www.favoritepoem.org. Robert Pinsky was born and raised in Long Branch, New Jersey. He graduated from Long Branch High School, as had his parents, and went on to college at Rutgers University and then to graduate work at Stanford University, where he held a Stegner Fellowship.

Brian Rothschild

Founding Dean, UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science & Technology

Dr. Brian Rothschild is the Montgomery Charter Professor of Marine Science and founding Dean of UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST). Prior to joining UMass, he held professorships at the University of Maryland and the University of Washington. He has had faculty or visiting scientist affiliations with the University of Hawaii, Cornell University, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Rosensteil School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Institut fur Meereskunde, University of Kiel, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Harvard University. He has served as Senior Policy Advisor to the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He managed NOAA’s implementation of the Fisheries Conservation and Management Act of 1976. He has consulted for the governments of the United Kingdom, Korea, Egypt, Peru, France, and the Republic of Ireland on various aspects of oceanography and fishery management. His research has contributed to the fundamental understanding of fish stock recruitment. In 2003, Dr. Rothschild received the American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists Outstanding Achievement Award. In 2007 he received the NOAA Sustainability Fisheries Leadership Award. In 2011, Dr. Rothschild received the Oscar Elton Sette Award, which is given to an individual who has sustained excellence in marine fishery biology through research, teaching, and administration. In 2012, Dr. Rothschild received the Man of the Year Award from the Prince Henry Society of Massachusetts and the Highliner Lifetime Achievement Award from National Fisherman magazine. He was appointed as the 2015 Hjort Scholar at the Institute of Marine Research in Norway.

Peyton R. “Randy” Helm

Interim Chancellor, UMass Dartmouth

Peyton R. “Randy” Helm was appointed interim chancellor of UMass Dartmouth in January 2016. Before joining UMass Dartmouth, Chancellor Helm led Muhlenberg College for 12 years and was named President Emeritus by the College’s trustees at Commencement last May. Before his Muhlenberg presidency, Helm served as vice president for college relations and professor of classical studies at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and held leadership positions in student affairs and development at the University of Pennsylvania. At Muhlenberg, Helm presided over an era of growth and transformation, during which applications and enrollment increased, as the college continued to gain acclaim. Muhlenberg’s endowment more than tripled -- rising from $70 million to $247 million – with that growth fueled by a $110 million capital campaign Helm oversaw. Helm was also credited with improving campus facilities and student life and developing a new curriculum. Muhlenberg also became more diverse during Helm’s presidency. Helm led the college through a major campus expansion, which included construction of a new sports center, science building, residence and dining halls, as well as the expansion and renovation of the student center and performing arts facilities. Helm earned a reputation for being highly visible on campus, being accessible to students, and for developing strong relationships with the business community and with other civic leaders. Helm earned his undergraduate degree in archaeology from Yale University and a doctorate in ancient history from the University of Pennsylvania.

More on UMass Dartmouth

UMass Dartmouth was elevated to Doctoral University – Higher Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education following the release of its final 2015 classification in February. The only Bay State research university located south of Boston 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. UMass Dartmouth's mandate to serve its community is realized through countless partnerships, programs, and other outreach efforts to engage the community, and apply its knowledge to help address local issues and empower others to facilitate change for all.


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