Class of 2010 urged by East Timor president to consider the plight of poor nations

President and Nobel Peace Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta urges 1,500 graduates to be "extraordinary unknown heroes'; honorary degrees also awarded to Fall River natives Gerald Mauretti, CEO of EY Technologies, and Julia Plotnick, retired U.S. Assistant Surgeon General

East Timor President and Nobel Peace Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, who leads one of the world's newest democracies, told the 1,500-member UMass Dartmouth Class of 2010 that each of them can be "extraordinary unknown heroes'' like the teacher in his country who climbs a mountain road for two hours each day, each way to reach her school.

President Ramos-Horta who earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996, was elected president in 2007, and was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt in 2008 said his heroes are the school teacher who walks two hours up the mountain to her school and two hours home and another teacher who rides his donkey to deliver books to people. "These are extraordinary unknown heroes,'' President Ramos-Horta said. "You can be part of this....Your education will be more meaningful if you use it to do good for somebody else.''

Ramos-Horta said he recently published an international children's book about his country to bring people of wealthy nations "close to the everyday life of countries like mine" which is struggling with poverty, but is a "very special place because it is born out of understanding and respect for other religions and other cultures."

President Ramos-Horta recounted that he once looked President Obama "in the eye and said he cannot fail" in efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflice. "He cannot fail the poorest of the world..He cannot fail to lead on climate change. Can the U.S. succeed? Yes, the U.S. can succeed if it knows how to develop partnership with other countries around the world...Yes, the U.S. can lead and bring peace and prosperity to the rest of the world."

Opening the ceremony in the university's Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial Amphitheater, UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack addressed the Class of 2010: "You have been here at UMass Dartmouth during a time of great change across our nation and around the world. You participated in the election of the first African-American president. You witnessed the near collapse of the world's economic system. You responded to the suffering of the people of Haiti. You have seen the Facebook population grow from 10 million to 200 million.  You are seeing and feeling the world getting smaller by the day, and you are learning that you can have your own personal impact on it."

Following his address, President Ramos-Horta was presented with an honorary degree for his "courageous and unwavering commitment to a free, democratic, and independent  East Timor, and in recognition of your wise and compassionate leadership under extraordinary duress."

Also receiving honorary degrees:

Fall River native and UMass Dartmouth alumnus Gerald Mauretti, Founder and CEO of Fall River-based EY Technologies for his "ability to weave from whole cloth a company that is a foundation for international excellence and innovation." 

Fall River native Julia Plotnick, former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General and current chair of Health Volunteers Overseas, for her  "far-reaching vision and compassionate world view."


Facts about  the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Class of 2010

Total number of degree candidates: Approximately 1,850 (1,500 undergraduate, 350 graduate)

Number of countries represented: 21

Number of states represented: 17 

Number of Massachusetts communities represented: 237

Selected numbers of graduates (undergraduate and graduate) by field: 
* Business (547)
* Engineering (271)
* Visual and Performing Arts (187)
* Nursing (151)
* Psychology (132)
* Life Science (130 - Medical Lab Science, Biology, Chemistry, Bio-Materials, Biomedical Engineering, Bio-Technology, etc.)
* Sociology/Crime and Justice (119)
* English/Professional Writing (96)
* Humanities/Liberal Arts (75)
* History (65)
* Teaching (58 -- Master of Arts)
* Marine Science (21 -- not including related activity in engineering, biology, chemistry, etc.)


More on honorary degree recipients

Jose Ramos-Horta

Jose Ramos-Horta, president of East Timor since 2007 and winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize for Peace, is among the world's most courageous and enduring voices for peace and reconciliation. Along with Bishop Carlos F.X. Belo, President Ramos-Horta received the Nobel Prize for his tireless efforts to bring peace and independence to East Timor, a former Portuguese possession that was under Indonesian control from 1975 to 1999. 

After studying law in the United States, President Ramos-Horta returned to East Timor  to participate in the independence movement. His activities brought the ire of the Portuguese rulers, and he was forced into exile.

Returning in 1972, Ramos-Horta sided with the pro-independence Fretilin faction in the East Timor civil war. The Fretilin gained control of the government on Nov. 28, 1975, and declared East Timor's independence and Ramos-Horta was named foreign minister. However, nine days later Indonesia invaded East Timor, and Ramos-Horta was again forced into exile. Eventually settling in Sydney, Australia, Ramos-Horta joined the faculty of the University of New South Wales. From that position he became one of the primary voices for East Timor in the international arena, becoming East Timor's de facto ambassador to the United Nations. 

After receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1996, he gave the award and prize money to a program called Microcredit for the Poor. Ramos-Horta continued to urge forgiveness and reconciliation and was appointed East Timor's foreign minister in 2000. He continued in that office after East Timor achieved full sovereignty in 2002, and in May 2007 was elected president, garnering nearly 70 percent of the vote. The following year he was seriously injured after being shot by rebels outside his home in Dili, East Timor. 

Gerald Mauretti

Gerald Mauretti, UMass Dartmouth Textile Engineering Class of 1965, is the President and founder of EY Technologies in Fall River, and a global leader in the textile industry.

In 2005, Mr. Mauretti was named World President of the Textile Institute International. The organization, incorporated in England by Royal Charter in 1925, has members in more than 90 countries, covering all sectors and disciplines of the textile industry. Mauretti's ascendance to the Textile Institute International world presidency is evidence of the continuing influence of the U.S. and southeastern Massachusetts textile industry. He is often a featured speaker at forums around the world. He has carried the message of textile innovation from his Fall River headquarters to South Korea, Japan and China and into Europe. 

Mr. Mauretti is widely recognized for his international experience in the development, marketing and manufacturing of technical fiber-based materials and yarns used for industrial products and composites.

He is also a business and community volunteer fully engaged in issues related to  education and economic development. He is the current Chair of the UMass Dartmouth Foundation and Vice Chair of the UMass Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Center Outside Advisory Board. UMass Dartmouth magazine profiled Mr. Mauretti in fall, 2006.  "We're in a global economy," he said. "The manufacturing base keeps moving. It's no longer the function of the U.S. to be the manufacturer."

Mr. Mauretti has been a key supporter of the University's evolution in the area of advanced materials. As the textile industry continuously and radically evolves in the private sector, so does UMass Dartmouth's role in the global transition to advanced materials. 

In constant search of what he describes as "the whiz bang," Mauretti stays connected to those scientists at his alma mater and also does his part to support the campus' continued development as a regional economic engine.

Julia Plotnick

A native of Fall River, Julia Plotnick graduated from the St. Anne's Hospital School of Nursing and built an extensive career in public health including service as the U.S. assistant surgeon general and chief nurse of the U.S. Public Health Service. 

During her time at the U.S. Public Health Service, as a community health and maternal/child specialist, she has held various national positions and accepted special international assignments with the World Health Organization (WHO), including assisting the WHO Iraq office to develop a plan of action to re-establish health services in Iraq and assisting the Ministry of Health in Romania in developing plans to improve health services for mothers and children.

She also has served as an international consultant on nursing and health care in numerous countries, including Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zaire and Croatia, and she represented the United States on the Global Advisory Group on Nursing to the director-general of the WHO.

She has received numerous awards and citations including the Audrey Hepburn Sigma Theta Tau International Award, the Surgeon General's Medallion, and the Distinguished Service Medal from the U.S. Public Health Service. She is also an American Academy of Nursing Fellow. "Nursing is a calling. Without that, you just can't do it," Plotnick has said. "It has to be your lifework, and you have to care." 

Although now officially retired, Plotnick continues to promote the nursing profession around the world, and was recently named chair of the Health Volunteers Overseas.

She has said that she has no choice but to do what she's doing, "Everyone has something to give and most of us don't even realize our potential. If you have the ability to make an impact, you have to give back or the opportunity is lost forever."

UMass Dartmouth highlights

UMass Dartmouth has been among the fastest growing universities in New England over the past decade with enrollment growing from 6,900 to 9,300 over the last decade.

During the last decade, UMass Dartmouth's research enterprise has tripled to more than $20 million per year.

On February 2, 2010, the University secured approval from the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education to open the Commonwealth's first public law school. 

In 2009, the University established an innovative new School of Education, Public Policy, and Civic Engagement which is focusing its efforts increasing educational attainment levels across the region.

UMass Dartmouth has been named to the President's National Public Service Honor Roll.

Four UMass Dartmouth faculty members were recently named Fulbright Scholars.

The University is in the process of a total renovation of the Claire T. Carney Library, and over the last five years has built or renovated housing for 3,000 students.

The University's College of Visual and Performing Arts in downtown New Bedford and Advanced Technology Manufacturing Center in Fall River are cornerstones of the regional economy.


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