Supreme Judical Court Chief Justice Roderick Ireland urges 483 graduate students to "reach out and reach back" to those less fortunate
UMass Dartmouth conferred 483 graduate degrees today, including the historic first 53 School of Law degrees. Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick Ireland, who was awarded the Chancellor's Distinguished Service Medal, delivered the commencement address, urging students to "reach back to those in need'' as they are working to advance their careers.
The School of Law accepted its first students in the fall of 2010. The law school class of 2011 includes students who transferred from the Southern New England School of Law, which closed after donating its land, building, library holdings and other assets to UMass Dartmouth.
The ceremony also featured remarks by student speaker Michaela Bileau from Woonsocket, who earned a master's degree in clinical psychology; and Dean of
the School of Marine Science and Technology John Farrington, a double UMass Dartmouth alum, who was also awarded the Chancellor's Medal for Distinguished Service.
"There are lots of people in great need who are struggling mightily to make it from day to day,'' Ireland said. "So all you grduates...when you are charging forward...elbowing your way to the top...overcoming obstacles, don't forget to pull...Reach out and reach back."
Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said the graduates now have the tools to address global 21st century problems. "We remain at war; The global financial system remains fragile; Natural and man-made disasters such as the earthquake and nuclear meltdowns in Japan remind us of our tenuous existence,'' she said. "But don't be discouraged. Smarts and perseverance -- qualities you have developed during your studies -- can conquer the most difficult challenge. Such qualities are restoring the Gulf of Mexico after the one of the worst oil spills in history and ended the reign of the world's worst terrorist. And we are beginning to change our approach to health care, energy, and the environment."
Student speaker Michaela Bileau from Woonsocket, who earned a master's degree in clinical psychology, advised her peers, "While today may be the grand finale of our efforts in obtaining an advanced degree, I ask that you to locate that motivation, that drive that resides within you, that part of you that has helped you to overcome even the most overwhelming challenges, and anchor it with your most mindful grasp, allowing it to inspire you to explore and achieve for days and years beyond today."
Dr. Farrington, who graduated at the first commencement in Dartmouth and has earned internationally recognition for expanding knowledge about the ocean, called for an informed, rational response to poverty, environmental degradation and intolerance. "Informed and civil discourse - free of hatred, prejudice, and ill-conceived ideologies, is the pathway forward to solve these and other complex problems most effectively,'' he said. "I recommend this endeavor to you. The babies and the children in our midst and generations to come are depending on all of us to understand the urgent problems of our region, nation and the world, to innovate solutions, and to have the courage to use standards of ethics, morality and justice as guides for the best pathway forward."
The following number of graduate degrees were awarded in each college: Engineering -- 116, Business -- 96, Education/Public Policy/Civic Engagement -- 95, Arts and Sciences -- 68, Law -- 53, Visual and Performing Arts -- 26, Marine Science -- 16, Nursing -- 13.
The undergraduate commencement, at which 1,589 diplomas will be conferred, will be held tomorrow at 10:15 a.m. in the amphitheater. Outgoing UMass President Jack Wilson will deliver the main address and receive the Chancellor's Distinguished Service Medal. Honorary degrees will be awarded to Bio-Mimicry Institute President Janine Benyus, New Bedford Symphony Orchestra Conductor David MacKenzie, and Business School Dean Richard Ward (posthumously).