News 2013: UMass Dartmouth announces 2013 Commencement speakers and honorees

News 2013: UMass Dartmouth announces 2013 Commencement speakers and honorees
UMass Dartmouth announces 2013 Commencement speakers and honorees

Sheri McCoy '80, CEO of Avon Products, to deliver undergraduate commencement address, receive honorary Doctor of Business; the Hon. Phillip Rapoza, Chief Justice of Mass. Court of Appeals, to deliver graduate address, receive honorary Doctor of Law; Robert Karam '67, and James Karam '71, to receive Chancellor's Distinguished Service Medals; First commencement for Chancellor Grossman

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth will celebrate its 113th Commencement on the weekend of May 11-12, 2013 with the graduation of an estimated 1,905 undergraduate and graduate students. 

"We are so proud to welcome our distinguished honorees to our 113th Commencement," said Chancellor Divina Grossman, who will preside over her first Commencement as leader of UMass Dartmouth. "Their achievements in public service, business and law, set a glowing example for the Class of 2013." 

Sherilyn McCoy '80, the CEO of Avon Products, will deliver the undergraduate commencement address on Sunday, May 12 at 10:15 a.m., when an estimated 1,338 undergraduates will receive bachelor's degrees. She will also receive an honorary Doctor of Business at the ceremony. 

The Hon. Phillip Rapoza, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Court of Appeals, will deliver the keynote address at the graduate commencement to be held Saturday, May 11 at 2:30 p.m. when an estimated 567 graduate students will receive master's, doctoral and law degrees. He will also receive an honorary Doctor of Law at the ceremony. 

Former trustees Robert S. Karam '67 '91' (Hon.) and James J. Karam '71 '01 (Hon.) will be 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 will receive Chancellor's Medals at the undergraduate ceremony. 

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 Ampitheater. 

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 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 2011, Fortune ranked her as one of the "10 Most Powerful Women in Business." 

McCoy joined Avon after 30 years with Johnson & 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, Marketing for a variety of global brands and as Vice President, Research & Development for the Personal Products Worldwide Division. 

McCoy is a scientist who holds five 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, and serves as a member of the Rutgers University President's Business Leaders Cabinet and board member of Stonehill College. 

A native of Quincy, Mass., McCoy earned her BS in Textile Chemistry from Southeastern Massachusetts University in 1980, her MS from Princeton and 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), Bristol County Broadcasting (WSAR 1480 AM) and Manager of O Journal, LLC (a Portuguese weekly newspaper). He also develops senior affordable housing developments. 
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. 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, Karam became Chair of the Board of the UMass Memorial Health Care, Inc. 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 at 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, 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.   

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.   

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, Trustee of St. Anne's Hospital, and Co-Chair of the Board of Advisors for the Center for Marine Science and Technology at UMASS Dartmouth.   

In addition to recognition by his peers, he is also the recipient of the 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 David Knapp Award for Outstanding Trusteeship this past March. 

A native of Fall River, 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. 

More about the Graduate Commencement honoree and speaker   

The Hon. Phillip Rapoza 
Chief Justice, Massachusetts Appeals Court 
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters 

The Honorable Phillip Rapoza serves as Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court, marking the latest chapter of his long career in public service law. A former assistant district attorney in both Suffolk and Bristol Counties, Rapoza was appointed Associate Justice of the Fall River District Court and was subsequently appointed Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court. He was appointed to the Appeals Court in 1998, and in 2006, he was named Chief Justice. 

Chief Justice Rapoza is also active in various international justice initiatives. Most notably, between 2003 and 2005, he served on the United Nation's Special Panels for Serious Crimes investigating human rights violations in East Timor during Indonesia's 25-year occupation. Rapoza also headed a UN Criminal Justice Advisory Team in Haiti and has travelled on several occasions to Cambodia to participate in seminars and trainings relating to the judicial process dealing with crimes that occurred during the Khmer Rouge period. 

Rapoza is a member of the US Council of Chief Judges of State Courts of Appeal, a Life Fellow of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, and serves as President of the International Penal and Penitentiary Foundation. He has received a number of awards for his work, including the President's Award from the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Alexander George Teitz Memorial Award from the Touro Synagogue Foundation, the Brazilian Medal of International Merit, and membership in the Republic of Portugal's Order of Prince Henry the Navigator with the rank of Commander. 

A Dartmouth native, he earned his BA from Yale College and his JD from Cornell. 

More about Commencement Ceremonies   

For more information on the 2013 UMass Dartmouth Commencement exercises, please visit, or call 508.910.6971.