The University of Connecticut will hold 12 separate graduation ceremonies and award approximately 7,000 undergraduate and graduate diplomas during the weekend of May 11 -12. Separate ceremonies will be held on May 13 for the schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine, and on May 19 for the School of Law.
Commencement speakers representing various aspects of business, the arts, engineering, medicine, and the humanities will address the graduates, and several of them are among the eight recipients of honorary degrees that will be bestowed during the weekend.
Among the speakers is Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and chief executive officer of General Electric Corp., who will be speaking at the Graduate School commencement at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. He will also receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during the ceremony.
Immelt was named to his current position at General Electric in 2001, following a nearly 20-year career with the company in increasingly responsible roles. Among his many activities and achievements, he serves as a trustee of The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library, and as chair of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. He was named Financial Times “Man of the Year” in 2003 and has been named one of the “World’s Best CEO’s” three times by Barron’s.
Under his leadership, General Electric and UConn have collaborated on a number of important initiatives. Last fall, a five-year $7.5 million commitment from the company was announced that includes philanthropic support through the University of Connecticut Foundation as well as sponsorship of UConn research.
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) will hold two ceremonies for graduates, one at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, and one at 5 p.m. later that afternoon. Students will attend either the first or second ceremony, based on their major. Speaking at the first ceremony will be Dr. Frank Torti, dean of the UConn School of Medicine. Addressing the afternoon gathering will be Connecticut Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill ’88 (BGS).
Torti is vice president for health affairs at the UConn Health Center and dean of the UConn School of Medicine. He also holds a Board of Trustees professorship in the Department of Medicine at the Health Center.
He received his BA and MA degrees from Johns Hopkins University, his MD from Harvard Medical School (cum laude), and his MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health, where he trained in cancer epidemiology and nutrition. Torti is a well-known physician and clinical investigator who has designed and executed clinical trials in urologic cancer that have been used throughout the world. He has been routinely selected by his peers in polls and in national magazines of “America’s top doctors” and “top cancer doctors.”
Torti is involved in many national organizations and is the founding and past president of the Cancer Biology Training Consortium, a national society of cancer biology chairs and program directors that now involves 70 U.S. academic medical centers. He serves on the external advisory board for five comprehensive cancer centers, as well as the state of North Carolina’s Drug Discovery Center of Innovation’s scientific advisory board. He was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the Association of American Cancer Institutes and of the National Coalition for Cancer Research. He served on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Council for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and was recently appointed to the National Cancer Institute’s Clinical Trials and Translational Research Advisory Committee and the Board of Scientific Advisors.
Merrill was elected as Connecticut’s 73rd Secretary of the State in November 2010. Prior to that time, she had served as State Representative from the 54th General Assembly district, which includes the towns of Mansfield and Chaplin.
During her tenure in the legislature, Merrill was instrumental in spearheading the $2.3 billion, 20-year state investment in the University’s infrastructure known as UConn 2000. The program also enhanced the University’s academic and research activities on all campuses, including the UConn Health Center in Farmington. The improvements begun with UConn 2000 have been widely credited with helping advance the University to a place of national prominence as an academic and research institution.
As Secretary of the State, Merrill serves as chief elections official and registrar for the State of Connecticut. Since taking office, she has focused on modernizing the state’s election process and making it easier for eligible citizens to register and vote. She has also been a longtime supporter of the state’s investments in biotechnology and high-end manufacturing, and in her current position she has been instrumental in improving communication with businesses that incorporate in the state.
School of Engineering
Elizabeth Shanahan will address School of Engineering graduates at their commencement ceremony on Saturday at 9 a.m. She will also receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree during the ceremony.
Shanahan is executive director and CEO for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), an organization that seeks to help women achieve their full potential as leaders in their chosen careers. Prior to joining SWE, Shanahan spent 24 years in development, engineering management, and marketing for the electronics and software industries.
She is a longtime advocate for female students and underrepresented groups to enter the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math).
The complete Commencement schedule, with the names of honorary degree recipients, and the speakers for each ceremony (in chronological order) is as follows:
Saturday, May 11:
School of Engineering – 9 a.m., Gampel Pavilion, speaker and honorary degree recipient Elizabeth Shanahan, executive director and CEO for the Society of Women Engineers.
School of Pharmacy (doctoral) – 9 a.m., Rome Ballroom, speaker Kerry Blanchard ’94 Ph.D., vice president of nonclinical drug safety, U.S., Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals.
General Studies – 1 p.m., Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, speaker Lauren DiGrazia ’03 (BGS), registrar, University of Connecticut.
Graduate School – 1:30 p.m., Gampel Pavilion, speaker and honorary degree recipient Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO, General Electric Corp.
School of Pharmacy (undergraduate) – 4 p.m., Rome Ballroom, speaker Robert Bepko Jr. ’77 (PHARM), director of professional services, Norwalk Hospital.
School of Fine Arts – 5 p.m., Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, speaker and honorary degree recipient, Jerry Adler, actor and award-winning theatrical director.
College of Agriculture & Natural Resources and Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture – 6 p.m., Gampel Pavilion, speaker and honorary degree recipient Charles Zwick ’50 (CANR), ’51 MS, director of the Federal Office of Management and Budget in the administration of President Lyndon Johnson and philanthropist for whom UConn’s Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy is named.
The School of Social Work (whose graduates participate in the Graduate School Commencement Ceremony) will have a separate recognition ceremony on May 11 at 8:30 a.m. at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. The speaker is Gary Bailey, internationally known scholar and educator, who will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Also receiving an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the ceremony will be Lyudmila Harutyunyan, a researcher and educator who is known as the “mother of Armenian social work.”
Sunday, May 12:
School of Business – 9 a.m., Gampel Pavilion, speaker Daniel Toscano ’87 (BUS), managing director and head of Global Leveraged and Acquisition Finance, Morgan Stanley.
Neag School of Education – 9 a.m., Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, speaker and honorary degree recipient Wally Lamb ’72 (ED), ’77 MA, award-winning author of books such as She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much is True.
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Ceremony I) – 12:30 p.m., Gampel Pavilion, speaker Frank Torti, vice president for health affairs at the UConn Health Center and dean of the UConn School of Medicine.
For the following majors: Anthropology, Biological Sciences, Biophysics, Classics & Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Chemistry, Cognitive Science, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Science, French, German, Human Development & Family Studies, Individualized Major, Italian, Linguistics/Philosophy, Linguistics/Psychology, Molecular & Cell Biology, Philosophy, Physiology & Neurobiology, Psychology, Sociology, Spanish, Structural Biology/Biophysics, Women’s Studies.
School of Nursing – 1 p.m., Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, speaker Barbara Jacobs, director of Clinical Ethics Consultation Service, Hartford Hospital.
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Ceremony II) – 5 p.m., speaker Denise Merrill ’88 (BGS), Connecticut Secretary of the State.
For the following majors: Actuarial Science, African American Studies, American Studies, Applied Mathematical Science, Communication Sciences, Economics, Engineering/Physics, English, Geography, Geosciences, History, Humanities, Journalism, Latin American Studies, Marine Sciences, Maritime Studies, Mathematics, Mathematics/Statistics, Physics, Political Science, Statistics, Urban Studies.
Monday, May 13
Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine – 1 p.m., Connecticut Convention Center, speaker and honorary degree recipient Dr. Ferid Murad, winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 1996.
Sunday, May 19
School of Law – 11 a.m., Commencement Tent, Law School Campus, Neal Kumar Katyal, the Paul and Patricia Saunders Professor of Law at Georgetown University and Partner at Hogan Lovells international law firm. Katyal recently served as Acting Solicitor General of the United States, where he argued several major Supreme Court cases.