Celebration, Honors and a Message from Outer Space Highlight UMass Amherst Undergraduate Commencement on May 13

AMHERST, Mass. - Undergraduate Commencement at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Friday, May 13 at 5 p.m. will feature a videotaped address from alumna and NASA astronaut Catherine "Cady" Coleman who is currently on board the International Space Station. Coleman will be offering congratulations to the 4,300 Earth-bound graduates at ceremonies at McGuirk Alumni Stadium as friends, family and alumni from around the world gather here to take part in a full day’s schedule of commencement observances.

Coleman earned her doctorate in polymer science and engineering from UMass Amherst and is a chemist and retired U.S. Air Force colonel. Coleman earned her bachelor’s degree from MIT in 1983, was commissioned an Air Force lieutenant that same year and began her graduate work at UMass Amherst. She entered active duty in 1988 and retired from the Air Force in 2009. She was chosen by NASA in 1992 to be an astronaut. She is a veteran of two previous Space Shuttle missions.

In addition to the undergraduate ceremony, Graduate Commencement will be held Friday at 9:30 a.m. in the Mullins Center and the Stockbridge School holds its commencement at noon in Bowker Auditorium.

David Gergen, a former White House senior aide to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, will receive an honorary doctorate at the undergraduate ceremony. Alumnus Jerome M. Paros, an internationally known leader in the field of measurement science, along with alumnus Kenneth L. Brayman, pioneer in diabetes research, scholar, researcher and surgeon, will receive Distinguished Achievement Awards.

Gergen is currently a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, editor-at-large for U.S. News & World Report and senior political analyst for CNN. Gergen is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School and a U.S. Navy veteran.

Paros, a native of Springfield, Mass., is the founder of Redmond, Washington-based Paroscientific Inc., and related companies that manufacture sensors using the quartz crystal resonator technology Paros developed. His company employs nearly 50 and has annual sales in excess of $10 million. In 2006, Paros received the Albert F. Sperry Founder Award from the International Society of Automation for his work. Brayman has expertise in transplant surgery for renal and pancreatic diseases. In 2007, as director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Cellular Transplantation and Therapeutics, Brayman led the search for an alternative treatment for type 1 diabetes.

At the Graduate School Commencement, which leads off the day of graduation ceremonies on Friday, more than 1,200 candidates will receive master’s and doctoral degrees. William McKibben, author and environmental activist, will receive an honorary doctorate at the ceremony and will give brief remarks. Alumnus, faculty member and legendary musician Yusef A. Lateef will receive a Distinguished Achievement Award. UMass Amherst Chancellor Robert C. Holub, UMass President Jack M. Wilson and John R. Mullin, dean of the Graduate School, will also speak briefly.

The Stockbridge School graduation ceremony follows. Approximately 100 candidates will receive associate of science degrees. The guest speaker will be Scott J. Soares, state commissioner of agriculture and alumnus of UMass Dartmouth.

The student speaker at Undergraduate Commencement will be graduating senior Alan Taylor Ulichney, of Stow, Mass., a dual major in journalism and economics. Twelve members of the graduating class will be honored as 21st Century Leaders. Two students, Joseph Bliss and Igor Dobrusin, will be recognized for their leadership and executive ability as Jack Welch Scholars. Bliss is the student member of the UMass Amherst Foundation Board of Directors and a mechanical engineering major. Dobrusin is a double major in finance and philosophy.