Former Rep. John W. Olver, Journalist Gail Collins, Get Honorary Degrees at UMass Amherst Undergraduate Commencement on May 9

John F. Kennedy and Barry Siadat to Receive Distinguished Achievement Awards
April 14, 2014

Contact: Ed Blaguszewski 413/545-0444

AMHERST, Mass. – Former U.S. Rep. John W. Olver and alumna and journalist Gail Collins will receive honorary doctoral degrees at Undergraduate Commencement at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Friday, May 9. About 5,500 students will be receiving bachelor’s degree at the ceremony in McGuirk Alumni Stadium at 4:30 p.m. Gov. Deval Patrick will be the main speaker.

In addition to the undergraduate ceremony, Graduate Commencement will be held Friday, May 9 at 9 a.m. in the Mullins Center and the Stockbridge School will hold its commencement on Saturday, May 10 at 10 a.m. in Bowker Auditorium.

Olver will receive an Honorary Doctor of Public Service degree and Collins will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the undergraduate ceremony. Distinguished Achievement Awards will be given to retired corporate executive and alumnus John F. Kennedy and Barry Siadat, an alumnus and executive in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry.

John W. Olver served in the U.S. House from 1991 to 2013 and was a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee when he retired. He also served in the state House of Representatives from 1969-73 and the state Senate from 1973-91. During his more than 44 years as a federal and state lawmaker, Olver was a tenacious ally of UMass Amherst, securing federal money for new buildings, sophisticated scientific equipment and research. Olver joined the UMass Amherst chemistry faculty in 1962 while his wife, Rose, was a professor of psychology and women and gender studies at Amherst College. He was made an honorary alumnus in 1981.

Olver grew up in Pennsylvania, earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the age of 18 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his doctorate in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Gail Collins was the first woman to serve as the New York Times editorial page editor. She joined the Times editorial board in 1995 after working as a reporter and columnist in Connecticut and New York. Six years later, she was at the helm of the opinion pages of the Times. She writes a twice-weekly column. Collins has also written several non-fiction books. Her most recent book is As Texas Goes: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda, published in 2012. Her book, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present met with wide acclaim.

Born in Cincinnati, Collins earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Marquette University and a master’s degree in government from UMass Amherst in 1970. She founded the Connecticut State News Bureau, which provided coverage of the state capital and Connecticut politics. When she sold the news service it was the largest of its kind, supplying 30 weekly and daily newspaper chains with political stories.

Alumnus John F. Kennedy helped develop global companies in management and technology. Retiring in 2008, Kennedy was president and chief financial officer of Nova Ventures Corp., based in Woburn. The privately held corporation spawned two successful divisions, Nova Analytics Corp. and Nova Technologies Corp., both serving the international analytical instrumental sector and domestic environmental services markets.

In 2000, Kennedy was chosen to serve as a director of Harvard Bioscience Inc., a publicly traded international developer, manufacturer and marketer of a broad range of specialized products, including scientific instruments. He also serves as a director of Datacom Systems Inc., a manufacturer of network analysis equipment. Kennedy earned a master’s degree in accounting in 1976 from UMass Amherst and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1970 from the Lowell Technological Institute, now UMass Lowell.

Alumnus Barry Siadat has spent four decades in thechemicals industry. He oversees a portfolio of seven companies that operate in 30 countries, employ 9,000 people and generate annual revenues of more than $8 billion. Siadat is chairman of the board of five chemicals and plastics companies: Ascend Performance Materials in Houston, Texas, Archromain Switzerland, Addivant in Middlebury, Conn., Aristech Acrylics LLC in Florence, Ky., and Calabrian Corp. in Kingwood, Texas and a board member of the TPC Group in Houston, Texas, and IBA Molecular in Washington, D.C. Siadat began his career in 1978 at W.R. Grace & Co. and later moved to Allied Signal.

Siadat and his wife, Afsaneh Siadat, are active in philanthropic causes. They created the Dr. Barry and Mrs. Afsaneh Siadat Chemical Engineering Early Faculty Career Development Award at UMass Amherst in 2012. Siadat earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s in polymer science and engineering and a doctorate in chemical engineering from UMass Amherst.

The student speaker at Undergraduate Commencement will be graduating senior Hayley Mandeville of Medfield, a public health major. Following graduation Mandeville will pursue a master’s degree in public health from UMass Amherst.

Ten members of the graduating class will be honored as 21st Century Leaders at Undergraduate Commencement. Two students will be recognized for their leadership and executive ability as Jack Welch Scholars.

At the Graduate Commencement Ceremony about 1,200 candidates will receive master’s and doctoral degrees. The Stockbridge Commencement Ceremony takes place on Saturday, May 10 where approximately 100 candidates will receive associate of science degrees.

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