At UMass Amherst Commencement, Gov. Deval Patrick Calls for Graduates to Be Good Citizens and Build Community

AMHERST, Mass. – Approximately 5,500 candidates received bachelor’s degrees during today’s Undergraduate Commencement of the University of Massachusetts Amherst as a crowd of 20,000 heard Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick emphasize the need for today’s graduates to be good citizens and build community.

Patrick, who is finishing his second term as governor, told the graduates, “Good citizens take an interest in people and issues outside themselves. They understand community, in the sense of seeing their stake in their neighbors’ dreams and struggles as well as their own. They inform themselves about what’s happening in their community. They volunteer. They listen. They take the long view. They vote. Good citizens don’t just live and work in a community. They build community.”

Citing the examples of climate change, and the effects of last year’s Marathon bombings, Patrick added, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are, in the end, one community. And strong communities are impossible without good citizens.  Be good citizens – the kind UMass has so well prepared you to be – and your future, and the world’s, will be bright indeed.”

 UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy presided at the Commencement ceremony held at Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium, and UMass President Robert L. Caret conferred the degrees.

Addressing the graduates, Subbaswamy said, “Today, you are ready to live the life you imagine for yourself. You have the confidence that comes from having participated in deep and broad intellectual exploration, with enriching peers who have been fellow travelers on this journey. It is now up to each one of you to decide how to use your talents and potential as you begin a new phase in your life.

“I know that you will find your place in the world. The intellectual and personal experiences of the past few years will serve you well. It will not always be easy, by definition life is challenging, but you are now prepared to live the life you want to lead.”

During the Commencement ceremony, former U.S. Rep. John W. Olver and alumna and journalist Gail Collins were awarded honorary doctoral degrees.

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. Over more than 44 years as a federal and state lawmaker, Olver was a tenacious ally of UMass Amherst, securing federal money for new buildings, scientific equipment and research.

Collins, who earned a master’s in government from UMass Amherst in 1970, 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 and is the author of several non-fiction books.

Also honored were UMass Amherst alumni John F. Kennedy and Barry Siadat, who were presented Distinguished Achievement Awards, which recognize high accomplishment in a given field or profession and notable contributions to society.

Kennedy earned a master’s degree in accounting in 1976 from UMass Amherst. He 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.

As chairman of the board of five chemical and plastics companies, Siadat oversees a portfolio of seven companies that operate in 30 countries, employ 9,000 people and generate annual revenues of more than $8 billion. He and his wife, Afsaneh, 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 master’s in polymer science and engineering and a doctorate in chemical engiering from UMass Amherst.

The student speaker was Hayley Mandeville of Medfield, a public health major, who plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health from UMass Amherst.

Ten graduates, seven from Commonwealth Honors College, were honored as 21st Century Leaders for far-ranging achievement, initiative and social awareness. They are:

Jessica Boakye of Attleboro, a civil engineering major; Emily Crain, a psychology major from Hopkinton; Lila Grallert of Ayer, a veterinary and animal sciences and sustainable food and farming major; Jennifer Healy, a political science major from Bellingham; Akshay Kapoor, a sociology and public health sciences major from Boxborough; David Ke, a social justice in education major from Revere; Andrew J. Newcombe of Greenfield, a history major; Nicholas Preston Otis, a nutrition and kinesiology major from Goshen; Veronica Ann Pace of Newburyport, a biology major, and Kurt Schultz, a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Northborough.

Two graduating seniors were recognized for their leadership and executive ability as Jack Welch Scholars. They are Melissa Donahue, a chemical engineering major from Hingham, and Brian L. Heacox, an operations and information management major from Marion.