UMass Amherst Will Graduate 5,000 at May 11 Commencement That Will Feature Address by Renowned Journalist Ted Koppel

April 30, 2012

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AMHERST, Mass. - Undergraduate Commencement at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Friday, May 11 will feature a keynote address by Ted Koppel, one of the nation’s most honored television journalists. He will speak to 5,000 graduating seniors at McGuirk Alumni Stadium where friends, family and alumni will gather to take part in a full day’s schedule of commencement observances.

Koppel will also receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the undergraduate ceremony, which starts at 4 p.m. Koppel’s legendary work on ABC News’ "Nightline" defined modern television journalism as he conducted live interviews on a daily basis with newsmakers across the globe, beginning with the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979. Koppel currently serves as a special correspondent for the NBC News program Rock Center with Brian Williams, contributes to National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation, and is a contributing columnist for the New York Times and Washington Post.

In addition to the undergraduate ceremony, Graduate Commencement will be held Friday, May 11 at 9 a.m. in the Mullins Center. The Stockbridge School will hold its commencement on Saturday, May 12 at 10 a.m. in Bowker Auditorium.

At the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony, alumnus Eugene M. Isenberg will receive the Legacy of Leadership Award, which honors visionary individuals who have led organizations to new heights of achievement and in the process demonstrated a strong belief in the importance of public service, social diversity and improving the quality of life for all. Isenberg has long been one of UMass Amherst’s most generously supportive alumni and recently ended a long tenure as president of the UMass Amherst Foundation. He and his wife, Ronnie, have endowed three professorships and created the Isenberg Awards Program. After a transformational gift to the business school from the Isenbergs, the school was renamed the Isenberg School of Management.

Ronald M. Ansin and alumnus Edward D. Shirley will receive Distinguished Achievement Awards, recognizing high accomplishment in a given field or profession and notable contributions to society.

Ansin is a successful businessman and philanthropist who supports organizations in the arts, legal, health and social services. In the mid-1980s, he served as Massachusetts Commissioner of Commerce and Development and has been active on statewide boards and councils. He currently chairs the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.

Shirley was recently named president and chief executive officer of Bacardi Ltd., the world’s largest privately held spirits company. He joined the company after retiring as vice chairman of the Global Beauty and Grooming Business unit of Procter & Gamble. He spent six years with P&G and 27 years with the Gillette Company where he negotiated with the Kraft family for naming rights at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots and now UMass football.

The student speaker at Undergraduate Commencement will be graduating senior Isaac Himmelman of Santa Monica, Calif., a political science major who minored in Judaic and Near Eastern Studies. Following graduation, he will move to New York to pursue a career in television and film performance and writing.

Thirteen members of the graduating class will be honored as 21st Century Leaders. Six students will be recognized for their leadership and executive ability as Jack Welch Scholars.

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. Alumnus Mark E. Russell will receive an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree and will be the keynote speaker. Russell is vice president of engineering, technology, and mission assurance for Raytheon Company of Waltham, Mass. He helped establish and continues to support Raytheon’s role in the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA), located at and led by UMass Amherst. Russell is Raytheon’s campus executive for UMass.

The Stockbridge School graduation ceremony follows on Saturday, May 12 at 10 a.m. Approximately 100 candidates will receive associate of science degrees. Steve Goodwin, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, will be the keynote speaker.

UMass President Robert L. Caret will confer degrees at Undergraduate Commencement and Chancellor Robert C. Holub will confer degrees at the Graduate School and Stockbridge School commencements.