May 9, 2015
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) celebrated its 83rd commencement Saturday, May 9, at the Verizon Wireless Arena with a morning celebration for undergraduate students, an early afternoon celebration for College of Online and Continuing Education (COCE) graduate students, and an early evening celebration for College of Online and Continuing Education undergraduate students, Advantage Program students, and College for America students.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and presidential candidate Carly Fiorina was the undergraduate speaker while AARP Foundation President Lisa Marsh Ryerson was the graduate speaker, and Bassem Youssef, former host of the popular TV show Al-Bernameg, was the COCE undergraduate, Advantage Program, and College for America speaker. All received Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees. In addition, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree was conferred upon Fred Bramante, Jr., founder and president of the National Center for Competency-Based Learning and past Chairman of the New Hampshire State Board of Education.
SNHU awarded a total of 3,826 undergraduate degrees, 2,841 graduate degrees, and 3 doctoral degrees (2014-2015). Approximately 2,463 graduates attended the ceremonies.
SNHU President Paul LeBlanc welcomed the graduates and said that having three ceremonies in one day is symbolic of the university's growth.
"We balance pomp and ceremony with genuine warmth and delight," he said. "There is respect, we have always embraced and honored our speakers and guests, and we always have a generous amount of hooting and hollering when the graduates finally cross the stage."
LeBlanc concluded his remarks by celebrating the class of 2015, saying: "You are amazing and we are proud, there is no group of graduates I would rather be with today than you."
Undergraduate speaker, Carly Fiorina, who became the first woman to lead a Fortune 50 business, taking HP from the 28th to the 11th most profitable company in the United States, said that all is possible in America.
"Here it truly doesn't matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like," she said. "All that matters is where you want to go and how hard you want to work for it. Nowhere else in the world is that true. So be proud and be grateful."
Lisa Ryerson, President of the AARP Foundation, an organization that helps millions of struggling older adults with issues ranging from housing to isolation, urged graduates to use their education to help others in the world saying, "The degree you receive today means you are empowered to share what you have learned, to put it forward for yourself and for others. But we should also remember that every commencement is a beginning, that you have only just begun on a pathway to even greater opportunity and achievement. It's a lifelong pursuit."
Bassem Youssef, dubbed the "John Stewart of the Arab world," spoke of the hard work and sacrifices made by graduates saying, "There are graduates here who worked two jobs and took care of kids and did their college work late into sleepless nights. Others have been serving their country far from home, putting their lives at risk, and writing papers for their classes. Others of you have overcome loss and grief to be here today. Some of you have weighed your options and didn't go with the easier ones. And yet here you are today."
The university also presented its annual Excellence in Teaching Awards, as well as the new Excellence in Advising awards. The recipients were as follows:
UC Excellence in Teaching Winners
Full-time Faculty - Dr. Lowell "Chris" Matthews, School of Business, Organizational Leadership Department
Adjunct Instructor - Stephen Hinman, School of Arts & Sciences, Institute for Language Education Department
COCE Excellence in Teaching Winner
Full-time Faculty - Dr. Richard Grego, Language Arts
COCE Excellence in Teaching Winner
Adjunct Instructor - Margaret Donahue, Business
UC Excellence in Advising Winners
Faculty Advisor - Professor Micheline Anstey, School of Business, Marketing Department
Professional Staff Advisor - Sarah Stearns
View Commencement Photos
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More than 16,000 supporters - friends, families and community members - celebrated the success of 4,600 Southern New Hampshire University graduates in four ceremonies throughout the weekend.