This is an archived article. For the latest news, go to the Advance Homepage
For more archives, go to the Advance Archive/Search Page.

  May 6, 2002

Graduation Speakers Announced
By Karen A. Grava

Two veteran government leaders - one from Connecticut, the other from South Africa - will address UConn students at Commencement ceremonies at the Storrs campus.

Gov. John G. Rowland, the president ex-officio of the University's Board of Trustees and a former United States Representative, who recently proposed legislation to establish 21st Century UConn, will speak to undergraduates at two ceremonies on Saturday, May 18 at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion.

Frene Noshir Ginwala, speaker of the South African National Assembly and a leader of the African National Congress, will address graduate students at ceremonies at Gampel Pavilion on Sunday at 3 p.m.

"We are honored to have as our Commencement speakers two outstanding leaders who embody the finest traditions of public service," says President Philip E. Austin. "Of course, we know Gov. Rowland well, and we are deeply grateful for his instrumental role in the University's UConn 2000 program, and other elements of our ongoing transformation.

"His support for 21st Century UConn, coupled with bi-partisan support from the leadership of the General Assembly, will only serve to continue the University's momentum. I cannot think of a more appropriate speaker for this year's undergraduate ceremonies," Austin adds.

"Dr. Ginwala is one of the foremost supporters of the ongoing collaboration between the University and the African National Congress. She has experienced first-hand the harsh impact of racial discrimination and is one of an extraordinary group of individuals who led the triumphant struggle for human rights in South Africa," says Austin. "She has much of value to tell us and we are delighted she will be here."

At the School of Law, the charge to graduates will be delivered by Patricia McGowan Wald, a former judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals. She will speak on Sunday, May 19 at 10:30 a.m.

Commencement exercises on Monday, May 20 at 3 p.m. at the Health Center for the Schools of Dental Medicine and Medicine will feature an address by Judah Folkman, a scientist and surgeon.

In addition, the University Medal will be conferred on David Gavitt, founder of the Big East Conference, at the undergraduate exercises on Saturday. The medal is among the University's highest honors and is awarded in recognition of distinction in a field or profession in public service and for outstanding achievement or leadership.

Gavitt played varsity baseball and basketball at Dartmouth College before embarking on a coaching career at Worcester (Mass.) Academy, Dartmouth, and Providence College. He stepped down as athletic director at Providence to become the first full-time commissioner of the Big East. He has also served as chief executive officer of the Boston Celtics, president of the NCAA Foundation, and chairman of the board of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He is overseeing the building of the new Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

"Among non-university officials, there is no other individual who has played a more pivotal role than Dave Gavitt in the advancement of the University of Connecticut's athletic program from regional contender to repeated national champion," says Lew Perkins, athletics director. "When Dave Gavitt invited UConn to become one of seven charter members of the Big East Conference in 1979, he gave the University and its student-athletes an opportunity to compete at the highest national level. UConn's membership in the Big East Conference has been cherished by our school for over two decades now and has helped the entire university advance as an institution."

All of the speakers except Rowland will receive honorary degrees. Rowland is not eligible under the University's by-laws to receive an honorary degree because he is a sitting governor. Both Ginwala and Wald will receive honorary Doctor of Laws degrees, while Folkman will receive a Doctor of Science degree.

Honorary degrees will also be awarded at the undergraduate ceremonies to Joseph Volpe, general manager, Metropolitan Opera, Doctor of Fine Arts; Bobbie Ann Mason, a UConn Ph.D. alumna, novelist and short story writer, Doctor of Letters; Princess Irene of Greece, international human rights leader, Doctor of Humane Letters; and William A. Wulf, president, National Academy of Engineering, Doctor of Science.

Two additional honorary degrees will be given out on Sunday: Fujia Yang, physicist and chancellor of the University of Nottingham, U.K., will receive a Doctor of Science degree, at the graduate Commencement, while Edmund D. Pellegrino, a physician, philosopher and biomedical ethicist will receive the Doctor of Science degree at the Health Center's exercises.

Rowland took office as governor in 1995 and was reelected in 1998 with the largest majority in state history. He has served in both the state Legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives, and is chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

A graduate of Villanova University, the governor has been a strong supporter of capital spending for the University, having signed into legislation not only the $1 billion, 10-year UConn 2000 legislation, but also capital spending to build the $40 million Academic Research Building at the Health Center. Rowland has received numerous public service awards.

Ginwala received her higher education and training as a barrister at law in England and joined the ANC at an early age. She left South Africa in 1960. During her years in exile, she served as head of the ANC's political research unit, lectured widely on the anti-apartheid movement and related causes, participated extensively in international conferences and organizations, and wrote for a number of publications.

When the ban on the ANC was lifted in South Africa, Ginwala returned and became a member of President Nelson Mandela's Secretariat. In 1994, she entered Parliament in the first free elections in South Africa's history and was chosen speaker of the National Assembly. She was re-elected to that post in 1999.

Wald is a native of Torrington, and a graduate of Connecticut College and Yale Law School. After graduation, she clerked for Judge Jerome Frank at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and then took time from her legal career to raise five children. She returned to the active practice of law in Washington, D.C. in the 1960s, focusing on public interest law. She was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, and in 1986 became the first woman to serve as chief judge. She stepped down in 1991 to become a judge for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, a position she held until this year.

"Pat Wald is a pioneer in the law," says Nell Jessup Newton, dean of the School of Law. "She wrote many of the most important opinions on regulatory and administrative issues, striking the difficult balance between efficiency and administrative discretion. It is an honor to have her address the graduating class."

Folkman, on the staff of Children's Hospital in Boston, is noted for medical innovation, and particularly for his work in angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels around malignant tissues. He also helped to invent the cardiac pacemaker, and worked with a colleague on silicone rubber implants, initiating controlled release technology that led to the development of Norplant, a timed-release contraceptive used worldwide.

"His contributions to medicine have been nothing short of remarkable," says Peter Deckers, executive vice president for health affairs. "Dr. Folkman is a rare example of determination, insight, intellect and compassion. We are extremely honored to have Dr. Folkman address our graduating students."

Volpe ended his formal schooling with high school graduation and worked in auto repair, manufacturing and carpentry. He began his career at the Met as a master carpenter in 1964 and, after serving as technical director and assistant manager, became general manager in 1990. He is known for extraordinary outreach, effective management, and technological innovation. His approach to the opera as a center of education in the arts led earlier this year to the Met's collaboration with the School of Fine Arts to provide UConn music and drama students with internships and other activities at the Met.

Mason, who received a Ph.D. in English from UConn in 1972, serves as a writer-in-residence at the University of Kentucky, her native state and the region of the country that is the focus of much of her writing. Her short stories, novels and memoir deal with themes that have universal relevance: ordinary people coping with a world in transition.

Mason's novels include Shiloh and Other Stories, which won an Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award; In Country, which was made into a movie; Love Life: Stories; Feather Crowns for which she won the Southern Book Award; and Midnight Magic: Selected Stories of Bobbie Ann Mason. Her most recent work is Clear Springs: A Memoir, which was published in 1999 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Princess Irene is the daughter of King Paul and Queen Frederica of the Hellenes. Born in South Africa, she lived in Greece until the overthrow of democratic government in 1967. In 1986, she created the humanitarian organization, World in Harmony, of Madrid, which has sponsored projects in more than 20 nations.

Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering, and has served also as the assistant director of the National Science Foundation, chairman and CEO of Tartan Laboratories Inc., and on the faculty of the University of Virginia. He played a critical role in the development of Ada, the Department of Defense programming language, and has played a leading part in the research and operation of the National Supercomputer Centers.

Yang is a native of China. A progression of positions at Fudan University led to his tenure there as president from 1993 until last year, when he became chancellor of the University of Nottingham in Great Britain. An internationally renowned physicist, he is known for working vigorously to bring Chinese higher education to new levels of relevance and openness.

Pellegrino is recognized as the father of modern bioethics. He is the founding editor of the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy and the author or co-author of 19 books and more than 500 publications in the fields of scientific research, medical education, and philosophy.

Issue Index