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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston Celebrated 34th Commencement

UMass President William Bulger Presents renowned journalist Tim Russert with an honorary degree.
Jason Campos
UMass President William Bulger Presents renowned journalist Tim Russert with an honorary degree.

UMass Boston celebrated its 34th commencement on June 1, 2002 inside a packed house at the Bayside Expo Center on Columbia Point.

UMass Boston Chancellor Jo Ann Gora, who was presiding over her first commencement as chancellor of the university, opened the ceremony with praise for the departing class of 2002. “You are living proof that we are fulfilling our mission.”

Speaking on behalf of the Class of 2002 was Ben Day, winner of the John F. Kennedy Award, given annually to one of the top undergraduates who demonstrate excellence in academics and community service.

Day, who will be traveling to the United Kingdom next year on a Fulbright Scholarship, recognized the collective accomplishment of his fellow graduates and those who preceded them.

“Your degree is a monument to fighters and audacious thinkers of UMB,” stated Day.

Four faculty members were honored at the ceremony. Professors David Hunt of the History department and A. P. Simmonds of the Political Science department each received the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. Professor Monica McAlpine of the English department and director of the Honors Program at UMass Boston received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Service Award. Professor Michael Rex of the Biology department took home the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Scholarship.

The keynote speaker was Tim Russert of NBC’s Meet the Press. Russert touched upon a variety of topics ranging from a private audience with Pope John Paul II to America’s War on Terrorism. Russert, who was an honorary degree recipient, laid heavy emphasis on the need for national unity in the troubled times of the recent past and present.

The renowned journalist also talked about his blue-collar background in Buffalo, New York. He equated his own experience on the path of education to those of UMass Boston graduates. Russert stressed that great opportunity was in reach.

“You can do anything because you believe in your country, your school, yourselves, and family values…build your future for tomorrow and for your children. Use what has been given to you. This is your charge.”

Also on hand to receive honorary degrees were esteemed Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, former Boston Celtic great Bill Russell, and founder and chief executive officer of Shields Health Care Group Thomas Shields. UMass president William Bulger conferred the degrees, with each dignitary receiving a loud applause from the exuberant crowd.

Student Trustee Sandra Karahalis also spoke on a wide range of global topics from AIDS to the danger of overpopulation. Karahalis, dressed in Ph.D. regalia, cautioned the graduates to keep these issues in mind as they enter the next phase of their life. Although it is not always easy, she said, “Remember what’s most important. It might be the greatest challenge of all.”

Chancellor Gora concluded the ceremony by praising the graduates and their accomplishments once more. She implied that the future would undoubtedly yield results that will make both the graduates and the institution proud. “Your achievements,” she proclaimed, “will give witness to the core values of UMass Boston.”

About the Contributor
Jason Campos served as The Mass Media staff for the following years and positions: Editor-in-Chief: 2003-2004; Managing Editor: 2002-2003; and Sports Editor: 2001-2002, 2002-2003, 2003-2004 Disclaimer: Years served is based on online database and may not detail entire service.