Northeastern University will honor graduates as well as an accomplished group of influential leaders and scholars receiving honorary degrees on Friday in the 112th commencement exercises.
The celebration will be streamed live. In preparation for the big day, news@Northeastern has launched a special news page with full coverage of this year’s commencement exercises and the Class of 2014. Follow @Northeastern on Twitter for play-by-play from commencement and use the official Northeastern commencement hashtag, #NU2014.
The morning ceremony for undergraduate students begins at 10:30 a.m. at TD Garden in Boston. President Joseph E. Aoun will lead the university in celebrating an accomplished group of some 3,500 graduating seniors.
Janet Napolitano, the former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security who is now president of the University of California, will deliver the undergraduate commencement address. Northeastern will present honorary degrees to Napolitano; LL COOL J, an award-winning entertainment icon who currently stars in the CBS prime-time drama series NCIS: Los Angeles; and former NFL player Wade Davis II, who is currently the executive director of the You Can Play Project, an organization dedicated to ending discrimination, sexism, and homophobia in sports.
Emily Izzo, SSH’14, an international affairs and cultural anthropology combined major, will deliver the student commencement address.
The ceremony for graduate students begins at 3:30 p.m. at Northeastern’s Matthews Arena. President Aoun will preside over the ceremony, and Victor J. Dzau, the president and CEO of Duke University Health System and incoming president of the Institute of Medicine, will deliver the graduate commencement address. Northeastern will present honorary degrees to Dzau and Donald G. Comb, founder and chairman of the board of New England Biolabs and founder of the Ocean Genome Legacy.
Commencement activities began on Thursday afternoon in the Cabot Physical Education Center, where Northeastern’s third-annual hooding ceremony for graduates receiving their doctor of philosophy degrees took place.
In welcoming remarks, Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, noted that on Friday Northeastern will present diplomas to 186 students who’ve earned their doctor of philosophy—the most number in one year in the university’s history.
Thursday’s hooding ceremony, Director said, “marks the completion of a profound intellectual journey that advisers and graduates travel together” and culminates with graduation on Friday, when graduates join their advisers as colleagues. Graduates and advisers, he noted, have formed strong bonds that will continue to be strengthened over their lifetime.
The doctoral hood, he said, is a symbol of the recipients’ enduring commitment to their disciplines’ highest standards. “It is the mark of a tremendous personal achievement, and also the devotion to the highest level of scholarship, teaching and mentoring in their fields, and it’s a cause for celebration,” he said.
Director introduced the keynote speaker Rupal Patel, an associate professor with joint appointments in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences and the College of Computer and Information Science. She is an internationally recognized scholar and an expert in motor speech disorders, particularly in children. She recently launched VocaliD, an attempt to crowd-source the creation of personalized synthetic voices for individuals with severe speech impairments.
In her keynote, Patel lauded the graduates for their hard work and dedication to earning their doctorates.
“Just as an athlete trains for years to compete in the Olympics, you have trained, you were coached, and you may have overcome obstacles,” Patel said, “but today you have earned this degree and all of its rights and responsibilities.”
The graduates, Patel noted, will achieve great things—from discovering new pharmaceuticals to battle cancer and creating behavioral treatments for dementia to designing innovative ways to combat cybercrime and developing new policies to address global climate change.
“The possibilities are endless,” she said. “Your job is to create new knowledge, share it with others, and change the world.” To achieve these lofty aspirations, she urged graduates to define their own milestones and chart their own paths in the world.
– By Greg St. Martin