From the People of Japan through global entre­pre­neurs to com­mu­nity cham­pions, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity will rec­og­nize many at this year’s com­mence­ment who have inspired us all this year. One of these hon­orary degree recip­i­ents, Henri A. Ter­meer, former chief exec­u­tive officer and chairman of Gen­zyme Cor­po­ra­tion and a pio­neer in devel­oping and deliv­ering treat­ments for rare genetic dis­eases, will deliver the com­mence­ment address to the Class of 2011.

Ter­meer will speak to more than 22,000 grad­u­ating stu­dents, their fam­i­lies and friends on Friday, May 6, at the TD Garden.

Health is a major focus of Northeastern’s research enter­prise, and we are pleased to wel­come Henri Ter­meer, a path-​​breaking leader in sci­en­tific dis­covery and health,” said Joseph E. Aoun, pres­i­dent of North­eastern University.

He is a true global entre­pre­neur. It will be exciting for our grad­u­ates to hear his story and ben­efit from his wisdom.”

Also receiving hon­orary degrees this year are: Sylvia Mathews Bur­well, pres­i­dent of the Global Devel­op­ment Pro­gram, Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion; Leslie Cohen Berlowitz, pres­i­dent and William T. Golden Chair, Amer­ican Academy of Arts and Sci­ences; Rev. Gre­gory G. Groover Sr., chair, Boston School Com­mittee, and pastor, His­toric Charles Street A.M.E. Church; Bert and John Jacobs, cofounders, Life is good Com­pany; and Rashida Manjoo, Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on Vio­lence Against Women, the United Nations Human Rights Council.

North­eastern will also present an hon­orary degree to Ichiro Fujisaki, Ambas­sador of Japan to the U.S., on behalf of the People of Japan, in recog­ni­tion of their extra­or­di­nary response to the mas­sive earth­quake and tsunami that struck their country on March 11, 2011.

Our hon­orary degree recip­i­ents span the fields of human endeavor,” added Aoun. “Their col­lec­tive suc­cess exem­pli­fies the inno­v­a­tive spirit of Northeastern.”

Bur­well will address grad­uate stu­dents during the after­noon cer­e­mony, and Manjoo will speak during the School of Law’s com­mence­ment cer­e­mony on Friday, May 27, 2011.

Ter­meer led Genzyme’s growth from a modest entre­pre­neurial ven­ture to one of the world’s leading biotech­nology com­pa­nies. He was appointed pres­i­dent of Gen­zyme in 1983, two years after the company’s founding. He became its CEO in 1985 and chairman in 1988. Under his lead­er­ship, the com­pany diver­si­fied from its focus on genetic dis­eases to include kidney dis­ease, orthopaedics, cancer, trans­plant and immuno­log­ical dis­eases and diag­nostic testing.

Ter­meer serves on the boards of Part­ners Health­Care and the Phar­ma­ceu­tical Research and Man­u­fac­turers of America, and is chairman emer­itus of the New Eng­land Health­care Insti­tute, a non­profit, applied research health policy orga­ni­za­tion he was instru­mental in founding. He is also a strong voice in the realm of eco­nomic policy, as chairman of the Fed­eral Reserve Bank of Boston’s board of direc­tors, as a member of Gov­ernor Deval Patrick’s Council of Eco­nomic Advi­sors, and as cochair of the Lead­er­ship Council of the Mass­a­chu­setts Life Sci­ences Collaborative.

Sylvia Mathews Bur­well leads one of the world’s most imag­i­na­tive and aggres­sive efforts to erad­i­cate poverty in the devel­oping world as pres­i­dent of the Global Devel­op­ment Pro­gram at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion. In her role, she is taking a coor­di­nated and com­pre­hen­sive approach to find inno­v­a­tive ways to address the issues at the root of poverty: nutri­tion, san­i­ta­tion, per­sonal finan­cial secu­rity and basic edu­ca­tion. An influ­en­tial voice in the arena of inter­na­tional rela­tions, Bur­well is also a member of the Council on For­eign Rela­tions and of the Tri­lat­eral Com­mis­sion, and a member of the Aspen Strategy Group, a bipar­tisan forum that explores the pre­em­i­nent for­eign policy issues facing the United States.

Berlowitz, a strategic thinker about issues that affect higher edu­ca­tion, most recently orga­nized the Amer­ican Academy of Arts and Sci­ences’ Com­mis­sion on the Human­i­ties and Social Sci­ences, to enrich teaching and research in fields crit­ical to cul­ture, edu­ca­tion and America’s eco­nomic com­pet­i­tive­ness. A national leader on human­i­ties policy, Berlowitz also led the cre­ation of the academy’s Ini­tia­tive for the Human­i­ties and Cul­ture and its widely cited “Human­i­ties Indi­ca­tors,” the first-​​ever com­pre­hen­sive source of data on the state of human­i­ties edu­ca­tion in the United States.

The Rev. Gre­gory G. Groover Sr. is a pow­erful and con­sis­tent voice for the people of Boston, and par­tic­u­larly for the city’s chil­dren. Appointed to the Boston School Com­mittee in 2007, he was elected vice chair that same year and chair in 2009, based on his unwa­vering com­mit­ment to edu­ca­tion and edu­ca­tional inno­va­tion. All of those qual­i­ties are also evi­dent in his role as chair of the Edu­ca­tion Com­mittee of the Black Min­is­te­rial Alliance of Greater Boston (BMA). In that posi­tion, he has been instru­mental in bringing together public school offi­cials, teachers, com­mu­nity leaders, par­ents and the clergy in plan­ning and devel­oping the BMA after-​​school pro­gram, a $1.5 mil­lion ini­tia­tive. As pastor of the His­toric Charles Street A.M.E. Church since 1994, he has increased par­tic­i­pa­tion and diver­sity, and estab­lished new min­istries aimed at building con­gre­ga­tional life.

Brothers Bert and John Jacobs took a simple idea — that an opti­mistic atti­tude can make a real dif­fer­ence in the world — and turned it into a global busi­ness selling apparel and acces­sories in the United States and 30 other coun­tries. The brothers’ suc­cess is char­ac­ter­ized by the same entre­pre­neurial values upheld by North­eastern and so many of its alumni: inno­va­tion, per­se­ver­ance, self-​​confidence, pas­sion and com­mit­ment. They designed their first T-​​shirt in 1989. Today, they run a $100 mil­lion busi­ness and plan to expand its offer­ings and reach as a global brand. The Life is good Fes­ti­vals have also raised more than $4 mil­lion since 2004 to help kids over­come life-​​threatening chal­lenges such as vio­lence, ill­ness and extreme poverty.

Rashida Manjoo is a lawyer, teacher, activist and public ser­vant who has worked glob­ally for women’s rights in class­rooms, court­rooms, legal clinics and at the United Nations. Since 2009, she has served as the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on Vio­lence Against Women, doc­u­menting abuse and calling atten­tion to nations that fail to comply with inter­na­tional stan­dards on the human rights of women. She brings the same exper­tise and influ­ence to the Inter­na­tional Crim­inal Court, as a member of the advi­sory board to the court’s Women’s Ini­tia­tives for Gender Justice.

An asso­ciate pro­fessor of public law at the Uni­ver­sity of Cape Town and an advo­cate of the High Court of South Africa, Manjoo helped enshrine the rights of women in her native country’s con­sti­tu­tion, leading the devel­op­ment of the Women’s Charter, which detailed women’s con­sti­tu­tional rights.
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Under­grad­uate com­mence­ment cer­e­mony will be held at TD Garden on Friday, May 6, at 10:30 a.m.
After­noon cer­e­mony for advanced degree recip­i­ents will take place at Northeastern’s Matthews Arena on Friday, May 6, at 3:30 p.m.
School of Law com­mence­ment will take place at Northeastern’s Matthews Arena on Friday, May 27, at 1 p.m.