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Blumenthal Urges Graduates to Help Resolve His Generation’s 'Unfinished Business'
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal addresses the graduates and guests at Sunday's undergraduate Commencement ceremony.
Provost Sharon L. Vasquez (left) and University Regent Robert K. Killian Jr. (right) place a doctoral hood on Joseph Marfuggi, president and chief executive officer of Riverfront Recapture in Hartford. Marfuggi was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
Jadwiga Ziolkowski (left) accepts an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters on behalf of her mother, Ruth Ross Ziolkowski, president of the board of directors and chief executive officer of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. University Regent Patricia McKinley '72 (right) presented the honorary degree.
Members of the University's 50th anniversary graduating class, known as "Golden Hawks," were given special recognition at Sunday's ceremony.
Kevin Sliwoski and Brittany Wallace received the top student awards at Sunday's Commencement ceremony. Sliwoski received the Belle K. Ribicoff Prize and the John G. Martin Scholarship, and Wallace was awarded the John G. Lee Medal.
Paul Shuster shows off his Bachelor of Arts in cinema studies following Sunday's diploma presentation ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) urged the nearly 1,100 graduating students at the University of Hartford's undergraduate Commencement ceremony to take up the challenges that his generation has so far been unable to solve.
Speaking to about 7,500 students and guests at Sunday's ceremony, Blumenthal encouraged the new graduates to enter into a "compact" to give back to their communities and their country, and to help address the daunting problems facing the nation and the world.
“There are many challenges ahead,” Blumenthal said. “How to develop alternative sources of energy so we can save the nation and save the planet; how to provide better health care and, particularly, to prevent the costly diseases that are within our control to stop; and how to provide skills and training so that we can match people with the jobs that exist and with the jobs that we will create in the future. I don’t doubt that my generation will leave a lot of unfinished business for you graduates and others, but I also have no doubt that you will live up to this challenge, you will fulfill that compact, you will serve and give back.”
This year marked the first time that the University of Hartford has held two days of Commencement events, with a graduate ceremony on Saturday for students receiving master's and doctoral degrees, and Sunday's undergraduate ceremonies for students receiving bachelor’s and associate’s degrees. The weather was spectacular for both days' events, with bright sunshine and cloudless blue skies.
Blumenthal, who was presented with an honorary Doctor of Laws, praised the University and its students and alumni for their ongoing commitment to serving the community. “Citizenship means more just than the title, more than just physically being here,” he said. “It means emotionally committing with the passion and perseverance that is demonstrated day-in and day-out by many in this audience. Everybody knows there is no such thing as a self-made man. We all stand on the shoulders of others. We all need a hand from time to time. That sense of community, which I can feel in this group right now, is one that makes America great.”
In his charge to the Class of 2012, graduating student Om Ramrakhiani said, “As we prepare to step out into the world, I echo the senator’s words. We promise to make a difference. Every one of us has somehow, in some way, contributed to someone else’s success and it won’t stop here. As we step out of this University and enter the world as graduates, we shall have the University motto ‘for humanity’ etched in our hearts.”
Ramrakhiani, who is a native of Mumbai, India, graduated from the University’s Barney School of Business with a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurial studies.
See photos and listen to audio clips from Saturday's and Sunday's Commencement ceremonies.
In addition to Blumenthal, honorary degrees were presented Sunday to Joseph Marfuggi, president and chief executive officer of Riverfront Recapture in Hartford, and Ruth Ross Ziolkowski, president of the board of directors and chief executive officer of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The University also recognized two alumnae who have achieved tremendous success in their professions. Elizabeth Park, a successful business leader in the fragrance and beauty industry for 25 years, was presented with the University’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Park currently serves as executive vice president, North America marketing, for the Elizabeth Arden Corporation, one of the world’s leading makers of perfumes and cosmetics. Dancer Eran Bugge '05 was honored during The Hartt School’s diploma presentation ceremony in Lincoln Theater. Bugge, a member of the internationally renowned Paul Taylor Dance Company, received the 2012 Hartt Alumni Award.
The accomplishments of two exceptional members of the Class of 2012 also were recognized on Sunday. Kevin Sliwoski, a music major at The Hartt School with a concentration in jazz trombone, became the first graduate in University history to receive both the Belle K. Ribicoff Prize and the John G. Martin Scholarship. The Belle K. Ribicoff Prize is awarded for academic excellence, and the John G. Martin Scholarship provides recipients with the extraordinary opportunity to study for two years at the University of Oxford’s Hertford College in England. Brittany Wallace, who graduated with a double major in politics and government and English, was presented with the John G. Lee Medal. The medal is given annually to a graduating senior from Greater Hartford who has excelled academically and demonstrated a deep commitment to the community.
Read more about the student award winners.
The achievements of five outstanding faculty members also were recognized during Sunday's undergraduate Commencement ceremony. Ken Steen, professor of music theory and composition in The Hartt School, was presented with the Roy E. Larsen Award for Excellence in Teaching. Mahmoud Wahab, professor of finance in the Barney School of Business, received the James E. and Frances W. Bent Award for Scholarly and/or Artistic Creativity. Katherine Black, professor and co-chair of the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, was the recipient of the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Award for Sustained Service to the University. Maria Esposito Frank, professor of Italian Studies and chair of the Modern Languages and Cultures Department, A&S, was presented with the Donald W. Davis All-University Curriculum Award. And Joyce Ashuntantang, assistant professor of English in Hillyer College, was awarded the Belle K. Ribicoff Junior Faculty Prize.