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University of Hartford Will Celebrate Graduate and Undergraduate Commencements This Weekend


Posted 05/11/2016
Posted by Meagan Fazio


More than 1,400 University of Hartford students will receive their diplomas during the University’s Graduate Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 14, and Undergraduate Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 15. Both ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. on the lawn outside the Gengras Student Union building on the University campus, 200 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford, Conn. A parking pass, Commencement program, and photos and in-depth profiles of award winners, speakers, and exceptional students may be found on the University website. Details on the Class of 2016 and ceremony highlights include:

Undergraduate Commencement, 10 a.m., Sunday, May 15

• Nearly 1,000 students will receive bachelor’s and associate’s degrees.

• 92% of the Class of 2016 report they believe their major/academic program provided an education that prepared them for further education and/or a career.

• Three exceptional students will be honored during the ceremony. They are Alexander Gannuscio from Cromwell, Conn., Erica Primovic from Avon, Conn., and Emily Meachon of Ocean City, N.J.

Kennedy Owiti Odede will be the keynote speaker and receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. A former street child who lived most of his life in one of Africa’s largest slums in Nairobi, Kenya, Odede founded Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) with savings from his $1-per-day factory job. SHOFCO combats extreme poverty and gender inequality by linking free schools for girls to a set of high-value, holistic community services for all.

Alan B. Lazoswki, the chairman, chief operating officer, and founder of LAZ Parking, and his father, Philip Lazowski, PhD, will receive honorary degrees. The elder Lazowski is rabbi emeritus at Beth Hillel Synagogue in Bloomfield, Conn. and a Holocaust survivor. When he was 12, Rabbi Lazowski’s mother pushed him from the window of a movie theater in Zetl, Poland, and told him to save himself, be somebody, and tell the world what was going on. The rabbi has spoken to thousands across the globe about his experiences and the Holocaust.

Calvin Trillin, New York Times best-selling author and a writer for The New Yorker for more than 50 years, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Brett D. Gerstenblatt, a 1994 graduate of the University’s Hartford Art School, will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award. Gerstenblatt is currently the vice president, enterprise creative director at CVS Health. He is responsible for CVS’s campaign to remove cigarettes and tobacco products from its inventory.

Graduate Commencement, Saturday, May 15

• About 400 students will receive masters and doctoral degrees.

• Donna Marie Randall, PhD, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and will be the keynote speaker. Randall has been the chief executive officer of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California since July 2014. Through research and education programs, the institute seeks to prevent cancer and to reduce the burden of cancer where it cannot yet be prevented. Randall’s position at the institute follows a lengthy career in higher education administration, during which she served as provost at the University of Hartford for seven years (2000–07).

Miriam Therese Winter, PhD, will also receive and honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Winter joined the Hartford Seminary in 1980 to establish a department of liturgy, worship, and spirituality. Her ecumenical and cross-cultural emphases in theory and in practice, along with a deeply rooted feminist perspective, resulted in the Women’s Leadership Institute and a new master’s degree in Transformative Leadership and Spirituality at Hartford Seminary.