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More than 1,400 Will Receive University of Hartford Degrees on May 20 and 21

More than 1,400 University of Hartford students will celebrate the completion of their degrees during the University’s Graduate Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 20, and the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 21. Both ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. on the lawn outside the Gengras Student Union on the University campus, 200 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford, Conn. Details on the Class of 2017 and ceremony highlights include:

Undergraduate Commencement, 10 a.m., Sunday, May 21

  • Nearly 1,000 undergraduate students will receive bachelor’s and associate degrees.
  • Members of the Class of 2017 come from 37 states, Puerto Rico, and 18 countries. Forty-five percent are from Connecticut.
  • The top four majors for this year’s undergraduates are psychology, communication, mechanical engineering, and radiologic technology.
  • University President Walter Harrison, presiding over his final Commencement ceremony before retiring in June after 19 years of service, will receive the newly created Walter Harrison Medal for Outstanding Leadership.
  • Three exceptional students will be honored during the ceremony. They are Dylan Healy from West Hartford, Conn., Janet Zapor from Southbury, Conn., and Lyla O’Brien from Milton, Vt.
  • Alumna and U.S. Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) will be the keynote speaker and she will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws. Love graduated from the University’s The Hartt School in 1997. Love, who has represented Utah’s 4th District since 2014, serves on the House Financial Services Committee and on three subcommittees: Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, Monetary Policy and Trade, and Terrorism and Illicit Finance. She is the first Haitian American and the first black female Republican elected to Congress.
  • Honorary Doctors of Humane Letters will be presented to Robert H. Forrester ’66, president and CEO of Newman’s Own Foundation and executive chairman of Newman’s Own, Inc., and Jennifer Smith Turner, retired chief executive of Girl Scouts of Connecticut and current president and chief executive officer of Smith & Associates LLC.

Graduate Commencement, 10 a.m., Saturday, May 20

  • About 425 graduate students will receive master’s and doctoral degrees.
  • U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, who earned a Master of Public Administration from the University of Hartford’s Barney School of Business in 1976, will be the keynote speaker and will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1988 and has won re-election in every term since. Neal is the ranking member of the powerful tax-writing Ways and Means Committee in the House and is dedicated to U.S.-Ireland relations.
  • An Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters will be presented to Dr. Richard J. “Rick” Gilfillan, president and chief executive officer of Trinity Health. An Honorary Doctor of Commercial Science will be presented to Obie McKenzie, managing director at BlackRock, the largest institutional asset management firm in the United States.

A media parking pass, Commencement program, and photos and profiles of award winners, speakers, and exceptional students may be found at