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Rain Doesn’t Dampen Spirits of 1,500 Graduates at Commencement

Posted 05/15/2011
Posted by David Isgur

“Your world is going to change in ways that are unimaginable,” Anne Garrels, longtime National Public Radio foreign correspondent, told the roughly 1,500 members of the University of Hartford’s Class of 2011 and their family and friends. “You’re not going to be able to fix every problem, but I’m counting on all of you, I really am. You’ve got to help us navigate this troublesome world in a wiser way than we’ve seen in recent years,” she said in her address at the University’s 54th annual Commencement ceremony on Sunday morning, May 15.

“You’re amazing,” she told the crowd, which sat through off-and-on rain during the ceremony. “I don’t think anything could dampen the spirit of this amazing institution and your achievements,” Garrels said.

The University presented honorary doctorate degrees to Garrels and to Peggy Lyman Hayes, a company regisseur and faculty member of the Martha Graham Dance Company; Simon Konover, founder and chairman of The Simon Konover Company who was instrumental in the creation of the University’s Konover Campus Center; and Paul Winter, Grammy-winning musician who interweaves instruments with the sounds of animals such as wolves, whales, eagles and several dozen other species of “wilderness musicians.”

In honor of Commencement and the graduates, Winter performed his original composition, “Sun Singer,” on soprano saxophone.

Richard J. Cardin '62, a visionary business leader and tireless supporter of the University of Hartford, was presented with the University’s Distinguished Alumni Award during the ceremony.

The Commencement ceremony also featured a “Charge to Class of 2011” by senior Nathaniel Palma, a marketing and management major in the Barney School of Business. He told his classmates, “Remember that all of our dreams can come true, only if we have the courage to pursue them. So I invite you to keep dreaming, dream big, keeping your spirits free and facing the new frontiers.”

To hear (and download) audio clips or to see (and download) photographs from the Commencement ceremony, go to University’s Online Newsroom ( and click on the “Commencement Press Kit” link.

After the main Commencement ceremony concluded, the members of the Class of 2011 and their families adjourned to the individual ceremonies of the University’s seven schools and colleges where the students received their diplomas.

About 28 members of the University’s Class of 2011 are students from Saudi Arabia who have been attending the University under the King Abdullah Scholarship program. The majority (18) have earned undergraduate degrees in mechanical, electrical or civil engineering. Four are getting undergraduate degrees in computer science or computer engineering, while one Saudi woman will receive her undergraduate degree in early childhood education. Another two Saudis have earned their master’s degrees while studying at the University.

The King Abdullah Scholarship program is a long-standing effort to foster greater cultural understanding between Saudis and Americans by having young Saudi men and women study at colleges and university in the United States. President George W. Bush and King Abdullah (then Crown Prince) re-established the program in 2005. University officials expect another 30 to 40 Saudis to begin their studies at the University of Hartford in the fall.

Chartered in 1957 with the mission to be a “private university with a public purpose,” the University of Hartford offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs in the arts, humanities, business, engineering and technology, education, and the health professions. The University’s student body of nearly 7,200 represents 48 states and more than 60 countries. For more information, visit