Published 05/01/13

Bryant announces honorary degree recipients for 150th Commencement

SMITHFIELD, RI -- Bryant University will bestow honorary degrees on four distinguished individuals at its 150th Commencement exercises May 16 and 18.

"As we celebrate Bryant’s 150-year tradition of excellence during this calendar year, we are also anticipating the global challenges of the next 150 years and reflecting on what we will do in the future," University President Ronald K. Machtley said in his e-mail announcing the recipients. "We are honored to have an internationally renowned historian joining us for our sesquicentennial Commencement, and -- in recognition of the tremendous humanitarian contributions of two of our honorees -- in the year ahead we will devote special attention to one of the greatest problems facing our world: world hunger.

To build on Bryant’s history of educating leaders who make a difference, in the next academic year Bryant will focus on world hunger.

"Bryant University excels at preparing leaders for the future," he continued. "Our Class of 2013 graduates join the many Bryant alumni who are successful leaders whose careers have evolved from their business and arts and sciences backgrounds. A key component of leadership is looking at our humanitarian duty, and this includes creating opportunities for business and society to have a positive impact on the issues of world hunger. To build on Bryant’s history of educating leaders who make a difference, in the next academic year Bryant will focus on the topic of world hunger."

The Commencement speaker for this year’s undergraduate ceremonies will be historian Jon Meacham.

Meacham, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Random House executive editor and executive vice president, will address graduating seniors on May 18. He is the author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, a New York Times bestseller that has been named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, The Seattle Times, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Meacham received the Pulitzer Prize for American Lion, his biography of Andrew Jackson. He is also the author of Franklin and Winston and American Gospel. Meacham serves as executive editor and executive vice president of Random House, and he is a contributing editor to Time magazine, a former editor of Newsweek, and has written for The New York Times and The Washington Post, among other publications.

Meacham is a Fellow of the Society of American Historians and serves on the boards of the New-York Historical Society, the Churchill Centre, and The McCallie School. Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, he was educated at McCallie and at The University of the South. Bryant will recognize Meacham with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

At this year’s 150th Commencement Bryant also will award honorary degrees to two highly accomplished women who share the vision of a world without hunger.

Catherine Bertini’s distinguished career includes service as executive director of the UN World Food Program (WFP), where she transformed the WFP into the world’s largest humanitarian organization and a model for UN effectiveness and accountability. Bertini, who is widely recognized for her leadership in decreasing world hunger and famine, is a World Food Prize Laureate. She is a member of the Board of International Food and Agricultural Development, which advises USAID, and recently served as a member of the Accountability Review Board on Benghazi, appointed by Secretary Hillary Clinton.

She also served as the Under Secretary-General for Management and as UN Security Coordinator, and was appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan as Humanitarian Envoy to the Horn of Africa and to Gaza and the West Bank. Bertini is currently a senior fellow at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, where she co-chairs the Global Agricultural Development Initiative, and a member of the faculty of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York at Albany.

Navyn Salem, who will receive an honorary doctor of business administration degree, is executive director and founder of Edesia Global Nutrition Solutions, a nonprofit producer of ready-to-use foods (RUFs) that treat and prevent malnutrition in vulnerable populations in the developing world. Salem created Edesia after a trip to Tanzania made her aware of the toll malnutrition can take on a country. Using a model of social entrepreneurship, collaboration, and advocacy, Salem has expanded Edesia's work to include a U.S. factory focused on production, research and development, and support of local producers. Since opening its doors, the company, headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, has provided RUFs in response to emergencies such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and its products have been distributed in more than 34 countries, reaching 1.2 million children. Salem is a graduate of Boston College and the recipient of the 2012 Bryant University Women’s Summit New England Businesswoman of the Year award.

Speaking at our Graduate School of Business Commencement ceremonies on May 16 will be Joseph J. MarcAurele, who will receive an honorary doctor of business administration degree.

MarcAurele is an accomplished and well-respected leader within the New England banking industry. In 2009 he joined The Washington Trust Company, the largest independent bank in the United States, as president and chief operating officer. He was appointed chairman, president and chief executive officer in 2010. Founded in 1800, Washington Trust is the oldest community bank in the nation and one of the oldest public companies listed on the stock market. MarcAurele previously served as president of Citizens Bank, where he held executive positions including chairman, president, and CEO of Citizens Bank of Rhode Island and Connecticut. His early banking career included seven years at Fleet Financial Group. MarcAurele is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross.