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Monday, April 2, 2012

Rivier will call upon Georgetown president to celebrate university status

NASHUA – Every graduation is memorable, but Rivier College plans to have an extra reason to celebrate at its commencement ceremony in May.

As of July 1, the private Nashua college anticipates a status change to Rivier University. On top of that, the Rivier community will bring in Dr. John J. DeGioia, president of Georgetown University, as its commencement speaker.

“It’s an opportunity for the oldest Catholic university to welcome the newest Catholic university,” said Sister Paula Buley, president of Rivier College. “We’re really delighted. He’s the right person for the right time in the college’s history.”

DeGioia will also receive an honorary doctoral degree during the commencement ceremony, to be held May 12. He has served as Georgetown president since 2001 and has improved the university’s relationship with many political, cultural, corporate and economic resources of Washington, D.C. He also regularly teaches courses on campus.

“He can send a message to students that’s very consistent with our own mission: transforming hearts and minds to serve the people,” Buley said. “His own interest in foreign relations and living globally is a great inspiration for really all young men and women. He will be able to present our graduates with a global message, a message of service.”

Buley said DeGioia will continue the college’s effort to spread its message and brand to students in the Nashua community and around the country.

The university status will help with that as well, although the paperwork has not been finalized. Buley said Rivier is working with the state Department of Education and Legislature and anticipates the change to be in effect as of July 1.

“We don’t want to be presumptuous, but we’re moving towards that,” she said Tuesday.

Rivier’s decision is something other colleges in the state have pursued in recent years. In 2001, New Hampshire College became Southern New Hampshire University. And in 2003, Plymouth State College changed to Plymouth State University.

“As far as our competitive footprint, it’s the best way to describe who we are,” Buley said in an interview with editors of The Telegraph in November.

Rivier will also welcome two new programs next fall, with degrees focused in global studies and transnational security.

The global studies program will focus on liberal arts but include broader subjects about the global environment to help students get a glimpse of worldwide culture and problems, as opposed to those only in the United States.

The transnational security program is a unique creation by former Air Force officer Rick Johnson, who said it will complement the global studies program and teach business, security and cultural facets of globalization.

“It’s a wonderful career opportunity for students interested in international relations, diplomacy or homeland security,” Buley said. “It will take so many of the political, economic and diplomatic threats that are part of our global environment and reflect on the strategies used to reduce those threats.”

Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or ckittle@nashuatelegraph.com. Also check out Kittle (@Telegraph_CamK) on Twitter.