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  • Dr. John J. DeGioia, president of Georgetown University, will be commencement speaker at Rivier College on May 12.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris

    US Senator Kelly Ayotte delivers the commencement address at Daniel Webster College last year. She will speak at Nashua Community College this year, May 19.
  • Ronald Noble, head of Interpol, will be commencement speaker at the University of New Hampshire's graduation ceremony on May 19.
  • Former Appalachian Mountain Club President Andrew Falender will talk to graduates at Plymouth State University during its commencement ceremony on May 19.
  • Saint Anselm College Chancellor Abbot Matthew Leavy will deliver the college's commencement address on May 19.
Thursday, April 26, 2012

NH commencement speakers include Georgetown president, Sen. Ayotte, head of Interpol

Cameron Kittle

It’s hard to know what to expect from the annual crop of commencement speakers at New Hampshire’s colleges and universities.

Last year, Dartmouth College called on late-night comedian Conan O’Brien for memorable and funny remarks. The year before, “Chief Executive Optimist” Bert Jacobs, of Life is good, hurled Frisbees into the crowd at the University of New Hampshire.

This year’s group provides many intriguing characters with varied backgrounds.

Rivier College will welcome Dr. John J. DeGioia, president of Georgetown University, who is well versed with and connected to the many political, cultural, corporate and economic resources of Washington, D.C.

DeGioia will give his commencement address May 12 at the private Nashua school.

“He can send a message to students that’s very consistent with our own mission: transforming hearts and minds to serve the people,” said Sister Paula Buley, president of Rivier College. “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.”

DeGioia will also offer his remarks in special circumstances, as Rivier College anticipates a name change to Rivier University on July 1.

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

Across the state, other schools have picked inspiring alumni or local heroes.

Ron Noble, secretary general of Interpol, will deliver the commencement address to University of New Hampshire students in Durham on May 19.

Noble was the youngest person – and the first American – chosen to lead Interpol in 2000.

He graduated from UNH in 1979 after studying economics and business administration and began his career in law enforcement.

Nashua Community College will call on Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., a Nashua resident who joined the U.S. Senate in 2010 after five years as New Hampshire’s attorney general. She gave the address at Daniel Webster College’s 2011 commencement and will do the same for the community college on May 19.

At Plymouth State University, Andrew Falender will talk to graduates on May 19 about his experience as former president of the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Falender was president for 23 years, and in that time, he tripled the club’s membership, increased its endowment tenfold, built dozens of additional AMC facilities, and increased volunteer programs and activities.

Falender said he hopes to talk about how education influenced his success at the AMC.

Plymouth State President Sara Jayne Steen said Falender will be a great example for students as someone who has dedicated his life to making a difference.

Keene State College will host Janet Cohen on May 5. She promotes awareness of the Holocaust and related issues of genocide, tolerance and diversity. She was executive producer of “Kaddish,” a piece of music that offers reflections on the Holocaust.

At Saint Anselm College in Manchester, Chancellor Abbot Matthew Leavy will deliver the commencement address on May 19.

Leavy has been chancellor of the college and abbot of the Saint Anselm Abbey since 1986, but he is retiring from both positions as of June 5.

He has taught in the psychology department, worked in residence halls and served in the campus ministry.

Commencement speakers at Daniel Webster College and Dartmouth College have yet to be announced.

The Learning Curve appears Thursdays in The Telegraph. Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or