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Merrimack College Commencement Celebration

2016 Commencement Speakers and Honorary Degree Information

  • May 22, 2016 Commencement speaker:

    Governor Charlie Baker


    Since taking office in January, 2015, Governor Charlie Baker has been making Massachusetts a great place to live, work, start a business and raise a family – while delivering a customer-service oriented state government that is as thrifty, creative and hard working as the people of Massachusetts. Governor Baker called on an expert, bipartisan team of Republicans, Democrats and Independents to lead his cabinet. Together, they are fulfilling his commitment to building stronger and safer communities for our children and families; keeping our roads and bridges safe and reliable; protecting our natural resources; and ensuring our schools and students are successful and safe.

    From resolve in the face of unprecedented snow and freezing temperatures, to working to fix the MBTA, the Department of Children and Families, the Health Connector and Registry of Motor Vehicles, to balancing budgets despite billions in deficits all without raising taxes - the Baker-Polito Administration is making state government truly work for the people of Massachusetts.

    Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito have also set their sights on addressing some of the Commonwealth’s greatest long-term challenges:

    • * Reducing family energy costs and improving the reliability of our energy grid through groundbreaking hydro and solar power legislation;
    • * Lifting the charter school cap to ensure every child in the Commonwealth has access to high-quality education regardless of their zip code;
    • * Securing a 50% increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) - putting money back in the pockets of over 400,000 working families and individuals throughout the Commonwealth;
    • * And landmark legislation aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic’s grip on our Commonwealth’s families.


  • May 20 Commencement speaker:

    Barbara Pierce Bush


    Barbara Bush is CEO and co-founder of Global Health Corps, an organization that mobilizes a global community of young leaders to build the movement for health equity. Since 2009, Global Health Corps has placed 450 young leaders from sixteen countries to work with non-profit and government health organizations like Partners In Health and the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia and the United States. Before joining GHC, Bush worked in Educational Programming at the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, where she supported design thinking programs for high school students and faculty across the US. She has worked for Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Capetown, South Africa and interned for UNICEF in Botswana. She has traveled with the UN World Food Programme, focusing on the importance of nutrition. Bush is a member of UNICEF’s Next Generation Steering Committee, and is on the Board of Directors of Covenant House International, PSI, Friends of the Global Fight for AIDS, TB and Malaria, and the UN’s Social Entrepreneurship Council. She is a Draper Richards Foundation Social Entrepreneur, a World Economic Forum Young Global Shaper and a fellow of the Echoing Green Foundation. Bush was named one of Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year in 2011, one of Newsweek’s Women of Impact in 2013, and one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in 2015. Bush graduated from Yale University with a degree in Humanities in 2004.

  • Honorary Degree Recipient:

    Francis E. “Frank” Girard ’62


    One of the college’s most visionary and generous philanthropists, Francis E. “Frank” Girard ’62, is the namesake of the Girard School of Business at Merrimack College. Mr. Girard is the former Vice Chairman & CEO, Comverse Network Systems (CNS). Girard served as Vice Chairman from 2001 to 2004 and as Chief Executive Officer from 1998 to 2001. Previous positions also included: President, CEO & Director, Boston Technology, Inc., a company that was merged into Comverse Technology, Inc. in 1998 (1996-1998); Executive Vice President, Boston Technology, Inc. (1994-1996); Senior Vice President of Sales, Boston Technology, Inc. (1989-1994).  Mr. Girard’s service to Merrimack includes serving as a Member of the Business Executive Committee; a member of the Board of Trustees; Member of the President’s Advisory Board and the College Leadership Counsel.

  • Honorary Degree Recipient:

    Francis “Ken” Duane ’80


    An engaged alumnus and successful business leader who has served his alma mater generously with his time, expertise, and philanthropy, Francis “Ken” Duane ’80 is the Chief Executive Officer of the Heritage Brands and North America Wholesale at PVH, one of the world’s largest retail apparel companies with over $8 billion in revenue. Mr. Duane served eight consecutive years as a Merrimack College Trustee and played an instrumental role in the development of the men’s hockey program both through work as a trustee and with private philanthropy to the program. Mr. Duane and his wife Jincie have supported a scholarship and several facility projects on campus. His additional volunteer commitments include serving on the Board of Trustees at Give Kids the World, a non-profit organization that provides children with life-threatening illnesses and their families with complimentary visits to central Florida attractions. He is also a member of The Business Advisory board of Retail Management at Santa Clara University.

  • Honorary Degree Recipient:

    Robert Pinsky


    An American poet, essayist, literary critic, and translator, Robert Pinsky served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1997 to 2000.  Pinsky is the author of nineteen books, most of which are collections of his poetry. His published work also includes critically acclaimed translations, including The Inferno of Dante Alighieri and The Separate Notebooks by Czesław Miłosz.  As Poet Laureate, Pinsky founded the Favorite Poem Project, in which thousands of Americans of varying backgrounds, all ages, and from every state share their favorite poems. Pinsky believed that, contrary to stereotype, poetry has a strong presence in the American culture. The project sought to document that presence, giving voice to the American audience for poetry.  He received a B.A. from Rutgers University, and earned both an M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University. Pinsky is a frequent contributor to the Writers House at Merrimack College as a guest presenter and mentor in the program. 

  • Honorary Degree Recipient:

    Joshua L. Miner, IV


    A long time benefactor committed to serving the Greater Lawrence community, Joshua L. Miner, IV became a Trustee of The Nathaniel and Elizabeth P. Stevens Foundation in 1983, and began his tenure as Managing Trustee of both The Nathaniel and Elizabeth Stevens Foundation and The Abbot and Dorothy Stevens Foundation in 2002.  In this role, Josh manages the day-to-day operations of the Foundations, often taking a hands-on approach and site visiting local agencies to get a better sense of their inner-workings, needs and overall dynamic in the community.  Mr. Miner is also a founding member of the Greater Lawrence Donors’ Collaborative, a group of local funders and business leaders who meet to discuss issues of interest in the Greater Lawrence philanthropic world.