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April 18, 2005

Graduation Speakers Announced

Eduardo Aguirre, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Jonathan Fanton, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, head the list of speakers and honorary degree recipients who will help guide nearly 4,000 UConn students to the next stage of their careers.

Aguirre, the country’s first director of citizenship and immigration, an undersecretary post in the Department of Homeland Security, will address twin undergraduate ceremonies, at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., on Sunday, May 8. Aguirre will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Fanton, former chairman of Human Rights Watch and president of the MacArthur philanthropic foundation since 1999, will speak to more than 600 master’s and doctoral degree candidates during a 2:30 p.m. ceremony on Saturday, May 7. He also will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Antonia Novello, Surgeon General of the United States from 1990 to 1993, will speak during commencement ceremonies at the Health Center at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 15. And Morris Sheppard Arnold, a judge on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, will speak to law school graduates at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 22.

Honorary degrees also will be awarded to Tim Page, a Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic now at The Washington Post, during the morning undergraduate ceremony; Roger S. Newton, president and CEO of Esperion Therapeutics, a division of Pfizer Global Research and Development, during the graduate ceremony; and Henry B.C. Low, called the father of cardiothoracic surgery in the Hartford region, during commencement at the Health Center. Low will receive an honorary Doctor of Medicine degree; Page a Doctor of Fine Arts; and Newton a Doctor of Science.

Aguirre, who became the nation’s first director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2003, was charged with transforming the delivery of services by the immigration system, ensuring that the right applicants for citizenship receive the right benefits at the right time. Under his leadership, the service’s priorities are to eliminate the immigration application backlog, improve customer service, and enhance national security.

Aguirre was previously vice chairman and CEO of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and served for six years on the Board of Regents of the University of Houston system, including two years as chairman.

Fanton, a long-time educator, in 1999 became president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, one of the nation’s largest philanthropic organizations. He was also chairman of Human Rights Watch, the largest U.S.-based human rights organization, from 1998 to 2003.

Fanton has served as vice president for planning at the University of Chicago, associate vice provost at Yale, and president of the New School University in New York.

The MacArthur Foundation is a private, independent grantmaking institution dedicated to helping groups and individuals foster lasting improvement in the human condition.

Novello, the speaker at the Health Center’s graduation ceremony, was appointed U.S. Surgeon General in 1990. During her three-year term in office, Novello focused on the health of women, children, and minorities, playing an important role in launching the Healthy Children Ready to Learn Initiative.

Prior to her term as Surgeon General, Novello worked for 12 years at the National Institutes of Health. Novello now works with UNICEF.

The Honorable Morris Sheppard Arnold, who will address about 180 law school graduates, was appointed to the United States Circuit Court for the Eighth District in 1992 by President George Bush.

Prior to that appointment, Arnold was U.S. District Court judge for seven years. He also has taught law at Indiana University, the University of Michigan, the University of Texas, and at Trinity College, Cambridge University in England. He held teaching and administrative positions at the University of Pennsylvania from 1978 to 1985, when he became dean of the Indiana University Law School.

Honorary degree recipients are:

  • Tim Page, who grew up in Storrs and was a constant presence in UConn’s music library, where he enjoyed hundreds of hours of classical music. He became the chief classical music critic for The Soho Weekly News in 1979. Since then he has worked for The New York Times, New York magazine, and Long Island Newsday. He joined The Washington Post as chief music critic in 1995, winning the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism in 1997. He became culture writer for the Post in 2000.
  • Roger S. Newton, who co-discovered the cholesterol-reducing drug Lipitor. Now senior vice president and director of Esperion Therapeutics, a division of Pfizer. He is co-founder, former president, and CEO of Esperion Therapeutics Inc. He also was a Distinguished Research Fellow in Vascular and Cardiac Diseases at Parke-Davis Pharmaceutical Research. He is an adjunct associate professor in pharmacology at the University of Michigan Medical School.
  • Dr. Henry B.C. Low, a renowned surgeon, who performed the first successful heart transplant in Connecticut in 1984, and developed cardiothoracic surgery programs at UConn’s John Dempsey Hospital and the St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center. Low has held appointments at Harvard Medical School and the UConn School of Medicine, where he rose to the position of chair of cardiothoracic surgery. He retired in 2002. At Hartford Hospital, he served in many positions, including director of cardiothoracic surgery. The Henry Low Heart Center at Hartford Hospital was established in 2001.