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Author, Nobel laureates to speak at Commencement

by Richard Veilleux - April 23, 2007

An internationally renowned novelist, two Nobel laureates, and leaders in education, business, finance, and the arts highlight the University’s 2007 Commencement ceremonies, which will be held during the first three weekends in May.

At 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 5, Wolfgang Ketterle, John D. MacArthur Professor of Physics at MIT and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001, will deliver a keynote address to the University’s graduating master’s and doctoral students.

Ketterle will receive an honorary doctorate of science during this ceremony, as will John Krenicki, ’84, president and chief executive officer of GE Energy.

The ceremony will be held in Harry A. Gampel Pavilion in Storrs.

The following day, Sunday, May 6, Fay Weldon, British author of more than 20 novels and many essays and screenplays (including several episodes of the television series Upstairs, Downstairs), will deliver the Commencement address to more than 4,500 undergraduates – a record number – during twin ceremonies in Gampel Pavilion at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Weldon will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree. Also being honored will be Mark R. Shenkman, ’65, president and chief investment officer of Shenkman Capital Management Inc., who will receive an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters. Shenkman lives in Greenwich, Conn.

On Sunday, May 20, human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, the first Iranian woman and the first Muslim to win the Nobel Peace Prize, will speak during the graduation ceremony at the UConn School of Law.

The ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m.

A commencement ceremony for graduates of UConn’s medical and dental schools will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 13 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.

The Commencement speaker will be Dr. Charles Bertolami, dean of the School of Dentistry at the University of California, San Francisco.

This year, for the first time, the School of Fine Arts, the Neag School of Education, and the School of Pharmacy will hold separate ceremonies to celebrate their students’ graduation.

Students who have earned the title Doctor of Pharmacy will be celebrated during a 10 a.m. ceremony on Saturday, May 5, in the ballroom of the Lewis B. Rome Commons.

Fine arts students will commence in the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts starting at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 6, and Neag school graduates will receive their diplomas, also in Jorgensen, at 3 p.m. that day.

Speakers will include Pharmacy “Teacher of the Year” Robin Bogner, an associate professor, at the School of Pharmacy; Christopher Keen Donovan, ’69, an Emmy-nominated director and technical director, at the School of Fine Arts ceremony; and business leader and philanthropist Ray Neag, ’56, at the Neag School of Education.

Neag was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University in 2001.

Weldon, a renowned British novelist, essayist, and screenwriter, visited UConn last year from April 4 through April 6, as Aetna Visiting Writer-in-Residence.

During her visit, she gave a public reading of her works, but spent most of her time on campus visiting English classes and holding one-on-one writing tutorials with a dozen undergraduate and graduate students, who had to apply for the opportunity.

Famous for her early exploration of women’s issues, Weldon published her 25th novel, She May Not Leave, in the United Kingdom in September 2006.

She also has written several collections of short stories, and many plays for television, radio, and the stage.

The German-born Ketterle, who will speak during the graduate ceremony, won the Nobel Prize in 2001 for work that expanded on the research of other physicists related to the condensation of atomic gas.

The prize also recognized his contributions to the world’s first atomic laser.

Admired for her work in her own country in support of freedom of speech and political freedom, and globally in support of the rights of refugees, law school speaker Shirin Ebadi’s road has not been easy.

She was elected one of the first female judges in Iran, but was forced to resign after the revolution in 1979. She has been imprisoned on many occasions.

About 200 graduates will receive degrees at the Law School ceremony.

In Hartford on May 13, Charles Bertolami, dean of the University of California, San Francisco, School of Dentistry and president-elect of the American Dental Education Association, will address more than 100 future doctors and dentists graduating from the UConn Health Center.

The event will be held at the Connecticut Convention Center for the first time.

A nationally recognized expert in the field of connective tissue repair and treatment of the temporomandibular joint, he has also served as vice president and president of the American Association for Dental Research, and is a Fellow of the American College of Dentists.

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