49th Commencement Speakers Announced
Former U.S. Senator and Majority Leader George Mitchell and Chief Executive Officer of The New York Times Company Mark Thompson will speak
George Mitchell, former U.S. senator from the State of Maine and Senate majority leader, will deliver the commencement address at Sacred Heart University’s 49th Undergraduate Commencement exercises on Sunday, May 17, at 10:30 a.m. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
Mark Thompson, president and chief executive officer of The New York Times Company, will address the University’s Graduate Commencement on Saturday, May 16, at 1 p.m. He will also receive a Doctor of Laws degree.
The SHU class of 2015 includes 1,026 undergraduates who will have earned associate and bachelor’s degrees and 907 graduate students who will have earned master’s degrees, professional certificates and doctorates. The ceremonies for both graduate and undergraduate students will take place at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.
Mitchell served as U.S. special envoy for Middle East Peace from January 2009 to May 2011. Prior to that he had a distinguished career in public service. He was appointed to the United States Senate in 1980 to complete the unexpired term of Senator Edmund S. Muskie, who resigned to become secretary of state and went on to an illustrious career in the Senate spanning 15 years. He left the Senate in 1995 as the Senate majority leader, a position he had held since January 1989. For six consecutive years he was voted “the most respected member” of the Senate by a bipartisan group of senior congressional aides.
Mitchell received an undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College and a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center. He served in Berlin, Germany, as an officer in the U.S. Army Counter-Intelligence Corps from 1954 to 1956. From 1960 to 1962, he was a trial lawyer in the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. From 1962 to 1965, he served as executive assistant to Senator Edmund S. Muskie. In 1965, he returned to Maine where he engaged in the private practice of law in Portland until 1977. He was then appointed U.S. attorney for Maine, a position he held until 1979, when he was appointed U.S. district judge for Maine. He resigned that position in 1980 to accept appointment to the Senate.
In 1995, he served as a special adviser to President William J. Clinton on Ireland, and from 1996 to 2000, he served as the independent chairman of the Northern Ireland Peace Talks. For his service in Northern Ireland, he received numerous awards and honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor given by the U.S. government; the Philadelphia Liberty Medal; the Truman Institute Peace Prize; and the United Nations (UNESCO) Peace Prize.
Thompson became president and chief executive officer of The New York Times Company on November 12, 2012. He is responsible for leading the company’s strategy, operations and business units, and working closely with the chairman to direct the vision of the company.
Before joining the Times Company, he served as director-general of the BBC from 2004, where he reshaped the organization to meet the challenge of the digital age, ensuring that it remained a leading innovator with the launch of services such as the BBC iPlayer. He also oversaw a transformation of the BBC itself, driving productivity and efficiency through the introduction of new technologies and bold organizational redesign.
In the autumn of 2012, Thompson was a visiting professor of rhetoric and the art of public persuasion at the University of Oxford. He is currently developing the lectures he gave at Oxford into a book that will be published in 2015. He was educated at Stonyhurst College and Merton College, Oxford.
Sacred Heart University offers more than 80 programs of study to over 7,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students through its five colleges.