Thursday, October 1, 2020

Pair of commencement speakers chosen for May graduation

April 12, 2018
Education senior Jaclyn Botsford laughs during the playing of the "Michigan State Fight Song" during the Spring Convocation ceremony May 2, 2014, at Breslin Center. Graduating seniors were honored as a whole prior to individual college commencement ceremonies. Danyelle Morrow/The State News
Education senior Jaclyn Botsford laughs during the playing of the "Michigan State Fight Song" during the Spring Convocation ceremony May 2, 2014, at Breslin Center. Graduating seniors were honored as a whole prior to individual college commencement ceremonies. Danyelle Morrow/The State News —

Wanda Herndon, who helped to establish the Starbucks Coffee Co. global brand, and Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences, will be the commencement speakers for the graduation commencement ceremonies on May 4.

Herndon, who will speak at undergraduate convocation, was the first senior vice president of global communications for Starbucks. Now CEO of her own company, she was named one of the top 12 African-Amercians in public relations by PR Week and has been featured in both Time and Essence magazines.

Herndon has been in the business for more than 40 years and has built up the brands of businesses and Fortune 500 companies, the likes of DuPont and Dow Chemical.

Herndon is an MSU alumna, with both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in journalism from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. In 2004, she established a scholarship for journalism students who have shown aptitude for future success as journalists. She sits on the college's Alumni Board of Directors.

A geophysicist and president of the National Academy of Sciences, McNutt, who will speak at the advanced degree ceremony, has earned many awards for her work, including the U.S. Coast Guard’s Meritorious Service Medal for leading a team of scientists and engineers to help contain the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

McNutt received her bachelor's degree in physics from Colorado College and her doctorate in earth sciences from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. 

Both McNutt and Herndon will recieve honorary doctorates from MSU, along with Akinwumi Adesina, Bethany Beardslee and Albie Sachs.

President of the African Development Bank and former minister of Agriculture and Rural Development for Nigeria, Adesina strategized initiatives and policy to better the social equity of agricultural communities. He has been recognized internationally for his work in agriculture, named person of the year in 2013 by Forbes Africa and was awarded the Outstanding Black Agricultural Economist from the American Association of Agricultural Economists. Adesina will receive an honorary doctorate of agriculture at the advanced degree ceremony.

MSU alumna and industry-recognized soprano singer Beardslee, along with receiving an honorary doctorate of fine arts at the undergraduate convocation, will be the keynote speaker at the College of Music commencement May 5. She performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall and worked with composers such as Stravinsky and Boulez.

As former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Sachs oversaw landmark cases such as Prinsloo vs. Van der Linde, which combated discrimination and made a connection between the right to equality and dignity. Sachs will receive an honorary doctorate of laws at the undergraduate convocation.

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