NASHUA, N.H. — Rivier University celebrated its 79th commencement today – and its 80th anniversary– at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Mass. The University awarded 562 degrees to doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degree graduates.
True to its core mission of ‘transforming hearts and minds to serve the world,’ Rivier highlighted both its 80th anniversary and the impact of transformational service on individuals and society.
During the ceremony, honorary degrees were presented to two individuals—James T. Brett, President and Chief Executive Office of The New England Council, and devoted Rivier administrator Sister Cecile Gamache, pm.
Brett delivered the Commencement address, celebrating the impact of transformational service as the University recognized his outstanding collaborative efforts to bring people and resources together to improve the New England region. In his remarks, Brett spoke of his brother Jack who taught him about disabilities and was the impetus to his lifelong involvement as an advocate for the physically and mentally challenged. He urged Rivier graduates to make their own commitments to serve others as they go out into the world. "Kindness begets kindness. That’s what good neighbors do. They don’t build fences. They don’t turn away their gaze. They build networks of caring and acceptance. And where charity and love prevail, there God is. Go and do likewise. Congratulations Class of 2014."
Appointed to the chief leadership role at The New England Council in 1996, Brett has been a leading force in advocating for public policy issues including healthcare, education, and energy. The recipient of numerous awards and recognition for outstanding public service, he was named the 2011 New Englander of the Year in recognition of his extraordinary commitment, leadership, and contributions to the quality of life in the region.
The University also presented an honorary doctorate of humane letters to Sister Cecile Gamache, pm in recognition of her exemplary service to the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary and to Rivier. Sister Cecile retired from her role as Rivier’s Assistant Vice President of Finance and Operations in 2011, completing three decades of dedicated service that has contributed to Rivier’s financial vitality and solid position within the competitive higher education marketplace. At the heart of Sister Cecile’s dedicated work is a commitment to Rivier’s mission and a consistent effort to reach higher and better following Rivier’s motto ‘altiora et meliora.’
Magnolia Veronica Dixon, outgoing Student Government Association President of Avon, Maine, received a bachelor’s degree in history, and spoke about commitment to serve and higher values on behalf of Rivier’s undergraduate programs. “We have learned to be students of the world and embrace those around us who can teach us about different cultures and traditions. As a part of the Rivier community, we will take with us a commitment to reaching for higher and better values in our lives. Each one of us in the Class of 2014 stands for respect, engagement, compassion, honest, and authenticity.”
Student speaker for Rivier’s graduate programs, Carol Ann Becker, MBA in Healthcare Administration, of Hudson, N.H., shared lessons of leadership and service. “Leadership requires unwavering dedication, commitment, and focus, as well as recognizing when you need to change direction,” said Becker. “It’s about doing the right things, even when you yourself are uncertain.