Rivier University celebrates 81st Commencement & largest graduating class in its history on May 7


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Rivier University celebrated its 81st Commencement at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Massachusetts on May 7. The University awarded 898 degrees—its largest graduating class—to doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degree graduates.

Highlighting the visual arts and the intersection of technology, business, and education, the University honored renowned international artist Sylvia Nicolas and innovative business leader and entrepreneur Frederick H. Kocher, President of Kocher & Co., Inc. with honorary doctor of humane letters degrees. 

Kocher delivered the Commencement address, remarking on how the workforce of the 21st century is very different from that of the prior century with telecommuting and online education. He challenged graduates to continuously reinvent themselves to overcome obstacles and take advantage of opportunities.  

With more than 35 years of executive experience, Kocher has worked to advance the New Hampshire economy through his dedicated leadership as President of the NH High Technology Council. A noted speaker and host of NH's Business on WMUR-TV (ABC), he has received numerous awards and recognition including a 'Lifetime Achievement Award' from the NH High Technology Council and 'Business Leader of the Year' by Business NH Magazine. He is the founder of Politics and Eggs and co-founder of NH Forum of the Future and the NH Coalition for Business & Education, organizations that bring together leaders from business, education, and government. He has served on the boards of the NH High Technology Council, the NH Small Business Development Center, Granite State College, and Global Relief Technologies; as advisor to the NH Clean Tech Council; and president of AARP-NH. 

Rivier also presented an honorary doctor of humane letters to Sylvia Nicolas in recognition of her life's work as a humanistic artist. Nicolas is the creator of the bronze sculpture of Rivier's namesake, which serves as the focal point to Heritage Plaza and reflects the institution's Catholic heritage. Nicolas has received numerous commissions for her stained glass work including the Church of the Annunciation in Washington, DC and St. John's University in New York, and for her sculptures at St. Anselm College, Stonehill College, Providence College, and most recently at Rivier University. A native of the Netherlands, Nicolas studied extensively in Europe, and in the United States with painter Rufino Tamayo and sculptor Ossip Zadkine. She attended the Lycée Français and Dalton School in New York, the German Institute in Rome, Italy, and the Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinematographiques and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, both in Paris, France.

Speaking on behalf of Rivier’s undergraduate programs, Luisa Forger, B.S. in Biology, Summa Cum Laude, of Merrimack, New Hampshire, addressed her fellow graduates about the importance of gratitude. “According to recent statistics, only 7% of the world’s population had a college degree,” says Forger. “You are now privileged enough to be part of that growing 7%, and for that, you should be extremely grateful.” Forger also commended them for their years of hard work. “My fellow graduates, today I send you off not only with words of congratulations, but words of well wishes for the future,” says Forger. “I know you are all going to do great things: as nurses, teachers, scientists, counselors, artists, entrepreneurs, parents, or maybe even students once again. No matter what your path, work hard to make this world a better place. Never stop learning, never stop growing, and never let others turn you into anything less than what you want to be. Thank you, Class of 2016. We did it!”

Student speaker for Rivier’s graduate programs, Christina Graziano, M.S. Experimental Psychology, also of Merrimack, New Hampshire, credited Rivier’s “talented and passionate” professors with preparing students to take on the outside world. “Through our education at Rivier, we have become intelligent, capable individuals with exceptional critical thinking skills that will help guide us toward our intended paths.” 

Sister Paula Marie Buley, IHM, President shared well wishes with the graduates. “Congratulations to all our graduates of the Class of 2016,” said Sister Paula. “This is a singular achievement in your life and will serve as a strong foundation of the core mission of Rivier University to transform hearts and minds to serve the world.”

Offering an education grounded in the liberal arts and Catholic tradition featuring the core curriculum, Journeys of Transformation, the University prepares students for the 21st century workforce. Recent advances include the launch of a new online Doctor of Nursing Practice, expanded online offerings, growth of international student enrollment and an innovative new Employment Promise Program, designed to enhance career preparation and employability of students in all academic disciplines.