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Merrimack College Commencement

2017 Honorary Degree Recipients

Undergraduate Ceremony


Kenneth Cole (keynote speaker)
Doctor of Humane Letters

Biography

An arts and sciences graduate of Emory University, Kenneth Cole in 1992 founded Kenneth Cole Productions, which manufactures and distributes clothing internationally under the brands Kenneth Cole New York, Reaction Kenneth Cole and Unlisted. The company has been included on Forbes’ annual list of 200 Best Small Companies four times. Cole is also a high-profile philanthropist, serving on the boards of the American Foundation for AIDS Research and Help U.S.A. Homeless, and supporting Mentoring USA and Rock the Vote.

Honorary Degree Citation

Fashion-industry icon. Social activist. Dedicated humanitarian.
Since 1982, when you founded the fashion house that bears your name, you have been a creative force — designing and marketing footwear, clothing and accessories. Four times, Forbes has named your business one of its 200 Best Small Companies. But while you help people look good, you are equally passionate about helping them do good. Your decades-long devotion to progressive causes has benefited AIDS research, the environment, equality and the fight against homelessness. Your Awearness line of clothing and accessories directs a portion of the profits to worthy causes, such as helping veterans transition into civilian careers. You serve as chairman of the board at am-fAR, which has presented you its Award of Courage. And have been named a U.N. AIDS goodwill ambassador. To ensure that future generations continue your special brand of giving back, you have created the Kenneth Cole Fellowship in Community Building and Social Change at Emory University, your alma mater. Your life’s work shows us again and again that the path we walk is far more important than the shoes we wear. By virtue of the authority vested in me by the board of trustees of Merrimack College and the commonwealth of Massachusetts, I hereby bestow upon you the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities appertaining thereunto.

William Campbell
Doctor of Science

Biography

William Campbell studied at Trinity College in Dublin and earned a doctorate in veterinary sciences and zoology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He worked for Merck’s Institute of Therapeutic Research and then taught and researched at Drew University. In 2015, Campbell shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work in developing a class of drugs effective against river blindness and other parasitic diseases affecting both humans and animals. He has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Honorary Degree Citation

Brilliant biologist. Drug discoverer. Nobel laureate.
As a boy at a boarding school in Northern Ireland, you were fascinated by biology. A parasite that causes illness in sheep became an early object of your studies. You could not have guessed this schoolboy interest would one day lead to your groundbreaking advances in attacking lethal diseases in humans — work that earned you the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine and the gratitude of so many people around the world. The drugs you helped develop — derived from bacteria that live in soil — have essentially wiped out river blindness and show great promise in treating other health threats. Your ingenuity in drug discovery has dramatically lowered death rates and reduced sickness in the poorest communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. You urged your employer, the drug company Merck, to make these treatments free, and it did. Your work saves countless lives around the world. It is clear why the Nobel Committee called the reach and the impact of your research “immeasurable.” By virtue of the authority vested in me by the board of trustees of Merrimack College and the commonwealth of Massachusetts, I hereby bestow upon you the honorary degree of Doctor of Science, with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities appertaining thereunto.

Michael Crowe ’92, P’17
Doctor of Business Administration

Biography

Michael Crowe, chairman of the board of Merrimack College, is founder and chief executive officer of ClearSurance LLC, former senior vice president of Brown & Brown and former cofounder and CEO of Crowe Paradis Holding Co. A 1992 graduate of Merrimack College, he went on to earn a law degree at Suffolk University Law School. He is a member of the board of overseers of Boston Children’s Hospital and a director of Matrix Healthcare Services and Surfside Coffee Co.

Honorary Degree Citation

Entrepreneur. Beloved benefactor. Chairman of the board. Proud son of Merrimack.
In every aspect of your life, you give others a helping hand. As an entrepreneur and business leader, you have created jobs and changed lives. As an investor, you have mentored and guided many men and women bring their entrepreneurial dreams to fruition. And you serve as a member of so many boards at nonprofit organizations, such as Boston Children’s Hospital. But nowhere is your support more generous than here at your alma mater. You are the chairman of our board of trustees. You and your wife, Kerridan, serve as co-chairs of the Together for Good capital campaign, the largest fundraising effort in college history. This campaign will help us make significant improvements across our institution: in academics, buildings, athletics, student affairs and scholarships. Your family’s ties to Merrimack become even deeper today as your daughter, Keelyn, graduates as a member of the Class of 2017. Your loyalty and generosity to this college have been truly transformational. By virtue of the authority vested in me by the board of trustees of Merrimack College and the commonwealth of Massachusetts, I hereby bestow upon you the honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration, with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities appertaining thereunto.

Marybeth McInnis
Doctor of Humane Letters

Biography

Marybeth McInnis is an attorney and owner of McInnis Law Offices in North Andover, Massachusetts, specializing in full-service estate planning. A longtime Merrimack College trustee, she played a significant role in establishing the O’Brien Center for Career Development and the O’Brien Scholars program. She has served on the boards of the James W. O’Brien Foundation and Georgetown Bancorp. McInnis holds a law degree from Suffolk University.

Honorary Degree Citation

Attorney. Longtime trustee. Champion of Merrimack.
A respected attorney and business owner here in the Merrimack Valley, you have served as a Merrimack College trustee for nine years, with integrity and distinction. Your love for Merrimack is apparent in all that you do in its behalf. You played a central role in the establishment of the O’Brien Center for Career Development, which helps our students build successful careers through experiential education, professional networking and career counseling. Through your work with the O’Brien Foundation, you also spearheaded the creation of Merrimack’s O’Brien Foundation Scholarship Program, which connects its scholars with life-changing social justice and civic engagement opportunities throughout their four-year academic career. O’Brien Scholars emerge as socially aware leaders, eager to go out into the world and improve the lives of others. Our students are much richer because of your work. You not only expand their horizons, you give them the tools to act on their inspiring ideas for the future. We are deeply indebted to you for your service. By virtue of the authority vested in me by the board of trustees of Merrimack College and the commonwealth of Massachusetts, I hereby bestow upon you the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities appertaining thereunto.

Martin Meehan
Doctor of Public Affairs

Biography

Martin Meehan is the 27th president and first undergraduate alumnus to lead the five-campus University of Massachusetts system. A former seven-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives, he was elected to the presidency after eight successful years as chancellor of his alma mater, UMass-Lowell, during which he led the university to top-tier national status, improving its performance in every sphere of activity, including enrollment, student success, fundraising and auxiliary revenue generation. In addition to his undergraduate degree, he holds a master’s in public administration and a law degree from Suffolk University.

Honorary Degree Citation

University president. Education innovator. Longtime public servant.
You are a consummate servant-leader. While still an undergraduate at UMass Lowell, you joined the staff of the mayor of Lowell. You served the people of Massachusetts as an assistant district attorney, and then, for seven terms, as a member of Congress. You were a hard-working and highly visible advocate for the Merrimack Valley, holding appointments to the armed services and judiciary committees. You returned to UMass Lowell to lead your alma mater as chancellor, a position you held for eight years. During this time, your institution rose to top-tier national status, achieving notable gains in enrollment, student success and fundraising. In 2015, you were inaugurated as president of the five-campus University of Massachusetts system, the first undergraduate alumnus to rise to the presidency. You have a passion for providing education’s capacity to change lives and strengthen communities, and you are bringing all your energies to ensuring that Massachusetts’ public research university is well-positioned to do just that. By virtue of the authority vested in me by the board of trustees of Merrimack College and the commonwealth of Massachusetts, I hereby bestow upon you the honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service, with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities appertaining thereunto.