Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young and world-renowned entertainer Smokey Robinson will be the featured speakers and honorary degree recipients at Goodwin University’s Commencement ceremony at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 5, at Rentschler Field, Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, Connecticut. Dr. Danielle Wilken, the University’s provost, will serve as master of ceremonies and oversee the proclamation and investiture portions of Commencement. More than 420 graduates, including some from 2020 when Goodwin was unable to host an in-person event due to the COVID pandemic, are expected to walk in the ceremony to receive their master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degrees. Students speakers include undergraduate Mary Owens undergraduate and graduate Elizabeth Giannetta-Ramos.
Ambassador Andrew Young earned worldwide recognition as a champion of civil and human rights. His dedication to service is illustrated by his extensive leadership experience, including serving as a member of Congress, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, mayor of Atlanta, and ordained minister. In the 1960s, he was a key strategist in Civil Rights campaigns that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As Ambassador to the UN, he negotiated an end to white-minority rule in Namibia and Zimbabwe and brought President Carter’s emphasis on human rights to international diplomacy efforts. As mayor of Atlanta, he brought in over 1,100 businesses, more than $70 billion in foreign direct investments, and generated over a million jobs. In addition to numerous honorary degrees and honors, he has received an Emmy Lifetime Achievement award and the Dan Sweat Award. His portrait is included in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Ambassador Young serves on a number of boards including the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Morehouse College, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State, and AmericasMart. In 2003, he and his wife Carolyn McClain Young founded the Andrew J. Young Foundation to promote education, health, leadership and human rights in the U.S., Africa, and the Caribbean. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Andrew J. Young Foundation. In 2012, he retired from GoodWorks International, LLC, after more than a decade of facilitating sustainable economic development in the business sectors of the Caribbean and Africa.
“Smokey” Robinson is a legendary singer-songwriter, record producer, record executive, and co-founder of Motown Records. Early in his career, he and his group, the Miracles, impressed producer Berry Gordy with Robinson’s vocals and ambitious songwriting. With Gordy’s help, they released “Got a Job,” launching a successful collaboration and the beginnings of Motown. Between 1960 and 1970, Robinson would produce 26 Top 40 hits with the Miracles including such classics as “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “I Second That Emotion,” and “The Tears of a Clown.” Robinson was one of the major songwriters and producers for Motown, penning hit singles including “My Guy,” “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” and “Get Ready.” In 1975, he released his most successful solo album, A Quiet Storm. His classic hit “Cruisin’” peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100. Robinson topped the charts again with “Being With You” and teamed up with fellow Motown artist Rick James on “Ebony Eyes.” His million-selling album, One Heartbeat, garnered his first Grammy for “Just to See Her.” He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Kennedy Center, honored with individual and group stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and awarded the National Medal of Arts, a Heritage Award at the Soul Train Music Awards, and a BET Lifetime Achievement Award.
Given the COVID-19 restrictions of last year, this will be Goodwin’s first live ceremony since stepping up to University status in January 2020. Last year’s Commencement was an online, pre-recorded celebration. Anyone attending the ceremony, including graduates, their invited guests, University employees, and members of the media, will be required to present proof of completed vaccines or a negative COVID test within 72 hours prior to the start of the event. There will be no exceptions.
Those unable to attend may watch online at www.goodwin.edu/commencement.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.