UMass Boston’s 50th Commencement Ceremonies Begin Today

Office of Communications | May 09, 2018
UMass Boston’s 50th Commencement Ceremonies Begin Today

Over the next two days, UMass Boston will celebrate its 50th Commencement with more than 4,000 graduates who hail from 106 countries, and hear from two distinguished speakers — former U.S. Congressman Barney Frank and urban education advocate Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone.

There will be three ceremonies this year — one for undergraduates, another for graduates, and a doctoral hooding.

Celebrations kick off this morning at UMass Boston's Campus Center Ballroom with the doctoral hooding, where 88 PhD candidates will receive degrees, followed by an afternoon graduate ceremony at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion. The procession begins at 2:30 p.m., with the ceremony beginning at 3. Commencement will be streamed live.

Watch the doctoral hoodingWatch Graduate Commencement at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion.

Former U.S. Congressman Barney Frank, who famously coauthored the landmark legislation designed to regulate the financial services industry, will serve as principal speaker at the graduate ceremony, where he will also receive an honorary degree for his pursuit of social justice.

Yale professor and UMass Boston alum Paul Anastas ’84 will also be recognized with an honorary degree for his accomplishments in the field of green chemistry, which he co-founded.

Online student Bobby Ricketts, an international jazz musician based in Copenhagen, Denmark, will deliver the graduate student address. An arts envoy of the U.S. Department of State, and an eight-time recipient of the Fulbright-Hays grant, he has made more than 30 visits to Africa to help launch activities in outreach programs that cater to young, aspiring musicians and frequently travels across Europe to perform and deliver seminars and workshop classes in music performance. He is graduating from the Critical and Creative Thinking (CCT) master’s program, and despite performing for upwards of 100,000 people in concert, never missed a class at UMass Boston. Read more on our student speaker.

You can follow the ceremonies on Twitter, and Instagram.

UMass Boston will hold its undergraduate ceremony on Friday morning at the TD Garden. The procession begins at 8:45 a.m., and the ceremony kicks off at 9:30.

Urban education advocate Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone, will deliver the principal address. He has been a leading figure in the field of urban education for more than 30 years, and his block-by-block approach to combating poverty via intensive educational and social intervention is seen as a national model. Canada will also be recognized with an honorary degree.

Chris Walkes, the 42nd recipient of the John F. Kennedy Award for Academic Excellence, will address his classmates as the undergraduate student speaker. While a student at UMass Boston, Walkes taught English and computer science and ran a boys group at Another Course to College, a college preparatory high school in Hyde Park. Looking to build ‘critical consciousness’ as a future educator, he is graduating with a degree in English and a minor in secondary education. Read more on our JFK winner.

Three faculty members will receive Chancellor's Awards: Professor of Economics Julie Nelson, Professor of Women's and Gender Studies Shoshanna Ehrlich, and School for the Environment Professors Ellen Douglas and Paul Kirshen for their distinguished scholarship, teaching, and service, respectively. Watch the undergraduate commencement.

About UMass Boston
The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city's history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 11 colleges and graduate schools serve more than 16,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit

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