RINDGE — Franklin Pierce University President James Birge opened the university’s 49th commencement ceremony Saturday by welcoming the 370 graduates about to receive their undergraduate and graduate degree diplomas.
Honorary degrees were bestowed to John K. Castle, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, and Kenneth R. Feinberg, well known for his legal role in the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, One Fund Boston, and other disaster relief compensation funds.
The Honorable Walter R. Peterson Citizen Leader Award was awarded to J. Bonnie Newman, Chancellor Emeritus of the Community College System of New Hampshire, for her commitment to public service, contributions to higher education, and high moral character, the University said.
“Franklin Pierce University is privileged to honor three distinguished guests at today’s Commencement Exercises. Public Service can be expressed in so many ways, and our honorees have given of their time, treasure, and talents in immeasurable ways, in addition to being highly accomplished leaders in their fields of endeavor. Bonnie Newman, John Castle, and Ken Feinberg epitomize the strength of America: Leaders of conscience who succeed through hard work and selfless investment in the public good in order to provide opportunities for others,” Birge said.
Franklin Pierce Board of Trustee member Al Marulli introduced Castle as someone who “represents Americana at its best.”
Castle advised graduates, “Education is not a static thing — it must be a lifelong process, and I urge you to embrace that challenge.”
When Feinberg received his honorary degree he said, “Life has a way of altering our most careful plans. Do not rest on today’s accomplishments. … It’s only the beginning of the race.”
J. Bonnie Newman spoke of the late Governor Walter Peterson and his belief that education was the bedrock of democracy. “He was the real deal!” Newman said. “He had courage, keen insight, and strong, well-reasoned values.”
Louis A. Mayfield was valedictorian for the University’s College of Graduate & Professional Studies, which has programs in Manchester, Portsmouth and Lebanon.
Ariz. Bruce L. Ruotsala was valedictorian for the University’s College at Rindge.