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Walden News // Jan 27, 2017

Walden University Alumni, Faculty and Staff Honored During 57th Commencement Weekend

Speaker at the podium at commencement.

Benjamin Jealous

Minneapolis—January 27, 2017—More than 1,130 graduates, along with about 5,000 guests, attended Walden University’s 57th Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, January 7, 2017, at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Florida. These newest graduates make Walden’s international network of alumni more than 110,000 strong.

Benjamin Jealous, the youngest-ever president and CEO of the NAACP and a leader of successful state and local movements to ban the death penalty, outlaw racial profiling, defend voting rights, secure marriage equality and free wrongfully incarcerated people, was the keynote speaker.

"Today, you are officially more empowered to do great things than most people in our country ever will be. And with that great privilege comes great responsibility. That’s what makes Walden so special—the way that a deep commitment to positive social change runs through this place,” Jealous told the graduates.

“If nothing else, in the struggle to make the world a better place, to effect positive social change, through the victories and yes, the defeats, you will find the strength and joy of truly knowing who you are and why you are here," he said.

Several people in the Walden community were recognized and honored during commencement weekend, including:

  • Dr. Lori Salgado, a 2016 PhD in Public Policy and Administration graduate from Colorado Springs, Colorado, who received the Harold L. Hodgkinson Award for her dissertation, Experiences of Colorado Parents as They Recognized Their Child's Mental Illness. This award is bestowed upon a Walden student whose dissertation is judged as meeting the highest standards of academic excellence.
  • Dr. Steven A. Matarelli (chair), Dr. Tracy Mallett and Dr. Kristie Roberts-Lewis, faculty in the School of Public Policy and Administration, who received the Bernard L. Turner Award, given to the faculty dissertation committee of the Harold L. Hodgkinson Award winner.
  • Dr. Betsy J. Macht, a 2016 Doctor of Business Administration graduate from Yardley, Pennsylvania, who received the Frank Dilley Award for her doctoral study, Strategies to Influence a Quality and Compliance Culture. This award is bestowed upon a Walden student whose doctoral study is judged as meeting the highest standards of academic excellence.
  • Dr. Anne Davis (chair), Dr. Rocky J. Dwyer and Dr. James Savard, faculty in the College of Management and Technology, who received the Rita Turner Award, given to the faculty doctoral study committee of the Frank Dilley Award winner.

Faculty Excellence Awards were presented to the following individuals:

  • Dr. Sandra Weinstein Bever, College of Health Sciences
  • Dr. Janet Booker, College of Management and Technology
  • Dr. Sandra M. Harris, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Dr. Cheryl Keen, The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership
  • Suzanne Oakes, MA, Center for General Education

Dr. Bever also received the Presidential Award for Faculty Excellence, which honors the faculty member who demonstrates unmatched dedication to the university, its mission and its vision, and exemplifies the Walden educator’s role in empowering students to advance positive social change in their communities.

The graduates in attendance were part of a graduating class of more than 6,160 students—representing 50 states and 99 countries—who have completed bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and education specialist degree programs at Walden in the past 6 months.

The Walden University community gathers to honor its graduating students twice a year at summer and winter commencement ceremonies, with many graduates and guests participating via live webcast.

About Walden University:

For more than 45 years, Walden University has supported working professionals in achieving their academic goals and making a greater impact in their professions and their communities. Today, more than 52,600 students from all 50 states in the U.S. and more than 155 countries are pursuing their bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees online at Walden. The university offers more than 80 degree programs with more than 400 specializations and concentrations. Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. Walden is one of more than 70 institutions in 25 countries that comprise the Laureate International Universities network. For more information about Walden, visit