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FSU announces 2017 commencement speakers

By Jillian Poland

U.S. Congressman Seth Moulton will give the graduate commencement address at this year’s ceremony, according to Dan Magazu, director of communications.

Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan T.M. Reckford will provide the undergraduate commencement address, said Magazu.

The graduation ceremonies will be held on Sunday, May 21 on the Framingham Town Green, according to a University press release.

A University committee works together each year to select the commencement speakers. Linda Vaden-Goad, vice president of academic affairs, is chair of the committee, which is made up of SGA class officers, class advisors, faculty and staff.

This year, a member of the graduate studies program joined the committee to aid in the selection of the graduate ceremony commencement speaker, according to Vaden-Goad.

Magazu, who is a member of the committee, said they started meeting early in the fall.

The selection process is different each year, said Vaden-Goad.

“What we did this year was ask, ‘What are the qualities you’re looking for? How do you want people to feel?’ And so, we did a lot of talking about different sorts of things we had done in the past ... and then we get people to generate what they are hoping for,” she said.

Students were looking for someone inspirational, light-hearted, future-oriented and who had faced adversity in their life, according to Vaden-Goad.

Moulton, who graduated from Harvard University, served four tours in Iraq as a Marine Corps infantry officer, according to his website. He ran for Congress in 2014.

“Our motto as a University is ‘Live to the Truth,’ and he is an individual who is very much like that. I think he kind of embodies our motto in some very nice ways,” said Vaden-Goad.

Reckford earned his MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business and has held executive and managerial positions at Marriot, Goldman Sachs, Best Buy and the Walt Disney Co., according to the Habitat for Humanity website.

Habitat for Humanity is “a global nonprofit housing organization working in nearly 1,400 communities across the United States and in approximately 70 countries around the world,” according to their website.

Magazu said the committee always tries to consider themes that are important to the campus when choosing a commencement speaker. “One of the things that always comes up is community service. We think it’s part of who we are as a University. It’s important to our students. ... Certainly Mr. Reckford touches on the theme of community service perfectly,” said Magazu.

The University does not pay commencement speakers to address graduates, but instead sees it as an honor for the speakers. Speakers are often awarded honorary doctorates relating to their field of work or service, according to Vaden-Goad.

“We’ve had people ask us for $40,000 or $50,000, but, you know, if we had that money we would give it to the students,” she said.

It can be a challenge to book commencement speakers when people have busy schedules, so Vaden-Goad said she hopes to begin the selection process as soon as class officers are chosen this year to give speakers more time to arrange their schedules for next year.

Vaden-Goad said, “I’m excited that we have two speakers who are important people both nationally and internationally. I think for us, as a University community, it’s going to be very exciting.”

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