Commencement speaker Khazei combines leadership, service

April 26, 2011

Clark University will hold its 106th Commencement on Sunday, May 22, on the Jefferson Academic Center Green. The procession, from the Kneller Athletic Center to the Campus Green, begins at 1:15 p.m., and ceremonies start at 1:30 p.m. The Commencement speaker will be Alan Khazei, the founder and chief executive officer of Be the Change Inc., a Boston-based group dedicated to building national coalitions of non-profit organizations and citizens to enact legislation on issues such as poverty and education. Khazei was co-founder and chief executive officer of City Year, an AmeriCorps national service program engaging 17- to 24-year-olds in a year of service in one of several U.S. cities and in Johannesburg, South Africa. Through his leadership in the service and non-profit entrepreneurship movements, Khazei has worked with every Presidential administration since 1989. In 2006, U.S. News & World Report named him one of America’s 25 Best Leaders, and the Boston Globe Magazine named him as one of 11 Bostonians Changing the World. He is a recipient of the Reebok Human Rights Award, the Jefferson Award for Public Service, the Caring Institute Award, the William Jefferson Clinton Award, and the Harvard Law School Association Outstanding Alumni Award. Khazei made a bid in the 2009 special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant following the death of Edward Kennedy, earning the Boston Globe endorsement of his campaign. Khazei will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree during the Clark Commencement ceremonies. John Bassett and Shirley Brice Heath will receive honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees. Jack Dangermond will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

John Bassett is president of Heritage University in Toppenish, Washington. He was president of Clark University from 2000 to 2010, working closely with faculty, alumni and friends of the University to advance academic goals and strengthen Clark’s reputation as a research institution. Bassett is a nationally recognized leader in higher education who serves on multiple boards and committees. He is Chairman of the Board of NAICU (National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities) and is on the boards of CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation), overseeing accreditation practices in higher education, and Phi Beta Kappa Fellows. He served three years on the Commission on Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity for ACE (American Council on Education). Bassett was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Case Western Reserve University from 1993 to 2000. He is a scholar and teacher of American literature, publishing 11 books, including “Sherwood Anderson: An American Career,” and more than 30 professional articles.

Jack Dangermond is the founding president of Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri), widely recognized as the world leader in GIS software development, with “a vision that computer mapping and analysis could help us design a better future.” Under Dangermond's leadership, Esri has grown to employ 2,700 people in the United States, designing cutting-edge GIS and GeoDesign technologies used in industry around the world. Dangermond’s many honors and awards include Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the U.S.  Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) and the Geospatial Information & Technology Association; the Global Citizen Award, Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) Association; Alexander Graham Bell Medal, National Geographical Society; and the Distinguished Public Service Award for Outstanding Contributions to National and International Affairs, from the U.S. Department of State.

Shirley Brice Heath is a linguistic anthropologist who works as professor-at-large at Brown University and as a research professor at the Watson Institute for International Studies, at Brown. She is Professor Emerita, Margery Bailey Professorship in English, at Stanford University. Heath’s work spans anthropology, sociology, linguistics, and education. Her major research since 1987 has been with young people in under-resourced neighborhoods who are taught both entrepreneurial and community-building skills to help create and sustain positive learning environments. Heath is a MacArthur Prize winner who has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. She has written several books including the award-winning “Ways with Words: Language, Life, And Work in Communities and Classrooms,” and more than 100 articles and book chapters. For further information and updates about the ceremony and speakers, visit or call the Marketing and Communications Office, at 508-793-7441. Since its founding in 1887, Clark University in Worcester, Mass., has a history of challenging convention. As an innovative liberal arts college and research university, Clark’s world-class faculty lead a community of creative thinkers and passionate doers and offer a range of expertise, particularly in the areas of psychology, geography, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. Clark’s students, faculty and alumni embody the Clark motto: Challenge convention. Change our world. An archive of Clark News Hub postings can be found at