EAST LANSING, Mich. — Roy Roberts, Emergency Manager of Detroit Public Schools, is one of three speakers for Michigan State University’s December commencement ceremonies.
Roberts will speak today, Saturday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. Earning an honorary doctorate of business, he will address undergraduates from the colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Communication Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Natural Science and Nursing, as well as Lyman Briggs College.
Ceremonies were to be held Friday, Dec. 9, and Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center, One Birch Road.
Detroit media legend Mitch Albom, author of the best-selling memoir “Tuesdays with Morrie,” will speak at 10 a.m. Dec. 10 and will receive an honorary doctorate of humanities. He will address undergraduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters, Eli Broad Business, Education, Music and Social Science, as well as James Madison College and the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities.
And Emilio Moran, an anthropology professor from Indiana University, was slated to speak at the advanced- degree ceremony 7 p.m. Dec. 9. He was to earn an honorary doctorate of science.
Also at the advanced-degree ceremony, David Arnold, president of The Asia Foundation, was to receive an honorary doctorate of humanities, and Margaret Ann Riecker, president of The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, was to receive an honorary doctorate of humanities.
“These individuals have made a difference in their fields, in our state and around the world,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “Making a difference for good is the Spartan way, so I’m proud to welcome our speakers and honorary degree recipients to campus as our graduates prepare for the next journey in their lives.”
Biographies of commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients follow.
Former General Motors Corp. executive Roy Roberts was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder in May to serve as Detroit Public Schools emergency manager.
Roberts climbed his way to the top at GM, having worked in several plant positions. Most recently, Roberts was managing director of Reliant Equity Investors.
Roberts is active in the Detroit community, holding leading roles in several social and civic groups. He has headed organizations affiliated with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and is a trustee emeritus at Western Michigan University, from which he is an alumnus. Roberts also sits on the boards of the Boy Scouts of America and the United Negro College Fund.
Named Executive of the Year by Black Enterprise and African Americans on Wheels magazines, Roberts received the American Success Award by former president George Bush.
Mitch Albom is an internationally renowned best-selling author, journalist, screenwriter, playwright, radio and television broadcaster and philanthropist.
His books have sold more than 28 million copies worldwide, have been published in 41 countries and in 42 languages and have been made into Emmy Award-winning television movies.
Albom has founded multiple charities in and around Detroit, and he also has operated an orphanage in Haiti. He is the recipient of dozens of national and international awards, including the Associated Press Sports Editors’ Red Smith Award for lifetime achievement.
One of Detroit’s best-known media figures, Albom established his roots in the Motor City in 1985, when he started a career as a sports columnist at the Detroit Free Press.
Emilio Moran is Distinguished Professor and the James H. Rudy Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University. He’s also director of the university’s Anthropological Center for Training and Research on Global Environmental Change.
The author of 10 books and more than 150 journal articles, Moran has been engaged in land use and land cover change research for years. His work is supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration, and NASA.
Moran has been elected a fellow of several scholarly societies, among them the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Linnean Society of London. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2010.
MSU alumnus David Arnold became the sixth president of The Asia Foundation on Jan. 1. Established in 1954, The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization committed to the development of a peaceful, prosperous, just and open Asia-Pacific region.
An international development veteran, Arnold served seven years as president of the American University in Cairo, where he oversaw the construction of a new $400 million campus and the launch of the university’s first doctoral program.
Previously, Arnold served for six years as executive vice president of the Institute of International Education, the world’s largest educational exchange organization. Between 1984 and 1997, he worked for the Ford Foundation, serving as its first program officer in the field of governance and then for six years as the organization’s representative in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Arnold began his public service career in 1975 as program budget analyst with the Michigan Department of Labor. And from there, he moved to Washington, D.C., to join the National Governors Association.
Margaret Ann Riecker
Widely recognized for her philanthropic and civic engagement efforts, Margaret Ann Riecker heads one of Michigan’s largest foundations, The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. It was established in 1936 in memory of her grandfather, who started The Dow Chemical Co. in Midland.
Since its inception, the foundation has granted nearly $500 million to Michigan programs and projects.
Riecker also serves as chair of The Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation, named for her parents. Both foundations have committed $1 million each to MSU’s Secchia Center.
A strong supporter of higher education, Riecker is a trustee emeritus of Central Michigan University and Carleton College and sits on president advisory councils for Alma College and the University of Michigan. She also serves as a board member for U of M’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the Center for the Education of Women.
An advocate for philanthropy, Riecker is a founding member of Council of Michigan Foundations.
Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.