For a full schedule of Commencement 2014 activities, see the Academic Calendar.
WASHINGTON, PA (April 23, 2014)—Carlos Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of Automatic Data Processing Inc. (ADP), one of the largest providers of business process and cloud-based solutions to employers and automotive dealerships around the world, will deliver the keynote address at Washington & Jefferson College’s (W&J) 215th Commencement.
The Commencement Ceremony is May 17 at 10 a.m. on the lawn in front of Olin Fine Arts Center on Wheeling Street. More than 315 students are expected to participate.
Rodriguez will receive an honorary degree, as will Rita Colwell, Ph.D., distinguished university professor at the University of Maryland at College Park and Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health; Kyle Abraham, choreographer and dancer who began his dance training at the Civic Light Opera Academy and the Creative and Performing Arts High School in Pittsburgh; Her Excellency Dr. Rawya Saud Al Busaidi, Oman’s minister of higher education and the first woman in the Sultanate of Oman to be appointed to full ministerial rank; and Rabbi Sarah Schechter, the first female rabbi to serve as a chaplain in the active-duty U.S. Air Force. A captain in the Air Force, Schechter is currently the chaplain at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Schecther will be the keynote speaker at the Baccalaureate service May 17 at 6 p.m. in Church of the Covenant on East Beau Street in Washington, Pa.
A part of ADP since 1999, Rodriguez joined the company through its acquisition of Vincam Group Inc., where he served as chief financial officer before becoming president of ADP TotalSource, a human resources outsourcing service. Under Rodriquez’s leadership, TotalSource became the fastest growing and largest Professional Employer Organization in the industry.
In addition to his work at ADP, Rodriguez serves on the boards of ADP, Hubble Inc. and A-T Children’s Project, an organization that raises awareness and funds for a rare genetic disease. He also is a member of the Business Roundtable and the Economic Club of New York.
In 2012, Rodriguez was named a top 10 CEO who kept his workers happy by Business Daily News. Also that year, ADP was named, for the third year in a row, to the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity. During Rodriguez’s tenure as CEO, ADP has been recognized for Learning and Development Excellence by Chief Learning Officer magazine and has topped the financial data services category on Fortune’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies, among many other honors.
Rodriguez holds a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University.
Colwell is a senior adviser and chairman emeritus at Canon US Life Sciences, Inc., a company with the mission to identify and then develop life science solutions with application in diagnostics and medical instrumentation, and president and chief executive officer of CosomosID, Inc., which provides data mining solutions that address issues in health and wellness.
A passionate scientist, Colwell’s interests are focused on global infectious diseases, water and health. Colwell is currently developing an international network to address emerging infectious diseases and water issues, including providing safe drinking water for both the developed and developing world.
She served as the 11th director of the National Science Foundation from 1998 to 2004, and previously, Colwell was president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and professor of microbiology and biotechnology at the university. She was also a member of the National Science Board from 1984 to 1990.
A recipient of the 2006 National Medal of Science, which was given by President George W. Bush, Colwell was recognized for her important contributions to the advancement of scientific knowledge. Her numerous awards and recognitions include the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize awarded by the King of Sweden and the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star awarded by the Emperor of Japan, among many others.
Colwell holds a Bachelor of Science in bacteriology and a Master of Science in genetics from Purdue University. She earned her doctorate in oceanography from the University of Washington.
With a mission to create an evocative interdisciplinary body of work, Abraham has founded his own company, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.in.Motion.
Probing the relationship between identity and personal history, Abraham has a unique dance style that incorporates both traditional and vernacular dance. He includes the hip-hop and urban dance he encountered in his youth, along with a strong grounding in modern dance. Abraham’s most recent work, “Pavement,” set in Pittsburgh’s historically black neighborhoods of Homewood and the Hill District, aims to create “a strong emotional chronology” of a culture that is conflicted with a history of discrimination, genocide and a constant quest for freedom.
Abraham’s choreography has been presented throughout the United States and abroad, most recently at On The Boards, South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, REDCAT, Philly Live Arts, Portland’s Time Based Arts Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Dublin’s Project Arts Center, The Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum located in Okinawa Japan and The Andy Warhol Museum, among others.
Abraham was honored by the MacArthur Foundation in 2013 with the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, which recognizes “exceptionally creative individuals with a track record of achievement and the potential for even more significant contributions in the future.” His numerous other recognitions include a BUILD grant and an individual artist fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a USA Fellowship from the United States Artists and being named the 2012-2014 New York Live Arts Resident Commissioned Artists.
For his dance and choreography, Abraham has received many awards including a 2010 Bessie Award for Outstanding Performance in Dance for his work “The Radio Show,” a 2010 Princess Grace Award for Choreography, the 2012 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award and was selected as one of Dance Magazine’s “25 To Watch” in 2009.
Abraham holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the State University of New York at Purchase and a Master of Fine Arts from New York University.
Al Busaidi has held her current position since March of 2004 when she was also appointed chair of the Sultan Qaboos University Council and deputy chair of the Council of Higher Education. Previously, Al Busaidi held the position of undersecretary at the Ministry of Higher Education.
With more than 30 years of experience in education, Al Busaidi started out as an assistant teacher and was later appointed as director general of several universities, private colleges and other institutions affiliated with the Ministry of Higher Education. Dedicated to education, Al Busaidi has initiated projects for the reform and quality improvement of education in Oman. This includes a strategic plan for all of education in the Sultanate for the period of 2006 to 2020, as well as a project to convert five of Oman’s government colleges of education to institutions specializing in a range of programs selected to reflect the growing diversification of Oman’s economy.
She has played a significant role in Oman's higher education; currently 69,000 students are enrolled in higher education, nearly double than that in 2005. There are currently nine private universities. Al Busaidi is instrumental in a new effort, which is the establishment of a new university for science and technology called Oman University that is set to open its doors in 2016.
Al Busaidi holds a doctorate from Oxford University.
Previously, Schechter served as the chaplain of the 11th Wing at Joint Base Andrews, Md., at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas and at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif.
Schechter’s service in the Air Force began in 2002 as a chaplain candidate, second lieutenant. She was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the Reserves in 2003 and entered active duty service in 2004.
With a primary focus of providing first class care to airmen and their families, Schechter served her first foreign deployment in Iraq in 2007 and this past year, she embarked on her sixth overseas deployment to serve soldiers for the Passover holiday. Although she is a Jewish chaplain, the majority of people Schechter cares for are non-Jews. She provides counseling and advising to people of all denominations.
In her fourth year as a student at Hebrew Union College’s rabbinic school at the time of the events of September 11, 2011, Schechter felt prompted to join the military. She wanted to play a role in supporting those people who were putting their lives on the line to defend the U.S.
Choosing what branch of the military she wanted to serve was easy for Schechter, since she decided to follow in her father’s footsteps, himself being ordained by the Hebrew Union College in 1960 and serving as a chaplain in the Air Force.
Schechter holds a bachelor’s from Hunter College and a Master of Arts in Hebrew letters and a Master of Arts in Jewish education from Hebrew Union College, before being ordained as a rabbi.
Several events for current students lead up to commencement.
The Student Government Association’s Spring Concert May 3 will feature Uncle Cracker. The concert, on the lawn in front of the Howard J. Burnett Center, begins at 8 p.m. Students with a valid W&J student ID can reserve one free ticket for the show.
The community also can purchase tickets for the show. Tickets are $10 for students, faculty & staff with current W&J ID and $15 for others. Tickets can also be purchased in the Business Office and Bookstore during regular hours. To charge tickets, call 724-223-6014.
Senior Week begins May 13 with an alumni wine tasting event at 6 p.m. in the Rossin Campus Center Ballroom. Students can now purchase Senior Week tickets.