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Journalist, College President Speakers at UNH Commencement May 18

Release Date:
5/9/2014 12:00 AM

May 9, 2014

WALLINGFORD, Conn. --- A leading journalist, a top community college president and a former CEO of a national restaurant chain are among the six outstanding individuals who will receive honorary degrees when the University of New Haven holds a pair of Commencement ceremonies at the Toyota Presents Oakdale Theatre on Sunday, May 18.

The first ceremony at 10 a.m. will feature John Carroll, chairman of the News Literacy Project and former editor of the Los Angeles Times, who will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree and deliver the keynote address. At the event, UNH officials will grant degrees to 217 undergraduates and 50 graduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences and 89 undergraduates and 109 graduate students in the College of Business at the ceremony.

The second exercise will be held at 3 p.m., where Dorsey Kendrick, president of Gateway Community College in New Haven since 1999, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree and speak to graduates. UNH will grant degrees to 293 undergrads and 53 graduate students in the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences and 57 undergrads and 65 graduate students in the Tagliatela College of Engineering at that time.

Under Carroll’s leadership, the Los Angeles Times received 13 Pulitzer Prizes. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a graduate of Haverford College, Carroll worked at the Lexington Herald-Leader the Providence Journal-Bulletin, Philadelphia Inquirer and the Baltimore Sun, where he was posted to Vietnam, the Middle East and Washington.  He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard and earned a similar fellowship at Oxford. He served on the Pulitzer Prize Board.

The News Literacy Project is a nonprofit group that gives students the critical tools needed to decide what to believe and not believe in the digital world. 

Kendrick has been president of Gateway since 1999. In her first eight years, Gateway’s enrollment grew 100 percent. Today, Gateway is the largest of Connecticut’s 12 community colleges, serving more than 12,000 undergraduates each year. The crowning achievement of Kendrick’s tenure at Gateway has been the college’s new LEED Gold-certified campus in downtown New Haven, which opened in 2012. Gateway has been listed in The New York Times as the top community college in Connecticut for incoming freshmen.

Also receiving honorary degrees at the morning ceremony are Shelly Frank ’66 B.S., former chairman and CEO, Chi-Chi’s, Inc., a Mexican restaurant chain; and Mike Gianoni ’92 EMBA, president and CEO of Blackbaud, Inc. Both will receive an honorary doctor of business administration degree. Also at the morning ceremony, Diana Atwood Johnson, chairman emerita of the Lyme Academy Board of Trustees, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters. 

 In less than 10 years, Frank led Chi-Chi’s growth from a single Minneapolis location into an industry leader with more than 225 restaurants in 40 states, Canada and Europe. In 1983, Frank was named the Wall Street Transcript’s Restaurant CEO of the Year. The same year, he won the Gold Chain Award given by Nation’s Restaurant News to recognize bold and innovative restaurant leaders.

Gianoni previously served as executive vice president and group president of Financial Institutions Group at Fiserv, Inc., a leading global provider of financial services technology solutions. He holds an associate degree in electrical engineering from Waterbury State Technical College and a bachelor's degree with a business concentration from Charter Oak State College. He is a graduate of UNH’s Executive MBA program.

Johnson was chair of the Lyme Academy College board from 1996-2003 and again from 21010 to 2013 when she stepped down. The former owner of the Old Lyme Inn she has served on the board of several banks, tourism associations and was named Old Lyme’s 2011 Citizen of the Year for her advocacy work on behalf of the arts and the environment. She is the chair of both the Old Lyme Open Space Commission and the State of Connecticut Natural Heritage, Open Space and Watershed Review Board.

Ken Biermacher ’76 B.S., an attorney, amateur race car driver and a member of the University’s Board of Governors, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at the afternoon ceremony. He is one of six founding directors of Kane Russell Coleman & Logan, a prominent Texas law firm with offices in Dallas and Houston. For 25 years, Biermacher also has been an “angel investor” and manager in many types of start-up businesses

Along with his wife, Joan, Biermacher owns and operates the Camp Creek Wildlife Ranch

north of Saint Jo, Texas, a sanctuary for White Tail Deer, Rio Grande Turkey, numerous songbird and predator bird species, and native plants, grasses and flowers.

The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 the university enrolls approximately 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates.