The state received an economic stimulus package of sorts on Sunday, May 22, in the form of nearly 1,200 newly-minted Framingham State University graduates.
"When Massachusetts competes with other states and other nations for business, the highest card in the hand we have to play is a skilled workforce," said Dr. Charles F. Desmond, chairman of the state’s Board of Higher Education, during the undergraduate ceremony. "That’s you."
Thousands of students, faculty, alumni, family and friends packed into a tent on the Framingham town green to witness 735 graduates receive their bachelor’s degree on May 22. Earlier in the day another 449 graduate students received master’s degrees during a ceremony in the Dwight Performing Arts Center on campus.
The events marked the first spring commencement ceremonies since Framingham State received official status as a university late last year.
"Our new name properly reflects the comprehensive public university we have become over the past 172 years," President Timothy Flanagan said. "You’re joining a strong network of alumni from Framingham State who play a crucial part in many of the Commonwealth’s leading businesses, industries, and public sector organizations."
Undergraduate commencement speaker Henri A. Termeer, the outgoing president, chairman and CEO of Genzyme Corp., said he could tell that Framingham State is a university on the move.
"The sense of momentum, the sense of energy and the sense of community in this institution is incredible," Termeer said. "You are one impressive group."
Termeer encouraged the graduates to take risks, be true to their values and unafraid to fail. He said when he first came to Genzyme in 1983 it was struggling to find a treatment for a rare childhood disease. He took a great personal risk by refusing to give up for many years and eventually a successful treatment was discovered.
"It’s never easy. It’s never obvious," Termeer said. "Things that are obvious are done. Be prepared to fail and don’t be surprised when it happens."
The University conferred an honorary Doctor of Science degree upon Termeer and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree upon David Perini, the former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Capital Asset Management.
During the graduate ceremony, commencement speaker Dr. Abdul Momen, who is ambassador to the United Nations for his native Bangladesh, talked about his work with the peace-keeping organization and challenged the students to go out and change the world for the better.
"The sky is the limit," said Momen, who was a professor of economics and business administration at FSU prior to taking his current post at the UN. "You are ready to embark on a new course of action and, of course, new challenges."
The Citizen Laureate Award, presented to an individual who has consistently supported the University, was given to Framingham Town Manager Julian Suso.