The University of Richmond has announced the speakers for their 2021 commencement ceremonies.
- Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Airlines, will deliver the speech during the undergraduate Commencement ceremony May 9.
- Rita Davis, chief counsel to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, will deliver the address for the Richmond School of Law ceremony.
- A variety of distinguished UR community members, including students, faculty and an alum will speak at the MBA and SPCS ceremonies.
Undergraduate, May 9, 9 a.m., Robins Stadium
As CEO of Delta Air Lines, Ed Bastian leads a team of 75,000 global professionals. Under his leadership, Delta is transforming the air travel experience with generational investments in technology, aircraft, airport facilities, and Delta’s employees worldwide. A 20-year Delta veteran, Bastian has been a critical leader in Delta’s long-term strategy and champion of putting Delta’s shared values of honesty, integrity, respect, perseverance, and servant leadership at the core of every decision.
During his tenure as CEO, Delta has become the world’s most awarded airline, having been named The Wall Street Journal’s top U.S. airline; Fortune’s most admired airline worldwide; the most on-time global airline by FlightGlobal; and a Glassdoor Employee’s Choice company.
His commitment to putting the health and safety of employees and customers first amid the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic has resulted in the airline’s industry-leading Delta CareStandard, enabling a cleaner, more reliable and safe travel experience for the long term.
Bastian joined Delta in 1998 as vice president – finance and controller and was promoted to senior vice president in 2000. He left Delta in 2005 and became senior vice president and chief financial officer of Acuity Brands. He returned to Delta six months later to become chief financial officer, and in 2007 was appointed to serve as Delta’s president.
Prior to joining Delta, Bastian held senior finance positions at Frito-Lay International and Pepsi-Cola International. He started his career with Price Waterhouse where he became an audit partner in its New York practice.
Richmond School of Law, May 8, 4 p.m., Robins Stadium
Rita Davis is chief counsel to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. Davis is also a University of Richmond Law School graduate, class of 2000. Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, she worked for nearly 15 years at Hunton & Williams, now Hunton Andrews Kurth, where she covered a broad range of commercial disputes on an international, federal, state, and local level. While in private practice, she was a bar leader and a recognized pro bono lawyer, devoting more than 1,350 hours to pro bono clients. While serving as chief counsel to the Governor, Davis has worked to facilitate the Governor’s initiatives to eliminate racial and social inequities in Virginia.
Robins School of Business MBA, May 7, 5:30 p.m., Robins Center
The MBA ceremony, which will celebrate both 2020 and 2021 graduates, will include two students as speakers this year.
Alexandra Wiles, class of 2020, earned both a Bachelor of Arts in leadership studies and an MBA from the University of Richmond. After devoting the first chapter of her career to non-profit fundraising and development with VPM and Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond, she recently joined Schnabel Engineering, a national professional consulting firm, as its human resources program manager. In this capacity, she leads and supports a variety of initiatives, including employee learning and development, diversity and inclusion, and succession planning. She also serves as the vice-chair of the board of directors of Virginia Voice, a non-profit serving Central Virginians who are blind or have vision impairments, and founded the organization’s Live Audio Description program.
Natasha Knight, class of 2020, is a program strategist and entrepreneur. She is a manager in Altria’s Corporate Citizenship department where she applies her public health and business management expertise to developing strategies for preventing underage use of tobacco and other risky behaviors and providing cessation support for adults who no longer wish to use tobacco. She is a certified career coach and recently launched Discover the Remarkable You, a coaching practice to help women create successful and fulfilling careers. She is also the co-founder of Taking It Pro, a career and professional development services firm for women of color. Knight received her undergraduate degree from Howard University. Her educational background also includes an MPH in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences from the University of Pittsburgh, a Ph.D. in Social and Behavioral Sciences from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and an MBA from the University of Richmond.
School of Professional & Continuing Studies, May 8, 8 a.m. & 11:30 a.m., Robins Center
As part of a long-standing tradition, a graduating student, faculty member, and alumnus will speak at the SPCS graduation ceremonies, which this year will celebrate both graduates of the class of 2020 and 2021.
The SPCS student commencement speaker is selected by committee from among the top graduating students.
- For 2020, the student speaker is Brian Krach. After spending eleven years as the sole proprietor of an independent insurance practice, Krach decided to return to higher education to personally challenge himself and experience “professional metamorphosis.” Brian earned his bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies in May 2020 and has since started law school at the University of Richmond.
- For 2021, the student speaker is Cooper Sved. Sved is earning his Master of Teaching degree, including endorsements in elementary education and theatre education, to prepare for a career change to teaching. Sved earned his Bachelor of Arts in theatre from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2019 and was active in Richmond’s theatre community both as an actor and an educator before returning to school to fulfill the requirements to earn his teaching license.
The alumni speaker is the recipient of the Gibb Family Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes the accomplishments of an SPCS alumni member and their support of SPCS.
- The 2020 recipient is Eric Beatty, who earned his master’s degree in Human Resource Management in 2012. Beatty served on the SPCS Alumni Association Board from 2012-19, was the Board’s president from 2017-19, and currently serves on the SPCS Dean’s Ambassador’s Circle.
- The 2021 recipient is Margaret Dalton, who earned her Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree in 2012. She’s been a member of the SPCS Alumni Association Board of Directors since 2014, having served as vice president, president, and past president. Margaret has been instrumental in the Board’s efforts to reshape its mission to focus on student and alumni engagement as well as expanded efforts to formalize project planning and communication efforts.
Distinguished Faculty Member
The faculty speaker is the recipient of the Itzkowitz Family Distinguished Adjunct Faculty Award, which is selected by the SPCS student body and recognizes the teaching achievements of an adjunct faculty member.
- The 2020 recipient is Meghan Rosatelli, an adjunct professor in English and the humanities in SPCS, where she teaches courses in American literature and culture.
- The 2021 recipient is Drew Baker, an adjunct professor of education. A graduate of the Teacher Licensure Program, Baker currently serves Henrico County Schools in the Office of Professional Development, focusing his work on teacher-leadership development, action research, and supporting continuing education for teachers.
Additional details about the University of Richmond’s Commencement plans are available in this media release.
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