Mount St. Mary’s University is graduating a record number of students at its 207th Commencement Exercises on May 10.
459 undergraduates will receive degrees — eclipsing the previous record of 413 held by the Class of 2013. More than 120 graduate degrees in business, education, philosophy and health administration will also be conferred.
During the ceremony, recently retired President Thomas H. Powell will offer his final valediction after serving as Mount president for 12 years. This will be the first Mount commencement ceremony for newly appointed President, Simon P. Newman.
Former U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Ambassador, lawyer and businessman R. James Nicholson will serve as commencement speaker.
Nicholson, senior counsel for the law firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, was U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs from 2005-07. As Secretary, Mr. Nicholson advocated for veterans in the U.S. government, ensuring they received the care, support, recognition and dignity they deserve for their service to our country. The VA is the federal government’s second largest cabinet department, responsible for a nationwide system of hospitals, health care clinics, benefits programs, and national cemeteries for America’s 25 million veterans.
Prior to serving in the Cabinet, Mr. Nicholson served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See from 2001-05. In that position he became a well-known advocate in Rome for the elevation of human dignity, giving special emphasis to human trafficking, religious freedom, starvation and bio-tech food, HIV-AIDS, and international terrorism. In 2003, he was knighted by Pope John Paul II for his work representing the U.S. to the Vatican.
He is a 1961 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He served eight years on active duty as a paratrooper and Ranger, then 22 years in the Army Reserve, retiring with the rank of colonel.
He founded Nicholson Enterprises, Inc., a developer of master planned residential communities, in 1981, and in 1987, he bought Renaissance Homes, which became an award-winning builder of quality custom homes.
Commencement exercises begin at 11 a.m. in the Mount’s PNC Sports Complex – Academic Recreation Convocation Center (ARCC).