The global leader on climate action will speak at the May 21 ceremony, and is among seven individuals to receive honorary degrees
Amina J. Mohammed, deputy secretary-general of the United Nations and chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group, will deliver the commencement address to the Class of 2023 on Sunday, May 21.
Mohammed will speak at the Class of 2023 all-university ceremony, which will also be broadcast online.
Prior to her current appointment, Mohammed served as minister of environment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, where she steered the country’s efforts on climate action and protection of the natural environment.
Mohammed first joined the United Nations in 2012 as special adviser to former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with the responsibility for post-2015 development planning.
She led the process that resulted in global agreement around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
She began her career working on the design of schools and clinics in Nigeria. Mohammed served as an advocate focused on increasing access to education and other social services before moving into the public sector, where she rose to the position of adviser to four successive presidents on poverty, public sector reform, and sustainable development.
Mohammed has been conferred several honorary doctorates and has served as an adjunct professor, lecturing on international development. The recipient of various global awards, she has served on numerous international advisory boards and panels.
“Mohammed’s career has been dedicated to making the world a brighter and safer place,” said Anthony P. Monaco, Tufts University president. “Her work on sustainability gives our planet a chance at achieving climate goals and protecting our environment for generations to come. We look forward to welcoming her to the Tufts campus for this year’s commencement celebrations.”
At commencement, which begins at 9 a.m. on the academic quad of Tufts’ Medford/Somerville campus, Mohammed will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Six other distinguished individuals will receive honorary degrees as part of the Class of 2023:
Mary Chin, community leader in Boston’s Chinatown. The daughter of a hardworking Chinese immigrant family, Chin earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts and completed her graduate school in social work at Simmons College. She became a licensed clinical social worker and ultimately headed social service departments and psychiatric programs at four Massachusetts hospitals. As executive director of the Asian American Civic Association (AACA), a community center focused on workplace training and student services, Chin has been long committed to both the AACA’s mission of “educate, empower, employ” and to the service of the ever-expanding groups of struggling immigrants and others needing a second chance. Chin will receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.
Louis A. Fiore, D62, dentist and philanthropist. With the help of his Sicilian immigrant mother, Rachel Valvo Fiore, Fiore attended Tufts University School of Dental Medicine to achieve his childhood dream of becoming a dentist. Fiore went on to a successful 20-year dental career. Throughout his life, Fiore has been active in public service, creating a community of care through his involvement in many organizations. An accomplished humanitarian and philanthropist, Fiore has consistently championed the School of Dental Medicine and its students through his generous support, including funding for Rachel’s Amphitheater on the Boston Health Sciences campus, named for his mother. Fiore’s contributions to Tufts have also included his being an active member of the Dental Board of Advisors, from which he holds emeritus status. Fiore received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree at a private ceremony on March 3.
Carla Hayden, 14th Librarian of Congress. Nominated to the position by President Barack Obama in 2016, Hayden is the first woman and the first African American to lead the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the world’s largest library. Prior to leading the Library of Congress, Hayden was CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland, where she was named the 1995 Librarian of the Year by the Library Journal in recognition of her youth outreach work. Before joining the Pratt Library, Hayden was deputy commissioner and chief librarian of the Chicago Public Library, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, and library services coordinator for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. She began her career with the Chicago Public Library as a library associate and children’s librarian, and, later, as young adult services coordinator. She has also served as president of the American Library Association. Hayden will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree.
James McGovern, U.S. Representative for the 2nd Congressional district of Massachusetts. McGovern’s involvement in politics began in seventh grade, when he volunteered on the 1972 presidential campaign of Senator George McGovern (no relation). He worked his way through American University while being employed as a congressional aide. Since his election to Congress in 1996, McGovern has been a champion for food equity in America. In 2022, he fought for and secured the first-ever White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. He successfully fought for military families to be screened for hunger for the first time, families with children to receive enhanced food benefits, and the development of a plan to end hunger in the U.S. within a decade. McGovern’s congressional achievements also include successfully increasing Pell Grant funding for low-income students struggling to afford college, advocating for libraries and literacy programs, and helping wounded veterans live with independence and dignity. McGovern will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
Alan D. Solomont, A70, A08P, former U.S. ambassador to Spain and Andorra and former dean of Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. After graduating from Tufts with a B.A. in political science and urban studies, Solomont went on to earn a nursing degree from what is now the Alan and Susan Solomont School of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He spent much of his professional career as an advocate in the health and elder-care arenas. A longtime leader in the Democratic Party, Solomont got his first exposure to national politics as a page at the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention. Later, he served as the party’s national finance chair. After serving as U.S ambassador to Spain and Andorra from 2010 to 2013, Solomont returned to Tufts as Pierre and Pamela Omidyar Dean of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. A trustee emeritus of the university, he was also the founder of a Tisch College speaker series that now bears his name. Solomont will receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.
Kehinde Wiley, world-renowned visual artist. Wiley is best known for his vibrant portrayals of contemporary Black and African diasporic individuals that subvert the hierarchies and conventions of European and American portraiture. Wiley’s portraits challenge and reorient art-historical narratives, awakening complex sociopolitical issues that many would prefer remain muted. In 2018 President Barack Obama selected Wiley to be the first African-American artist to paint an official presidential portrait for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. He has held solo exhibitions globally and his works are included in the collections of more than 60 public institutions around the world. He is also the founder and president of the Black Rock Global Arts Foundation, which develops opportunities for artists to collaborate, create, and live in locations of cultural significance on the African continent and across the African diaspora. Wiley will receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree. [Editor’s Note: Kehinde Wiley is unable to attend Commencement due to a family emergency. Tufts plans to welcome him to campus at an appropriate time and event and bestow the degree formally to him then.]
In addition, Pekka Haavisto, the minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Finland, will speak at The Fletcher School’s commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 21.
As part of the School of Engineering’s commencement program, Francesco Svelto, rector of the University of Pavia in Italy, will address bachelor’s degree graduates on Sunday, May 21. Deborah Meshulam, E79, EG81, senior vice president at Scholar Rock, will address graduates of the School of Engineering’s graduate programs on Saturday, May 20.
Sheldon Lloyd, CEO and co-owner of City Fresh Foods, will address graduates of the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy as part of the commencement festivities on Sunday, May 21.
Michael Curry, president and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, will speak at the commencement celebration for Tufts University School of Medicine on Sunday, May 21.