Alan D. Solomont, ambassador of the United States to Spain and Andorra, told Suffolk University graduates that “the world – now more than ever – is a small place with big problems,” but that global issues offer them “a fantastic opportunity.”
Paraphrasing a famous message from President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech, he said: “When you ask what you can do for your country, you discover what you can do for the world.”
Solomont spoke at the undergraduate commencement of Suffolk University’s College of Arts and Sciences and Sawyer Business School during afternoon ceremonies on Sunday, May 20, at the Bank of America Pavilion on Boston’s waterfront.
Linking his roots in America with his service in Spain -- where Suffolk University has a campus in Madrid -- Solomont told graduates to tackle their dreams with the same passion that led Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon to push farther than expected. As a result, he planted the Spanish flag on the North America mainland long before other Europeans staked claims there. “That was passion,” said Solomont.
Suffolk University awarded Solomont an honorary Doctor of Public Administration degree.
Solomont has been an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political activist. He spent his professional career in the health- and elder-care arenas. He was chair of Solomont Bailis Ventures, investing in early stage health care companies; co-founder of HouseWorks, a home care company for seniors; and founder and managing director of Angel Healthcare Investors.
He served as chair of the bipartisan Board of Directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that oversees all domestic service programs, including AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America, VISTA and Senior Corps.
Solomont has been a longtime leader in the Democratic Party, serving as national finance chair in 1997-1998. He drew on his personal involvement in American politics in teaching a course on the American Presidency as a Senior Fellow at Tufts University.
He holds a B.A. in Political Science and Urban Studies from Tufts University and a B.S. in Nursing from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
Raymond Babu Kaniu delivered the undergraduate student speech.
Additional Speakers and Honorary Degrees
Entrepreneur Jeffery Taylor, founder of Monster.com, delivered the address at the Sawyer Business School graduate student commencement on Saturday morning at the Westin Copley Place Hotel. He received an honorary Doctor of Commerce degree.
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Newton, delivered the address at the College of Arts and Sciences graduate student commencement on Saturday afternoon, also at the Westin Copley Place Hotel. He received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.
The Sawyer Business School and College of Arts and Sciences also awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree on Sunday to Dr. Augustus A. White III, orthopedic surgeon, professor of orthopedic surgery and the Ellen and Melvin Gordon Professor of Medical Education, at Harvard Medical School.
The Hon. Fernande R.V. Duffly, who serves on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, spoke to Law School graduates on Sunday morning at the Bank of America Pavilion on Boston’s waterfront.
The Law School also awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree to Sarah M. Buel, clinical professor and director of the Diane Halle Center for Family Justice at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.
•College of Arts and Sciences bachelor’s degree candidates: 789
•College master’s degree and doctoral candidates: 280
•Sawyer Business School bachelor’s degree candidates: 546
•Business School master’s degree candidates: 399
•Law School juris doctor candidates: 475
•Law School master of laws candidates: 35