UNH Announces 2020 and 2021 Granite State Award and Honorary Degree Recipients

Friday, May 7, 2021

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DURHAM, N.H.—In recognition of their achievements, the University of New Hampshire will award honorary degrees to its commencement speakers as well as several business leaders and entrepreneurs at commencement ceremonies across its three campuses May 16-23, 2021. Granite State Awards for outstanding contributions to the state will also be presented.

The following honorary degree and Granite State Award recipients will be honored at the Durham ceremonies May 16-23, 2021, in addition to commencement speaker Wolf Blitzer, anchor of CNN’s The Situation Room, who will be recognized at both the 2020 and the 2021 ceremonies.

At the Durham ceremonies celebrating 2020 graduates Sunday, May 16 and Sunday, May 23, David Brownell, retired senior vice president for corporate marketing and community affairs at Tyco International, will receive an honorary degree in recognition of his volunteer work for and generosity to the university. In addition to UNH he volunteers for various nonprofits in New Hampshire and both of his daughters graduated from UNH. At the same ceremony, a Granite State Award will be presented to Jane Difley, the first female president of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. During her 22-year tenure she established the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (L-CHIP) and played a key role in the protection of the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters, the Balsams and Mount Major.

At the Durham ceremonies celebrating 2021 graduates Sunday, May 16-Saturday, May 22, Martin “Marty” Klein, considered the father of side scan sonar, will receive an honorary degree. His expertise and side scan sonar technology has been used in scientific exploration of Loch Ness, pinpointing the RMS Titanic shipwreck, the survey of the English Channel for the Chunnel project, and locating the wreckage of the space shuttle Challenger. In addition, Granite State Awards will be presented to Yvonne Goldsberry, president of the Endowment for Health, a statewide nonprofit foundation dedicated to improving the health of New Hampshire residents, and posthumously to civil rights leader Rogers Johnson ‘99G. Goldberry is known as the architect of the nationally recognized Healthy Monadnock where she worked with more than 2,000 community leaders and residents to improve community health in the region. Johnson served as a N.H. state representative and became the state’s first African American House Majority Whip. He worked tirelessly on efforts including passing key legislation for vulnerable populations and working with law enforcement authorities to address systemic injustices towards minority-based populations. In 2014 he was awarded the Seacoast NAACP’s Freedom Fighter Award. Johnson died last November.

At the Manchester ceremony celebrating 2020 graduates Sunday, May 23, at 2 p.m., commencement speaker Randy Pierce, a motivational speaker and author, will receive an honorary degree and Bill Rider, president of The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester (MHCGM), will be presented with a Granite State Award in recognition of his initiatives that have strengthened the center’s programs and workforce, increased its prominence as a research facility and expanded relationships with the business community. MHCGM is the largest provider of outpatient behavioral health services in the state, serving more than 11,000 individuals a year.

At the Manchester ceremony celebrating 2021 graduates Sunday, May 23, at 5 p.m., commencement speaker Howard Brodsky, co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer of CCA Global Partners, one of the largest privately held companies in New Hampshire, will receive an honorary degree and a Granite State Award will be presented to Claire Bloom founder and volunteer executive director of End 68 Hours of Hunger, a public not-for-profit effort to confront the approximately 68 hours of hunger some school children experience over weekends. She founded the organization after retiring from the U.S. Navy, where she was the first woman to be the second in command of USS CONSTITUTION, the Navy’s three mast square rigged sailing ship.

At the Law School ceremony celebrating 2020 graduates Saturday, May 22, at 10 a.m., honorary degrees will be awarded to commencement speaker Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate writing the “Supreme Court Dispatches” and “Jurisprudence” columns, and John Garvey, professor emeritus at the Law School and founding director of its nationally acclaimed Daniel Webster Scholar Honors Program. Garvey started his legal career as a Navy JAG and spent 24 years in private practice.

At the Law School ceremony celebrating 2021 graduates Saturday, May 22, at 1 p.m., honorary degrees will be awarded to commencement speaker and alumnus Richard Wilder, general counsel of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, a global partnership between public, private, philanthropic and civil society organizations; Philip Johnson, founder and principal of Johnson-IP Strategy & Consulting; and Barry Currier, retired managing director of accreditation and legal education at the American Bar Association (ABA). Johnson previously served as a senior vice president and chief intellectual property counsel of Johnson & Johnson after 27 years in private practice. He managed 110 patent and trademark attorneys worldwide. Currier was also a long-time legal educator at the University of Florida College of Law and deputy consultant on legal education for the ABA.

For detailed information on the 2020 and 2021 commencement ceremonies across the three campuses visit www.unh.edu/commencement.

The University of New Hampshire inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top-ranked programs in business, engineering, law, health and human services, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. As one of the nation’s highest-performing research universities, UNH partners with NASA, NOAA, NSF and NIH, and receives more than $110 million in competitive external funding every year to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea and space.