Published: Dec. 6, 2018

Four-star general, former UN executive and retired congresswoman to address graduates

Contact(s): Emily Guerrant University Spokesperson office: 517-355-6560

A trailblazing four-star general, the former head of the United Nations World Food Programme and a former nine-term congresswoman will receive honorary degrees and speak during Michigan State University’s 2018 Fall Commencement.

Commencement ceremonies will be held Dec. 14-15 at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center, 534 Birch Road, East Lansing, MI.

Former Congresswoman Jane Harman, director, president and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, will speak and accept an honorary doctorate of laws at the advanced degrees ceremony Friday, Dec. 14 at 3:30 p.m.

Ann Dunwoody, the first woman to achieve the rank of four-star general in the U.S. Army, will speak and receive an honorary doctorate of humanities during the morning undergraduate ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15. She will address graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters, Broad Business, Education, James Madison, Music, Social Science and the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities.

Speaker and recipient of an honorary doctorate of humanities during the 2 p.m. Saturday undergraduate ceremony will be Josette Sheeran, a humanitarian and former head of the UN World Food Programme. She will address graduates from the colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Communication Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Lyman Briggs, Natural Science and Nursing.

Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. William Cuzick, currently director of the U.S. Air Force’s Systems Technology Office, will receive an honorary doctorate of engineering during that ceremony.

“Our commencement speakers exemplify the commitment to public service of true Spartans,” MSU Interim President John Engler said. “We are honored to have three such distinguished, trailblazing women share their stories of accomplishment.”

The commencement ceremonies will be livestreamed via MSU’s commencement website. Twitter users are invited to follow along using #MSUGrad18.

For the safety of attendees, no bags or purses will be permitted in Breslin Center for any commencement ceremonies. Cameras and camcorders are permitted, but cases are prohibited. No food or beverages — including bottled water — will be allowed, and this applies to graduates, guests and faculty. Breslin Center will offer a limited concessions menu during the ceremonies. Additional prohibited items include noisemakers, selfie sticks, pets, signs and weapons of any form. Breslin Center is a smoke-free facility.

Metal detectors will screen all attendees, so please plan accordingly for processing.

Biographies of the speakers and honorary degree recipients follow.

William Cuzick
Cuzick served as a flight test engineer on more than 300 missions and currently oversees research and development for the U.S. Air Force, delivering new technological capabilities in the air, space and cyber domains.

Born in Germany as an Army dependent, Cuzick grew up understanding the demands and sacrifice of military service. Moving multiple times during his childhood provided an opportunity to travel the world and gain different perspectives.

Before joining the Air Force, he graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in aerospace engineering and later earned an MBA from the University of Nevada.

Ann Dunwoody
Dunwoody is retired commander of the U.S. Army Materiel Command and author of “A Higher Standard: Leadership Strategies from America's First Female Four-Star General.”

Born at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, she grew up in a family with deep roots in America’s military and joined the Army while attending the State University of New York at Cortland. After graduating in 1975, she was commissioned as a second lieutenant and entered the Quartermaster Corps, which offered the opportunity to become a parachute officer.

In addition to becoming the first American woman to achieve the rank of four-star general in 2008, she was the first to command a battalion in the 82nd Airborne Division, the first female general at Fort Bragg and the first female commander of the Army Materiel Command. She earned the Distinguished Service and Defense Superior Service medals, among many others.

Over her career she earned master’s degrees in logistics management from the Florida Institute of Technology and in national resource strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Services.

Dunwoody is president of First 2 Four, a leadership mentoring and strategic advisory services company, and serves on numerous corporate boards.

Jane Harman
Born in New York City, Harman earned a degree in government from Smith College and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. After working for a Washington, D.C., law firm and then a U.S. senator, she joined the Carter White House, serving as a special counsel to the Department of Defense and later as Cabinet deputy secretary.

She was elected in 1993 to the U.S. House of Representatives, where she served nine terms and sat on the Armed Services and Homeland Security committees. A recognized expert at the nexus of security and public policy issues, she earned a reputation for working across the aisle on key issues.

Over the course of her career, she taught law and public policy at institutions including Georgetown University and UCLA.

Josette Sheeran
The New Jersey native graduated from the University of Colorado and pursued a career in journalism, which led to a White House correspondent position for the New York News World and, later, managing editor of the Washington Times.

Sheeran’s expertise in world affairs led to government sector positions including deputy U.S. trade representative and then undersecretary of state for economic, business and agricultural affairs. In those roles, she improved trade agreements and helped foster and implement aid and development initiatives in Afghanistan, Lebanon and other struggling countries.

As the executive director of the UN World Food Programme, she later guided the agency’s work in more than 70 countries where it feeds an estimated 100 million people each year — the biggest humanitarian operation against hunger in the world.

Sheeran previously served as vice chairperson of the World Economic Forum and remains president and CEO of the Asia Society. She most recently was appointed UN special envoy to Haiti to oversee efforts to reduce and end the transmission of cholera and address long-term issues with water, sanitation and health systems.