MSUToday
Published: Nov. 25, 2019

Susan Packard, Doug Meijer to speak at MSU commencement

By: Madeline Kelly University Communications kellym35@msu.eduContact(s): Kristen Parker University Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709 klparker@msu.edu

The co-founder of HGTV and a board member of Meijer Inc. will speak at Michigan State University’s fall commencement ceremonies, which will take place Dec. 13-14 at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center.

The undergraduate ceremonies will be at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Dec. 14 at the Breslin Center.

Doug Meijer, who sits on the board of directors for Meijer Inc., will speak at the morning ceremony and will receive an honorary doctorate of humanities. He will address graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters, Broad Business, Education, James Madison, Music, Social Science and the Residential College in Arts and Humanities.

Susan Packard, an MSU alumna and co-founder of HGTV and Scripps Networks Interactive, will speak at the afternoon ceremony and will receive an honorary doctorate of humanities. She was also the 2019 MSU homecoming grand marshal. Packard will address graduates from the colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Communication Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Lyman Briggs, Natural Science and Nursing.

The advanced degree ceremony will take place at 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 13. Vice-Chancellor Tawana Kupe from the University of Pretoria, one of South Africa’s top research universities, will speak and accept an honorary doctorate of humanities.

Harold Mooney, ecologist and professor in the Department of Biology at Stanford University, will also receive an honorary doctorate of science at the advanced degree ceremony.

World-renowned expert on inland fisheries Robin Welcomme will also receive an honorary doctorate of science but won’t be in attendance at the ceremony.

“This is my first graduation with the MSU community, and we have an outstanding group of inspirational speakers to share their global vision with our graduates,” said President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.  “I’m honored to be a part of the celebration and recognition of the hard work so many Spartans have put into their education.”

Commencement ceremonies will be live-streamed and can be watched via MSU’s commencement website

Twitter users are invited to use #MSUGrad19 to follow along.

For the safety of attendees, no bags or purses will be permitted in the 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. The 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.

All attendees will be searched with a metal detector, so please plan accordingly for processing.

Biographies of the speakers and honorary degree recipients follow.

Tawana Kupe

Kupe is a scholar of media studies and journalism, having notable records in publication and activism. He has worked on several books outlining recommendations for public access to media across Africa. In addition, he is a chairperson of the board of Media Monitoring Africa, an entity dedicated to media accountability and promoting the role of the media as an institution integral to sustaining democracy.

He is a leader in providing quality education to more than 53,000 students at the University of Pretoria. Kupe previously served at the University of Witwatersrand as the executive dean of the Wits Faculty of Humanities. While there, he led several new initiatives, including the creation of the Media Studies Department and development of the Wits Arts and Literature Experience.

Doug Meijer

Meijer is a highly accomplished philanthropist, community leader and business executive who serves on the board of Meijer, which now has more than 245 locations in six states and employs nearly 80,000 employees.

He is a mental health advocate who actively serves on the board of “i understand,” an organization that works to raise awareness around the topic of mental illness and supports those who have lost loved ones to suicide. Meijer is also passionate about research and new treatments for cancer and has invested significant resources in MSU and other cancer research entities.

Susan Packard

Packard earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in advertising from MSU, where she was also a member of the Honors College, in 1977 and 1979. Packard served as co-founder of Scripps Networks Interactive and assisted in the creation of television networks that have become household names across the country, including CNBC, HGTV, Food Network and DIY Network. As COO of HGTV, Packard helped the network rise to a market value of more than $15 billion, making it one of the fastest-growing television brands in history.

She has authored books covering topics from strategies for women leading in the workplace, “New Rules of the Game,” to growing one’s emotional intelligence for personal fulfillment and success, “Fully Human.”

Packard remains active in national and local businesses and community affairs and conducts significant outreach and mentorship work.

Robin Welcomme

Welcomme is a world-renowned expert on inland fisheries and his research has raised the profile of their contributions to food security, human health and prosperity. After graduating from the University of London, he moved to Africa and took up a civil servant post as scientific officer at the East African Freshwater Fisheries Research Organization.

His expertise has been recognized through doctoral dissertation committee services in Australia, Belgium, France, Norway, South Africa and the United Kingdom. He has worked in more than 70 countries advising governments and local institutions on management and conservation practices.

Welcomme is a dedicated teacher and communicator and has trained many students throughout his career. He forged strong links with MSU’s program on inland fisheries. The Robin L. Welcomme Scholar program at MSU recognizes and continues his real impact on our campus.

Harold Mooney

Mooney is a world-renowned ecologist and environmental scientist whose work has generated profound impacts on science and policies worldwide. He is a Paul S. and Billie Achilles professor of environmental biology at Stanford University. His research ranges from advances in physiological ecology of plants to global environmental stability.

Mooney has been recognized by election to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and many other scholarly societies. In 2010, his citation for the Volvo Environmental Prize called him “a leading voice in the biology of global change.”