WPI to Feature Millennium Pharmaceuticals CEO Deborah Dunsire as its 2007 Commencement Speaker

Honorary doctorates to be awarded to Dunsire, Analog Corp. founder, and Hayden Planetarium director; Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor to receive Presidential Medal
Media Contact
April 19, 2007

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WORCESTER, Mass. – Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) announced today that Deborah Dunsire, MD, president and CEO of Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge, Mass., will deliver the address at the university's 139th Commencement exercises on May 19.  In addition to Dunsire, WPI will confer honorary doctorates upon Analogic Corp. founder Bernard M. Gordon and Hayden Planetarium director Neil deGrasse Tyson. The WPI Presidential Medal will be presented to Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray.

WPI's 2007 Commencement will feature the debut of new regalia for candidates, trustees, and President Dennis Berkey. The degree candidate robes (black for bachelor's and master's degrees, crimson for PhD) will have embroidered WPI seals on the front. Undergraduates receiving honors will wear crimson or gray cords. The new trustee and presidential robes are also crimson.

President Berkey will wear a new Presidential Medallion, with the WPI seal cast in silver and the names and years of service of all 15 of WPI's presidents engraved on small silver plates that form links in the chain. Provost ad interim John Orr will carry a new Academic Mace, a 42-inch-tall staff made from fluted cherry wood topped with a circular silver pedestal on which sits, on edge, a large silver medal that has the WPI seal on both sides. The new Presidential Medallion and the Academic Mace were gifts to the university from President Berkey and his wife, Catherine.

The featured speaker, Deborah Dunsire, was named president and CEO of Millennium Pharmaceuticals in July 2005 after nearly 20 years of increasingly responsible management positions in the pharmaceutical industry. Founded in 1994, Millennium is one of the world's leading biopharmaceutical companies in the development of drugs for cancer and inflammation.

She previously led the U.S. oncology business at Novartis, playing a critical role in the development and launch of medications used to treat several types of cancer. She was also responsible for managing the merger and significant growth of the combined Sandoz Pharmaceuticals and Ciba-Geigy oncology businesses. A graduate of the medical school of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, Dunsire was a practicing physician and worked as a clinical researcher earlier in her career.

“Dr. Dunsire is a distinguished physician, scientist, and corporate leader, as well as a highly sought-after public speaker,” says WPI president and CEO Dennis D. Berkey. “We are honored that she will be joining us for WPI¹s 139th Commencement exercises, and we look forward to hearing the advice and wisdom she has to impart on our graduates as they move into the next stage of their lives.”

Also receiving honorary degrees from WPI:

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Bernard M. Gordon, founder and chairman emeritus of Analogic Corp., is known as “the father of analog to digital conversion” for his contributions to signal translation, medical tomography, and other high-precision instruments. Gordon holds more than 200 patents worldwide and has received the National Medal of Technology. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, which established the Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education in his honor.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson, Frederick P. Rose director of the Hayden Planetarium of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and host of the PBS television series NOVA scienceNOW, is a noted astrophysicist. Tyson is the author of numerous books on the universe, writes a monthly column for Natural History magazine, and has served on presidential commissions on the future of the U.S. aerospace industry and the implementation of the U.S. space exploration policy. He was recently named one of the 100 most influential people of the year by Time magazine.

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As part of the Commencement ceremony, President Berkey will present the WPI Presidential Medal, the university's highest honor, to Lt. Gov. Tim Murray. Murray is a former three-term mayor of Worcester who worked to promote the city’s economic development and the advancement of new research technologies and facilities, in particular Gateway Park, home of the soon-to-open WPI Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center. The Presidential Medal has been presented to 16 individuals since its creation in 2001, including U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and nationally recognized inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen ’73.