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Inaugural Poet to Deliver 2010 Simmons College Commencement Address, May 14 In Boston

BOSTON (March 19, 2010) — One of the nation's leading voices in modern poetry and the inaugural poet for President Barack Obama, Elizabeth Alexander, Ph.D., will deliver the 105th Simmons College undergraduate commencement address Friday, May 14, at the Bank of America Pavilion.

Dr. Alexander, a highly acclaimed poet, essayist, playwright, and academic, will speak at the 10 a.m. undergraduate ceremony. A separate afternoon program, which begins at 2 p.m., for Simmons College students receiving doctoral and master's degrees will feature international health care expert Beverly Malone, R.N., Ph.D., as the commencement speaker.

(Note: Simmons will be streaming live video of the commencement ceremony on its website. The college also will be tweeting from the commencement ceremony on its twitter account.)

Dr. Alexander, who chairs the African American Studies Department at Yale University, was chosen by President Obama to compose and recite her poem "Praise Song for the Day" for the January 2009 inauguration; she is the fourth poet in history to do so. Dr. Alexander has authored five books of poetry, including American Sublime, which was a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and selected as one of the American Library Association's 25 Notable Books of the Year. She is a founding member of Cave Canem, North America's premier organization for black poetry, and is considered a pivotal figure in African American poetry. Dr. Alexander will receive the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Simmons.

The Simmons College afternoon commencement speaker is Dr. Beverly Malone, the chief executive officer of the National League for Nursing, one of the top organizations for nursing faculty and leaders with 20,000 individual and 1,100 institutional members. Dr. Malone's career has mixed policy, education, administration, and clinical practice. She has served as deputy assistant secretary for health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and was appointed by President Clinton to the World Health Commission, and to the President's Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry. Dr. Malone will receive the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Nursing from Simmons.

During Simmons's commencement ceremony, Simmons College Board of Trustees Chair Lauren Brisky and President Helen Drinan will award honorary doctoral degrees to Dr. Alexander, Dr. Malone, and to the following individuals:

  • Roslyn Jaffe, a Simmons College graduate, and a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur who co-founded Dress Barn, a women's clothing retailer.
  • Brewster Kahle, a highly successful computer scientist and advocate for public Internet access.
  • Frances Moore Lappé, a social activist who focuses on food and development policy. Lappé is considered by the Washington Post to be one "of the 20th century's most vibrant activist thinkers."
  • Dr. Marion Walter, a widely published academic author and former mathematics professor at Simmons. Walter was instrumental in creating Simmons's mathematics department and the mathematics major at Simmons in 1957.

Simmons College is a nationally recognized private university located in the heart of Boston. It offers an undergraduate education for women, and renowned coeducational graduate programs in health sciences, education, liberal arts, social work, library and information science, and communications management, as well as the nation's first MBA program designed specifically for women.