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Salem State Announces 2020 Commencement Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients

Salem State University has announced the speakers who will address graduates at its three annual commencement ceremonies. These speakers will also receive honorary doctorates from the university for their work to advance social justice causes.

Award-winning author and social justice scholar Monique Morris, Ed.D., will address the School of Graduate Studies Commencement at 4 pm on Thursday, May 14; Eastern Bank Chair and Chief Executive Officer Bob Rivers, who is also a social justice and sustainability advocate, will address the Maguire Meservey College of Health and Human Services and Bertolon School of Business Commencement at 10 am on Saturday, May 16; and rapper, cartoonist, social activist and Salem State alumnus Keith Knight ‘90 will address the College of Arts and Sciences and School of Education Ceremony at 3 pm on  Saturday, May 16. 

“Salem State students engage in dialogue around social justice issues as soon as they arrive on campus and throughout their careers here, so it’s fitting that our commencement speakers are social justice advocates who can emphasize the importance of making a difference and being heard,” said Salem State University President John Keenan.

“At Salem State, we not only prepare students to lead in their careers but to be active and engaged community members. These speakers will be exceptional in bringing that message about affecting change to our newest alumni.”

The commencement season’s focus on social justice and activism is in line with Salem State’s significant and successful efforts to engage students in the world around them. In February 2020, Salem State announced that it joined only 26 other institutions in Massachusetts with the national Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, a designation held by 359 colleges and universities nationally.

Salem State also recently received a gold seal from the All In Campus Democracy Challenge for its 46.8 percent midterm election student voter rate—above the 39.1 percent national average—and was named by Washington Monthly as one of “America’s Best Colleges for Student Voting 2019.” In November 2019, Salem State announced the creation of the Frederick E. Berry Institute for Politics and Civic Engagement.

Each of the three commencement speakers will receive an honorary doctorate from Salem State University to recognize their lifetime work to create positive change. Salem State University’s graduations will all be held at the university’s O’Keefe Complex at 225 Canal Street in Salem.

Learn more about each of our 2020 commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients.

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