Salem State University will return to its traditional commencement ceremony format this year for the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students will cross the stage in five separate celebrations on May 19, 20 and 21 in the university’s O’Keefe Complex.
In addition to celebrating its class of 2022, Salem State University will recognize three honorary degree recipients who have been agents of change in their professions and communities. Those receiving honorary doctorates include rapper, cartoonist, social activist, and Salem State alumnus Keith Knight ‘90; Eastern Bank Chief Executive Officer and Chair of the Board Bob Rivers; and LVCC, Inc. President and CEO Pamela Scott, who also served on Salem State’s Board of Trustees as member and chair. Each honoree will address graduates during the ceremony at which their honorary doctorate is conferred.
“This year’s honorary degree recipients have not only seen resounding success in their careers, but they have used their platforms as megaphones to drive social change,” said President John D. Keenan. “These honorees exemplify what it means to have a voice and give back. They demonstrate the kind of commitment to activism and engagement that we encourage in our students, and that so many of our students, alumni, faculty and staff embody.”
Salem State has historically celebrated graduates in three ceremonies, and this year the university will hold five commencements to keep attendance at 75 percent of capacity under the university’s current COVID-19 policies. Last year, Salem State celebrated the class of 2020 and class of 2021 with a combination of virtual ceremonies and small, in-person gatherings.
“There are few events as enjoyable as coming together to recognize our students’ success,” said Keenan. “The class of 2022 has overcome so much to cross the stage this spring, and I’m excited to welcome our graduates and their friends and family to celebrate this accomplishment with our larger Viking community.”
Information about commencement dates and times can be found atsalemstate.edu/commencement.
More about Salem State’s 2022 Honorary Degree Recipients
Keith Knight is many things to many people; rapper, social activist, husband and father. He is also one of the funniest and most highly regarded cartoonists in America. For almost three decades, this multi-award-winning artist has brought the funny back to the funny pages with a uniquely personal style that’s a cross between Calvin & Hobbes, MAD, and underground comix. His art has appeared in the Washington Post, Daily KOS, San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Herald, Ebony, ESPN the Magazine, L.A. Weekly, MAD Magazine, and the New Yorker.
Knight's strip The K Chronicles launched in the early 1990s and has won the Harvey Kurtzman Award for Best Syndicated Comic Strip. The K Chronicles has also won the Glyph Awards Best Comic Strip multiple times. He has brought his comic strip slideshow on America's racial illiteracy worldwide, prompting the NAACP to recognize him as a 2015 History Maker. Knight’s speeches address racial illiteracy, police brutality and the role it has played since the early years of the United States.
Knight has also won a Belle Foundation grant, earned a Comic-Con Inkpot Award for career achievement (one year before director Steven Spielberg got his!), presented at the Library of Congress, and performed naked at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. He is the co-creator and executive producer of Woke, now in its second season on Hulu. The show, which stars Lamorne Morris as “Keef,” is based on his life and work. Knight’s work is the subject of a current exhibit at San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum.
Bob Rivers is CEO and chair of the Board of Eastern Bank. In addition to leading Eastern Bank, which was founded in Salem in 1818 and today has approximately $24 billion in assets and more than 120 locations, Bob is a leading advocate for a more inclusive community. A 40-year community banker who started his career as a teller in his hometown of Stoughton, Massachusetts, Bob believes that doing what’s right and smart means building a strong business that does good things to help people prosper. Under his leadership, Eastern has delivered record financial results while carrying out the principles of community service, philanthropy, and advocacy. During his tenure as CEO, Eastern has been a leading voice in the business community, particularly around greater diversity in board and senior level management roles, and racial and gender equity generally, and investing in underrepresented communities. Eastern takes pride in its outspoken advocacy and community support that includes more than $240 million in charitable giving since 1994. Bob is one of five Co-Chairs behind the Massachusetts Business Coalition for Early Childhood Education. He is also Chair of The Dimock Center and serves on the Board of Directors of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and The Lowell Plan. Bob is a member of the Board of Trustees of Stonehill College, the Advisory Boards of the Lawrence Partnership and JFK Library Foundation, and the Boston Women’s Workforce Council. He has been named among the Top 10 “Most Influential People in Boston” by Boston Magazine, and to the Boston Business Journal Power 50 list.
Pamela Scott is president and CEO of LVCC, Inc., a consulting firm that advises businesses and non-profit organizations on marketing, organizational and strategy issues. She has also served as an independent corporate director since 2006 and is currently a director of Randolph Bancorp/Envision Bank. Scott previously held the role of senior vice president at State Street Corp., where she managed investment relationships with corporate and public pension fund investors. She began her career in investment management at Citibank and has held sales, marketing, and management positions with several other global investment firms.
A strong advocate for the advancement of women leaders, Scott is an active member of Women Corporate Directors, the National Association of Corporate Directors – New England Chapter and The Boston Club. She also serves on the Trustee Advisory Board of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, is a director of the BNY Mellon Charitable Gift Fund, director of The Forsyth Institute and trustee of the Essex County Community Foundation. As a Governor-appointed trustee, Scott served two terms on the Board of Trustees at Salem State University including serving as chair from 2012 to 2015. She has also held leadership roles for the Tuck School of Business, Girls, Inc., and United Way, among many others. Scott holds a BA in economics from Rice University and an MBA in finance from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, where she was the MBA program’s first female African American graduate. The Financial Times published a profile of Scott in its 2012 listing of the top 100 corporate board candidates. She has also been honored by the Boston Business Journal and Rice University, and she was recognized as a Distinguished Leader by the Northshore Chamber of Commerce.
Salem State University’s commencement ceremonies will all be held at the university’s O’Keefe Complex at 225 Canal Street in Salem, MA.