News: Featured Stories

April 6, 2015

EPA Chief Gina McCarthy to speak at 2015 UMass Boston Commencement

  • Boston
University will also honor Deval Patrick, Jack Connors, and Hubie Jones.

Regina “Gina” McCarthy ’76, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will deliver the keynote address at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s 47th commencement on Friday, May 29 at the TD Garden.

During a career that has spanned more than 30 years, McCarthy has worked at both the state and local levels on critical environmental issues and helped coordinate policies on economic growth, energy, transportation, and the environment.

Then-Senator John Kerry once said that she “lived out a special determination to make every day Earth Day.” McCarthy received a bachelor of arts degree in social anthropology from the UMass Boston, and a joint master of science degree in environmental health engineering and planning and policy from Tufts University.

McCarthy will receive a Chancellor’s Medal for her advocacy on behalf of the environment and the public’s health and well-being.

McCarthy will be joined by honorees Deval L. Patrick, former governor of Massachusetts; Jack M. Connors. Jr., a founding partner and chairman emeritus of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Inc.; community organizer and activist Hubie Jones; Bernard Osher, founder of the Bernard Osher Foundation; and Zhang Haidi, chairperson of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation and the president of Rehabilitation International.

Degrees will be conferred to 4,000 UMass Boston graduates during the morning ceremony. This is the first year the university is holding commencement at the TD Garden, as construction continues on campus. For more information on commencement, visit

The following degrees and medals will be awarded:

Gina McCarthy, Chancellor's Medal

Gina McCarthy has headed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since July 2013, after being nominated by President Barack Obama for the position. A longtime civil servant, McCarthy held the position of assistant administrator of the EPA from 2009 to 2013. Prior to 2009, she was commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.

Jack M. Connors, Jr., Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa

Connors is a founding partner and chairman emeritus of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Inc., a full-service marketing communications company that has evolved into one of the top 20 advertising firms in the United States. Active in Boston philanthropic organizations, Connors has served as a major force behind Camp Harbor View, the Campaign for Catholic Schools, and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute. He is an articulate advocate of Boston’s world-class hospitals and a passionate voice for greater lay participation in the Catholic Church.

Hubie Jones, Chancellor’s Medal

Jones is a vital member of the social justice movement in Boston. He has held numerous positions in academia, served on multiple boards, and played a key role in the formation, rebuilding, and leadership of at least 30 community organizations within the black community and across the city. He currently serves as senior adviser and social justice entrepreneur-in-residence at City Year, Inc., and dean emeritus of the Boston University School of Social Work.

Bernard Osher, Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa

Osher started the Bernard Osher Foundation to improve the quality of life through support for higher education and the arts. Within its higher education portfolio, the foundation focuses on postsecondary scholarships, lifelong learning institutes, and integrative medicine centers in the United States and Sweden.

The Honorable Deval L. Patrick, Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa

Patrick completed two terms as governor of Massachusetts in January. During his tenure, he funded public education at the highest levels in the history of the commonwealth and achieved nation-leading student performance. Targeted initiatives during his tenure that play to the commonwealth’s unique strengths—such as his landmark 10-year, $1 billion program to promote the state’s life sciences industry—have positioned the state as a global leader in biotech, bio pharmaceuticals, and digital technology, and as a national leader in clean and alternative energy.

Zhang Haidi, Doctor of Arts and Humane Letters, Honoris Causa

Zhang is the chairperson of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation and the president of Rehabilitation International. She was paralyzed from the waist down following four operations to remove tumors from her spine at the age of five. She completed school and received a college education, mastered four foreign languages, and learned acupuncture through self-study. She also served as a volunteer teacher and health worker in remote communities and became a highly productive and award-winning author. Her life story and exceptional accomplishments have inspired several generations of Chinese youths and exemplify the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.