President Meehan honored by American College of Greece, urges graduates to “embrace innovation, diversity and new thinking”
- The UMass System
ATHENS – President Marty Meehan today urged graduates of the American College of Greece to “embrace innovation,” and, echoing the words of President Obama, encouraged them to compete robustly on “the battlefield of ideas.”
“When you take off that cap and gown, work hard to help your country embrace innovation, and as you do, commit to innovative thinking in your own lives,” he said, as the American College of Greece held commencement exercises in Athens.
“Now more than ever, we need you to embrace innovation, diversity and new thinking,” President Meehan said. “Seek it out. In the careers you choose, and the relationships you forge.”
President Meehan was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in recognition of his “significant accomplishments and contributions to academia and society.”
“Your life and work reflect values that the College strives to inculcate in its students,” American College of Greece President David G. Horner noted.
Founded in 1875 by Boston missionaries in Asia Minor, the American College of Greece is the oldest and largest U.S-accredited college or university in Europe and the largest private college in Greece.
Previous honorary degree recipients include U.S. Senators George Mitchell, Paul Sarbanes, Olympia Snowe and the late Paul Tsongas; U.S. ambassadors including the late Richard Holbrooke and R. Nicholas Burns, and academic leaders including former Harvard University President Derek Bok, former Brown University President Ruth Simmons and former University of Chicago President Hanna Gray.
In his remarks to the college’s 350 graduates, President Meehan extolled the hard work and success of Greek-Americans in the United States, including Senator Tsongas, former Governor Michael S. Dukakis, entrepreneur George Sakellaris, who founded and leads North America’s largest renewable energy corporation, Ameresco, Inc., Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals owner and former Lowell resident Ted Leonsis, and Arthur Demoulas, the iconic businessman who leads Market Basket, one of the largest and most respected grocery chains in the Northeast. He noted that Greek-Americans will invest time, money and energy in the ongoing effort to rebuild the Greek economy.
“If there is one thing I learned growing up in Lowell, it is that Greek-Americans will always help Greece,” he said.
President Meehan spoke of his affinity for Greece fostered through his hometown of Lowell, which has a large population of Greek immigrants and, “like your country today,” has dealt with economic challenges. In the face of adversity, he said, “our city has found strength and resilience in diverse cultures that continue to call it home.”
He also told the graduates: “As you set goals for yourself and think about what you want to accomplish, be true to who you are. But always be an active listener. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn when you listen. Your lives will be richer. And our world will be so much stronger for it.”
President Meehan, who graduated cum laude from UMass Lowell in 1978 with a degree in education and political science, is the first undergraduate alumnus to lead the five-campus University of Massachusetts system. He became the university’s 27th president on July 1, 2015, after serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and as chancellor of UMass Lowell. He earned a master’s degree in public administration from Suffolk University in 1981 and a juris doctor from Suffolk University Law School in 1986.