International Best-Selling Author Baldacci to Deliver Keynote Address at UNH Spring Commencement
West Haven, Conn., April 26, 2011—International best-selling fiction writer David Baldacci will deliver the commencement address to the class of 2011 and receive an honorary doctorate during the University of New Haven Spring Commencement at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 15, in the Ralph DellaCamera Stadium on UNH’s North Campus.
Also receiving honorary degrees during the ceremony will be veteran television and corporate media executive Gail Brekke and philanthropist and community leader Jonathan Edwards.It is expected that approximately 615 undergraduates and 265 graduate students will receive degrees during the ceremony.
David Baldacci, Doctor of Humane Letters
After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and a law degree from the University of Virginia, Baldacci practiced law for nine years in Washington, D.C., as a trial and corporate attorney before launching his writing career.
Baldacci’s 20 adult novels include “Absolute Power” (made into a major motion picture starring Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman), “Hell’s Corner,” “Deliver Us from Evil” and, most recently, “The Sixth Man.” He also has published two young adult novels. His books have been translated into more than 45 languages and sold in more than 80 countries; over 110 million copies are in print worldwide. In addition, Baldacci writes for numerous newspapers and magazines, including “Parade,” for which he is a contributing editor. He has made frequent television and radio appearances and has been featured in numerous national and international publications.
Baldacci contributes to, and is involved in, several charitable organizations and currently serves as the U.S. ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. His greatest philanthropic efforts are dedicated to the Wish You Well Foundation; established by Baldacci and his wife, Michelle, it supports family literacy in the United States by promoting the development and expansion of new and existing literacy programs.
Gail Brekke, Doctor of Humane Letters
A veteran television executive in some of the nation’s largest markets, Gail Brekke has built a reputation as a consummate professional serving in the highest ranks of corporate media.
A former vice president with LIN Television, based in New Haven and nationally headquartered in Providence, R.I., Brekke also served as vice president and general manager of KXAN NBC 36 in Austin, KITN-TV Fox 29 in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, WGBO-TV in Chicago, WNOL-TV in New Orleans and KRBK-TV in Sacramento. She also was the president and owner of Black Diamond Communications Inc. in Minneapolis.
Brekke has been a member of UNH’s Board of Governors since 2006 and is on the board of trustees of the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, and the Women of Vision Society of the Jewish Federation of New Haven. She co-chairs the Centennial Celebration Committee of the Clifford W. Beers Guidance Clinic of New Haven. Named one of “20 Noteworthy Women” by the New Haven Business Times, Brekke is past president of the Minnesota Broadcasters Association and has been listed in Who's Who in America.
Brekke earned her bachelor’s degree in German and education from the University of North Dakota and her master’s degree in business from Webster University.
Jonathan Edwards, Doctor of Humane Letters
John Edwards is a noted community leader, scholar, volunteer and philanthropist.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Edwards earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and a master’s degree in early American history from San Francisco State University. A direct descendant of Jonathan Edwards, the Calvinist preacher, Edwards was the transcriber and administrator for publishing “The Works of Jonathan Edwards,” a project based at Yale University.
A longtime resident of Woodbridge, Conn., Edwards was active in local politics and served on the Board of Selectman. He also was for many years a volunteer fire fighter in Woodbridge.
Since 1980, Edwards has been a member of the dispensing committee of the John R. McCune Charitable Trust, and since 2001 he has been a member of the planning and development committee of the McCune Foundation, which supports education, humanities and human services. Edwards is a trustee emeritus at Hamden Hall Country Day School in Hamden, Conn., and is chair of the board of trustees at William Woods University in Fulton, Mo.
Spring Commencement will be held at Ralph DellaCamera Stadium, located on the university's North Campus. The ceremony will take place outside, rain or shine. The university also will broadcast a live feed of the ceremony in the David A. Beckerman Recreation Center, located on the Main Campus. Immediately following the ceremony, there will be a reception at a tent on the baseball field, adjacent to the stadium, for all graduating students and their family and friends.
For further information, visit the Spring Commencement at www.newhaven.edu/commencement.
University of New Haven
A leader in experiential education, the University of New Haven provides its students with a valuable combination of solid liberal arts and real-world, hands-on professional training. Founded in 1920, UNH is a private, top-tier comprehensive university with an 80-acre main campus. The University has an enrollment of more than 5,900: approximately 1,700 graduate students and more than 4,200 undergraduates, 70 percent of whom reside in university housing. The University offers more than 80 undergraduate degrees and more than 25 graduate degrees through the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, the Tagliatela College of Engineering and University College. University of New Haven students study abroad through a variety of distinctive programs.