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NewsMay 7, 2021

Join Lesley University’s virtual Commencement on May 22

Hear from guests, students and honorees, including the Smithsonian’s Dr. Elizabeth Broun and ‘The Happiness Lab’ host Dr. Laurie R. Santos

image of decorated mortarboards

Join Lesley University on Saturday, May 22 at 1 p.m. as we celebrate and honor our graduates’ achievements, highlighted by an array of student speakers, longtime Lesley champions and honorees, university leaders, and two esteemed guest speakers who will be awarded honorary doctorates.

We will hold a virtual Commencement this year to maintain the health and safety of our community during the Covid-19 pandemic while marking the accomplishments of more than 1,200 Lesley graduates earning bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, PhDs and certificates.

You can access the pre-recorded Commencement Day ceremonies starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 22.

Please share your joy and congratulations for the Class of 2021 on social media with the hashtag #Lesley2021.

About the virtual ceremony

Commencement 2021 will honor graduates from our Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences (GSASS), Graduate School of Education (GSOE), College of Art and Design (LA+D), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) and the Threshold Program.

The ceremony will feature remarks from a variety of dignitaries, graduates and leaders including:

  • Dean of Student Life and Academic Development Nathaniel Mays
  • Provost and Chief Academic Officer Jonathan K. Jefferson
  • Board of Trustees Chair Hans D. Strauch
  • President Janet L. Steinmayer
  • Elizabeth Broun, Smithsonian American Art Museum director emerita
  • Laurie R. Santos, professor of psychology, Yale University
  • CLAS Dean Steven Shapiro
  • CLAS student speaker Anahí Alarcón
  • LA+D Dean Amy Green Deines
  • LA+D student speaker Madalena Almeida
  • GSASS Interim Dean Sandra Walker
  • GSASS student speaker Andrew Solem
  • GSOE Interim Dean Amy Rutstein-Riley
  • GSOE student speaker Christine Armstrong
  • Threshold Program Director Ernst VanBergeijk
  • Threshold student speaker Helen Slager
  • Alumni Association President Brian Schwartz ’06

About the guest speakers

Dr. Elizabeth Broun, Smithsonian American Art Museum director emerita, and Dr. Laurie R. Santos, a Yale University psychology professor and popular podcaster, will each receive honorary degrees from Lesley along with three long-time members of the Lesley community.

Commencement guest speakers Laurie R. Santos (left) and Elizabeth Broun

All were approved by the Board of Trustees “in recognition of the significance of their scholarship or their exceptional service to the university,” President Janet L. Steinmayer wrote in an email to the community announcing the Commencement lineup.

Dr. Broun, our undergraduate guest speaker, holds a doctorate in art history from the University of Kansas. Nationally respected in the arts community, she was the first and longest serving female director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and its branch museum, the Renwick Gallery — leading from 1989 through 2016.

Among her accomplishments, Broun made the Renwick’s collection of contemporary crafts and decorative arts more accessible and collected landmark holdings by African American and Latinx artists. She currently serves as the visual art advisor to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Dr. Santos, our graduate guest speaker, has been a Yale University faculty member since 2003. She directs the school’s Comparative Cognition Laboratory and its Canine Cognition Lab. Her course, “Psychology and the Good Life” is Yale’s most popular class in history, with more than 3.3 million students enrolled through Coursera online. A Harvard University graduate, Santos also hosts “The Happiness Lab” podcast and was a featured TED speaker.

About the honorees

Our other honorary doctorate recipients are familiar names to many at Lesley.

Peter and Paula Lunder pose in front of the Lunder Arts Center
Peter and Paula Lunder pictured in front of the Lesley University Lunder Arts Center, which bears their name.

Avid art collectors and philanthropists Paula and Peter Lunder generously made possible the construction of our magnificent Lunder Arts Center, which opened in 2015. In addition, they funded an endowed scholarship to support Lesley students.

An education alumna, Paula Lunder ’59 is chair and director of the Lunder Foundation and has volunteered for decades in education, social services, healthcare and arts organizations. Peter Lunder is retired co-chair and former president of Dexter Shoe Company, which he grew to produce more than 7.5 million pairs of shoes annually at the time of its sale in 1993 to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. He graduated from Colby College in 1956 with a degree in business.

Photo of Donald Perrin
Trustee Emeritus Donald Perrin

Donald Perrin will also receive an honorary degree. A member of the Board of Trustees at The Art Institute of Boston (AIB), Perrin was instrumental in Lesley's merger with AIB and the creation of our College of Art & Design. He was elected to the Lesley Board in 1999 and served as both vice chair and chair during his tenure.

Perrin, who is the father of Lesley alumnus Scott Perrin ’04, became a trustee emeritus by a unanimous vote of the board in 2016.

Professionally, Perrin was founder and president of Crimson Tech, which became the predominant supplier and integrator of professional photographic and audiovisual products for medical, educational and corporate organizations in New England. Currently, He is active as an angel investor and has helped support a number of successful startup companies.

Editor’s note: This article is an updated version of a story originally published on March 25.