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NewsMar 25, 2021

Lesley University announces 2021 Commencement guests, honorees

Virtual event to welcome popular professorial podcaster, accomplished art advocate

Laurie R. Santos (left) and Elizabeth Broun

Lesley University will welcome guest speakers Dr. Elizabeth Broun, Smithsonian American Art Museum director emerita, and Dr. Laurie R. Santos, a Yale University psychology professor and popular podcaster, for our 2021 Commencement. Broun and Santos will each receive honorary degrees from Lesley along with three long-time members of the Lesley community.

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 Steinmayer wrote in an email to the community announcing the Commencement lineup.

The event will be held virtually on May 22. There will be separate ceremonies for graduate and undergraduate students.

Dr. Broun, who holds a doctorate in art history from the University of Kansas, will serve as our undergraduate speaker. 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 is our graduate speaker. 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.

Our other honorary doctorate recipients will be 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 and 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.