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Spring commencement speakers

Five leaders will address CMU’s spring graduating class during May ceremonies

Contact: Erick Fredendall


​A software engineer, a best-selling author, a public affairs veteran and two lifelong educators will honor Central Michigan University students with their wisdom during spring's commencement ceremonies.  

The speakers who will deliver an address at one CMU's five commencement ceremonies are:

  • Raymond Cross, president of the University of Wisconsin System.
  • Subir Chowdhury, chairman and CEO of ASI Consulting Group LLC.
  • Sarah Rowley Opperman, retired vice president of global government affairs and public policy at The Dow Chemical Company.
  • Joseph Mancewicz, senior software engineer at NVIDIA.
  • Darrell Kirch, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

University system leader

mug-Cross.jpgRaymond Cross, '81, president of the University of Wisconsin System, will address doctoral graduates at the 4 p.m. May 3 commencement in Warriner Hall's Plachta Auditorium.

The former chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Colleges and University of Wisconsin-Extension is responsible for UW System's $6 billion annual budget and leads its workforce of 39,000 faculty, staff and graduate assistants.

Before his time in Wisconsin, he served as the president of Morrisville State College in New York and Northwest Technical College in Minnesota, helping to develop new academic programs, incorporate technology, and promote entrepreneurialism and innovation.

In addition to his career in academia, Cross has worked in the private sector as a design engineer; small-business owner; and consultant to business, industry and government. He was awarded four medals for his service in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

Cross, who received his master's degree in industrial education from CMU, will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Quality and management-thought leader

mug-Chowdhury.jpgInternational best-selling author and management consultant Subir Chowdhury will speak at the 9 a.m. May 4 commencement for undergraduate and graduate students at McGuirk Arena in the John G. Kulhavi Events Center.

Chowdhury, chairman and CEO of ASI Consulting Group LLC, is recognized as an international authority on quality and management. His 15 published works combined have sold more than one million copies and are published in 20 different languages. Chowdhury's latest book, "The Difference: When Good Enough Isn't Enough," was recognized as a USA Today best-seller and a national best-seller in India.

As a philanthropist, Chowdhury has focused on the education of the less fortunate of the world through the Subir and Malini Chowdhury Foundation, a nonprofit that has donated millions of dollars to educational institutions since 2006.

Chowdhury is a recipient of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers' Gold Medal, the Society of Automotive Engineers' Henry Ford II Distinguished Award for Excellence in Automotive Engineering, and the American Society of Quality's Philip Crosby Medal. The CMU Alumni Association recognized Chowdhury with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2003.

Chowdhury, who received his graduate degree in industrial management from CMU in 1993, will receive an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree.

Public affairs veteran

mug-opperman.jpgSarah Rowley Opperman, retired vice president of global government affairs and public policy at The Dow Chemical Company, will speak at the 1:30 p.m. May 4 commencement for undergraduate and graduate students at McGuirk Arena in the John G. Kulhavi Events Center.

She has been recognized as both a leader and an advocate of professional development for women and is the recipient of several awards, including The Dow Chemical Company's Genesis Award, the ATHENA Award from ATHENA International and the Midland Business Alliance Chairman's Award.

She is a CMU alum who served on CMU's Board of Trustees for eight years, including two as chair; was inducted into CMU's Journalism Hall of Fame in 2006; and was the 2018 recipient of the Dick Enberg Alumni Commitment Award. She, along with her husband, Daniel Opperman, gave $1 million to her alma mater to expand CMU's nationally recognized leadership experiences and to benefit Park Library.

Opperman earned her bachelor's degree in journalism and business from CMU in 1981 and will receive an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree.

Senior software engineer

mug-Mancewicz.jpgJoseph Mancewicz is senior software engineer in NVIDIA's Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence group. He will speak at the 6 p.m. May 4 commencement for undergraduate and graduate students at McGuirk Arena in the John G. Kulhavi Events Center.

Before joining NVIDIA, Mancewicz worked for Rhythm and Hues Studio for 18 years as principal graphic scientist and senior software engineer. He played an integral role with the special effects team that contributed to two Academy Award-winning movies in the category of Best Achievement in Visual Effects: "The Golden Compass" and "Life of Pi."

He was one of two engineers recognized for the development of Voodoo software, a character animation tool set. Voodoo was selected for a Technical Achievement Award by the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014 and for the design, architecture and implementation of the Rhythm and Hues rigging system in 2018.

Mancewicz earned his bachelor's degree in physics from CMU in 1992 and will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Medical education advocate

mug-Kirch.jpgDarrell Kirch, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, will speak at the 1 p.m. College of Medicine commencement May 5 in Warriner Hall's Plachta Auditorium.

At Pennsylvania State University, Kirch served as senior vice president for health affairs, dean of the College of Medicine and CEO of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, with his period of leadership recognized as a time of innovation and major growth in clinical activity and research funding.

An advocate for medical education, he has served as a member of the AAMC Council of Deans Administrative Board and chair of the American Medical Association Section on Medical Schools.

As a psychiatrist and clinical neuroscientist, Kirch conducted research on the biological basis of and clinical treatments for severe neuropsychiatric disorders. During his time as the acting director of the National Institute of Mental Health, he received the Outstanding Service Medal of the United States Public Health Service.

Kirch has received the Gold Humanism in Medicine Medal from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and was named a Distinguished Life Fellow by the American Psychiatric Association.

He will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree.


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