Economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of The Earth Institute, will address graduating seniors May 19 at Bryant University

April 19th, 2012

Cheryl Merchant, president and CEO of Hope Global, will be the Graduate School speaker May 17. Sachs and Merchant will receive honorary degrees, as will Claudio Del Vecchio, chairman and CEO of Brooks Brothers Group, Inc.; Gina Raimondo, general treasurer for Rhode Island; and Nina Zolt, co-chair, co-founder, and chief learning officer at ePals, Inc.


SMITHFIELD, R.I.  - Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University who has been called "the most important economist in the world" by The New York Times, will address graduating seniors and receive an honorary degree during Bryant University's undergraduate Commencement Saturday, May 19. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. on the University campus, 1150 Douglas Pike.

Sachs' honorary degree is one of five to be presented by the University this year. Also receiving honorary degrees are Cheryl Merchant, president and chief executive officer of Hope Global, who will address the Graduate School of Business Commencement ceremony at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 17; Claudio Del Vecchio, chairman and chief executive officer of Brooks Brothers Group, Inc.; Gina Raimondo, general treasurer for Rhode Island; and Nina Zolt, co-chair, co-founder, and chief learning officer at ePals, Inc.

Jeffrey Sachs

Widely acknowledged as the world's leading international economic advisor, Professor Sachs has been in the forefront of economic development, enlightened globalization, environmental sustainability, and public health for more than 20 years. He currently serves as Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and was previously director of the United Nations Millennium Project and Special Advisor to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals.

Sachs, who is considered one of the leading advocates for combining economic development with environmental sustainability, is also a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a member of the Brookings Panel of Economists and the Board of Advisors of the Chinese Economists Society, the author of best-selling Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet and The End of Poverty, and a syndicated columnist published in more than 50 countries around the world. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, he received his B.A. from Harvard College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Cheryl Merchant

Cheryl Merchant has a 28-year record of accomplishment in automotive manufacturing, from operation start-ups, mergers, acquisitions, and relocations to shutdowns. She began as production supervisor at General Motors, and quickly advanced to positions at Mazda, Ford Motor Co., and Lear Corporation. Merchant has managed manufacturing plants around the world including facilities in Mexico, Canada, Poland, England, and the United States. Under her leadership, Cumberland, R.I.-based Hope Global - which manages textile solutions for automotive, commercial and industrial use - has doubled its revenue and expanded operations to include plants in China, Mexico, and the Czech Republic as well as Rhode Island. She serves on the Governor's Economic Development Council and is a Trustee of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.

Claudio Del Vecchio

International business executive and entrepreneur Claudio Del Vecchio oversees a portfolio of premier retail and manufacturing companies including Brooks Brothers, Southwick, Carolee Designs, and Luxottica Group, the world's largest eyewear manufacturer. Among many awards and distinctions, Del Vecchio has been recognized for his business acumen, as "Man of the Year" by the International Association of Clothing Designers and Executives, and for his extensive philanthropic work. The Golden Fleece Foundation, a Brooks Brothers charity, has raised millions on behalf of prominent national charities. Del Vecchio serves on the board of the National Retail Federation and is a member of the Center for Economic Transformation of NYC and an honorary fellow of the Foreign Policy Association.

Gina M. Raimondo

Rhode Island General Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo is a recognized leader and coalition builder dedicated to economic reform in the State of Rhode Island. During her first 18 months in this role, her commitment to redesigning the state's public employee pension system resulted in the R.I. Retirement Security Act. A forceful advocate for transparency, she created the Ocean State Investment Pool, updated the state's bond disclosure practices, and launched the state's first investor relations portal. Before being elected general treasurer, Raimondo was co-founder and general partner of Point Judith Capital, a venture capital firm. She currently serves as vice chair of the Board of Directors of Crossroads Rhode Island. Raimondo is a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School, and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.

Nina Zolt

Nina Zolt is a recognized innovator focused on improving learning opportunities for all students in a digital age. With a notable track record of experience spanning several sectors - including entertainment law, digital media and design - she created In2Books, the ePals flagship eMentoring program. Zolt is the lead author of the In2Books Genre Guides and co-author of Getting Children In2Books: Engagement in Authentic Reading, Writing and Thinking. She has served on numerous boards, including the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the International Reading Association, and the Washington, D.C., Advisory Board of Directors for Teach for America. She holds an A.B. from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from Boston University School of Law.


Keywords: Cheryl Merchant, Class of 2012, Claudio Del Vecchio, Commencement, events, Gina Raimondo, Jeffrey Sachs, Nina Zolt