Dear University Community,
Commencement is the University’s most anticipated event of the year because it is when we celebrate our students’ success and affirm our accomplishments as an educational institution.
Commencement Weekend is quickly approaching, and I am excited to celebrate the Class of 2023 on April 21-22, 2023. I hope manyof you will attend to celebrate our graduates and hear from this year’s accomplished speakers.
Pete Aguilar ’01, California Congressmember, 33rd District, will deliver the keynote address and receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the College of Arts and Sciences ceremony on Saturday, April 22. Congressmember Aguilar represents the 33rd Congressional District of California. He was most recently re-elected in 2022, and in the 118th Congress, Aguilar holds the leadership position of Chair of the House Democratic Caucus. Aguilar previously served as the Mayor of Redlands, earning a reputation for his bipartisanship and steadfast commitment to making his community a better place to live, work, and raise a family.
Reverend Tom Harshman will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the San Francisco Theological Seminary ceremony on Saturday, May 20. Harshman recently served as the Vice President of Mission, Integration, Non-acute Care, and System Offices for Dignity Health in Redwood City. Throughout his career, Harshman has served in various settings, including hospitals, hospices, HIV service organizations, universities, and substance misuse treatment centers. He is an ordained minister with the Disciples of Christ, an Association of Professional Chaplains Board Certified Chaplain, spiritual care provider, and a certified Clinical Pastoral Educator with the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education.
Garner Holt will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the School of Education ceremony on Friday, April 21. Holt, a San Bernardino native, is well known as the founder of the world’s largest animatronics company, Garner Holt Productions,Inc. (GHP), located in Redlands, which he started in his parent’s garage while in high school. GHP’s “mechanized magic” animatronics can be found at Disney and Universal Studios parks worldwide. GHP animatronics are also found at parks and attractions for clients, including Knott’s Berry Farm, Warner Bros., Nike, Coca-Cola, Salesforce, Lockheed-Martin, Legoland, Hershey, and the Lincoln Memorial Shrine in Redlands.
Sylvia Mendez will deliver the keynote address and receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the School of Education ceremony on Friday, April 21. Mendez is an American civil rights activist. At age eight, she played an instrumental role in the Mendez v. Westminster case, the landmark desegregation case of 1946. This case paved the way for the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional.
James Ramos ’09, California Assemblymember, 45th District, will deliver the keynote address and receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the School of Business & Society ceremony on Saturday, April 22. Ramos, a lifelong resident of the San Manuel Indian Reservation and member of the Serrano/Cahuilla tribe, became the first California Native American state lawmaker in 2018. He currently represents the 45th District, which includes the cities of Fontana, Highland, Mentone, Redlands, Rialto, and San Bernardino.
I look forward to seeing you at Commencement weekend as we celebrate our students, understanding that each of you contributed to their success.
Krista L. Newkirk