University News

Centennial Graduate Commencement

Published: May 23, 2019 | Categories: Engineering, All News, Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Alumni, Arts and Sciences, Law, Business
Dean Vanech speaking at the podium at the 2019 Graduate Commencement Ceremony.

With a nod to its historic first century and a look at a bright future, Western New England University conferred 324 advanced degrees to students of its four Colleges and School of Law during Graduate Commencement Sunday, March 19.

"You are our Centennial graduates. You have been a fundamental part of our historic first century," University President Anthony S. Caprio said addressing the degree recipients. "You are the last graduates of our first hundred years. And shortly, you become the first alumni of our second century."

President Caprio elicited chuckles from law students when he noted that when the institution began in 1919, a high school diploma was all that was required to earn a law degree, while annual tuition was $100, and included a YMCA membership.

"Much has changed in these 100 years," said Caprio. "The University's mission has evolved and broadened significantly, but we have remained committed to our special calling to facilitate the education of adult students in the professions."

Among the more than 300 degrees conferred, 63 were in law, 61 in pharmacy, five Ph.D's in Behavior Analysis and Engineering Management, and 195 master's in a variety of fields spanning business, engineering, education, creative writing, and communication.

The University awarded the President's Medallion to two distinguished alumni – Dean and Denise Vanech, a husband and wife who met as undergraduates. Mr. Vanech serves as chair and CEO of Olympus Holdings, LLC, a privately held firm involved in multiple industries, including producing shows on Broadway and in London's West End. Mrs. Vanech is a philanthropist with years of leadership experience in human resources at Nabisco, American Express Company, and Combustion Engineering.

In his address to graduates, Dean Vanech spoke of the importance of ethical decision-making, strong personal relationships, and a healthy work/life balance through an appreciation of art and culture.

"It's really, really, essential that you find something that you are passionate about," said Vanech. "What you can learn from this exposure… will absolutely make you more successful in your careers. In addition to providing that needed break… it forces you to think differently. You will think from a wider perspective. Your brain will change."

In presenting them with the President's Medallion, Dr. Caprio noted that the couple will continue to help shape student's lives in Western New England's second century. A generous gift will help create a new Student Advising Center, facilitating holistic advising between students and a dedicated team of faculty, peer, career, and professional advisors.

View the album: Graduate Commencement 2019 on the Western New England University Facebook page.