May 10: Ex-Seattle mayor to speak at Tri-Cities graduation

By Melissa O’Neil Perdue, WSU Tri-Cities

Norman-Rice-80RICHLAND, Wash. – Norman B. Rice, former mayor of Seattle and now president of The Seattle Foundation, is the keynote speaker at this Saturday’s graduation ceremony for Washington State University Tri-Cities.

Commencement is at 1 p.m. May 10 in the Toyota Center, 7016 W. Grandridge Blvd., Kennewick. Family, friends and community members are invited — admission is free; no tickets are needed. The ceremony starts promptly and lasts about 90 minutes.

It was on May 10, 1989 – 25 years ago – that the state Legislature formally established Washington State University’s urban campuses in the Tri-Cities, Spokane and Vancouver.

Expanding the academic tradition

About 230 graduates are expected to participate in Saturday’s ceremony, including three graduate students receiving doctoral degrees and 28 receiving master’s degrees.

More than 70 faculty members will be in attendance — in full academic regalia — to salute their students. A total of 377 students are earning degrees this academic year, including those who completed their classes in December 2013 and those taking final exams this week.

Commencement will be presided over by Michael Mays, vice chancellor for academic affairs. The program includes:

• Remarks from the recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
• Comments from Jose Magaña, 2013-2014 president of the Associated Students of WSU Tri-Cities.
• A new tradition of naming the valedictorian for the graduating class. The Class of 2014 valedictorian is Amanda Rukavina, who is graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor of science degree in psychology.

Each college at WSU Tri-Cities has selected a student to carry the banner — called a gonfalon – as a position of honor.

• College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences: Joel Perez, a student veteran earning a bachelor of science in integrated plant science. His major is viticulture and enology.
• College of Arts and Sciences: Esther Flatau, magna cum laude, earning a bachelor of arts in digital technology and culture.
• College of Business: Ashley Reithmayr, summa cum laude, earned a bachelor of arts in business administration.
• College of Education: Amber Dickerson, summa cum laude, earned her bachelor of arts in education.
• College of Engineering and Architecture: Cameron Hohimer, summa cum laude, earned a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering.
• College of Nursing: Ahmed Bashir earned his bachelor of science in nursing.

Speaker known for building communities

Before the graduates cross the stage, they will hear from keynote speaker Norman B. Rice. Rice served two terms as mayor of Seattle, 1990-97, where he earned national acclaim for revitalizing Seattle’s downtown and strengthening the city neighborhoods through public-private partnerships. He then was president of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle, a $48 billion bank, where he worked with more than 375 financial institutions to make their communities better places to work and live.

In 2009, Rice joined The Seattle Foundation, one of the nation’s largest community foundations. Assets total more than $600 million and the foundation makes more than 1,600 grants each year to nonprofit organizations. Bringing his noted role as a consensus builder and extensive background in community development, Rice is leading the foundation in achieving its mission to create a healthy community through engaged philanthropy, community knowledge and leadership.

His current involvement includes the White House Council for Community Solutions, the Northwest African-American Museum and the King County Committee to End Homelessness. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in communications and a master of arts degree in public administration from the University of Washington. He holds honorary doctorates from Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle University, University of Puget Sound and Whitman College.

Learn more about WSU Tri-Cities and its commitment to dynamic student engagement, dynamic research experiences and dynamic community engagement at
Melissa O’Neil Perdue, WSU Tri-Cities marketing and communications manager, 509-372-7319, cell/text 509-727-3094,