Bettye Perkins and Thomas Moran To Serve as 2017 Commencement Keynote Speakers

This past week Manhattan College announced the keynote speakers for the 2017 spring commencement ceremonies.

On Thursday, May 19, Bettye Perkins, founder and chief executive officer of Today’s Students Tomorrow’s Teachers (TSTT) will address students from the college’s graduate programs as well as the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

The following day, Thomas J. Moran, chairman of the board of Mutual of America Life Insurance Company will speak at the college’s undergraduate commencement ceremonies. Moran is an alumnus of the college, a mathematics major from the class of 1974.

“For Thursday’s commencement–master’s degrees in Engineering, Science, and Education, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies–we usually try to honor someone whose career exemplifies excellence in one of the professional areas related to those schools,” Brennan O’Donnell, president of Manhattan College, said in an email to The Quadrangle.

Today’s Students Tomorrow’s Teachers is an organization that was founded by Perkins in 1994 that works to recruit minority and economically-challenged high school students to join the teaching profession.

Students who become part of the program receive mentoring and career development help throughout high school and college, as well as possible financial assistance through the organization’s partner universities.

“Dr. Perkins’s work in encouraging and supporting young men and women of color to become teachers has obvious connections with our mission and its emphasis on providing opportunity to all through education,” O’Donnell said.

Perkins will be receiving an honorary degree in pedagogy at the ceremony. Her work with TSTT has helped place over 100 graduates as teachers in schools and communities throughout the northeast.

The college’s undergraduate commencement speaker has also worked to improve communities, although at a more international level.

“Mr. Moran, who will speak at the undergraduate ceremony, is one of our most distinguished alumni and a tremendous example of someone who has used his gifts to serve his fellow human beings,” O’Donnell said.

“In addition to being a longtime and great benefactor to the College and its students, he is a major contributor to humanitarian efforts around the world, most notably through his tireless work on behalf of Concern Worldwide.”   

According to their website, Concern Worldwide is an organization whose mission “is to help people living in extreme poverty achieve major improvements in their lives that last and spread without ongoing support from Concern.”

The organization was founded in Ireland in 1968 to work to address the severe famine in Biafra, a former secessionist state that is now again part of Nigeria. Today, Concern Worldwide has programs in 29 countries that reach approximately 7.4 million people around the world.

Moran has served as chairman of the charitable organization for over a decade. He also has worked as a member of Manhattan College’s own board of trustees from 1995 to 2003.

He began his career with Mutual of America in 1975 and eventually went on to serve as company’s president from 1994 to 2015. Moran retired as chief executive officer of the insurance company in 2016.

Last year’s undergraduate commencement ceremonies featured Brother Robert Schieler, FSC, as the keynote speaker. Schiler is the current Superior General of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.