During a season of traditional festivity and cheer, many members of the University of Missouri–St. Louis community have one more reason for celebration: a degree well earned.
Roughly 1,100 graduating students are formally joining the ranks of the university’s 98,000 alumni this fall, and they’ll gather together along with well wishers for UMSL’s Fall Commencement celebration on Dec. 16.
Three ceremonies are set to take place throughout the day at the Mark Twain Building on North Campus (see campus map).
The first, at 10 a.m., will honor graduates of the College of Education, College of Nursing and the School of Social Work. They’ll hear from commencement speaker Cheryl Jones, president and CEO of Girls Inc. of St. Louis, an organization that provides educational, recreational and cultural programs to girls in safe environments so that they may be enabled to raise their aspirations and realize their full potential.
For 17 years, Jones was the president of Jones & Associates, Inc., a company she founded to provide individuals and organizations with strategies and solutions to bring out their best performance and effect positive change. A seasoned professional with experience in project and sales management as well as executive coaching, Jones has a reputation as an outstanding trainer who creates excitement, involvement and commitment among participants.
She has been a staff trainer for the NCCJ’s Any Town Youth and Leaders Programs and the Focus St. Louis Leadership Program. She has developed and customized training programs and services for clients including Frito-Lay, Citigroup, Sara Lee, Nestle Purina, Pepsi Americas, Tyco Healthcare, AT&T, Anheuser-Busch, Bristol-Myers Squibb and NASA. Jones is a graduate of Howard University and has completed the Executive Programs in the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.
The 2 p.m. ceremony, for graduates of UMSL’s College of Arts and Sciences, will feature speaker and honorary degree recipient Gary F. Bell. He has acted, directed and taught for theater, film and television in New York City, Europe and, most recently, St. Louis.
After attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Bell joined the American Ensemble Studio Theatre, where he trained extensively with its founder and artistic director, Stanley Harrison. In 2000, Bell moved to St. Louis and established Stray Dog Theatre, a professional theater company that utilizes Harrison’s philosophy of character work to create rich, insightful character portrayals. Recognizing that theater has the capacity to move the human spirit of all participants, Bell has helped transform Stray Dog Theatre into a powerfully engaged, philanthropic community partner.
As artistic director, he has assisted in creating numerous community arts programs including the Arts-In-Mind afterschool program, Arts-In-Reach summer camps, Silver Stage Senior Theatre and the Stray Pups Youth Theatre. Under Bell’s leadership, Stray Dog Theatre donates more than 500 free tickets to local nonprofits each year, and more than 500 nonperishable food items to local food banks. A member of Actors’ Equity Association and the American Guild of Variety Artists, Bell is also an accomplished composer, lyricist and playwright.
Kei Pang, chief executive officer for Nidec Motor Corporation, will speak at the 6 p.m. commencement ceremony, which will honor those earning degrees from the College of Business Administration and the UMSL/WU Joint Undergraduate Engineering Program.
Pang began his career with Emerson Corporate in 1984 in International Planning and Business Development. For more than 25 years, he rose through the ranks holding various influential roles within the company, including a 10-year assignment in Asia based in Hong Kong. In 1996, he was promoted to president of the Flow Control division based in St. Louis. He then became vice president of International for the Emerson Motors and Appliance Components business segment in 2001. In 2008, he was appointed president of the Commercial and Industrial Motors business unit. In 2010, Emerson sold the motor business to Nidec Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of electric motors with their headquarters in Kyoto, Japan.
Pang became an executive member at Nidec through this Emerson divestiture where he was asked to treat the motor business as a growth business. Pang has served as chief executive officer for the Nidec Motor Corporation since October 2013. As CEO, he is directly responsible for transforming a fragmented group of 15 companies acquired by Nidec in the U.S. and Europe into a unified $4 billion global business. He holds a bachelor of engineering degree from the University of London and an MBA from the University of Michigan. He is a member of the University of Missouri–St. Louis Chancellor’s Council and the International Business Advisory Board.
For more information about commencement, visit umsl.edu/commencement.