UMES announces 2017 spring graduation line-up

  • Alumnus Art Shell among those being honored

    Friday, April 28, 2017

    Rushern L. Baker III, Prince George's County executive, will be the spring 2017 graduation speaker for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore May 26 in the William P. Hytche Athletic Center.  

    A sizeable number of audience members on commencement day will be his constituents.  

    Over the past five years, UMES' student enrollment from Prince George's County has hovered around 22 percent, according to Dr. Stanley Nyirenda, director of institutional research for the university.  

    As a suburb of the nation's capital Prince George's is the highest income African-American majority county in the nation and the second largest jurisdiction by population in the state, according to the county government's website.  

    Senior Jasmine E. Brown, a dean's list student from Pocomoke City who majored in kinesiology, will represent the Class of 2017 when she delivers the student commentary during the ceremony.  

    In addition to awarding a degree to Brown and some 400 other undergraduates and graduate students, UMES also will honor two retired educators, a distinguished alumnus and a tireless university benefactor.  

    John J. Allen Jr., a local utility company executive and chairman of UMES' all-volunteer Board of Visitors, will receive an honorary degree. Allen was instrumental serving as a liaison between the university and Delmarva Power, an Exelon Co., which donated $1 million to the university in July 2016 to support energy conservation initiatives and instruction.  

    The much-decorated Art Shell, class of 1968, returns to his alma mater, which will present him with a presidential medallion as a gesture of thanks for his five decades of support and loyalty.  

    Dr. Robert B. Dadson, a retired professor of agriculture and food sciences, and his wife, retired campus librarian Theresa E. Dadson, will be honored as faculty emeriti.  

    Baker, who took office in 2010, has “worked closely with other state and regional leaders to pursue positive change, focusing on creating jobs, growing the economy and improving public safety and education in the county.” He is the recipient of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators' National Leadership Award for Public Service.  

    Baker's Economic Development Incentive Fund created a $50 million earmarked to stimulate business growth in the county.  The Democrat is also advocating for a new Regional Medical Center with distinction that will “transform health care in the region and address health care disparities.”  

    Honored as a 2012 Most Innovative Executive of the Year for Minority Business from the Maryland/Washington Minority Contractors Association, Baker introduced the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative, to assist economically challenged neighborhoods in PG County.          

    His support of funding and resources for education and public safety has resulted in “rising test scores and significant reductions in overall crime.”  

    He began his political career in 1994 in the Maryland House of Delegates representing District 22-B for nearly a decade. He served as chair of the Prince George's County delegation from 1999 to 2003, earning a reputation of being “a consensus builder, an honest professional, and a tough, well-respected leader.”

    Baker is a 1986 graduate of Howard University's law school. He holds membership in the Maryland Chapter of the NAACP and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.