A-B Tech Commencement Speaker Announced

UNC Asheville Chancellor Dr. Mary K. Grant has been selected to deliver the keynote address for A-B Tech’s 2017 Commencement.

The ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at 2 p.m. in the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville. A-B Tech will award associates degrees and diplomas to more than 1,000 graduates this year.

Having served for 12 years as president of her alma mater, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), Dr. Grant joined UNC Asheville as its seventh chancellor in January, 2015. As Chancellor, she has led the institution in the development of a five-year strategic plan focused on student success, academic rigor, and community engagement. She has supported important faculty initiatives, such as the creation of the STEAM studio, a state-of-the-art 12,000-square-foot makers’ space in Asheville’s River Arts District, connecting the UNC Asheville campus to the creative community of Asheville.

Under Chancellor Grant’s leadership, UNC Asheville is developing new collaborations with a host of community partners, including A-B Tech, as well as earning new support from North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create new programming, initiatives, and student scholarships in the humanities and STEM fields, reaffirming UNC Asheville as a center for excellence in the public liberal arts. Dr. Grant is also leading a bricks-and-mortar renaissance at UNC Asheville as well, as the university is committing $67 million dollars to capital improvements.

“We are honored to have a speaker of Dr. Grant’s caliber delivering our commencement address this year,” said A-B Tech President Dennis King. “In addition to being a valued partner of A-B Tech, she is a powerful speaker who will draw from her impressive achievements at UNC Asheville and over the course of her career.”

A leader in public higher education, Dr. Grant served as chair of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), where she directed a planning effort that culminated in bringing the COPLAC executive office to Asheville. She currently serves as vice chair of the board for National Campus Compact, vice president of the Big South Conference Council of Chief Executive Officers, as a director of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Asheville, chair of the Distance Education Taskforce for the UNC System, and as a trustee of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Previously, she served as the chief academic officer and deputy CEO of UMass Online and was a senior fellow at the John W. McCormack Institute of Public Affairs at UMass Boston, where she led the institute’s master’s program in public affairs and served as director of the Center for Social Policy. In addition, Dr. Grant served as assistant vice chancellor for administration and finance and human resources at UMass Boston.

Dr. Grant has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the 2014 MCLA Distinguished Alumnus Award, and the New England Board of Higher Education’s (NEBHE) Massachusetts State Merit Award. Dr. Grant was the recipient of the 2011 American Council on Education Massachusetts National Network of Women Leaders Lifetime Achievement Award, and was appointed to the Massachusetts Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Advisory Council.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from MCLA, a master’s degree in public affairs from UMass Boston, a Ph.D. in social policy from The Heller School at Brandeis University, and an honorary degree from Williams College.

“I’m honored to have been invited to speak at A-B Tech’s Commencement,” said Dr. Grant. “It is a time to celebrate and recognize the graduates along with their families, friends, and the faculty and staff as we recognize the important accomplishments of the individuals and our community college partner.”

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