Franklin Pierce Announces Honorary Degree Recipients and Peterson Award Winner

May 5, 2016

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Franklin Pierce University announced that two honorary degrees will be awarded at its 51st commencement ceremony, along with the Honorable Walter R. Peterson Citizen Leader Award. Robert Lewis, Jr. of The BASE Inc. and The Honorable Earle Mack, former U.S. ambassador to Finland will receive honorary degrees. Former New Hampshire state senator, The Honorable Sylvia Larsen, will receive the Peterson Award.

“These leaders have made outstanding contributions to society,” said Andrew H. Card, President of Franklin Pierce University. “They will bring inspiration to our students and serve as beacons for how our graduates can make similar contributions to the world. I am thrilled to celebrate their accomplishments and to welcome them into the Franklin Pierce family.”

Robert Lewis Jr. is the founder and President of The BASE Inc., and is a nationally recognized thought leader, public speaker and passionate advocate for urban youth. Known as a bridge-builder and catalyst for collaboration between diverse business, civic and public sectors, Robert is a highly sought-after public speaker, facilitator and spokesperson on the topic of urban issues and opportunities. He has addressed attendees at major national conferences and inspired students and faculty on college campuses across the country. He has worked collaboratively with government and civic leaders, offering leadership, critical and strategic thinking on urban youth development. A 2015 Boston Magazine cover story listed Robert among the city's 50 Most Powerful Leaders, calling him "a tireless advocate for inner-city kids."

In 2013, Lewis left a high profile position at The Boston Foundation to pursue a lifelong dream to launch The BASE. The BASE is a model and methodology that changes the paradigm for urban youth by providing student athletes with the opportunity, knowledge, skills and confidence needed to develop a winning game plan for success both on and off the field. The BASE embodies everything Robert learned as founder of the Boston Astros, a youth baseball team he launched in 1978. Legendary baseball writer Peter Gammons has called The Astros, “Hands-down the best urban baseball program in the country.”

Since it’s inception The BASE has served over 8,000 boys and girls on more than 600 teams, playing not just at home in Boston, but in tournaments across the country — from Florida to Nevada and in between. Six former BASE (and Astros) student athletes are currently competing at The Major League Baseball level: Manny Delcarmen formerly of The Boston Red Sox, Juan Carlos Portes formerly of The Minnesota Twins, Nelfi Zapata of The New York Mets, Eddy Morabel of The Texas Rangers, Jamill Moquete of The Baltimore Orioles, and Calvin Graves of The Chicago Cubs.

In 2014, 20 out of 20 high school graduates matriculated to college. And since forming The BASE, 37 out of 40 graduating high school seniors entered college, including Franklin Pierce University.

Ambassador Earle Mack is a businessman, philanthropist, and former Ambassador to Finland. Mack served as the 30th United States Ambassador to Finland under President George W. Bush from May 2004 until November 2005. He has a keen interest in the arts, culture, political policy, and thoroughbred breeding and racing. Mack, along with his brothers, have developed over 20 million square feet of commercial space in the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area as the Senior Partner of The Mack Company, which develops and manages commercial real estate.

Mack is the past Chairman and CEO of the New York State Council on the Arts (1996–1999) where, upon retirement, he was elected Chairman Emeritus. Mack is the producer of The Children of Theatre Street, a 90-minute feature documentary film nominated for an Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, (1977); Cannes Film Festival, (1977) and winner of the National Film Advisory Board's Award of Excellence, (1978).

Mack made significant contributions to the Haitian people as a first responder in the wake of the devastating January 2010 earthquake. Through his direct early intervention, trauma physicians, surgeons, and medical supplies were quickly dispatched to Haiti.

Sylvia Larsen was elected to the New Hampshire State Senate in 1994, where she honorably represented the 15th District for 20 years, becoming the state’s longest serving Democratic female leader. For two of those years, Senator Larsen led the nation’s first legislative body that included a majority of women.

Among Larsen’s many legislative accomplishments are sponsoring the nation’s first tax-free college savings plan and New Hampshire’s first paycheck fairness plan to safeguard equal pay for equal work. She worked to raise the high school dropout age, establish a state code of ethics, and reinstate New Hampshire’s job training fund. Sylvia Larsen guided the passage of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program that expanded affordable health insurance to 48,000 residents.

The Honorable Walter R. Peterson Award, named after the former New Hampshire governor, who also served as the second president of Franklin Pierce University, is presented annually at the University Commencement exercises. The Peterson Citizen Leader Award honors an individual who demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to public service, selfless contributions to higher education, a sense of humor and high moral character—all characteristics of the award’s namesake. Lewis and Mack will receive their honorary degrees, and Larsen, the Peterson Award, at Franklin Pierce University’s 51st Commencement ceremony, which will be held on May 14, 2016 at the University’s campus in Rindge, NH. 


                 An education that matters.

Franklin Pierce University is a regionally accredited university grounded in the liberal arts, with a focus on personal attention and high-quality instruction. The University consists of the College at Rindge and the College of Graduate & Professional Studies with locations in Arizona and throughout New Hampshire. Degrees are offered through the doctoral level. The institutional mission embraces an education that matters: one that achieves academic success through the integration of liberal arts and professional programs. Our community of educators and learners creates an environment that fosters intellectual curiosity and encourages experiential and applied learning. A Franklin Pierce experience enables each student to discover and fulfill his or her own unique potential. We prepare students to become confident, knowledgeable individuals and leaders of conscience.

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