Ford executive to speak at UM-Dearborn commencement

11/22/2010

The University of Michigan-Dearborn will graduate students at one fall commencement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 18 in the campus's Fieldhouse.

James G. (Jim) Vella, president of Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services, will be the keynote speaker at the ceremony, which begins at 2:30 p.m. for all graduates of the campus--College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters, the College of Business, the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the School of Education.

Other speakers will include UM-Dearborn Chancellor Daniel Little; Kate Davy, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at UM-Dearborn; Tim Richards, director of the Mardigian Library; alumnus Toni Simovski; and student James T. Shannon, who will be receiving a master's degree in marketing.

"Because the number of graduates is much smaller in the winter, the decision was made to have all academic units march in one program," said Provost Kate Davy in an e-mail to campus last month that announced the consolidation to one ceremony from two. "Because the Fieldhouse can accommodate all graduates and guests comfortably, the atmosphere will be more exciting with a full house and all four academic units will be able to celebrate as one University."

UM-Dearborn's spring commencement in May will continue to have both a morning and an afternoon ceremony.

Serving as president of Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services since 2006, Vella leads all philanthropic and community service-related activities, including coordination of volunteer efforts by Ford employees and all activities of Ford Motor Company Fund, a separate philanthropic organization funded by Ford Motor Company.
Ford Fund's primary focus is education. It also supports organizations and innovative programs that promote automotive safety education and assist communities with a variety of needs.

Previously, Vella served as a visiting professor at UM-Dearborn, a position he assumed in December 2005 as part of a Ford company program to place executives in positions where they can serve higher education. As part of this assignment at UM-Dearborn, he was appointed as Executive-in-Residence for the College of Business, where he worked with the faculty and the dean to provide an outside perspective as well as worked with students in the classroom to share his experiences both from his corporate experiences and his fourteen years in broadcast journalism.

Vella also currently serves on the College of Business's Dean's Advisory Council, among other non-campus committees.

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