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Sununu to speak during SU commencement

Sununu Graduation Speaker.jpg
John H. Sununu

By Kim Walter

Former New Hampshire Governor and White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu will speak at Shenandoah University's 2013 Commencement ceremony on May 11.

Sununu served three terms as governor of New Hampshire from 1983 to 1988. In 1989 he was appointed White House Chief of Staff and counselor to President George H. W. Bush.

Miles Davis, dean of Shenandoah's school of business, said this year was no exception in the university's quest to bring a high-quality speaker to the school.

"We are a small university, and don't have to type of budget to get some big names that ask for $30,000 or $40,000," he said. "We believe spending that much for a speaker is a misuse of the students' tuition dollars."

However, Davis credited his extensive network with being able to invite Sununu to speak during the graduation exercises. He said Sununu happened to be "a good friend of a good friend."

Davis believes that Sununu, like previous speakers, will be one that lives up to the mission of university, to "engage people in the educational process and expand the conversation for students."

As Davis pointed out, Sununu isn't just familiar with government and politics. He is also president of JHS Associates Ltd. and a former partner with financial firm Trinity International Partners.

When Sununu became New Hampshire's chief executive in 1983, he brought with him nearly 20 years of experience as an "educator, engineer, small businessman and community leader."

Davis said Sununu is also familiar with environmental awareness, as he co-chaired the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, Nuclear Energy Task Force in 2004. During the 2003-2004 school year, the politician was a visiting professor in public service at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

Sununu has also dipped into television. From 1992 to 1998, he co-hosted CNN's nightly "Crossfire" program which discussed news and public affairs.

"There are a number of things that make [Sununu] a unique blend," Davis said. "He meets the mark for service, community engagement, government work, being a part of the private sector, engineering research and he serves on the board at [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] ... I can't think of a more qualified person who can speak across disciplines."

Davis noted that during his time as governor, Sununu also managed to work with people of various political ideologies to "help make the state an effective and vibrant state to live in."

"In a place where we often find ourselves in political gridlock," Davis said. " ... Maybe we can learn to put service before self."

Davis also believes that the overall experience will be a good one for those graduating from SU that day. He recognized the growing popularity and use of online classes to earn degrees, but said the commencement ceremony will be something that makes Shenandoah University stand apart.

"There is great debate around online education, but giving students the chance to come, celebrate graduation and sit on the quad and hear a great speaker is -- we believe -- part of the educational process," he said. "Mr. Sununu has a great record of excellence, and is proof that excellence gets rewarded. I hope our students realize their potential by seeing someone who worked to put himself in a position of power and influence."

Visit www.su.edu/graduation for more details on Shenandoah University's 2013 Commencement exercises.

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com


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