Northwest News

Three local universities bring in diverse speakers, including a king, for commencement 2015

Commencement season 2015 at Pierce County’s three four-year universities will include a touch of royalty, a leader in global change and a hometown success story.

King Harald V of Norway will be commencement speaker at Pacific Lutheran University in Parkland on May 23.

This Sunday,the director of the Peace Corps, Carrie Hessler-Radelet, will address graduates of the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma.

And June 12, Charles “Kelly” Creso, a 1991 graduate of the University of Washington Tacoma, will speak at commencement ceremonies at the Tacoma Dome.

Here are more details about the ceremonies, the speakers and their connections to the universities:

University of Puget Sound

Hessler-Radelet has lived and worked in more than 50 countries during a career that began when she persuaded her fiancé to join her as a Peace Corps volunteer in Samoa in 1981. She comes from a family of Peace Corps volunteers and was inspired to join by her grandmother.

Hessler-Radelet was named deputy director of the agency in 2010, and in 2014 she became the Peace Corps director. While with the agency, she led efforts to enhance volunteer training and improve their health and safety, and to strengthen the Peace Corps’ HIV education and prevention programs.

UPS is consistently named as one of the nation’s leading producers of Peace Corps volunteers. The university will honor Hessler-Radelet with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Two more honorary degrees will go to Washington Supreme Court Justice Steven C. Gonzalez and Tacoma civic leader Theresa Pan Hosley.

Pacific Lutheran University

PLU was founded by Norwegian Lutherans in 1890, and the university has kept the connection intact over the years. Until 1918, all official business was conducted in Norwegian, and the language is still taught on campus. About 60 Norwegian citizens study at PLU annually.

Since 2012, PLU has been a member of the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Forum, and it sends two students each year to represent the university.

PLU has a long tradition of receiving royal visitors from Norway, a tradition that King Harald will continue in celebration of the university’s 125th anniversary. He will address graduates as part of his official visit to Washington and Alaska.

King Harald, who has been the king of Norway since 1991, has visited Washington several times. In 1995, he and his wife, Queen Sonja, visited PLU, and the queen received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

The king will receive PLU’s only honorary degree this year, a Doctor of Laws degree.

University of Washington Tacoma

This is the downtown university’s 25th commencement ceremony, and the theme is “25 Years of Transformation.”

Over the years, UWT has changed from an institution that offered only upper division undergraduate classes to a full four-year degree-granting university with several graduate programs.

This year’s commencement will include the first graduates of the new master of geospatial technologies program, and the second graduates of the master of cybersecurity and leadership program.

Commencement speaker Charles “Kelly” Creso graduated with UWT’s first class in 1991 with a degree in liberal studies — the only degree program at the time. Now retired, Creso had a varied career in real estate and the arts and ran for the Port of Tacoma Commission in 2009.

This year’s graduating class will be the largest ever for UWT. Graduates will join the ranks of more than 17,000 alumni, most of whom remain in the South Sound after graduation.