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Distinguished Alumni to Speak at WCU's Graduations

Approximately 2,442 undergraduates are expected to receive their degrees during West Chester University's commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 9, and Sunday, May 10, at 10 a.m., as well as 300 graduate students on Monday evening, May 11. The undergraduate ceremonies will be held in Farrell Stadium on South New Street and the graduate commencement will be in Hollinger Field House on University Avenue.

Speaking to the graduating seniors from the Colleges of Business & Public Affairs, Education, and Health Sciences on May 9 will be Roger Ware, Jr. '82, chief executive officer of Genesee General, a specialty property and casualty insurance company based in Georgia and Colorado.

On Sunday, May 10, Nicole Melander '83, senior vice president for Digital Strategy at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, will give the commencement address to WCU undergraduates from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Visual and Performing Arts.

Perry Cozzone '83, who additionally holds a master's in business administration from the University, will address graduate students during Monday's ceremony at 7 p.m.

Nationally celebrated human rights activist Ruby Nell Sales is being honored during West Chester University's graduate ceremony with an honorary doctor of laws degree.

As a teenager in the 1960s, Sales joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and worked as a student freedom fighter in Lowndes County, Ala. She attended Tuskegee Institute, Manhattanville College, Princeton University and Episcopal Divinity School, where she was the Absalom Jones Scholar and earned a master's of divinity. While at the divinity school, Sales served on a citywide ecumenical task force on prison reform in Boston. She was awarded the Social Justice Award at her graduation.

Throughout her career, Sales has worked with numerous committees addressing issues of race, gender, class reconciliation, education and awareness. She founded and directed Women of All Colors, a national nonprofit organization concerned with improving the quality of life for women, their families and their communities. In 1999, the leaders of Selma, Ala., gave her the key to the city in honor of her contributions.

Today she directs the SpiritHouse Project, a national organization she founded that combines research, the arts, education, spiritual reflection and community building.

Speakers' Biographies:

Roger Ware, Jr. ('82, B.S. criminal justice) is president, CEO and majority owner of Genesee General, a specialty property and casualty insurance company based in Alpharetta, Ga. and Broomfield, Colo. He is being installed as the 90th president of the American Association of Managing General Agents, one of the country's largest specialty insurance associations, on May 20, 2015, in Washington, D.C. He has been recognized for service to the insurance industry and dedication to young agents, and is an active community leader volunteering with several nonprofit organizations.

Nicole Melander ('83, B.S. computer science) is executive vice president, digital strategy and chief customer officer for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which she joined in 2014. She works closely with every functional area to consider the implications of technology on people, process and product. She had been chief technology officer of Achieving the Dream, a national reform network dedicated to community college student success. She has more than 25 years of experience in consulting, training, operations, innovation and technology within multi-national software companies, small non-profits and consulting partnerships.

Perry M. Cozzone ('83, B.S. computer science, MBA'88) is president of the North American Division of Colorcon, Inc., an international, industry-leading supplier of pharmaceutical excipients and services. Employed by Colorcon since 1988, he took his current position in 2013 after 15 years as vice president and global chief information officer. Recognized by colleagues throughout the industry and the world as an enthusiastic leader, Cozzone has broad executive-level experience in pharmaceutical and manufacturing concerns. He encourages new and innovative ways to advance the company's commitment to technology, research and development.