2016 Springfield College Graduate Commencement Ceremony


Springfield College Graduate Commencement Keynote Speaker Mark Keroack. 

Springfield College Graduate Commencement Student Speaker from School of Social Work, Michael Smith.

Springfield College hosted its 2016 graduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 14, on Naismith Green, on the College’s main campus. Mark Keroack, president and chief executive officer for Baystate Health, and chair of the board directors for Health New England, delivered the commencement address to graduating students.

“Congratulations to the Class of 2016, today is a celebration that is distinctly different from the one a few years ago when you marked the completion of your bachelor’s degree,” said Keroack. “Today, you start to adopt a new identity as a professional, a specific way of thinking and looking at the world that is shaped by the focused work and accomplishments of the past few years.”

Having studied medicine for almost 40 years, Keroack went on to stress the importance of having the ability to adapt and rethink as a professional.

“You don’t want to miss opportunities to reimagine your chosen field in the light of a changing environment, and overlook the ultimate goal of all service professions, which is the well-being of the person who has come to you for help,” said Keroack. “The ability to adapt and reimagine what it means to be a professional has made all the difference for me between contributing to positive changes versus feeling disappointed that my life was nothing like I thought it would be when I graduated.”

During Keroack’s career, he has assisted in his lifelong interest in the measurement and improvement of health care, joining some of the early pioneers in the application of industrial quality and safety concepts to the care of patients. As part of his current role at Baystate, Keroack helps lead a mission statement that recommits his staff to the core values of medicine.

“Together we deliver a higher state of caring,” said Keroack. “The together part speaks about the importance of team-based care in the era of health reform, where we seek to take responsibility for all aspects of care for a population of patients. The higher state speaks to the commitment to measure ourselves against the best and continue to improve. The caring part speaks to the human side of medicine.”

Keroack also talked to the audience about the deep satisfaction that comes with being able to turn knowledge and skill into a direct benefit for another human being.

“My hopes for you as new professionals, whether it is in a health care related field or in a field where you tend to other mental, physical, and social needs, is that you all realize your full human potential and bring honor to Springfield College and to those who have worked so hard to prepare you,” said Keroack. “I would urge you to learn to navigate the increasingly complex organizations that are coming together to ensure health and well-being in our communities, to embrace the new models of teamwork and collaboration that hold so much promise for taking formerly isolated professions to new levels of shared accomplishment.”

Prior to Keroack’s commencement address, Springfield College presented an honorary Doctor of Humanics degree to Keroack. The College has, historically, awarded honorary degrees to a few outstanding individuals who, by their character and accomplishments, personify the College’s guiding philosophy, Humanics. The philosophy emphasizes the dedication of spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others.

Convening the ceremony was Springfield College Board of Trustees chair, Gregory C. Toczydlowski, who introduced the 13th president of Springfield College, Mary-Beth Cooper.

“Today is significant in numerous ways,” said Cooper. “Today, you will leave here graduates of Springfield College, fortified by skill and knowledge and hope for the future, yours and society’s. You have been privileged to experience a Springfield College education, a special type of education that is based on the Humanics philosophy. You have educated your whole person. But, more importantly, you have done so while caring and committing to the people you share this planet with.”

Cooper added, “This is the true hallmark, and the responsibility of a Springfield College education: the acquisition of knowledge that is used for the good of our whole society.”

The student speaker was Springfield College School of Social Work student Michael Smith, who received a Master of Social Work degree.

“To the members of the graduating class of 2016, I know that you share my pride in being here today, said Smith. “Welcome to the day we have envisioned over the past few years, a culmination of our tenacity, our resilience, and our passion. Our commencement ceremony marks the end of one journey and the simultaneous beginning of another.  We can now apply in the world what we have learned in the classroom as we carry forward the Humanics mission of Springfield College to educate its students in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others.” 

Smith went on to add, “Today, as graduates, I wish you all the best.  Springfield College has prepared us to demonstrate leadership in our respective fields, and we are ready, better yet, we have the responsibility, to pursue our commitment to unselfishly serve others.” 

At the graduate commencement, 646 master’s degrees, eight certificates of advanced graduate study, seven Doctor of Philosophy degrees, 38 Doctoral of Physical Therapy degrees, and five Doctor of Psychology degrees were awarded. At the undergraduate commencement on Sunday at the MassMutual Center starting at 9:30 a.m., 915 bachelor’s degrees will be awarded for a two-day total of 1619 degrees.