PEMBROKE — The secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and an English professor from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke will be the keynote speakers during UNCP’s winter 2017 commencement ceremonies.
Richard Vela will speak at the graduate student ceremony at 7 p.m. on Friday at Givens Performing Arts Center. All guests should be seated no later than 6:45 p.m.
Secretary Mandy Cohen, an internal medicine physician, will deliver the commencement address at the undergraduate ceremony at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the English E. Jones Center. Guests should be seated no later than 9:45 a.m.
UNCP Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings will confer about 515 degrees, including 446 undergraduate degrees and 69 degrees at the graduate level.
Since her appointment in January, Cohen and her team have worked to improve the health, safety and well-being of North Carolinians. Health and Human Services is a cabinet-level agency with about 16,000 employees and an annual budget of $20 billion. Among her top priorities are combating the opioid crisis, building a strong, efficient Medicaid program, and improving early childhood education.
Vela is a scholar in Shakespeare and Early Modern British Literature. He has taught in the English, Theatre, and Foreign Languages Department since 1971.
He is area chairman for Shakespeare on Film and Television for the National Popular Culture Association of America, for which he recruits and organizes panels and reviews proposals.
Vela has been recognized for his book, “Shakespeare into Film,” and for his work with the 2002 National Endowment for the Humanities Institute, “Shakespeare’s Theaters: Inside and Out.” He studied Shakespeare’s staging for three weeks at the Blackfriars Theatre in Staunton, Va., and two weeks at the New Globe Theatre in London.
He frequently writes on Shakespeare, film, and the literary and filmic connections between Mexico and the United States.