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April 26, 2002
Lincoln University Presents 143rd Commencement, Sunday, May 5
University also will Award Honorary Degrees to Four Distinguished Leaders:
Dr. Na'im Akbar, an Internationally Renowned Psychologist, Author and Orator
Roderick L. Ireland, a 1966 Lincoln Graduate, and Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Manuel Rivero (Posthumously), Lincoln University Professor Emeritus, Founder of Lincoln's Department of Health, Recreation and Physical Education
Herb J. Wesson Jr., a 1999 Lincoln Graduate, and Speaker of the California State Assembly, who will deliver the Commencement Address

LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, which has earned a national reputation for its distinguished role in higher education as America's first Historically Black University, will present its 143rd Commencement on Sunday, May 5, 2002, at 2:00 p.m., on the campus lawn in southern Chester County. Two hundred and seventy-five seniors will receive baccalaureate degrees and 163 students will be awarded master's degrees.

In addition, Lincoln will award honorary degrees (two each in Laws and Humane Letters) to four leaders who have distinguished themselves in their chosen professions. They are: the Honorable Herb J. Wesson Jr. (Honorary Doctor of Laws), Speaker of the California State Assembly, who has achieved remarkable success with his unprecedented and meteoric rise in the political arena. Speaker Wesson earned his bachelor's degree from Lincoln in 1999 -- nearly 30 years after family illness and misfortune prevented him from finishing his senior year. Speaker Wesson will also deliver the Commencement Addresses to the graduates.

The other three honorary degree recipients are: Dr. Na'im Akbar (Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters), an internationally renowned psychologist, author and orator; Roderick L. Ireland (Honorary Doctor of Laws), a 1966 Lincoln graduate, and Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court; and Manuel Rivero (Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, posthumously), Lincoln University Professor Emeritus, and founder of Lincoln's Department of Health, Recreation and Physical Education.

Doctor of Laws Honorary Degrees


The Honorable Herb J. Wesson Jr. '99
2002 Commencement Speaker

The Honorable Herb J. Wesson Jr. was chosen unanimously in February 2002 as the 65th Speaker of the California State Assembly after three years in office. He has carved out a successful public service career based on a desire to foster human rights and create opportunities for California's children. His unprecedented and meteoric rise in a mere four years in the California State Assembly is a manifestation of the American Dream. In addition, he overcame hard times in his early childhood and youth, including dropping out of college and returning again, to achieve his success.

Elected to represent the 47th Assembly District in November 1998, Speaker Wesson represents the cities of Los Angeles and Culver City, as well as the communities of Ladera Heights, Baldwin Hills, View Park, Cheviot Hills, Westwood-UCLA, and Windsor Hills. Prior to being elected Speaker, Wesson served as Chair of the Governmental Organization Committee. He was responsible for reviewing legislation dealing with the Public Records Act, the State Open Meetings Act, Veteran's Affairs, gaming, alcohol and tobacco. He also served on the Assembly Appropriations, Health, Utilities and Commerce, and Business and Professions committees.

His own legislation has often dealt with human rights and opportunities for California's children. He has authored measures to examine pay inequities between women and men in state jobs; ensure that children receive a good start in school through mandatory kindergarten attendance; improve literacy of middle school children; and prohibit employers from requiring employees to speak only English during work hours, unless it is justified by a business necessity.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Speaker Wesson has been involved in California politics for years. Before winning elective office in his own right, he served as chief of staff to Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and as the chief deputy to Los Angeles City Council member Nate Holden. Prior to his turn to politics, Speaker Wesson, the son of blue-collar parents, worked at a variety of jobs, from machinery maintenance to sales. Following his relocation to California, however, a new career in politics opened to him through his involvement in Holden's unsuccessful campaign to become a member of Congress.

In 1999, Wesson fulfilled a promise to his family and completed his work to earn the bachelor of arts degree in history from Lincoln University -- nearly 30 years after an illness in the family prevented him from finishing his senior year. Speaker Wesson's memberships include the Mid-City Chamber of Commerce and the Culver City Chamber of Commerce; Board of Directors for the Martin Luther King, Jr. General Hospital Foundation; Board of the Second District Education Foundation; Advisory Board of the African Community Resource Center; Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and various Democratic Clubs.

In recognition of his extensive service to the community, Speaker Wesson has received numerous awards, including the Greater Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce Public Service Award; and the California Assessors' Association 2001 Legislator of the Year Award. The Agape Foundation also honored him for his efforts in combating domestic violence. Other accolades include "Outstanding Community Service" award by the Mid-City Chamber of Commerce in 1996; and "Living Legend" award by Concerned Black Women in 1996.


Justice Roderick L. Ireland '66

Roderick L. Ireland, Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on December 3, 1944. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Lincoln University in 1966. He is following in his father's footsteps: George L. Ireland graduated from Lincoln in 1941. Justice Ireland received his J.D. degree from Columbia University Law School, LL.M. degree from Harvard Law School, and Ph.D. from Northeastern University. From 1970 to 1971, Justice Ireland worked at the Harvard Center for Law and Education.

From 1971-1973, he served with the Roxbury Defenders Committee. From 1975 to 1977, he served as Assistant Secretary and Chief Legal Counsel for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Administration and Finance. In 1977, he chaired the Board of Appeals on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bonds for Massachusetts. Since 1978, he has been an adjunct faculty member at the School of Law and College of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University. In 1993, Justice Ireland authored Juvenile Law, Volume 44 of the Massachusetts Practice Series published by West Publishing Company.

Justice Ireland served on the Boston Juvenile Court from 1977 to 1990; the Massachusetts Appeals Court from 1990-1997; and in 1997, was the first African American appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court in its 305-year history. He has been honored by the Boston Bar Association, Massachusetts Bar Association, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, Massachusetts Judge's Conference, and the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys for judicial excellence.

Doctor of Humane Letters Honorary Degrees


Dr. Na'im Akbar

Dr. Na'im Akbar formerly served as Associate Professor at Norfolk State University and was Chairman of the Morehouse College Psychology Department for three years. He has served on the boards of directors of a variety of important civic and professional organizations, including several terms on the board of the National Association of Black Psychologist, to which he was elected president 1987-88. He also has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Black Studies and for eight years was the associate editor of the Journal of Black Psychology.

A graduate of the University of Michigan, with both undergraduate and doctoral degrees in psychology, Dr. Akbar has received many honors for his progressive and landmark contributions to his specialized studies of the psychology of the African American. Among these are the Annual Member Award and recognition as a Distinguished Black Psychologist by the National Association of Black Psychologists for his outstanding scholarship and research in Africa-psychology.

The Mayors of Atlantic City, New Jersey (1986), Cleveland, Ohio (1988), Jackson, Mississippi (1990), and Cincinnati, Ohio (1995), declared Na'im Akbar Days in recognition of his accomplishments. He was a recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Scholar award at Florida State University in 1987. Additionally, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania awarded him the honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 1993.

Dr. Akbar has been enthusiastically received at well over 500 colleges, universities, conferences and symposia throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. In 1995 he was installed as a Development Chief at Abono Lakeside Village near Kumasi, Ghana.

Tens of thousands of people around the world have read and been inspired by his highly readable and significant books which include: Breaking the Chains of Psychological Slavery, The Community of Self, Visions for Black Men, Light from Ancient Africa and Natural Psychology and Human Transformation. He has been interviewed on several episodes of "Tony Brown's Journal," "The Geraldo Show," "The Oprah Winfrey Show," and BET's "Our Voices." Significant articles about him have appeared in Essence magazine, The Washington Post, Ebony Man and a number of local, national and international newspapers. As a recipient of literally scores of plaques and awards, Dr. Akbar is recognized as one of the great thinkers and orators of our time.


Manuel Rivero (1909-2001, posthumously)

Professor Manuel Rivero, a Lincoln University Professor Emeritus, founded and chaired Lincoln's Health, Recreation and Physical Education Department 55 years ago. Professor Rivero used his enduring love of sports to leave his mark on Lincoln University. Before coming to Lincoln, he played and starred in varsity football and baseball at Columbia University in New York where he earned his bachelor of arts degree in engineering. His athletic exploits are described in Black College Sports by author Oceania Chalk (Dodd, Mead and Co., 1976). In 1938 he also earned a master's degree in health and recreation from Columbia. After joining Lincoln in 1934, Professor Rivero established Lincoln's Department of Health, Recreation and Physical Education during the 1947-48 academic year and served as chair and athletic director until retiring in 1977. In addition to his administrative duties, Professor Rivero taught Health, Recreation and Physical Education as well as coached Lincoln's football, baseball, track, tennis and basketball teams.

Along with his substantial professional commitments, Professor Rivero made time to give back to the Lincoln University-area community where he lived for 67 years. In the 1940s, he served on the Pennsylvania State Traffic Control Committee. In the 1950s, he was the chairman of the Oxford (Pa.) United Way and first president of the Lincoln University Community Association. In the 1960s, he was a member of the Board of Supervisors for Lower Oxford Township, an organizer of the Annual High School Track Meet in Pennsylvania, chair of the Pennsylvania College Football League and a participant in the Lincoln University Student/Community Drama Group.

His track record of steady accomplishment earned him a number of accolades and honors. In the 1960s, he was bestowed with the Chapel of the Four Chaplains Award and was named Teacher of the Year. In 1978, he received the Lincoln University Alumni Association Award, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Award and the Hall of Fame award. In 1980, Lincoln University named Professor Rivero Emeritus Professor of Physical Education. In 1986, the University named its gym Manuel Rivero Hall in his honor, and he received the Lincoln University Board of Trustees Appreciation Award.

Professor Rivero, who was born in Havana, Cuba, died August 18, 2001 in Rising Sun, Md. He was 92.

Lincoln University: A Legacy of Excellence

Founded in 1854, Lincoln University provides the best elements of a liberal arts and sciences-based undergraduate core curriculum and selected graduate programs to meet the needs of students living in a highly technological and global society. Besides its main campus in southern Chester County, Lincoln also operates the Center for Graduate and Continuing Education in Philadelphia. The University enrolls 1,871 undergraduate and graduate students.

Lincoln has achieved several recent national distinctions. The University is:

  • ranked 2nd in the nation in graduating African Americans with baccalaureate degrees in the physical sciences.
  • ranked 12th in the nation in graduating all minorities with baccalaureate degrees in the physical sciences.
  • ranked in the top 2% in the nation in graduating African Americans with baccalaureate degrees in computer and information sciences.
  • ranked in the top 2% in the nation in graduating African Americans with baccalaureate degrees in biological and life sciences.
  • ranked in the top 3% in the nation in graduating African Americans in all academic disciplines.
  • one of 20 universities nationwide where 40% or more of its physics graduates are women.
  • noted for graduating 7% of African American physics majors in the U.S. in 1999.
  • ranked first in Pennsylvania in graduating African Americans with baccalaureate degrees in the physical sciences.

These national distinctions are continuations of the Lincoln University tradition of educating an impressive list of African Americans who have distinguished themselves as doctors, lawyers, educators, businesspersons, theologians and heads of state.

The University is led by President Ivory V. Nelson, Ph.D., who has achieved a national reputation for his distinguished leadership in higher education and as a scientist. Under President Nelson's leadership, the University is being restored as the Institution of Choice for students seeking a world-class higher education.

For more information, contact:
Samuel W. Pressley, Director
Lincoln University's Office of Marketing & Communications,
610-932-1094; e-mail:; home: 856-582-9574.

Lincoln University of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
1570 Old Baltimore Pike, P.O. Box 179, Lincoln University, PA 19352 (484) 365-8000

Contact Admissions.

Producing Leaders to Shape A New Millennium