Lynn University, one of the nation’s most innovative universities according to U.S. News & World Report, selected Lynn professor of American studies, author, media commentator and community activist Dr. Robert Watson as its 2017 commencement speaker.
A noted historian, Watson has published more than 40 books and hundreds of scholarly articles, book chapters, and essays. He has co-convened a half-dozen national conferences on the American presidency, moderated political debates and forums, and delivered more than 1,500 keynote addresses, town hall programs and lectures. He founded three nonprofit think tanks dedicated to civic education, political reform and fact-checking campaign lies, and is the founding editor of White House Studies.
Following the 2016 presidential campaign, Watson developed Lynn’s Project Civitas to promote civility in politics and public life through education in and outside of the classroom. Initiatives include having the mayor of Boca Raton declare March as Civility Month, hosting “Dialogues in Civility” programs that complement Lynn’s Dialogues core curriculum, and encouraging leaders and communities to take a civility pledge.
“Dr. Watson has made a significant impact on our students, through his teaching, scholarship and community outreach,” says Lynn President Kevin M. Ross. “A prolific author and gifted storyteller, he was a natural choice for our 2017 commencement speaker.”
Lynn also announced Wayne Jarvis ’96 will be presented the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and Calvin Jordan and Amanda Chapman Orndorff will be the class of 2017’s student speakers.
A native of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, Jarvis is general manager of Kraeer Funeral Home in Pompano Beach, Florida. He earned his degree at Lynn while working two jobs, and since graduating, he has been a leader not only in his profession but also at his alma mater. Jarvis served as president of the alumni board for 12 years and today is a member of the Leadership Society and the President’s Alumni Advisory Council. He and his husband, Michael Valchuis, have supported student scholarships through an annual gift and a bequest to the Alumni Pay It Forward Endowed Scholarship.
Jordan is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in advertising and public relations. The Boca Raton resident has served as editor-in-chief of the school’s iPulse newspaper, agency director for the on-campus public relations firm, Pulse Agency, and the Knights of the Roundtable’s Parliamentarian Knight. He has performed in three Lynn Drama performances and at the annual Celebration of the Arts event since 2015. Jordan was named twice consecutively to the Dean’s List and three times following to the President’s Honor Society. He is also a member of Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Association’s official honor society.
Orndorff will receive a Doctor of Education in educational leadership. A lifelong resident of Palm Beach County, she holds a Bachelor of Science in telecommunications from the University of Florida and a Master of Education in educational leadership from Florida Atlantic University. Orndorff is currently assistant principal at Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton.
Lynn will confer approximately 800 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees Friday, May 12, and Saturday, May 13, at the university’s de Hoernle Sports & Cultural Center.