Retiring Dominican President Joseph R. Fink delivers Commencement address to record Class of 2011

Retiring Dominican University of California President Joseph R. Fink, who led the institution’s transformation from a small college of 650 students into a vibrant University of more than 2,300 students during his 23-year tenure, presented the Commencement address at ceremonies on May 14 in Forest Meadows Amphitheater.

Incoming President Mary B. Marcy assumed Dr. Fink's duties on July 1.

In front of a standing room only crowd at commencement, Dr. Fink handed out undergraduate degrees to 310 students – the largest graduating class in Dominican history – and awarded an honorary degree to San Rafael Mayor Al Boro.

In addition, another 175 students received graduate degrees and about 50 students received their teacher credentials at ceremonies in Conlan Center on May 13.

John Gaulding, Chairman of the Dominican Board of Trustees, introduced Dr. Fink, his longtime friend, and conferred him with an honorary degree.

“Joe arrived with the discipline and vision of a seasoned leader and the zeal of an entrepreneur,” Gaulding said.  “The greatest achievement of your remarkable presidency sits before us – graduates of the Class of 2011, bright, energized and committed to make the world a better place. No doubt the finest  graduating class in your 23 years as Dominican’s president.”

In his Commencement speech which ironically lasted 23 minutes, Dr. Fink, who is officially retiring as Dominican president on June 30, turned to the graduating class behind him and offered inspiring words. He told them about his own career in education, which began after he dropped out of college for one year.  He reminisced about how Dominican has grown in size and stature during his presidency. He expressed how fortunate Dominican students were to have  “a first-rate faculty.”

“In my 23 years here, I presented students with more than 4,000 diplomas and each student who received a diploma has an inspirational story to tell,” Dr. Fink said. “Each of them can inspire us and that includes people here with us today.”

Dr. Fink then proceeded to recognize a number of graduating seniors for their achievements and contributions to Dominican. That list included Daniel Tapia-Jimenez, Dominican’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year who will attend UC Davis and study Field Concentrations with emphasis on International Relations and Methodology; Rachael Elliott, a member of Dominican’s BFA in Dance/LINES Ballet program who is joining the contemporary dance company Noord Nederlandse Dans in Holland; Ashley Rubin, who has been studying the marine ecosystem at Pearl Harbor, is going to UCSF Medical School and plans to become a medical missionary doctor; Teddy Morrow who worked on stem cell research at Dominican, earned a spot in the UC Davis Pre Medical Internship Program with a goal to become an emergency room surgeon; and Mike Wells, a Penguins basketball player and communications major who helped raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and was invited to be special assistant to the executive producer of California Governor’s debate at Dominican last October.

Other noteworthy graduating seniors were cited, including Jessica Frazier, who delivered the Senior Class Address, and Psychology major  Blake Robbins, who was awarded the Most Outstanding Student Award.