Announcing the UNCG 2017 Commencement Speaker

Posted on April 17, 2017

I recently shared with you the momentum and buzz that we have generated at UNCG as we step into the spotlight. I outlined several exciting recent events, and told you that there was still more to come. Today, I am proud to share another Giant Step forward for UNCG as we announce our 2017 Commencement Speaker: Margot Lee Shetterly, author of the inspiring, best seller Hidden Figures, which was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film.

I can’t think of a better person to address our graduating class with a message of opportunity and excellence – that regardless of your background or socio-economic status, incredible things are possible with hard work and commitment. As our 2017 graduating class looks to the future, we are confident that they too, like the real-life heroes portrayed in Hidden Figures, will go out into the world and accomplish great things.

As you likely know, the book and hit film tell the story of the pioneering African American female mathematicians, known as “human computers,” who worked at NASA in the early 1960s during the space race. What you might not know is that Hidden Figures has a direct connection to UNCG; alumna Virginia Tucker ’30 was one of five trailblazing women who helped create the program. But there’s more… Tucker recruited heavily at institutions across the East Coast, including the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina – now UNCG!  In fact, we graduated one of the largest cohorts of women who went on to work as human computers.

This is another significant step for UNCG. We will have a world class speaker, with an incredibly relevant story, who is herself squarely in the spotlight.  This is the right message and the right messenger at the right time for UNCG, our graduates and our community. Commencement is May 12 at the Greensboro Coliseum. I look forward to the event, to hearing Ms. Shetterly speak, and to celebrating the past, present and future of UNCG with you on this great occasion.

Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr.