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Four Individuals to Receive Honorary Degrees at USU's 127th Commencement

Thursday, Apr. 24, 2014

USU commencement 2014 illustration
2014 USU honorary degree recipient Tayseer Al-Smadi

Utah State University 2014 honorary doctorate recipient Tayseer Al-Smadi.

USU 2014 honorary degree recipient Pamela J. Atkinson

Pamela J. Atkinson, honorary doctorate recipient.

USU 2014 honorary degree recipient and commencement speaker Hugh Evans

Utah State University's 2014 commencement speaker and honorary doctorate recipient Hugh Evans.

USU 2014 honorary degree recipient R. Gilbert Moore

Honorary Doctorate recipient R. Gilbert Moore.

Utah State University welcomes four distinguished individuals to receive honorary degrees during its 127th graduation ceremony.

Those receiving honorary degrees are Tayseer Al-Smadi, senator in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and chairman of the Jordan Press and Publishing Corporation; Pamela J. Atkinson, an advocate for impoverished, underprivileged and homeless populations in Utah; Hugh Evans, Australian humanitarian and CEO of the Global Poverty Project; and R. Gilbert Moore, a specialist in rocketry and propulsion science who founded USU’s Get Away Special Program.

The prominent individuals will receive honorary doctorates during the undergraduate ceremony May 3 at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan. Evans will be the commencement speaker (

USU President Stan L.Albrecht said honorary degrees are one of the most important ways the university has to recognize people for the commitment and sacrifices they have made to make positive changes in the world.

“All of these individuals have made their marks in a number of ways and in a number of fields, but all of them deserve honor for their passion and determination to serve others,” he said.

TAYSEER AL-SMADI (Honorary Doctorate Recipient)

Tayseer Al-Smadi is a Utah State University alum who has enjoyed a noteworthy career in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. His expertise in designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating socioeconomic plans has led to success in both the public and private sectors.

Al-Smadi is currently a senator of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan where he serves as chair of the Senate Public Services Committee. Additionally, in February 2014, he was elected chairman of the Jordan Press and Publishing Corporation.

Prior to becoming senator, Al-Smadi spent 19 years in public service with the government of Jordan where he contributed to the development of many programs and initiatives aiming to improve the standard of living as well as the country’s economy. In 2004, Al-Smadi was responsible for guiding and facilitating the process for preparing the first “Jordan Poverty Assessment Report” that was prepared in collaboration with the World Bank. He was also appointed to several public service roles related to improving lives in Jordan, including Minister of Planning and International Cooperation and Minister of Agriculture.

PAMELA J. ATKINSON (Honorary Doctorate Recipient)

Pamela J. Atkinson is an advocate for the impoverished, underprivileged and homeless populations in Utah and has served on countless boards and organizations dedicated to caring for Utah’s underserved.

Working directly with homeless families, individuals, refugees and low-income people, Atkinson believes that one should never underestimate the powerful impact of giving. She, herself, has made a tremendous contribution to address the homeless and hungry in Utah and works to help house, clothe, feed and provide healthcare and counseling services for them.

Atkinson was instrumental in initiating a number of clinics in Salt Lake City, Utah, area schools that provide health care for students and their families. The Lincoln Family Health Center, the Intermountain Neighborhood Clinic and the Rose Park Family Health Center were established to provide preventative and primary medical care in lower-income areas as Atkinson believes that children who are ill experience difficulty in learning.

HUGH EVANS (Honorary Doctorate Recipient and Commencement Speaker)

Hugh Evans is an Australian humanitarian and an internationally renowned development advocate. As the CEO of the Global Poverty Project, Evans is making a difference to those living in extreme poverty in the developing world.

Evans’s passion for poverty eradication was sparked at the age of 14 while on a World Vision trip in the Philippines. Living with his host family in a Manila slum, he began his journey to end the status quo of extreme poverty.

Following a trip to South Africa in 2002 as World Vision’s inaugural youth ambassador, Evans co-founded the Oaktree Foundation, Australia’s first youth-run aid organization. In 2008, with grants from the United Nations, Australian and British governments, Evans built his impact in the aid and development sector, co-founding the Global Poverty Project. The Global Poverty Project is an education and advocacy organization committed to increasing the number and effectiveness of individuals taking action to end extreme poverty. It launched in Australia in 2009 and has expanded to New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

R. GILBERT MOORE (Honorary Doctorate Recipient)

R. Gilbert Moore has been a pioneer in rocketry and propulsion science since the early days of his career as a rocket scientist at the national White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico.

After leaving the White Sands Proving Ground, Moore moved to Utah to work for the Thiokol Corporation where he began working on rocket launches and satellite experiments. During his 25 years with Thiokol, Moore would contribute to the launch of several hundred sounding rockets and six satellite experiments from sites around the world.

Moore joined USUs Space Dynamics Laboratory in July 1989 as a senior research scientist and as a physics professor. To help students, Moore single-handedly founded USU’s Get Away Special program, a nationally and internationally regarded program that sent 33 student-built micro-gravity experiments into space. In addition, Moore co-founded the annual Small Satellite Conference held at USU and attended by space industry experts from around the world.

For more information on USU’s 127th Commencement, visit the commencement website.

Contact and Writer: Maren Cartwright, 435-797-1355,

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