On stage at Hunter College’s winter commencement on January 19th will be the internationally acclaimed ballet dancer Heather Watts, Ford Foundation president Luis A. Ubinas, and the 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students who will receive their degrees. Watts will receive an honorary degree and Ubinas will deliver the commencement address. The ceremony will take place at 3 pm in the Assembly Hall.
Watts attended the world-famous School of American Ballet, joined the New York City Ballet at the invitation of George Balanchine, and was promoted to principal dancer by Balanchine. She danced principal roles in many Balanchine masterpieces, including several he created for her, and performed around the world before retiring from the stage in 1995. She has directed national and international dance touring companies, won a host of awards, and taught at Harvard, Princeton, and other prestigious institutions, including Hunter, where she has taught master classes and currently serves on the College’s Dance Advisory Board.
Since joining the Ford Foundation, the nation’s second largest philanthropy, in 2008, Ubinas has focused on a strategy centered on ensuring poor and marginalized communities a share in the economic, social, and political opportunities afforded by their societies. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School, he is a former director at McKinsey and Company where much of his work focused on the opportunities and challenges arising from the growth of Internet and wireless capabilities.
Another featured speaker will be class valedictorian Adam Wier, who is graduating with a double major in Spanish/English translation and interpretation and Special Honors.
Stella Shifrin, who will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” is a member of the Thomas Hunter Honors Program, will receive a bachelor’s of music-and was the Eastern Women’s Fencing Conference Woman of the Year in 2011.