Legal, medical, education notables to be honored at PSU commencement

PLYMOUTH — Plymouth State University's 143rd Commencement ceremony May 17 will feature honorary award recipients with significant achievements in the fields of law, medicine, and education.

Plymouth State alumnus Stephen J. Sedensky III, '80, the commencement speaker, is a nationally recognized child abuse prosecutor; Hugh Herr of M.I.T. is one of the world's leading bionic limb researchers; and Stephen J. Reno is executive director of Leadership New Hampshire. PSU President Sara Jayne Steen said the three guests share a common value: a commitment to excellence.

"These are creative and vibrant role models for our graduates," Steen said. "Each has applied energy, intellect, and innovation to make a genuine difference in the world, and each is an inspiration to us all."

Sedensky will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. After graduating with a bachelor's in Business Administration from Plymouth State in 1980, Sedensky attended law school and has had a successful career as a prosecutor in his native Connecticut, where he is the State's Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury. He has lectured and been recognized nationally as a child abuse prosecutor and championed the adoption by Connecticut of a training program in which child abuse professionals are taught child interviewing and investigation skills. He also has been recognized as an ethical and influential leader in the legal profession. Sedensky said he is grateful for the opportunity to address the PSU Class of 2014.

"I am truly touched and honored," said Sedensky. "My education and experiences while at Plymouth State have had a tremendous influence on my life, and I always look back fondly on that time. I am looking forward to returning to campus and attending and participating in the graduation ceremony."

Hugh Herr will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree. Herr leads the Biomechatronics research group at the MIT Media Lab, creating bionic limbs that emulate the function of natural limbs and allow recipients to perform normal activities, even to succeed as athletes. In 2011, TIME magazine described Herr as the "Leader of the Bionic Age" because of work that marries human physiology with electromechanics. Herr lost both legs in a climbing accident in the White Mountains 30 years ago; he has designed his own bionic legs, the world's first bionic foot and calf system called the BiOM. Herr has been widely recognized for his achivements.

"I ​am deeply touched to be the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Plymouth State University," Herr said. "PSU is a great university, and receiving this doctorate is indeed a tremendous honor."

Stephen J. Reno will receive the Granite State Award for exceptional contributions to New Hampshire. He is the executive director of Leadership New Hampshire, a program in which leaders learn about the state in order better to respond to its issues. He has created initiatives such as Stay, Work, Play New Hampshire, to attract and retain young workers in the state and has served as a consultant to many New Hampshire non-profits. For nine years, he was the chancellor of the University System of New Hampshire, leading higher education initiatives that positively impacted the state's students and families. Reno said he is pleased to receive the Granite State Award on behalf of all of his colleagues throughout the University System.

"The greatest strengths of the University System are the quality and dedication of its faculty, staff, and leadership, and its increasing number of partnerships with business, industry, the professions, the state, and communities," said Reno.

The 2014 Plymouth State University Commencement will start at 10 a.m. on Currier Field at the institution's Holderness campus. The unified ceremony recognizes more than 1,200 graduates receiving bachelor's and master's degrees, certificates of advanced graduate studies, and doctoral degrees.



Stephen J. Sedensky III (Courtesy photo)

Hugh Herr (Courtesy photo)

Stephen J. Reno (Courtesy photo)