Utah State University welcomes Nike Brand President Charlie Denson as its commencement speaker for its 126th graduation ceremony. Denson will also receive an honorary doctorate during the ceremony.
Three other prominent individuals will also receive honorary doctorates during the undergraduate ceremony May 4 at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan.
“We are honored that Charlie Denson, a USU alum, has accepted our invitation to address our graduating students this year,” said USU President Stan L. Albrecht. “Commencement is a time for celebration and inspiration. His message will resonate with our students and inspire them at this turning point in their lives.”
Denson will receive an honorary doctorate along with Samuel Alba, retired United States Magistrate Judge for the District of Utah; Orrin Hatch, Utah senator and the most senior Republican in the United States Senate; and Mathana Santiwat, president of Bangkok University in Thailand.
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.
<strong>CHARLIE DENSON</strong> (<em>Commencement Speaker and Honorary Doctorate Recipient</em>)
As president of the Nike Brand Charlie Denson is responsible for leading the strategy of the world’s most distinctive, authentic and connected brand in sports.
Denson oversees all aspects of the global direction for the company’s consumer categories, including Actions Sports, Basketball, Football (Soccer), Men’s Training, Running, Sportswear and Women’s Training, as well as the Jordan Brand and Nike Golf.
His career at Nike spans more than 30 years. In 1979, after graduating from Utah State University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Denson started as an assistant store manager of “The Athletics Department,” Nike’s first retail store in Portland, Ore. He quickly moved up the ranks and has held many positions over the years, including time as vice president of United States and European sales and as general manager of Nike USA.
An innovator in developing sales and distribution strategies, Denson has been a driving force in Nike’s global growth as the company has expanded into approximately 190 countries. He pioneered Nike’s growth in China, India and Brazil, in particular. In fiscal year 2012, Nike Brand revenues surpassed $21 billion, a growth of 16 percent.
An avid Aggie fan, he was instrumental in Utah State’s unveiling of its new athletic logo in the spring of 2012. The university worked with Nike in collaboration on a 15-month re-branding campaign that was made possible through Denson’s support as well as the longstanding association between Utah State Athletics and Nike.
<strong>SAMUEL ALBA</strong> (<em>Honorary Doctorate Recipient</em>)
USU alum Samuel Alba is a lawyer currently practicing with Snow, Christensen and Martineau in Salt Lake City. Previously, Alba was appointed as a United States Magistrate Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Utah, a position he held for 20 years.
After graduating from USU in 1969 with a bachelor’s in political science, Alba went on to earn a Juris Doctorate from Arizona State University’s Law School in 1972.
<strong>ORRIN HATCH</strong> (<em>Honorary Doctorate Recipient</em>)
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch is the most senior republican in the United States senate. Now in his seventh term as Utah’s senator, Hatch is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Finance and a member of the Judiciary Committee; the Senate Health, Education and Pensions Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Hatch earned a bachelor’s in history from Brigham Young University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh.
<strong>MATHANA SANTIWAT</strong> (<em>Honorary Doctorate Recipient</em>)
Mathana Santiwat currently serves as Bangkok University’s president in Thailand.
Santiwat has a master’s in accounting from Utah State University and a doctorate from University of Kansas where she studied higher education administration, with business administration as a minor.
For more information on USU’s 126th Commencement, visit the <a href=”http://www.usu.edu/commencement/”>commencement website</a>.