BASKETBALL GREAT AND SPORTS COMMENTATOR BILL WALTON TO DELIVER NEW ENGLAND INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS
RHODE ISLAND BUSINESS LEADER KARL WADENSTEN TO BE HONORED
East Greenwich, RI – Former Boston Celtic and two-time NBA Champion Bill Walton will deliver New England Tech’s 2016 commencement address. Walton is considered to be one of the greatest basketball players in history, but it is his triumph over overwhelming adversity and his humanitarian work to help others that makes him a standout. A superstar student-athlete at UCLA, Walton had a Hall of Fame basketball career, and went on to excel in sports broadcasting. Along the way he immersed himself in a celebration of life, music and learning while facing life-altering challenges. Walton will share his inspiring story with New England Tech graduates during commencement on Sunday, May 1, 2016 at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Commencement begins at 11 a.m.
Walton is one of only four players in the history of basketball to win multiple NCAA and NBA championships and one of the few to ever lead the league in both rebounding and blocked shots in the same season. He helped UCLA to two national championships and 88 consecutive wins under famed coach John Wooden. He began his professional career with the Portland Trail Blazers as the number one overall pick in the 1974 NBA Draft and led them to the championship title in 1977. Injuries plagued Walton and, over the years, he missed more games than he played. He credits the Boston Celtics with giving him his life and career back when he joined them in 1985 after missing entire seasons due to injury. As the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year, he helped the Celtics win the league Championship in 1986, and secured a place in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
After retiring from basketball Walton turned his sights to a career in sports broadcasting. He has received numerous broadcasting awards and currently works as a commentator for ESPN and the PAC 12 Network. Walton recently wrote a best-selling book about his triumph over adversity in sports and in life called Back from the Dead: Searching for the Sound, Shining the Light, and Throwing it Down. He also helped start a program that assists struggling spinal patients in recovering their health and lives. He volunteers with numerous non-profits including the Challenged Athletes Foundation which purchases wheelchairs and prosthetics to give injured athletes, soldiers and others a chance to participate in life through sports. He will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters during commencement in recognition of his achievements.
Rhode Island business leader will also be honored at commencement. Wadensten is president of VIBCO Vibrators, a company based in Wyoming, Rhode Island, that manufactures industrial and construction equipment for material handling, roadwork and tunnel jobs, food packaging and agriculture across the globe. Wadensten is also a member of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation and sits on the Governor’s Lean Steering Committee which works to improve jobs and engage Rhode Island workers in problem solving. He also serves as the Mentoring Officer for a program that pairs Rhode Island business leaders with government leaders for learning, sharing and collaboration.
VIBCO is committed to producing products that are made in the USA and specifically in Rhode Island, but that’s not the only thing that sets it apart. Under Wadensten’s leadership, VIBCO has implemented thousands of employee ideas, aimed at improving products and customer experience. VIBCO’s model of operational excellence empowers employees and encourages them to work together at all levels to strive for improvement. It’s been so successful that organizations from all over the world travel to VIBCO to see how it works. VIBCO has opened its doors to more than six thousand business and community leaders and their employees, offering them an up close look at the inner workings of the company. Under Wadensten’s leadership, VIBCO has won numerous awards, including Best Places to Work in Rhode Island, by the Providence Business News. It was also the subject of a Harvard Business School study.
Wadensten is dedicated to making a positive difference far beyond the walls of his company. He supports the efforts of South County Hospital, Rhode Island Hospital, the Animal Rescue League in Wakefield and numerous other organizations. His biggest commitment, next to VIBCO, is to the Young President’s Organization, an international organization working to create better company presidents through knowledge and information exchange. Wadensten will receive an honorary doctorate in recognition of his achievements during New England Tech’s commencement.
This year marks New England Institute of Technology’s 76th anniversary. More than one thousand students will receive associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees.