President Margaret Spellings to give Commencement keynote address

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Margaret Spellings
Margaret Spellings, UNC System President

UNC System President Margaret Spellings will deliver the keynote address during the 2018 Winter Commencement at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Spellings will speak at the undergraduate ceremony on December 15 at 10 a.m. in the English E. Jones Center.  

Theatre professor Holden Hansen, the 2018 recipient of the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching, is the keynote speaker for The Graduate School ceremony on December 14 at 7 p.m. at Givens Performing Arts Center.

Spellings became president of the 17-institution UNC System in 2016. Since then, she has led the state’s public university into a new era of performance and accountability, guided by a strategic plan that is improving graduation rates and making college more affordable.

Spellings has deep experience in public service, most notably as the US Secretary of Education and chief domestic policy advisor in the George W. Bush administration. She is a graduate of the University of Houston, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. She received an honorary doctorate and Distinguished Alumni Award from the university in 2006.

From 1995 to 2000, she was senior advisor to then-Governor George W. Bush. Following Bush’s election as president, Spellings served as White House domestic policy advisor from 2001 to 2005.

Holden Hansen
Holden Hansen, Theatre professor

Hansen has been teaching and directing theatre at UNCP since 1997. 

He graduated in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Theatre Arts with an acting emphasis from the University of Northern Iowa. From 1982 to 1985, he was the first director of Children’s Theatre at the Waterloo Community Playhouse, and in 1988 he completed a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Drama and Theatre for Young People from the University of Texas at Austin. 

He came to North Carolina in 1988 and served for three years in the N.C. Visiting Artist Program at Bladen Community College and Robeson Community College. From 1991 to 1996, he worked in various capacities coordinating arts programs and writing grants for the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, and later served as the director of the Carolina Civic Center in 1996.

The following year he became a lecturer and director of the Givens Performing Arts Center where he served four years before taking a full-time, tenure track position in the Theatre Program within the Department of English, Theatre and Foreign Languages.   

Hansen has pursued professional acting projects for nearly three decades. Film credits include “42,” and “Arthur Newman.” His TV credits include “Bessie,” “Death in Small Doses,” and “Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.” A veteran of the stage, his performances at the Burning Coal Theatre in Raleigh include Written on the Heart, The Heretic, The Seafarer, Inherit the Wind, Hamlet, and A Midsummer Nights Dream.

His stage credits at Raleigh’s Hot Summer Nights are Gods of Autumn and Wait Until Dark. He played in Driving Miss Daisy at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre and Romeo and Juliet and The Three Musketeers at GPAC’s Professional Artist Series.

He also played in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Uprising Theatre Company’s Shakespeare in the Pines. 

He is a 2012 recipient of the UNCP Adolph L. Dial Endowed Award for Scholarship/Creative Work. 

Hansen resides in Raleigh with his wife, Toni Georgiana, a clinical licensed social worker, and is the proud father of three daughters, Rebecca, Kayla and Mary Nicole.