December Commencement Ceremony to Honor Graduates, Visiting Luminaries

(December 06, 2012) — A civil engineer and businessman whose philanthropic efforts have supported endeavors such as the construction of a hospital where children with cancer receive outstanding care free of charge and an Indian-born American executive who has revolutionized the way people communicate locally and worldwide will be honored at the University of Miami’s midyear commencement ceremony on Thursday, December 13 at 10 a.m. at BankUnited Center. (Click here for video stream.)

Nasser Ibrahim Al-Rashid, founder and chairman of Rashid Engineering in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Arun Sarin, who served as chief executive officer of telecommunications giant Vodafone from 2003 to 2008, will receive honorary doctor of science degrees at the graduation exercise.

Both are proud parents of Miami Hurricanes—Al-Rashid with three children (Fahad Al-Rashid, A.B. ’05, Marine Science Affairs; Ibrahim N. Al-Rashid, B.B.A. ’06, Entrepreneurship; and Nasser H. Al-Rashid, B.S.C.P.E. ’00, Computer Engineering) and Sarin with one (Neal A. Sarin, B.B.A. in Human Resources Management).

During the ceremony, undergraduates, master’s degree candidates, and doctoral candidates from all UM schools and colleges (except for Miller School of Medicine M.D. degrees) will be recognized by name and walk across the stage to be congratulated by President Donna E. Shalala and their school’s dean.

Over the past 25 years Al-Rashid has donated close to half a billion dollars for humanitarian programs around the world, including cancer treatment hospitals in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. He was the principal architect and builder of the largest and most modern eye hospital in the Middle East—the King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital in Riyadh—and he contributed $120 million to build a hospital in Riyadh, modeled after St. Jude Children’s Research Center in Memphis, Tennessee, so that Saudi children with cancer could receive state-of-the-art treatment at home and free of charge. He named it the King Fahd Children’s Medical Center and donated the facility to the government.

Most recently, Al-Rashid, who lost vision in one eye as a child, donated $10 million to UM’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute to establish an interdisciplinary research center dedicated to eradicating blinding injuries and lethal orbital malignancies. The Bascom Palmer surgeon whom Al-Rashid credits for preserving the sight in his other eye, David T. Tse, professor of ophthalmology and holder of the Dr. Nasser Ibrahim Al-Rashid Chair in Ophthalmic Plastic, Orbital Surgery, and Oncology, will serve as director of the center. Al-Rashid also endowed the Dr. Nasser Ibrahim Al-Rashid Chair in the Division of Hepatology/Schiff Center for Liver Diseases held by Eugene Schiff, Leonard Miller Professor of Medicine and director and founder of the Schiff Center for Liver Diseases.

In addition to receiving an honorary degree at the December commencement event, Sarin will address graduates. The former CEO of Vodafone was the driving force behind the company’s strategic move into emerging markets. He bravely divested the company’s assets in developed regions, leading the company’s entry to the Indian market in 2007 and acquiring numerous mobile operators in Turkey, Ghana, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Quatar—a move that redefined Vodafone as a global company while boosting its bottom line. Sarin also spearheaded the switch from a “mobile-only” to a “mobile-plus” approach, adding Internet and broadband services to its portfolio. He communicated this strategic change to all employees by personally visiting every operating company in the Vodafone Group.

On the heels of a record-breaking profit year, Sarin retired from Vodafone in 2008. He is presently a senior advisor for Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, a New York-based global private equity firm. In 2010 he received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace.

The December 2012 commencement ceremony will be streamed live on the World Wide Web. To watch the ceremony or for more information on commencement, visit Information is also available by calling 305-284-5798.

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Hundreds of newly minted graduates will celebrate their achievement at UM's December commencement ceremony.

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