PHOTO: 'Jimmy Jam' Harris to deliver commencement address. (wikipedia image)
WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Five-time GRAMMY Award-winner James Samuel “Jimmy Jam” Harris III will deliver the keynote address at Monmouth University’s undergraduate commencement exercises on Wed., May 9 at 12:30 p.m. at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J. He will address an expected 1,028 undergraduate degree candidates and Monmouth University will award Harris an honorary doctor of music degree.
“Monmouth University is delighted to welcome Jimmy Jam Harris to our commencement celebration to address our graduates,” said Monmouth University President Grey J. Dimenna. “We look forward to hearing him impart the wisdom and experience of his entrepreneurial and award-winning career, especially because of our affiliation with the GRAMMY Museum as an educational partner and one of very few universities in the country to offer degree programs with a concentration in music industry.”
A renowned songwriter, record producer, and musician, Harris is one-half of one of the most influential and successful duo in modern music history. Alongside his longtime partner, Terry Lewis, Harris’ accomplishments have elevated him to iconic status within the music industry. Together the pair have collaborated on over 100 Gold or Platinum records for a diverse array of globally recognized artists including Michael Jackson, Boyz II Men, Sting, Elton John, Mary J. Blige, Usher, Beyoncé, Luther Vandross, Janet Jackson, Rod Stewart, Earth Wind & Fire, Mariah Carey, Kendrick Lamar, Gwen Stefani, and Willie Nelson.
Harris and Lewis won their first GRAMMY Award for Producer of the Year in 1986 and have since received 10 subsequent nominations, giving them the most Producer of the Year nominations in GRAMMY history. As songwriters, Harris and Lewis have garnered over 100 ASCAP Awards and have won ASCAP’s Songwriter of the Year award a record-breaking nine times.
Harris is the former chair of the board of The Recording Academy and was the first African-American to be elected to that position. He currently serves as a member of the board of The GRAMMY Museum.
Moleen Madziva, Ph.D., founder of the Macheke Sustainability Project, will address degree candidates at a separate commencement ceremony on Thurs., May 10 at 1 p.m. for students earning master’s or doctoral degrees.
Madziva was born and raised in the small village farming community of Macheke, Zimbabwe. She left Zimbabwe in 1995 to pursue her college education in the United States. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Drexel University, Madziva began a career in software engineering at Lucent Technologies and Avaya. During her time in New Jersey, Madziva studied software engineering at Monmouth University, earning master’s degree in 2009. While at Monmouth, she founded the Macheke Sustainability Project to help eradicate poverty in her home village community.
In collaboration with faculty, friends, and mentors at Monmouth, the Macheke Sustainability Project evolved into a series of university-wide social business initiatives to create social development models that emphasize trade rather than indefinite aid. Her work seeks to assess community progress on the social capital scale where goodwill, fellowship, and cooperation among people will result in positive change.
Professionally, Madziva transitioned to the medical device industry after eight years in the telecommunications sector and is currently a senior field clinical engineer with Abbott in Los Angeles, Calif. Her experience in the medical device industry now spans more than eight years of protocol design-implementation, clinical trial, regulatory affairs management, and bio-medicalengineering research and development. In 2014, Madziva earned her Ph.D. in Sustainability Education from Prescott College in Prescott, Ariz.
“Moleen Madziva is a beacon of inspiration for our graduates and for our entire university community,” said President Dimenna. “She is a leader who has enjoyed incredible success in two very challenging industries, while finding time to apply her vision and values to a project of lasting impact to affect positive social change.”
For more information on Monmouth University’s commencement ceremonies, please visit www.monmouth.edu/commencement.