Both ceremonies will honor the classes of 2020 and 2021; Birx will receive an honorary doctorate and Diamantis will receive the Granite State Award
Deborah L. Birx, MD, former White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, will deliver the keynote address and be recognized by Plymouth State University (PSU) at its undergraduate Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 8, at 10 a.m. Pamela Diamantis, principal and partner at Curbstone Financial Management Corporation and former trustee of the University System of New Hampshire (USNH), will be the featured speaker at PSU’s graduate Commencement on Friday, May 7, at 6 p.m. Both ceremonies will recognize graduates from the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021.
“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Deborah Birx back to campus as we honor PSU graduates from last year and this year and celebrate their accomplishments,” said President Donald L. Birx, Ph.D. “Students from both classes have experienced a slew of challenges over the past 14 months, yet they have persevered with determination and grace. As someone who was at the forefront of the nation’s response to the pandemic, who provided sage advice to me throughout, and who encouraged our students to keep up their efforts to remain safe and healthy, Dr. Birx is a fitting speaker to help us mark this special milestone.”
Dr. Birx will address undergraduate students and will be honored by PSU with an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service for her service to the country during the HIV/AIDS epidemic and, most recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Birx is a world-renowned medical expert in clinical and basic immunology, infectious diseases, pandemic preparedness, vaccine research and global health. She has spent her career serving the nation, first as an Army Colonel, and later, running some of the most influential programs at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S Department of State. Most recently, Dr. Birx served as the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, making recommendations to top officials based on complex data integration.
Dr. Birx began her career focused on HIV/AIDS vaccine research for the Department of Defense and progressed to serve as the Director of the U.S. Military HIV Research Program from 1996 to 2005. She led one of the most influential HIV vaccine trials and was awarded two U.S. Meritorious Service Medals and the Legion of Merit Award for her groundbreaking research and leadership skills. From 2005 to 2014, Dr. Birx served as the Director of the CDC’s Division of Global HIV/AIDS in the Center for Global Health and was responsible for all of the agency’s global HIV/AIDS activities. In 2014, Dr. Birx became an Ambassador-at-Large when she assumed the role of the Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy. For her work, she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the African Society for Laboratory Medicine and a William C. Watson, Jr. Medal of Excellence.
Dr. Birx is also the sister of PSU President Donald Birx.
Pamela Diamantis will address students who have earned graduate degrees and certificates from PSU. Diamantis will also be presented with the Granite State Award for her commitment to investing in her local community. Diamantis has been a principal and partner at Curbstone Financial Management Corporation since 2006. She previously served as the regional president for U.S. Trust Company, N.A. and is the former president of State Street Bank & Trust Company of New Hampshire. She is also a general partner at Impact New Hampshire Fund, an angel investor fund for women entrepreneurs, which she co-founded in 2016.
Diamantis is a native of Manchester, New Hampshire, and has been a dedicated volunteer in her community and served as Chair of the Board of USNH. She has also held board positions with Catholic Medical Center, New Hampshire Business Finance Authority, Currier Museum of Art, Granite YMCA, Heritage United Way, and the Women’s Fund of NH. She has directly served the PSU community by volunteering as a judge for its entrepreneurial student competition, the Panther Pitch.
“Pamela Diamantis is not only an accomplished professional, but a volunteer who has devoted her time and expertise to numerous New Hampshire non-profit organizations over the years. She truly embodies Plymouth State University’s motto, “Ut prosim – That I may serve,” said President Birx. “Pamela played a key role in PSU’s move to a new integrated form of education, PSU Clusters, which uniquiely positions our graduates for the 21st Century. As co-founder of the Impact New Hampshire Fund, an angel investor fund for women entrepreneurs, and as a judge for our annual entrepreneurial student competition, the Panther Pitch, Pamela demonstrates a passion for helping others succeed. We are honored to welcome her as this year’s graduate Commencement speaker.”
Nearly 2,100 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees will be awarded between PSU’s two commencement exercises, which will take place outdoors on Mary Lyon Lawn. Attendance will be limited to graduates, speakers and University officials, and both ceremonies will be live-streamed for family and friends.