Mark W. Spong, D.Sc., ’75, a roboticist who serves as the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering and the Excellence in Education Chair at the University of Texas at Dallas, will deliver the 2019 commencement address at Hiram College on May 11. Since graduating from his alma mater, Dr. Spong has enjoyed a highly successful academic career in robotics. His personal and professional successes speak directly to the value of a liberal arts education and the understanding that change—in every facet of 21st-century life—is inevitable.
“Over the past few years, Hiram College has invited an alumna or alumnus to deliver the commencement address at graduation so that they can share personal and professional success stories and serve as an example for what a Hiram graduate can accomplish over the course of their life and career,” says Lori Varlotta, Ph.D., president of Hiram College. “I believe that the Hiram Class of 2019 will be fascinated to hear Dr. Spong’s story and the types of opportunities that they might pursue with their newly minted Hiram College degree.”
A native of Warren, Ohio, Dr. Spong graduated magna cum laude from Hiram College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics. Dr. Spong then pursued a Master of Arts degree from New Mexico State University, also in mathematics, followed by a Doctor of Science degree in systems science and mathematics from Washington State University in St. Louis.
For nearly ten years, Dr. Spong served as Dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at University of Texas at Dallas. In this role, he established four new academic departments, nine new degree programs, increased student enrollment, and more than doubled the size of the faculty. Under Dr. Spong’s leadership, annual research expenditures in the school increased from $27 million to over $56 million.
In addition to his role at the University of Texas at Dallas, Dr. Spong has held faculty positions at Lehigh University, Cornell University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has also been awarded three endowed faculty positions.
Dr. Spong has published over 300 technical articles and six books in robotics and control systems. He has received numerous national and international awards for education and research, including the Bode Lecture Prize from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Control Systems Society, the Nyquist Lecture Prize from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Pioneer in Robotics Award from the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, and the first IROS Fumio Harashima Award for Innovative Technologies. He is an International Federation of Automatic Control Fellow and a Life Fellow of the IEEE.
Commencement day activities will begin at 8:30 a.m. with an induction ceremony for students named to Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest honor society for the liberal arts and sciences in the United States. A pinning ceremony for graduating nursing students will be held at 9:30 a.m., followed by a brunch reception for graduates and their families, the traditional class picture, and a 2 p.m. commencement ceremony at Hiram’s Martin Field House.
by Jenelle Bayus