UVU to Award Honorary Degrees at 76th Commencement on May 4

University Marketing & Communications: Layton Shumway | 801-863-6863 | LShumway@uvu.edu


Utah Valley University will award four honorary doctorate degrees during its 76th Commencement on Thursday, May 4, including an honorary doctorate of humane letters to President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who is the evening’s featured speaker.

Honorary degree recipients also include Brent Wood and Keith Nellesen, local businessmen and autism advocates, and Shirlee Silversmith, current director of the Division of Indian Affairs for Utah.

Commencement exercises begin at 6:30 p.m. in the UCCU Center on UVU’s Orem Campus.

Henry B. Eyring: Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters

President Henry B. Eyring was named first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Feb. 3, 2008. Previously, he had served as second counselor in the First Presidency to President Gordon B. Hinckley since Oct. 6, 2007. He was sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on April 1, 1995, having previously served as a member of the Seventy since Oct. 3, 1992. President Eyring was president of present-day BYU-Idaho (then Ricks College) in Rexburg, Idaho, from 1971 to 1977. Prior to that, he held a tenured faculty position at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. He earned a B.S. degree in physics from the University of Utah and Master of Business Administration degree and Doctorate in Business Administration from Harvard University.

Keith Nellesen: Honorary Doctorate of Business

Nellesen co-founded Vivint, formerly known as APX Alarm, a home security, home automation, and energy conservation company, where he served as the chief financial officer and president until December 2009. Today, he is the Chief Executive Officer of McColee Partners, a venture capital investment firm specializing in early-stage investments. Nellesen is also currently the chairman and CEO of NUVI, a real-time social media analytics platform, in Lehi. Another McColee company is SnapPower, a home automation technology company that uses patented technology to turn electrical outlets and light switch cover plates into home automation solutions. Keith and Melisa Nellesen have a passion for assisting the autism community in Utah Valley. This passion led them to provide the lead gift to jump-start Utah Valley University’s plans for an autism center. The gift is being recognized in the naming of The Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism, which will be housed in the Cole Nellesen Building.

Shirlee Silversmith: Honorary Doctorate of Public Service

In July 2011, Governor Gary R. Herbert, appointed Silversmith as the director for the Utah Division of Indian Affairs (UDIA). The position serves as a liaison and promotes positive intergovernmental relations with and between eight Utah Indian Tribes, the office of the governor, federal and state agencies, and local entities. Silversmith worked with the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) as the Indian Education Specialist for nearly 20 years. She was primarily responsible for improving Indian education within elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools of the Utah public school system. Furthermore, she directed outreach efforts and training for improved relations with Tribal Nations and educators. Silversmith also facilitated the development of the Indian Education strategic plan and organized the Utah American Indian/Alaska Native Education Advisory Committee. Other achievements include development of grants and funding to cultivate American Indian curriculum and resource materials for classroom use.

Brent Wood: Honorary Doctorate of Education

After receiving his law degree from the University of Utah, Brent Wood worked for the U.S. Department of Defense where he negotiated and wrote procurement contracts and was an expert in federal contract law. Wood often testified at Congressional hearings in Washington, D.C., the Pentagon, and the GAO on needed changes to federal procurement law. Returning in 1970 to Utah, he started two companies which supplied aircraft parts to every airline in the world. His businesses continued to grow through acquiring 12 other subsidiary companies around the United States and the world. Mr. Wood’s companies became approved by the Federal Aviation Administration on the design and manufacturing of more than 5,000 different aircraft parts, and his companies acted as a distributor with a total product offering of more than 250,000 different aircraft parts. For several years, Mr. Wood has been involved in offering resources and support relating to autism. The latest partnership with UVU and the Utah State Board of Education is the Statewide Star program for the unification of education of students with autism in all of the school districts in Utah, an effort funded for three years by the J. Brent and Kathryn P. Wood Foundation.

Fourth region (Section 1)