Georgia Tech Celebrates Fall Commencement

Ambassador Andrew Young and Suniva CEO to address graduates

The Georgia Institute of Technology celebrates its 238th commencement with approximately 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students participating in two ceremonies.  Graduates will be receiving bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees through Georgia Tech’s six colleges, thirty schools and the Georgia Tech­Savannah program.

John Baumstark
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John Baumstark, founding chairman and CEO, Suniva Inc.

Ambassador Andrew Young, Chairman, GoodWorks International LLC, will address the master’s and PhD candidates at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on Friday, December 17, at 7 p.m., while John Baumstark, founding chairman and CEO, Suniva Inc., will address the undergraduate candidates at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, December 18, at 9 a.m.

Former ambassador to the United Nations, former U.S. congressman from Georgia and former mayor of Atlanta, Andrew Young has an extensive history of engaging in humanitarian efforts that have spanned the globe.

From his early days as an ordained minister and key aide to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement to his current position as founding principal and chair of GoodWorks International, an organization that embraces his long-held mission of facilitating economic development in the Caribbean and Africa, Young has dedicated himself to improving the lives of all people, particularly those in Africa and the Diaspora.

Young’s “good works” have taken him to more than 150 countries, including 48 of 53 countries in Africa. Through his leadership, nations throughout the world have created a successful model that combines religion, education, democracy and free enterprise in ways that support the public good.

After being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives three consecutive times, Young was appointed by President Jimmy Carter as the country’s first African American ambassador to the United Nations. In 1996, he was awarded the Olympic Order, the highest award of the Olympic Movement, for his work as international vice president for Law Engineering and chair of the Centennial Olympic Games hosted in Atlanta. 

While serving two terms as mayor of Atlanta, Young helped attract 1,100 new businesses and $70 billion in private investments, and helped create 1 million new jobs. His leadership was vital to the city’s achieving the international reputation it enjoys today.

Young serves or has served on numerous corporate boards of directors and advisory boards, including the Southern African Enterprise Development Fund, the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation, the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Diversapack, Barrick Gold, United Nations, AMC and the Atlanta Falcons. He has also received honorary degrees from more than sixty institutions, including Howard University (his alma mater), Swarthmore College, Duke University, Emory University, Clark Atlanta University, the University of Georgia, and Morehouse College, which named its Center for International Affairs in his honor.

In addition he has received honorary degrees from international educational institutions including the University of Pretoria (South Africa) and the University of Maiduguri (Nigeria). Georgia State University’s School of Policy Studies, which carries his name, is one of the highest ranked policy schools in the United States.

As CEO of Suniva, John Baumstark leads a highly efficient manufacturer of affordable solar cells and modules. Suniva, headquartered in Norcross, Georgia, evolved in 2007 from Baumstark’s collaboration with Ajeet Rohatgi, Regents’ Professor and founding director of Georgia Tech’s University Center of Excellence for Photovoltaics (UCEP).

In 2008 Suniva began production of its first-generation solar cells, achieving the fastest production ramp-up in solar manufacturing. In just three years, Suniva dramatically expanded its production capacity, set world records for solar cell efficiencies and was named Renewable Energy Exporter of the Year by the Export-Import (EX-IM) Bank of the United States. (In 2009 Suniva exported more than 90 percent of its production.) Last spring, Baumstark accepted the EX-IM Bank’s award in Washington, D.C., where he also introduced President Barack Obama before a major policy speech on U.S. exports. Also this year, The Wall Street Journal ranked Suniva #2 on its list of the “Top 10 Venture-Backed, Clean Technology Companies.”

Baumstark has more than twenty years’ experience in early- and late-stage private and public companies. Prior to founding Suniva, he was an operating partner at H.I.G. Ventures, providing overall strategy for the fund as well as development of portfolio companies.

Baumstark holds a bachelor’s degree in business and economics from Colorado College and is a graduate of the AeA Stanford Executive Institute.

The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the world's premier research universities. Ranked seventh among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities and the eighth best engineering and information technology university in the world by Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities, Georgia Tech’s more than 20,000 students are enrolled in its Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management and Sciences. Tech is among the nation's top producers of women and minority engineers. The Institute offers research opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and is home to more than 100 interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute.