Eastern Michigan University announces spring commencement speaker and honorary degree recipients

Entrepreneur Chris Kaufman, the Honorable Trudy Archer, and educator Mohamad Issa to be recognized

Graduates in caps and gowns at an EMU Commencement ceremony listen to a speaker on the stage.
(EMU file photo)

YPSILANTI — Eastern Michigan University announced Chris Kaufman, entrepreneur, executive, author, investor, and EMU alumnus, will serve as the keynote speaker for the commencement ceremonies on Saturday, April 27, 2024, at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in the George Gervin GameAbove Center, 799 N. Hewitt Rd. in Ypsilanti. More than 1,700 students are eligible to participate in the spring commencement ceremony.

Chris Kaufman

Kaufman, who will receive an honorary doctorate in commercial science, brings a wealth of experience and inspiration to the graduating class and is thrilled to inspire the next generation of Eagles as they begin a new chapter. 

“It's about weaving the rich tapestry of EMU's history, values, and traditions into a vision that propels graduates forward,” said Kaufman. “This university is an intersection of diversity, innovation, and resilience, and this is a moment to challenge, celebrate, and ignite the indomitable spirit of the Eagles, reminding them that their journey is just beginning and that the path they carve from here can change the world.”

As an entrepreneur, executive, author, and investor, Kaufman focuses on initiatives that build communities, solve human-centric problems, and positively impact Detroit and the surrounding region. He’s the co-founder and former chief creative officer of StockX, a revolutionary, global e-commerce platform where he built a full-service, in-house creative agency from the ground up. Recently valued at $3.8 billion, StockX has created over 2,000 jobs worldwide, many of which are in Detroit.

He’s also an investor and advisor for numerous venture-backed startups led by female and minority founders and a member of the Advisory Board at GameAbove. This philanthropic alumni group provides resources and support for EMU and the Ypsilanti community. Kaufman recently co-founded ArtClvb, the world’s first network-based marketplace platform created for the art world. It merges marketplace and authentication technologies with social mechanics, empowering artists, collectors, and galleries to display, buy, and sell art while delivering royalties and building relationships. 

Kaufman graduated from Eastern in 2007 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art. He is pursuing his Master of Fine Arts in 2D design at the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Master of Science in learning and organizational change at Northwestern University. 


Honorary Degree Recipients: Honorable Trudy Archer and Mohamad Issa

In addition to Kaufman's address, Eastern will confer honorary degrees upon two distinguished leaders recognized for their exemplary contributions to their communities.

The honorable Trudy Archer

The honorable Trudy Archer will receive an honorary doctorate of public affairs. She was appointed by Governor James Blanchard in 1989 and served on the bench for over 17 years before retiring from Michigan’s 36th District Court. Additionally,  she served as first lady of Detroit from 1994 to 2001 while her husband, Dennis Archer, was the mayor. As First Lady, she advocated for the children of Detroit. Archer is a member of many organizations, including the National Bar Association, NAACP, and Detroit Institute of Arts. She’s also a recipient of many awards. Archer is an EMU and Wayne State University graduate who taught for a few years before entering the Detroit College of Law law school. She began her legal career as an assistant corporation counsel for Detroit. Several years later, she was appointed assistant dean at the Detroit College of Law from which she was appointed to the 36th District Court.

Mohamad Issa

Mohamad Issa will receive an honorary doctorate of public service. He is the founder and director of Global Educational Excellence, an education management and development organization based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His company has expanded its management and development to 14 public school academies in Southeast Michigan and now has a presence in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. 

Issa has been recognized for his contributions to the community, including being named an Economic Bridge Builder by the Arab Chamber of Commerce in 2017. Additionally, he is dedicated to several philanthropic initiatives, particularly in education and community development. He is a member of numerous professional associations and charity boards supporting diverse communities. Issa holds a degree in business management from Central Michigan University.


Graduates from the College of Business, GameAbove College of Engineering and Technology, and the College of Health and Human Services will participate in the 9:30 a.m. ceremony.  Doors open at 8 a.m. Graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education, and the Individualized Studies Program will participate in the 1:30 p.m. ceremony. Doors open at noon. A live stream link will also be available on the Commencement home page on the event day. Doors open at 8 a.m., and early arrival is encouraged to allow time for the entrance screening process. To ensure attendees' safety, individuals can bring the following bags into the arena after inspection: a small clutch no larger than 4" x 6"; a clear plastic/vinyl bag no larger than 12" x 6" with one side completely clear of any logo or decoration; or one-gallon clear plastic freezer bags.

For more information, visit the commencement webpage

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 13,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

April 18, 2024

Written by:
Melissa Thrasher

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher