Morgan State University President David K. Wilson announced today the selection of Sir Samuel Esson Jonah, chancellor of the University of Cape Coast Ghana and executive chairman of Jonah Capital, to serve as keynote speaker at the university’s 147th Spring Commencement.

Ranked among the world’s most influential business people, Sir Jonah is recognised throughout Africa and internationally for his business acumen and advising heads of state.

Sir Jonah will deliver remarks to graduates, faculty, administrators, and guests at the annual spring exercises scheduled for Saturday, May 18, at Hughes Memorial Stadium on the University’s campus.

“Sir Samuel Jonah is one the world’s most respected and acclaimed leaders, a titan of business whose legacy resonates across continents, and we’re honoured to have him address our spring graduates,” said President Wilson.

“Sir Jonah’s remarkable journey, from the helm of multinational corporations to his advisory roles with global leaders, epitomises the spirit of excellence, leadership, integrity and innovation that we seek to instil in our graduates.

"His presence as the commencement speaker will serve as a beacon of inspiration for our students as they embark on their paths of leadership and service to society.”

As the current chancellor of the University of Cape Coast Ghana, Sir Jonah has amassed an accomplished career spanning higher education governance and the highest echelons of world industry and business.

Sir Jonah is a former Member of the Board of Ashesi University in Ghana, a visiting business professor at the University of Witwatersrand Business School of Johannesburg, and a member of its Governing Council. He is also a trustee of the U.K.-based Nelson Mandela Legacy Trust.

Sir Jonah cemented his success in the business world as CEO of Ashanti Goldfields Company Limited, spearheading its advancement from a one-mine operation to a multinational excavation and extraction company.

Under Sir Jonah’s leadership, Ashanti became the first operating African corporation listed on the New York Stock Exchange. 

In addition to conferring degrees to the newly minted Class of 2024 Morgan graduates, Morgan will bestow two honorary degrees: one to the commencement keynote speaker, Sir Samuel Jonah, and the other to famed Morgan State alumna Valerie Thomas (class of 1964).

Both will receive honorary “Doctor of Science” degrees at the 147th Spring Commencement Ceremonies.

Renown for her accomplishments as a NASA scientist and inventor of the foundational technology widely used and adapted for 3D imaging in applications ranging from surgery to the production of television and video screens, Valerie Thomas honed her interests in electronics, mathematics, physics and the intricacies of research at Morgan State.

Thomas catapulted her name into the annals of great American scientists and inventors after receiving her bachelor’s degree in physics at Morgan and embarking on a 30-year career at NASA. 

During her tenure at NASA, Thomas managed the development of the image-processing systems for Landsat, the first satellite to send images to the Earth from space.

In 1980, Thomas was awarded a patent for an illusion transmitter, a device that produces optical illusion images via two concave mirrors.

NASA used this technology, which became seminal in producing 3D imaging adapted to surgical medicine and video screens.

To Thomas’s credit, her contributions to modern technology are vast. From her initial position at NASA as a data analyst/mathematician to being a Project Manager of the Space Physics Analysis Network and Associate Chief of the Space Science Data Operations Office, Thomas has left an indelible mark on the study of space.

She helped to develop computer program designs that supported research on Halley’s Comet, the ozone layer, and satellite technology.

Thomas received several NASA awards for her achievements, including the Goddard Space Flight Center Award of Merit and the NASA Equal Opportunity Medal.

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