Chinese-Born Entrepreneur, Alexion CEO to Address Graduates
Chinese-Born Entrepreneur, Alexion CEO to Address Graduates

by Dave Cranshaw
UNH Today Editor

Ming Hsieh, a Chinese-born entrepreneur and engineer, and David Hallal, chief executive officer of New Haven-based Alexion, a global biopharmaceutical company, will address graduates at a pair of Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 15, at the Toyota Presents Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford.

The morning ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. and include graduates of the College of Business and the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences. Hsieh will receive an honorary degree and deliver the Commencement address. 

The afternoon exercise for graduates of the Tagliatela College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences will begin at 3:30 p.m. Hallal will address the graduates and receive an honorary degree.

(L-R) Ming Hsieh and David Hallal

More than 1,200 undergraduate and graduate degrees will be awarded.

Hsieh is the chief executive officer and founder of Fulgent Diagnostics, a California-based leader in the development of flexible and affordable genetic testing.  The company, which he launched in 2011, focuses on cancer drug research, personalized cancer treatments and genetic diagnostics.

Prior to forming Fulgent, Hsieh was the founder and CEO of Cogent, Inc., a software company that revolutionized automated fingerprint identification. The company, which went public in 2004, provides the technology used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for real-time identification to expedite the entry/exit process for travelers around the world who are entering the U.S.  In 2010, Cogent was acquired by 3M, a Fortune 100 company.

A self-made entrepreneur from China, Hsieh came to the United States in 1980 after two years of college at the South China Institute of Technology, now known as the South China University of Technology.  He enrolled at the University of Southern California and earned both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in electrical engineering.

In 2015, Hallal was named Alexion’s second CEO in its 24-year history. He is charged with leading the company to expand its position as a global leader in delivering life-transforming therapies for patients with devastating and rare diseases through an important acquisition and the approvals and launches of two highly innovative products.

Under Hallal’s leadership, the company returned to New Haven, where it was founded, establishing its new global headquarters that is a centerpiece of the Downtown Crossing redevelopment project.

Prior to becoming CEO, Hallal was chief operating officer and led strategic enterprise-wide initiatives that focused on diverse aspects of Alexion’s business, including the expansion of the company’s research and development pipeline and manufacturing operations.  Previously, Hallal was Alexion’s first chief commercial officer.

Hallal joined Alexion in 2006 to build the company’s commercial operations, and he led the successful introduction of Soliris® (eculizumab), the company’s first product for the treatment of two ultra-rare, life-threatening, genetic blood disorders.

Also receiving honorary degrees at the morning ceremony will be Herb Chambers and Shelley Stewart Jr. ’90 EMBA.

Chambers is president of The Herb Chambers Companies, which comprises 56 automobile dealerships representing 35 franchises in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  The company, which has more than 2,300 employees, is the largest automobile dealership group in the Northeast and the sixth largest privately held automobile company in America. 

The company has earned more J.D. Power Certified Retailer Awards than any other automobile dealership in North America, and Chambers was named the Massachusetts Automobile Dealer of the Year in 2008.  The Herb Chambers Companies has been voted one of the best places to work for in Massachusetts every year since 2009 and is the first automobile dealership group to ever make this list.

Stewart is vice president of sourcing and logistics and chief procurement officer at DuPont, a world leader in market-driven innovation and science.  A certified professional in supply management (CPSM), he joined the company in 2012 and leads global procurement and logistics activities totaling $20 billion annually. 

Prior to joining DuPont, Stewart was senior vice president of operational excellence and chief procurement officer at Tyco, where he helped save $1 billion within his first three years. Stewart was recognized in 2012 by Black Enterprise magazine as one of the most powerful executives in corporate America.  He is a co-author of Straight to the Bottom Line: An Executive’s Roadmap to World Class Supply Management, which explores the impact of a strategic approach to supply chain management.

At the afternoon ceremony, honorary degrees will also be awarded to Allen Sack, a former UNH professor who retired last year after 40 years of service to the University, and Catherine Smith, the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

Sack established the University’s sport management major, which has grown into one of the most respected in the country. He is nationally recognized for his efforts to reform the NCAA, the governing body for intercollegiate athletics, and he is a former president of The Drake Group, a national organization of faculty and staff from universities across the country who seek to defend academic integrity in college sports.

He has supported legislation at the state and national levels to maintain athletes as an integral part of the student body.  He has met with the U.S. Secretary of Education and others to support a bill to create a President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on big-time college sports.

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