Samuel Merritt University 100th Commencement Ceremony

Samuel Merritt University


Samuel Merritt University 100th Commencement Ceremony;

More than 300 Healthcare Providers Graduating

(Oakland, Ca, May 25, 2012) - More than 300 graduates, their families, professors, and friends were on hand Friday, May 25, as Samuel Merritt University (SMU) honored its 100th graduating class. Presiding over the ceremony, which was held at Paramount Theatre 2025 Broadway, Oakland, was Sharon Diaz, SMU President.

The day was a milestone for both the graduates and the University. "These groups of graduates represent the closing of one century and the launching of the next century," said SMU spokesperson, Elizabeth Valente. "We are expanding. We are growing. We are taking a rich and remarkable foundation and creating a future of compassionate healthcare providers at the beginning of our second century that knows no limitations."

"This is a time of recognition and celebration for not only our graduates, but for everyone who supported our students in becoming healthcare providers," said John Garten-Shuman, Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services.  "Samuel Merritt University students are on their way to becoming the best providers committed to serving the communities which most need them.  It’s a validation of both the University’s excellent educational program and of the quality and dedication of our students."

The morning ceremony started with Doctor of Physical Therapy and Doctor of Podiatric Medicine program graduates. The afternoon ceremony celebrated graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN and ABSN programs), Master of Science in Nursing, Master of Occupational Therapy, and Master Physician Assistant programs. Jim Conway, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and Principal, Governance and Executive Leadership at Pascal Metrics in Washington, DC, was the 2012 Commencement speaker.

Jabari Smith joined in on the centennial celebration with his fellow graduating students from the nursing program that Friday. In a world where the nursing profession has been primarily dominated by women, Smith does not feel strange, awkward or out of place to be recognized as a registered nurse.

"It’s becoming more common to have male nurses," he said. "I am so grateful to have been accepted into Samuel Merritt University and to be part of this centennial history, particularly since the now University originally began as a nursing school."

The roots of Samuel Merritt University go back more than a century.  On January 26, 1909, Samuel Merritt Hospital opened its doors - along with a new School of Nursing. The nursing school graduated its first students in 1912 with a graduating size of 13.  During its first 75 years, the Samuel Merritt School of Nursing prepared hundreds of men and women for nursing careers. In 1981, the School discontinued its nursing diploma program, became a college, and initiated an innovative four-year baccalaureate nursing program in cooperation with Saint Mary's College of California in Moraga.  Samuel Merritt College (SMC) thus became the first - and one of the few hospital-based nursing schools in the nation - to make a successful transition to a four-year accredited degree-granting institution.

Finally, in 2009, Samuel Merritt College was officially renamed "Samuel Merritt University"  to recognize its growing contribution to research and its success in broadening its mission to provide baccalaureate-, master's-, and doctoral-level programs in multiple health disciplines, preparing tens of thousands of students for entry-level and advanced professional practice in a variety of critical health disciplines.


Samuel Merritt University, located in Oakland, California, has been educating health science practitioners who are committed to making a positive difference in diverse communities since 1909.  Nearly 1,400 students are enrolled at SMU, with campuses in Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco and San Mateo.  The University offers an undergraduate degree in nursing; master's degrees in nursing, occupational therapy, and physician assistant; and doctoral degrees in nursing, physical therapy and podiatric medicine.

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