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Press Releases

Friday, December 3, 2004

Branch, Hanson Honored at 79th Year Winter Commencement

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University salutes two of its distinguished alumni during the University’s 79th year winter commencement. Some 440 students graduate on Saturday, December 18, at 2 p.m. in the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center. During the ceremony, the SU Alumni Association, representing the University’s 31,000 alumni, presents Delegate Talmadge T. Branch of Maryland’s 45th Legislative District, Baltimore City, with the Service to Society Award, and Salisbury attorney Hugh K. Hanson with the Alumni Service Award. Senior Kristen John, a psychology and conflict analysis and dispute resolution major from Olney, MD, delivers the commencement address. Branch earned a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies from SU in 1980. As a student, he interned with the Baltimore City Council, an assignment that ultimately led him to dedicate his life to public service. In 1984 he became a special assistant to Maryland’s first African-American U.S. congressman, Parren J. Mitchell of Baltimore. In the late 1980s Branch became a registered lobbyist in Washington, D.C., influencing national business legislation through his work for the Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund. His work to eliminate guns and drugs from schools as president of the Young Democrats of Baltimore earned national accolades on CBS Evening News. Branch was appointed a representative to Baltimore’s first elected African-American mayor, Kurt L. Schmoke, and in 1994 Branch was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates, representing some 100,000 residents of the city. In Annapolis he has sponsored legislation to enhance employment opportunities throughout the state. He is vice chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee. Hanson, since graduating in 1968, has remained active at his Alma Mater. He served as president of the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors from 1999 through SU’s 75th anniversary in 2001, a period in which the Association saw tremendous growth. “Hugh worked to involve more alumni, students, faculty and staff in programs at every level,” said Assistant Alumni Relations Director Melinda Khazeh, who worked closely with Hanson during that time. Under his leadership, SU saw a record number of alumni participants during Homecoming and Family Weekend. He also encouraged alumni participation in SU’s first FUNDay Festival for University Neighbors. Since 1974, Hanson has served the Salisbury area as a member of the law firm Cullen, Insley, Hanson and Benson, LLP. He is a past board member of the Wicomico County Humane Society and a member of the Allenwood Neighborhood Association, as well as an assistant coach to the Salisbury Optimist Club soccer team and a local advisor to the Boy Scouts of America. John’s talk focuses on what she and her fellow students have learned at SU, not only in the classroom, but through clubs, student organizations, internships and community service. “The abilities to manage stress, multi-task and manage time efficiently are just a few lessons that are essential in the academic realm as well as in life in general,” she said. John is president of the Conflict Resolution Club and secretary of the Psychology Club, as well as coordinator for Campus Mediation. She is an All-American Scholar and has been named one of SU’s Outstanding Citizens. She also has been listed in Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. Johns is a member of the Phi Eta Sigma freshman honor society, Pi Gamma Mu social sciences national honor society, Psi Chi national psychology honor society, Phi Kappa Phi international honor society and Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society. Among undergraduates, 207 students receive the Bachelor of Science, 140 the Bachelor of Arts, 10 the Bachelor of Fine Arts and three the Bachelor of Social Work. Graduate degrees include Master of Arts—28; Master of Education—27; Master of Science—12; Master of Business Administration—12; and Master of Social Work—1. Admission to commencement is by ticket only. A reception follows in the Fireside Lounge of the Guerrieri University Center. The reception does not require tickets. For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at

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