Commencement honorees announced
Fitchburg State University this week celebrates its 116th commencement exercises. The Graduate Commencement ceremony, to be held Thursday, May 17 at 6:30 p.m. in Weston Auditorium, will include awards to Dr. Elaine Francis, professor emerita, for outstanding contributions to the graduate program, and Beverly S. Farias ’52, who will be presented the Trustee Award for Service.
The Undergraduate Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 19 at 10 a.m. on the main quad will feature the commencement address by Ethan F. Becker ’93 and the presentation of Distinguished Alumnae Awards to Juliette C. Youngblood ’84 and Simone M. Youngblood ’84.
Dr. Elaine Francis, professor emerita, is a dedicated educator who has devoted more than three decades of her professional life to the Fitchburg State community.
A graduate of Fitchburg State’s Special Education Department, and a faculty member since 1978, Francis became the university’s first dean of education in 2003. Throughout her career she insisted on high standards for the university’s programs to ensure that graduates were highly qualified to become educators. Before working at the university she spent years as a teacher of children and adult students with moderate to severe special needs. She built on this work to co-author a textbook, Understanding and Implementing Inclusion: A Practical Guide for Classroom Teachers, published in 2003 and still in use today.
Her accomplishments at Fitchburg State include developing the curriculum for numerous programs. During her tenure as chairperson of the Special Education Department and chairperson of its moderate and severe disabilities graduate programs, Francis led a team of faculty in the development and implementation of two innovative clinical master’s degree programs. These cohort model programs, implemented in 1992, integrated curriculum strands in assessment, content, instruction, and collaboration. This model was implemented in Fitchburg, Chelmsford, Wellesley, and Worcester and continues to influence Fitchburg State’s graduate programs. She was also instrumental in the development of the university’s Reading Specialist Graduate Program.
She played a leading role in bringing the university’s programs recognition from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and worked with such third parties as extended campuses, school districts, the National Institute of School Leadership and Franklin Pierce University to develop articulation agreements and ensure program quality and integrity were extended to other university sites.
Francis took on additional responsibilities in 2010, becoming chairperson of the university’s Curriculum and Teaching graduate program. She continues to be an active member of the Education Department Curriculum Committee and, despite her retirement, will return to the classroom this summer to teach a hybrid course in collaboration for graduate students in a variety of special education master’s programs.
Beverly (Sherwin) Farias ‘52 recently completed 10 years of service to the university’s Board of Trustees, where she was an impassioned and effective voice for Fitchburg State alumni. Her commitment to the university far exceeds that term of office, however, as Farias can point to more than six decades of engagement with the campus community.
A native of Townsend, Farias arrived at Fitchburg State in 1948 and in addition to her studies worked in the alumni office under Florence Conlon from 1948 to 1952. It was on campus that she met her future husband Joseph Farias ‘53, who would go on to become a member of the college’s industrial arts faculty for many years.
After her graduation, Farias taught at the Spaulding Memorial School in Townsend before embarking on a 28-year career in educational sales, selling textbooks and encyclopedias. She continues to work part-time at Kappy’s Fine Wine & Spirits, where she hosts wine tastings.
Her commitment to her alma mater has been unswerving. She calls the Fitchburg State community a second family, and has been a highly visible champion of the institution and its goals.
A proud alumna, Farias has served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors since its creation, when it replaced the alumni council as the association’s governing authority. She has been the association’s historian for more than a decade. Her service includes more than 30 years on the group's scholarship committee - many as its chair - and also on its alumni engagement and executive committees. Farias was president of the Alumni Association from 1995 to 1998. In 1998, she was a recipient of the President’s Medal.
She was also a member of the university’s presidential search committee that led to the appointment of Robert V. Antonucci in 2003.
A stalwart champion of Fitchburg State since her arrival, Farias remains a fixture at campus celebrations, eager to tell the university’s story and pay tribute to the accomplishments of its students, faculty and staff.
Juliette Youngblood’s career has encompassed an impressive cross-section of Hollywood’s award-winning production companies, networks, and studios. Youngblood is president of Youngblood Group PC. Her longtime clients include Viacom, Paramount Pictures, CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, and Survivor Entertainment Group.
Youngblood started her legal career at O’Melveny & Myers and then joined the Entertainment Department of Irell & Manella. She was elected partner and appointed head of the firm’s Entertainment Group, a position she held until her departure to launch Youngblood Group in 2009. Youngblood has worked on numerous widely-acclaimed films, including the Mission: Impossible franchise and dozens of television shows, including Survivor.
Nationally recognized as a resourceful and innovative negotiator, Youngblood has been involved in numerous high-profile, headline-making deals, including Viacom’s acquisition of DreamWorks and Nickelodeon's acquisition of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. In addition to her law practice, she teamed with producer Mark Burnett to produce theatrical motion pictures. Youngblood was named 2010 Entertainment Lawyer of the Year by the Century City Bar Association.
A member of the Planning Committee for the University of Southern California Law School – Beverly Hills Bar Association Institute on Entertainment Law and Business, Youngblood sat on the board of the Los Angeles Copyright Society, is a long-time member of Women in Film and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and a member of The Paley Center Media Council, which is composed of the entertainment industry’s top representatives.
Youngblood received a law degree from Loyola Law School in 1990 and in 2006 was awarded its Distinguished Alumna Award. She received a master’s from the University of Virginia in 1985, and graduated with high honors and two bachelor's degrees from Fitchburg State in 1984.
Youngblood, her husband and three children reside in Los Angeles.
Among the foremost experts on military and “war game” simulation assessment, Simone Youngblood has served the United States Department of Defense with distinction for the past 16 years, leading collaborative international efforts to ensure credible use of models and simulations.
Youngblood's service as the VV&A point person for the Department of Defense includes 11 years on-site at the Department of Defense Modeling and Simulation Coordination Office.
Youngblood was editor of the Department of Defense Instruction Guide on VV&A and led the group that produced the department’s Recommended Practices Guide. Additionally, Youngblood was chairwoman of numerous groups that have developed standards related to model and simulation VV&A for use by organizations including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Department of Defense. Youngblood has also served as chairwoman for several North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) technical working groups that produced NATO guidance on model and simulation VV&A.
In addition, Youngblood has supported numerous VV&A applications for sponsors that include the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, and the Department of the Navy.
Youngblood earned two bachelor’s degrees from Fitchburg State in 1984, in mathematics and computer science, and a master’s degree in computer science from Johns Hopkins University.
Youngblood resides in Ellicott City, Maryland.