The Pursuit of Happyness’ Christopher P. Gardner Keynote Speaker At The Lincoln University’s 154th Commencement

Lincoln alumnus and Founding Rector of Polytechnic of Namibia among honorary degree recipients


LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, PA – The Pursuit of Happyness’ Christopher P. Gardner will be the keynote speaker at The Lincoln University’s 154th Commencement on Friday, May 10.  Gardner, entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist, is the bestselling author of The Pursuit of Happyness and the inspiration for the acclaimed movie starring Will Smith.  He will be joined by Dr. Tjama Tjivikua ’83, Founding Rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia as honorary degree recipients. 

The Pursuit Of Happyness’ Christopher P. Gardner

Commencement exercises will begin at 9 a.m. at The Lincoln University Lions Stadium.  In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held indoors at the Manuel Rivero Hall Gymnasium.

Christopher P. Gardner – Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

Christopher P. Gardner is an entrepreneur, author, motivational speaker, philanthropist, and single parent whose work has been recognized by many esteemed organizations.

His 2006 autobiography, The Pursuit of Happyness, chronicled a series of adverse circumstances that left Gardner and his toddler son homeless in San Francisco, while he struggled to pursue a career as a stockbroker during the early 1980s.

Refusing to abandon his son or his dreams, the tenacious Gardner climbed the financial industry ladder from the very bottom.  He worked at Dean Witter Reynolds and Bear Stearns & Co before founding the brokerage firm Gardner Rich & Co. in Chicago in 1987.

The memoir, both a New York Times and Washington Post #1 bestseller, has been translated into over 40 languages and was the inspiration for the acclaimed movie, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” starring Will Smith, as Gardner, who received Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Academy Award nominations for his performance.

Gardner, who credits his tenacity and success to the “spiritual genetics” handed down to him by his mother, Bettye Jean (Gardner) Triplett, and to the high expectations placed on him by his children, son, Chris Jr. and daughter, Jacintha.

His second bestselling book, Start Where You Are: Life Lessons in Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, was published in May 2009.   In the fall of 2010, the nearly 40-million member AARP named Gardner the Ambassador of Pursuit and Happyness for AARP.  His mission is to share his hard-won wisdom to encourage the 50+ audience to pursue new challenges, search for fulfillment at any stage of life, or craft the legacy they want to leave behind.

As a motivational speaker and philanthropist, his aim is to help others achieve their full potential while he is also passionately committed to organizations that combat violence against women, homelessness, financial illiteracy and that advocate for access to medical care and treatment.  His practical guidance and inspirational story has been featured on “The CBS Evening News,” “20/20,” “Oprah,” “Today Show,” “The View,” “Entertainment Tonight,” as well as in People, USA Today, Associated Press, New York Times, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Jet, Reader’s Digest, Trader Monthly, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Post and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, amongst other publications.

For his efforts, he has been honored by the NAACP Image Awards with awards for both the book and movie versions of The Pursuit of Happyness; Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women’s (LACAAW) 2006 Humanitarian Award; The Continental Africa Chamber of Commerce’s 2006 Friends of Africa Award; The Glaucoma Foundation’s Kitty Carlisle Hart Lifetime Achievement Award; and by The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) among others.

Gardner lives in Chicago.

Dr. Tjama Tjivikua ’83 – Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

Dr. Tjama Tjivikua ’83, Founding Rector at the Polytechnic of Namibia, is regarded as one of the most prominent figures in Namibia.

Dr. Tjivikua, who is currently in his 18th year of tenure, has dedicated his life to the upward development and sustainability of Namibia with the development of the Polytechnic, which offers international standard degrees at the Bachelor, Honors and Master level. Since 1996, enrollment has grown from 2,500 to more than 13,000 in 2013, with a staff that has grown from 130 to 900.

Dr. Tjama Tjivikua ’83
Founding Rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia

His vision has steered the Polytechnic as one of Africa’s leading science and technology universities, enjoying global recognition with over 80 international partnerships. Since 2002, the Polytechnic has been recognized as the best tertiary education institution in Namibia by the annual Public Management Review and also won the Diamond Arrow Award (Top Prize) since 2009. In 2011, Polytechnic was honored with the Golden Key Award by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) as the most open and transparent government/public institution in Namibia.

In March 2013, Dr. Tjivikua received the honorary medal from Germany’s FH Aachen-University of Applied Sciences, as an academic honor and gratitude for the innovative partnership between the universities.

The Polytechnic has also been a key driver of social and economic transformation in Namibia, propelling the country to higher standards of global economic competitiveness.  Under Dr. Tjivikua’s leadership, the Polytechnic established the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL); Centre for Entrepreneurial Development (CED); Centre for Open and Lifelong Learning (COLL); Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Institute (REEEI); the Namibian-German Centre for Logistics (NGCL); and the Namibia Business Innovation Centre (NBIC).

Last year, the Cabinet of the Republic of Namibia approved Dr. Tjivikua’s application to rename the Polytechnic as Namibia University of Science and Technology in late 2013 – affirming its status in the Namibian higher education sector.

A 1983 graduate of The Lincoln University, he received a M.S. degree from the University of Lowell (now University of Massachusetts, Lowell), a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and a completed thesis on molecular recognition in organic chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.).  He also taught at Lincoln University as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry from 1990-1995 before leaving to become the Founding Rector at the Polytechnic of Namibia.

For more information contact:

Eric Christopher Webb

Office of Communications & Public Relations

at (484) 365-8094



The Lincoln University, founded in 1854 as the nation’s first degree-granting Historically Black College and University (HBCU), combines the elements of a liberal arts and science-based undergraduate curriculum along with select graduate programs to meet the needs of those living in a highly-technological and global society.  Today, the University enrolls a diverse student body of approximately 2,000 men and women.  Internationally recognized for preparing and producing world class leaders such as Thurgood Marshall, the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Lillian Fishburne, the first African American woman promoted to Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy, Langston Hughes, the noted poet, Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana and Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first President of Nigeria.

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