Donaldson is a former National Basketball Association All-Star whose career spanned 14 seasons with teams such as the Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks and Seattle SuperSonics. More recently, he ran for Seattle mayor in 2009 and is the author of the aptly named motivational book Standing Above the Crowd (Donaldson is 7 feet 2 inches tall).
"James Donaldson is the ideal person to address our graduating students," said Bastyr University President Daniel K. Church , PhD. "As a man who has had success in many facets of his life, Mr. Donaldson can pass along his wisdom and experience to the next generation, inspiring them during a time when their lives are full of uncertainty but also endless possibility."
Adding to Donaldson's appeal as speaker, he is a strict vegetarian, a strong advocate for the empowerment of women and people of color, and was a longtime member of the Bastyr University Board of Regents. His passion for the University's mission and ability to touch lives through his inspiring and motivational speaking were also factors in his selection, as were his stories about making the right choices, overcoming fear and self-doubt, and staying resilient and goal-focused in the face of tough challenges.
At the commencement exercises, Bastyr University will award students with doctoral, master's and bachelor's degrees in: naturopathic medicine, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, nutrition, exercise science and wellness, herbal sciences and health psychology, as well as certificates in naturopathic midwifery and Chinese herbal medicine. Additionally, Bastyr will confer an honorary degree upon Penny Simkin, PT, a popular child educator who is the senior instructor and namesake for Bastyr University's Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations.