Jack Aronson to Give OCC's 2016 Commencement Address

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Jack Aronson is Oakland Community College’s Class of 2016 commencement speaker. The event on Saturday, May 21, marks OCC’s 50th commencement ceremony.

Aronson is widely known as the founders of Garden Fresh Gourmet. He and his wife, Annette, sold the company to Campbell Soup Company in 2015 and launched a new enterprise, Clean Planet, for health conscious consumers. In addition, the Aronsons' continue to help incubate and mentor food startups through the nonprofit Startup Engine Entrepreneur Depot (SEED), with Eastern Market Corp.

"Commencement is the culmination of preparing our students to move on to their greater life goals. As a successful entrepreneur and recognized community leader, Jack Aronson personifies this success," said OCC Chancellor Timothy Meyer. "We're delighted OCC's 2016 graduates and guests will hear from Jack on what it means to reach for greater potential, achieve individual goals, and give back by leading productive lives, particular as they start this important next step as college graduates."

In addition to Aronson's business success, he and his wife have significantly supported the community in the areas of literacy education, assistance for children, affordable housing, and more. In December 2015, they created the Artichoke Garlic Foundation to continue in these efforts.

Oakland Community College's 2016 Commencement Ceremony is Saturday, May 21, 2016, at 2 p.m. at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Approximately 2,700 students will graduate to help fulfill the talent needs in region. This year's 50th commencement ceremony brings the number of OCC graduates to nearly 87,000.


Under Aronson's leadership, Garden Fresh philanthropic efforts include a grant to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center for blood disease research as well as ongoing support for the Children's Hospital and Boys & Girls Club, where Aronson is a trustee.

The company also donates used tortilla chip oil to the Michigan Technical Academy, where it's converted to biodiesel fuel for buses. Aronson also has been involved in relief efforts in Haiti, including visiting and helping in person.

In 2007, Aronson was named Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year in the marketing and consumer products category. The salsas have won several awards, including the Fiery Food Challenge and Scovie Awards.

About OCC

With multi campus system throughout Oakland County, Oakland Community College is committed to providing academic and developmental experiences that allows each student to reach their full potential and enhance the diverse communities they serve. A fully accredited college, OCC offers degrees and certificates in approximately 100 career fields and university transfer degrees in business, science and the liberal arts. More than a million students have enrolled in the College since it opened in 1965.


Media Contact: Bridget M. Kavanaugh | Marketing & Communications | (248) 341-2020 | bmkavana@oaklandcc.edu