Niagara University's 2016 slate of commencement ceremonies will be highlighted by addresses from the executive director of patient care services at a prominent cancer hospital, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The Wall Street Journal, and a celebrated Canadian musician and humanitarian.
Niagara University will hold three commencement events - two for undergraduates - as well as a special liturgy and ROTC commissioning, all of which will take place on the upper level of the Gallagher Center.
Approximately 1,084 academic degrees are expected to be awarded.
Admission will be granted to ticketed guests only.
The keynote speaker for Niagara's graduate/Ph.D. commencement exercises, scheduled for Thursday, May 12, at 7 p.m., will be Chantal Kreviazuk, one of the most powerful contemporary influences on Canadian music and culture. Trained from childhood as a classical pianist, Kreviazuk moved gradually into pop music, and attained stardom in 1998 when she recorded her version of John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane" for the movie "Armageddon." In 2003, her own composition, "Feels Like Home," was featured in the hit film "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days." Kreviazuk is also known for her support of War Child Canada, a foundation that provides assistance for children living in dangerous war zones.
Kreviazuk will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from NU, as will her husband, fellow musician and humanitarian Raine Maida, the frontman of top Canadian band Our Lady Peace; and longtime Niagara Falls City School District administrator Cynthia A. Bianco, M.S.Ed.'70.
On Friday, May 13, a commencement liturgy will take place in the upper level of the Gallagher Center at 4 p.m. The day concludes with a senior class gala at 5 p.m. and the ROTC commissioning at 7 p.m.
Bret Stephens, the 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, editorial board member and deputy editorial page editor for The Wall Street Journal, will deliver the commencement address to Niagara's colleges of Business Administration and Hospitality and Tourism Management at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 14. Stephens joined The Wall Street Journal at age 24, then became editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post at 28 before returning to The Journal three years later to cover stories from around the globe. He is also a regular panelist on "The Journal Editorial Report," a weekly political talk show carried by Fox News. He won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Commentary in recognition of "his incisive columns on American foreign policy and domestic politics."
Stephens serves as a trustee of the Naval War College Foundation, and also supports organizations committed to American-Israeli solidarity. He recently served as chair of the international reporting jury for the 2016 Pulitzer Prizes. Stephens will receive an honorary doctorate from NU.
At 3 p.m. Saturday, May 14, Niagara's colleges of Arts and Sciences and Education will hear from Catherine Lyons, a 1975 NU alumna who presently serves as executive director of patient care services at Smilow Cancer Hospital, part of Connecticut's Yale-New Haven Hospital Center. She began her career by spending 25 years at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, rising from staff nurse to vice president and director of nursing, and, ultimately, to vice president for clinical operations. Lyons has also worked in nursing as the executive director for cancer services for Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Maryland, and then at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, where she was chief of the office of clinical trials support and research nursing in the Center for Cancer Research. Lyons will receive the St. Louise de Marillac Award for Outstanding Service.
Meanwhile, those receiving receive honorary doctorates include Clint Hill, a retired special agent with the U.S. Secret Service who served under five presidents; Margaret Ranft Day, '77, a retired attorney, former NU trustee, and current transition specialist and academic coach for AccessAbility Services; and the Rev. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., founding CEO of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation.
For more information on Niagara University's 2016 commencement ceremonies, visit www.niagara.edu/commencement.