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'Hamilton' writer, Pro Football HOFer, National Teacher of the Year headline commencement at NU

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Tue, May 9th 2017 08:50 pm

Niagara University's 2017 schedule of commencement ceremonies will be highlighted by addresses from the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee and the author of the acclaimed biography "Alexander Hamilton," which was adapted into a smash hit musical.

The university will hold four 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. In addition, the 64th class of the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy will graduate during a ceremony in the Castellani Art Museum.

Approximately 1,100 academic degrees are expected to be awarded. Admission will be granted to ticketed guests only.

The Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy's graduating class will hear a keynote address from FBI Special Agent in Charge Holly Hubert. The ceremony takes place at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 10. Hubert leads the FBI Buffalo Division's National Security Branch and is responsible for mitigating cyber, international terrorism and counterintelligence threats. She previously served at FBI headquarters as a team lead in the leadership development program, where she was responsible for executive leadership development.

The keynote speaker for Niagara's graduate/Ph.D. commencement exercises, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 11, will be Jahana Hayes, the 2016 National Teacher of the Year. Growing up in the projects of Waterbury, Connecticut, Hayes eventually earned a four-year degree in history and education from Southern Connecticut State University. She then realized her childhood dream by becoming a high school history teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in the same town where she grew up. Hayes later earned a master's degree in education from St. Joseph University and, in light of the thousands of young lives she has helped change through exceptional teaching, was presented with the 2016 National Teacher of the Year by President Barack Obama last May. On Thursday, Hayes will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from NU.

On Friday, May 12, 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.

•Bill Polian, Pro Football Hall of Famer and celebrated ESPN personality, will deliver the commencement address to Niagara University's colleges of Business Administration, Education, and Hospitality and Tourism Management at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 13. Polian spent 32 seasons in the NFL, during which time he earned the reputation of rebuilding franchises into dominant playoff teams. He was the architect of the Buffalo Bills teams that participated in a record four consecutive Super Bowls and, as the president and GM of the Indianapolis Colts, the person responsible for selecting Peyton Manning in the 1998 NFL Draft. The Colts played in two Super Bowls - winning one - with Manning at quarterback. In 2009, Polian became the first six-time recipient of the NFL Executive of the Year award from The Sporting News. He was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015. Since 2012, Polian has appeared on ESPN's "NFL Insiders," "NFL Live" and "SportsCenter." He and his wife, Eileen, have been devoted supporters of Catholic education, particularly at St. Francis High School in Buffalo, where, along with others, they have spearheaded efforts toward completion of the school's athletic complex redevelopment project. Polian will receive an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science from Niagara.

Also being honored at the ceremony will be Michael Tobin, an international correspondent for FOX News, who will be granted an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Tobin reported live on the death of unarmed adult Freddie Gray and the protests that followed in Baltimore, and he was on the scene during the protests that broke out in Ferguson, Missouri, following the death of Michael Brown. In addition, Tobin has reported on the bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon, and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. Tobin has provided coverage on a variety of stories from the Middle East, as well, including the ongoing conflict from the Israeli-Lebanese border and Operation Iraqi Freedom from Centcom in Qatar. He is the recipient of several local Associated Press Awards for news reporting, and dedicates his time to assist veterans through his work with organizations including Project Hope and the Wounded Warriors Foundation.

At 3 p.m. Saturday, May 13, Niagara University's College of Arts and Sciences will hear from Ron Chernow, one of the pre-eminent biographers of his generation best known for writing "Alexander Hamilton," the acclaimed book that was adapted into the Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical. Chernow, a graduate of Yale University and the University of Cambridge, has won numerous awards for the depth and quality of his writing, including the George Washington Book Prize for his biography of Hamilton, the Pulitzer Prize for his profile of George Washington, and the National Humanities Medal, which Obama presented to him in 2015. A trustee of Humanity in Action, a global human rights organization, and former president of PEN, one of the world's best-known societies committed to preserving freedom of expression, Chernow will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from NU.

Also, the Very Rev. Michael Carroll, C.M., Class of 1973, who is concluding a nine-year term as provincial superior of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians), will be presented with the Caritas Medal. Since joining the Congregation of the Mission in 1970, Carroll has served as director of students and president of St. Joseph's Preparatory Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, rector of the Vincentian community's college seminary program in Ozone Park, New York; teacher and chaplain at Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster, Pennsylvania; and executive vice president for mission and branch campuses at St. John's University. Carroll presently serves as vice chair of the board of trustees at St. John's and Niagara University.

For more information on Niagara University's 2017 commencement ceremonies, visit www.niagara.edu/commencement.

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