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NU graduations at Artpark feature 'What Would You Do?' anchor, Harvard economics professor


Thu, May 3rd 2018 11:35 am
John Quiñones is among this year's commencement speakers. (ABC-TV photo provided by Niagara University)
John Quiñones is among this year's commencement speakers. (ABC-TV photo provided by Niagara University)
Niagara University's 2018 schedule of commencement ceremonies will be highlighted by addresses from Dr. Roland Fryer, the Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University; multiple Emmy Award-winning television anchor John Quiñones; and prominent Canadian journalist Libby Znaimer.
For the first time, Niagara University's undergraduate and graduate commencement ceremonies will take place at Artpark in Lewiston.
"Not only will this larger venue allow our students to invite more friends and family members than in the past, but by hosting our most honored academic tradition in Lewiston, we strengthen the bond between Niagara University and our surrounding community," said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., Niagara president.
Approximately 1,200 academic degrees are expected to be awarded.
The keynote speaker for Niagara's graduate/Ph.D. commencement exercises, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 10, will be Libby Znaimer, the veteran broadcaster, author and host of the popular "Zoomer Report" on Toronto's New Classical 96.3 FM and The New AM 740.
For more than three decades, Znaimer has built a distinguished career in print, television and radio journalism, mainly in Toronto and Ottawa, but interspersed with stints at the Associated Press in Tel Aviv and WNBC in New York. In 2006, she assumed an executive role at MZ Media in Toronto, where she serves as vice president of news and information. She also hosts a popular daily talk show, "Fight Back with Libby Znaimer," which balances current events and political advocacy for baby boomers with practical commentary on health, wellness and finance.
A survivor of breast and pancreatic cancer, she described her experiences with the deadly disease in her book, "In Cancerland: Living Well is the Best Revenge," published in 2007. Znaimer has an enduring commitment to cancer-related causes, serving, for example, as the national spokesperson and a director for Pancreatic Cancer Canada and as a fundraiser for the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation and CAREpath, a cancer treatment assistance program.
A native of Toronto, she earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Toronto and attended graduate school at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Znaimer will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Niagara.
An honorary Doctor of Humane Letters will also be bestowed on Barbara Layden, a loyal supporter of many charitable causes, including cancer awareness, crime prevention and child abuse. In 2013, she and her husband, Frank, the former NU basketball coach, were named the Humanitarians of the Year by Catholic Community Services of Utah for their inspiring work in the community.
Layden, who holds two bachelor's degrees, counsels the indigent with substance abuse issues and refuses to accept a fee. The Laydens have also been loyal to NU, supporting academic and athletic programs, as well as the Elizabeth Ann Clune Center for Theatre.
John Quiñones, anchor of ABC's "What Would You Do?" hidden camera TV series, will deliver the commencement address to NU's colleges of Business Administration, Education, and Hospitality and Tourism Management at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 12.
During his 35-year tenure at ABC News, Quiñones has reported extensively for all programs and platforms and served as anchor of "Primetime." Quiñones has won seven national Emmy Awards for his "Primetime Live," "Burning Questions" and "20/20" work. He was awarded an Emmy for his coverage of the Congo's virgin rainforest, which also won the Ark Trust Wildlife Award, and, in 1990 he received an Emmy for "Window in the Past," a look at the Yanomamo Indians.
He received a National Emmy Award for his work on the ABC documentary "Burning Questions - The Poisoning of America," which aired in September 1988, and was also honored with a World Hunger Media Award and a citation from the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards for "To Save the Children," his 1990 report on the homeless children of Bogota. Among his other prestigious awards are the First Prize in International Reporting and Robert F. Kennedy Prize for his piece on "Modern Slavery - Children Sugar Cane Cutters in the Dominican Republic."
Quiñones earned a bachelor's degree from St. Mary's University and a master's degree from the Columbia School of Journalism.
He will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from NU.
Also being honored at the ceremony will be Robert L. Bradley Jr., M.S.'97, chief education administrator at Niagara Falls High School, who will be granted an honorary Doctor of Pedagogy.
During his career, Bradley has served as principal of Gaskill Preparatory School, assistant principal of Niagara Falls High School and guidance counselor at Lockport Senior High School. He was previously a board member for the Niagara Falls City School District, a role he currently occupies for Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and the Niagara Community Center.
The former executive director of the Niagara Falls Boys and Girls Club holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from Buffalo State College and a master's degree in education and school counseling from Niagara University.
At 3 p.m. Saturday, May 12, NU's College of Arts and Sciences will hear from Dr. Roland Fryer, the Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University.
Abandoned by his mother at a young age, Fryer grew up immersed in a life of crime and bitterness. His moment of enlightenment came at age 15, when he refused to join his friends in a planned burglary, which resulted in their arrest. Fryer then enrolled at the University of Texas at Arlington, from where he graduated with an economics degree in less than three years. He entered graduate school at Pennsylvania State University where he discovered the power of economic thinking when applied to the study of race.
Fryer completed a Ph.D. in economics in 2002. Three years of post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago and Harvard led to an offer from Harvard to join its faculty. Over the next 10 years, Fryer became, in the words of a senior colleague, "one of the leading scholars of the U.S. racial divide and a major figure in the evaluation of education policies to narrow the racial achievement gap." He now holds an endowed chair in economics at Harvard, a MacArthur Fellowship (often called a "Genius Grant"), and the John Bates Clark Medal, given to the "American economist under the age of 40 who has made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge."
Fryer will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from NU.
Also, the Very Rev. Stephen Grozio, C.M., '75, provincial superior of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians), will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
Ordained in 1978, Grozio's first assignment was teaching religion and mathematics at Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster, Pennsylvania. Since then, his distinguished life of service has included migrant ministry in the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan; work as an associate pastor and pastor at St. John the Baptist Parish (Brooklyn); five years as assistant provincial; director of the Hispanic Evangelization Team for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia; provincial treasurer of the Eastern Province; and director of the Hispanic Apostolate of the South Fork of Long Island. In June 2017, Grozio became provincial of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission in the U.S. He also presently serves as vice chair of the board of trustees at NU.
On Wednesday, May 9, the 66th class of the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy will graduate during a ceremony at 5:30 p.m. in the Castellani Art Museum. A nurse pinning ceremony (9 a.m.), the College of Arts and Sciences' Day of Recognition (noon), commencement liturgy (4 p.m.) and ROTC commissioning (7 p.m.) take place Friday, May 11, on the upper level of the Gallagher Center.
For more information on NU's commencement ceremonies, visit www.niagara.edu/commencement.

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