Commencement Speakers

Niagara University will hold three commencement events during commencement week — one for graduate and 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.

Tickets are required for admission to the commencement ceremonies. 

Please note: Tickets are not required for the Liturgy and ROTC commissioning.

Graduate Commencement

  • Chantal Kreviazuk (Speaker)

    Kreviazuk

    Chantal Kreviazuk reached the upper level of pop music artists after recording a version of John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane" for the soundtrack of Armageddon. In 2003, her own composition, "Feels Like Home," was featured in the hit film How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days.

    Over the past several years, Kreviazuk and her husband, Raine Maida, have written hit songs for artists that include Carrie Underwood, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, and Drake.

    Kreviazuk and Maida are ardent supporters of War Child Canada, a foundation that provides material, psychological, and legal assistance for children living in dangerous war zones. Together, Kreviazuk and Maida have received numerous awards for their humanitarian and charitable work, including the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honor.

  • Raine Maida

    Maida

    Raine Maida is a Canadian musician best known as being the lead vocalist and primary songwriter of the alternative rock band Our Lady Peace.

    Over the past several years, Maida and his wife, Chantal Kreviazuk, have written hit songs for artists that include Carrie Underwood, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, and Drake.

    Kreviazuk and Maida are ardent supporters of War Child Canada, a foundation that provides material, psychological, and legal assistance for children living in dangerous war zones. Together, Kreviazuk and Maida have received numerous awards for their humanitarian and charitable work, including the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honor.

  • Cynthia A. Bianco, M.S.Ed.’70

    BiancoCynthia A. Bianco has served the Niagara Falls City School District for 50 years, beginning as an English teacher at Niagara Falls High School. She will retire this year as superintendent, a post she’s held since 2008. 

    Bianco has been highly active in the community, serving on the boards of the Niagara Falls Housing Authority, Niagara Falls Public Library, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, and the Niagara University Advisory Council for Education, among others. 

Undergraduate Commencement - Colleges of Business and Hospitality/Tourism

  • Bret Stephens (Speaker)

    StephensBret Stephens is a columnist, member of the editorial board, and deputy editorial-page editor responsible for international opinion at the Wall Street Journal.  His column, “Global View,” is the paper’s weekly foreign affairs column.  He is a regular panelist on The Journal Editorial Report, a weekly political talk show carried by Fox News Channel.

    In 2005, Stephens was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. In 2006, the South Asian Journalists Association cited him for “outstanding coverage” of the earthquake in Kashmir. In 2008, he received the Frank Knox Media Award for the clarity of his writings on American national defense. His “Global View” column, a hard-hitting commentary on subjects ranging from the World Bank to Iran won him the 2008 Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Opinion Journalism. In 2010, he received the Bastiat Prize in Journalism for his mastery of economic issues. Finally, though not yet 40 years old, he won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Commentary in recognition of “his incisive columns on American foreign policy and domestic politics, often enlivened by a contrarian twist.”

Undergraduate Commencement - Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Education

  • Catherine Lyons, '75 (Speaker)

    Lyons

    Catherine Lyons, '75, RN, M.S., NEA-BC, has broad nursing executive experience in large academic and research centers as well as community settings. She has extensive experience leading a diverse, multi-skilled, unionized and non-unionized workforce.

    Lyons is the chief nursing officer of Smilow Cancer Hospital with additional responsibility for all clinical services, both inpatient, outpatient and network sites. She is responsible for the design, development and oversight of clinical services and infrastructure to support the patient care enterprise. She serves on the Yale-New Haven Hospital Nursing and Patient Services Cabinet and co-chairs the Oncology Patient Safety and Quality committee.

  • Clint Hill

    HillClint Hill is known for leaping onto the trunk of the Kennedy presidential limousine on Nov. 22, 1963, and pushing Jacqueline Kennedy out of harm's way. Hill then used his own body to shield the president and Mrs. Kennedy as the car sped to Parkland Memorial Hospital.

    In 2012, Hill published his memoir, Mrs. Kennedy and Me, detailing his close relationship with Mrs. Kennedy during some of the happiest and darkest moments of her life. The book became a New York Times best-seller, praised universally for its "honest prose free from salaciousness and gossip." The following year, Hill published Five Days in November, a riveting account of the assassinations and its immediate aftermath.

    Hill's third book, Five Presidents, will appear in May 2016.

  • Margaret Ranft Day, '77

    DayMargaret Ranft Day graduated from Niagara University in 1977 with a degree in in the natural sciences. She earned a law degree from St. John’s University in 1980, and then took graduate studies courses in public administration at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

    Day has spent her entire professional career in the Northeast, accruing nearly 30 years of experience in private and corporate practice. She is presently working as a transition and accommodations specialist in Western Connecticut State University’s Office of AccessAbility Services.

    A former member of Niagara University’s Board of Trustees and Board of Advisors, Day has provided pro-bono legal services to numerous nonprofit organizations and served as a founding member of the Manhattan Society, a fundraising arm of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. She was also the founding committee chair of the New Fairfield Land Trust, a trustee of the Canterbury School and a volunteer for New York City’s Covenant House, a shelter for runaway children. 

  • Rev. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.

    RosicaThe Rev. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., is a priest of the Congregation of St. Basil (Basilian Fathers). A native of Rochester, he received a bachelor's degree in Italian and French language and literature from St. John Fisher College. Father Rosica was ordained a priest in the Congregation of St. Basil on April 19, 1986.

    Father Rosica holds advanced degrees in theology and sacred scripture from Regis College in the Toronto School of Theology, the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, and the École Biblique et Archéologique Française de Jérusalem.

    Following the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation in February 2013, Father Rosica was invited by the Vatican to join the staff of the Holy See Press Office and serve as one of the official spokespersons for the transition in the papacy that included the resignation, Sede Vacante, Conclave and election of the new Pope. Father Rosica assisted the Vatican during a critical period in Church history. At the end of the Papal transition in April 2013, the Vatican asked him to serve as English language assistant to the Holy See Press Office. He continues to relate on a daily basis with English language media around the world.