Niagara University Commencement Honorees and Guest Speakers

2018 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • John Quiñones

    Journalist; Anchor, ABC’s What Would You Do?Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Very Rev. Stephen Grozio, C.M.

    Provincial Superior, Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission; Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Dr. Timothy O. Ireland

    Provost & Vice President of Academic Affairs, Niagara University

  • Robert L. Bradley Jr.

    Chief Education Administrator, Niagara Falls High School; Doctor of Pedagogy

2018 - Graduate Exercises

  • Libby Znaimer

    VP of News and Information, MZ Media (Toronto); National Spokesperson, Pancreatic Cancer Canada; Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Barbara Layden

    Counselor; Philanthropist; Doctor of Humane Letters

2017 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • William Polian

    Pro Football Hall of Fame Member; ESPN Personality; Former Buffalo Bills General Manager, Doctor of Commercial Science

  • Michael Tobin

    Fox News Channel International Correspondent, Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Ron Chernow

    Pulitzer Prize-winning Biographer; Author of 'Alexander Hamilton,' Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Very Rev. Michael Carroll, C.M.

    Provincial Superior, Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission; Vice Chair of Niagara University's Board of Trustees, Caritas Medal

2017 - Graduate Exercises

  • Jahana Hayes

    2016 National Teacher of the Year, Doctor of Humane Letters

2016 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Rev. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.

    Founding Chief Executive Officer, Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Margaret Ranft Day

    Transition Specialist and Academic Coach, AccessAbility Services, Retired Attorney, Former NU Trustee, Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Clint Hill

    Retired Secret Service Special Agent, Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Catherine Lyons

    Executive Director of Patient Care Services, Smilow Cancer Hospital, St. Louise de Marillac Award for Outstanding Service

  • Bret Stephens

    Pulitzer Prize-winning Columnist, The Wall Street Journal, Doctor of Humane Letters

2016 - Graduate Exercises

  • Cynthia A. Bianco

    Administrator, Niagara Falls City School District, Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Raine Maida

    Musician & Humanitarian, Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Chantal Kreviazuk

    Musician & Humanitarian, Doctor of Humane Letters

2015 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Rev. Bernard M. Tracey, C.M.

    Executive Vice President for Mission, St. John’s University, Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Margaret Brennan

    CBS News Correspondent, Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Monsignor James N. Connelly

    Pastor Emeritus, St. Pius X Church (Getzville, N.Y.), Doctor of Humane Letters

  • David Leonhardt

    Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times Columnist, Doctor of Humane Letters

2015 - Graduate Exercises

  • Bruce A. Heyman

    United States Ambassador to Canada, Doctor of Humane Letters

2014 - Graduate Exercises

  • George F. Will

    Columnist, The Washington Post, Doctor of Humane Letters

2014 - Undergraduate Exercises

2013 - Graduate Exercises

  • John M. Howard

    Owner, John Howard Cellars of Distinction, Doctor of Commercial Science

  • William Lishman

    Artist, Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Kenneth D. Taylor

    Canadian Ambassador to Iran, Doctor of Humane Letters

2013 - Undergraduate Exercises

2012 - Graduate Exercises

  • Mike Holmes

    Host, 'Holmes Inspection' and 'Holmes on Homes,' Doctor of Pedagogy

  • Lloyd Robertson

    Chief Anchor/Senior Editor, 'CTV National News with Lloyd Robertson,' Doctor of Humane Letters

2012 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Robert Clune, '58

    Managing Partner, Williamson Clune & Stevens, Doctor of Laws

  • Sylvia Nasar

    Professor, Columbia University; Author, 'A Beautiful Mind,' Doctor of Humane Letters

  • James Boldt, ’73

    Chairman/CEO, Computer Task Group, Doctor of Commercial Science

  • Tom Ashbrook

    Journalist/Host, 'On Point with Tom Ashbrook,' Doctor of Humane Letters

2011 - Graduate Exercises

  • Richard Florida, Ph.D.

    Urban Theorist and Author, Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Julie Payette

    Astronaut and Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars (Washington, D.C.), Doctor of Laws

  • John R. Sanderson, '75

    President, Sanderson & Company Investment Consultants LLC, Doctor of Commercial Science

2011 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Isabel Wilkerson

    Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist, Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Martin Chalfie, Ph.D.

    2008 Winner of Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Professor, Columbia University, Doctor of Science

  • Kathleen Barry Monti, '70, '85

    Retired Executive Vice President/Chief Administrative Officer, First Niagara Financial Group and First Niagara Bank, Doctor of Commercial Science

2010 - Graduate Exercises

  • Robert and Lee Woodruff

    Former Anchor (and his wife), ABC World News Tonight, Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Philip Fontaine

    Retired National Chief, First Nations Assembly of Canada, Doctor of Laws

  • Robert J. Daino

    Retired President, Continental Securities Corp., Doctor of Commercial Science

2010 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Wolf Blitzer

    CNN anchor, Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Marv Levy

    Retired Head Coach and General Manager, National Football League, Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Most Rev. Anthony F. Tonnos, D.D.

    Bishop of the Diocese of Hamilton (Ont.), Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Gordon Weil, Ph.D.

    Author, Doctor of Humane Letters

2009 - Graduate Exercises

  • Peter Mansbridge

    Anchor, Canadian Broadcasting Co.'s "The National," Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Ronald V. Joyce

    Retired Chief Executive Officer, Tim Hortons, Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Thomas M. O'Brien

    President and Chief Executive Officer, State Bank of Long Island and State Bancorp Inc., Doctor of Commercial Science

  • Most Rev. Octavio Cisneros, D.D.

    Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn, N.Y., Doctor of Sacred Theology

2009 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Timothy P. Shriver, Ph.D.

    Chairman of the Special Olympics Inc., Doctor of Humane Letters

  • Scotty Bowman

    Retired Head Coach, Senior Advisor, National Hockey League, Doctor of Pedagogy

  • Jean-Marc Droulers, Ph.D.

    President and Chief Executive Officer, Vila d'Este (Como, Italy), Doctor of Commercial Science

  • Marsha Joy Sullivan

    President, Nardin Academy, Doctor of Humane Letters

2008 - Graduate Exercises

  • Dr. Clayborne Carson

    Founding director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Institute at Stanford University, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • The Most Rev. Thomas Collins, D.D.

    Archbishop of Toronto, Doctor of Humane Letters

2008 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • The Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M.,

    President, The Catholic University of America, Doctor of Laws
  • Recipients of Anniversary Honors

    • D”™Youville College, Sister Denise Roche, GNSH, Ph.D., president
    • St. Bonaventure University, Sister Margaret Carney, OSF, S.T.D., president (Sesquicentennial Anniversary)
    • Christ the King Seminary, The Rev. W. Siepka, M.A., S.T.L., president/rector (Sesquicentennial Anniversary)

2007 - Graduate Exercises

  • The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M. (Speaker)

    President, DePaul University, Doctor of Pedagogy
  • William T. Gacioch

    President, Chief Executive Officer, National Property Management Associates Inc., Doctor of Commercial Science
  • Charles Rand Penney

    Art Collector, Doctor of Fine Arts
  • Caritas Medals Awarded

    • Jeanne C. Finn, ”˜71
    • Lawrence Jacobs, M.D.,”™61 (posthumous)
    • John B. Stranges, Ph.D., ”™59,
    • Niagara University professor and former academic vice president

2007 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • The Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M. (Speaker)

    President, Niagara University
  • Sister Carol Keehan, D.C.,

    President and Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Health Association, Doctor of Laws
  • Caritas Medals Awarded

    • Concetta A. Dwyer, ”˜65
    • Barbara A. Malinowski, ”˜59
    • Cathy Falcone Ray, ”˜76
    • Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott,”™71
    • James M. Schermerhorn, J.D., MPP, PA-C, ”˜64

2006 - Graduate Exercises

  • Dr. Samantha Nutt (Speaker)

    Executive Director, War Child Canada, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Dr. Eric Hoskins

    President, War Child Canada, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Robert D. Sweeney, ”˜72

    Senior Vice President for Development and Public Affairs, University of Virginia, Doctor of Commercial Science
  • Natalie MacMaster

    Musician, Doctor of Music

2006 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Dr. Michael Ignatieff (Speaker)

    Liberal Member of Parliament, Canadian House of Commons, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Sr. Kateri Mitchell, SSA

    Executive Director of the National Tekakwitha Conference, Great Fall, Mont., Doctor of Pedagogy
  • Robert B. Engle, ”˜75

    President, Chief Operating Officer, CoBank, Doctor of Commercial Science

2005 - Graduate Exercises

  • John Roberts (Speaker)

    CBS News Chief White House Correspondent, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • The Most Reverend Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, D.D., S.T.L.

    Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y., Doctor of Sacred Theology 
  • Brian P.Crosby

    Gibson, McAskill & Crosby LLP, Buffalo, N.Y., Doctor of Laws
  • Ralph A. Boniello, Sr.

    Trustee Emeritus, President's Medal

2005 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Donna de Varona (Speaker)

    Olympic Gold Medalist, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Nerses H. Krikorian

    Lab fellow, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, N.M., Doctor of Science
  • Rev. Jacob C. Ledwon

    Pastor, St. Joseph University Church, Buffalo, N.Y., Doctor of Fine Arts
  • Moira Reddy Smith

    New York City Police Officer, Caritas Medal (posthumous)

2004 - Graduate Exercises

  • Jack L. Granatstein, OC, FRSC (Speaker)

    Canadian Author, Educator and Media Consultant, Toronto, Ontario, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Sharon K. Darling

    Founder and President, National Center for Family Literacy, Louisville, KY, Doctor of Pedagogy
  • Weldon Rougeau

    President, Congressional Black Caucus, Washington, DC, Doctor of Humane Letters

2004 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Jack Ford (Speaker)

    Award-Winning Journalist, Co-host of “Living it Up with Ali and Jack,” Spring Lake, NJ, Doctor of Laws
  • Jane Bryant Quinn

    Financial Columnist and Author, North Salem, NY, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Daniel J. “Rusty” Staub

    Founder, The New York Police and Fire Widows”™ and Children”™s Benefit Fund, President, Rusty Staub Foundation, New York, NY, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Rev. John T. Maher, C.M.

    Provincial Vocation Director, Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission, Princeton, NJ, Doctor of Pedagogy

2003 - Graduate Exercises

  • The Honorable Argeo Paul Cellucci (Speaker)

    United States Ambassador to Canada, United States Embassy, Ottawa, Ontario, Doctor of Pedagogy
  • Daniel J. Patterson

    President, Niagara College ”“ Welland Campus, Welland, Ontario, Doctor of Pedagogy

2003 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Benjamin S. Carson Sr., M.D. (Speaker)

    Professor and Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Rev. Betsee Parker

    Head Chaplain, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York, New York, NY, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Rev. Thomas P. McGourty, C.M.

    Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Niagara University, NY, Medal of Honor

2002 - Graduate Exercises

  • The Honorable Hilary M. Weston (Speaker)

    Former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Eric Carle

    Author and Illustrator of Children”™s Book, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • John F. Riordan

    President and CEO, Gas Technology Institute, Doctor of Commercial Science
  • The Honorable Robert M. Bennett

    Chancellor of New York, State Board of Regents, Doctor of Laws

2002 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Brother Rick Curry, S.J., Ph.D. (Speaker)

    President, National Theatre, Workshop of the Handicapped, New York, NY, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Curtis C. Nelson

    President and CEO, Carlson Hospitality Worldwide, Minneapolis, MN, Doctor of Commercial Science
  • Laura Duhan Kaplan, Ph.D.

    Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC, Doctor of Pedagogy
  • Rev. Louis P. Trotta, C.M.

    Assistant to the President for Alumni Relations, Niagara University, NY, President”™s Medal

2001 - Graduate Exercises

  • Roger Wilkins (Speaker)

    Professor of History and American Culture, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Maestra JoAnn Falletta

    Music Director, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Buffalo, NY, Doctor of Fine Arts
  • Rev. John H. McKenna, C.M.

    Professor of Theology, St. John”™s University, Jamaica, NY, Doctor of Pedagogy

2001 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Christopher Matthews (Speaker)

    Television Journalist and Newspaper Columnist, CNBC and San Francisco Chronicle, Washington, D.C., Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Paul Beeston

    President, Major League Baseball, New York, NY, Doctor of Commercial Science
  • Rev. Francis X. Prior, C.M.

    Vice President Emeritus, Niagara University, NY, President”™s Medal
  • Children of Armand and Eleanor Castellani

    Founders Award

2000 - Graduate Exercises

  • Bobbie Gaunt (Speaker)

    President and CEO, Ford Motor Company of Canada, Oakville, Ontario, Doctor of Commercial Science
  • Bishop Edward M. Grosz, D.D.

    Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, Doctor of Sacred Theology
  • Linda Yellow

    Volunteer Administrator for the Native American/St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, Caritas Medal

2000 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Tim Russert (Speaker)

    Senior Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief, NBC News, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Jeffrey R. Holzschuh

    Managing Director, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Member, Board of Trustees, Doctor of Commercial Science
  • Rose Bonaro

    Retired Employee, Niagara University, NY, Medal of Honor
  • Brian McLane

    Assistant Commissioner,Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities, New York State Department of Education, Caritas Medal

1999 - Graduate Exercises

  • Hon. Lloyd Axworthy, P.C., M.P. (Speaker)

    Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ottawa, Ontario, Doctor of Laws
  • Sister Margaret Ahl, D.C.

    Dean, School of Nursing, Sisters of Charity Hospital, Buffalo, NY, Doctor of Pedagogy

1999 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Garry Wills, Ph.D. (Speaker)

    Department of History, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, Author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Award and the Peabody Award, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Wei Jingsheng

    Visiting Scholar, Center for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University, New York, NY, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Very Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M.

    Provincial Eastern Province, Vincentian Fathers and Brothers, Philadelphia, PA, President”™s Medal

1998 - Graduate Exercises

  • Diane Francis (Speaker)

    Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Elizabeth M. O'Donnell

    Doctor of Pedagogy
  • Robert E. Rich, Jr.

    Doctor of Commercial Science

1998 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Christine Baranski (Speaker)

    Doctor of Fine Arts
  • David Halberstam

    Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Rev. Kenneth F. Slattery, C.M.

    Doctor of Laws

1997 - Graduate Exercises

  • Michael D. Duffy (Speaker)

    Host and Editor-In-Chief “Sunday Edition” BBS and CTV Canadian Television, Doctor of Letters
  • Roberta L. Bondar, O.C., O.Ont., M.D., Ph.D., F.R.C.P. (C)

    Canadian Astronaut “Discovery”, 1992, Distinguished Professor ”“ University of Western Ontario, Doctor of Science
  • Rev. Msgr. Henry J. Gugino, M.S.W.

    Director, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Buffalo, Doctor of Humane Letters

1997 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • William Julius Wilson, Ph.D. (Speaker)

    Director, Joblessness and Urban Poverty Research Center, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Doctor of Letters
  • John R. MacMaster

    Founding member of Niagara Hospice and the Niagara Oncology Association, President, Health Association of Niagara County, Inc., Member, Board of Directors, Niagara County Unit, American Cancer Society, Caritas Medal
  • Daniel P. Weadock

    Senior Vice President, ITT Corporation, President and Chief Executive Office, ITT Sheraton Corporation, Doctor of Commercial Science

1996 - Graduate Exercises

  • J. Roger Hirl (Speaker)

    President/CEO, Occidental Chemical Corporation, Doctor of Commercial Science
  • Sr. Alice Gallin, O.S.U.

    Research Scholar, The Catholic University of America, Doctor of Pedagogy
  • Oscar Peterson

    Jazz Pianist, Composer, Doctor of Fine Arts
  • Herbert Hauptman, Ph.D.

    President, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, Doctor of Science

1996 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Arthur E. Levine, Ph.D. (Speaker)

    President, Teachers College, Columbia University, Doctor of Pedagogy
  • Most. Rev. Henry J. Mansell, D.D.

    Bishop of Buffalo, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Melvin B. Dyster, M.D.

    Physician, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Howard S. Goldberg, Ph.D.

    Professor of Physics, University of Illinois at Chicago, Doctor of Pedagogy
  • The Hon. M. Dolores Denman

    Presiding Justice, Appellate Division, Supreme Court, Fourth Judicial Department, Doctor of Laws

1995 - Graduate Exercises

  • The Honorable Gilbert Parent, M.P. (Speaker)

    Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada, Doctor of Laws
  • James P. Menzies

    President and CEO, Key Bank of New York, Doctor of Commercial Sciences
  • Joanne Weinholtz

    Cultural Education Teacher, Tuscarora Indian School, Caritas Medal

1995 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • The Honorable Hugh L. Carey (Speaker)

    Former Governor of New York State, Executive Vice President and Director, Government Relations Division of W. R. Grace & Co., Doctor of Laws
  • Thomas A. Constantine

    Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration, Doctor of Laws
  • Dr. Judith A. Willard

    Assistant to the President for Planning, Niagara University, NY, Medal of Honor

1994 - Graduate Exercises

  • Barbara A. Sizemore (Speaker)

    Dean, School of Education, DePaul University, Doctor of Pedagogy
  • Jack A. Gellman, Esq.

    Attorney at Law, Doctor of Humane Letters

1994 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Patricia Neal (Speaker)

    Academy Award-Winning Actress, Doctor of Fine Arts
  • Barbara L. Laughlin

    Executive Vice President, Manufacturers & Traders Trust Co., Buffalo, NY, Doctor of Commercial Science
  • Rev. Thomas P. McGourty, C.M.

    Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Niagara University, NY, President”™s Medal

1993 - Graduate Exercises

  • Paul Gibson Jr., Esq. (Speaker)

    Counsel, Davidoff & Malito, President”™s Medal
  • William J. Crerend

    Chairman and Founder, Evaluation Associates Capital Markets, Inc., Doctor of Commercial Science
  • Sister Mary Jane Raeihle, C.S.J.

    Principal, St. John the Baptist School, Brooklyn, NY, Doctor of Humane Letters

1993 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Frances Moore Lappe'

    Author and Co-Founder, Institute for the Arts of Democracy, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Rev. Keith P. Lawlor, C.M.

    Coordinator, Hispanic Evangelization Project, Eastern Province, Congregation of the Mission, Founders Award
  • John B. Stranges, Ph.D.

    Academic Vice President, Niagara University, NY, Medal of Honor

1992 - Graduate Exercises

  • James P. Comer, M.D. (Speaker)

    Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry, Yale University Child Study Center, Doctor of Pedagogy
  • Aubrey Blackwell

    Vice President-Western New York Operations, Occidental Chemical Corporation, Doctor of Commercial Science
  • John W. Vanderhoff, Ph.D.

    Co-Director of the Emulsion Polymers Institute, Lehigh University, Doctor of Science

1992 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • The Honorable Elaine L. Chao (Speaker)

    Director, Peace Corps of the United States, Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Dr. James S. C. Chao

    Chairman and President, Foremost Group, Doctor of Laws
  • Mary A. Dineen, Ed.D.

    Dean Emeritus, Boston College School of Nursing, Doctor of Pedagogy
  • Very Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., S.T.D.

    Provincial/Visitor of the Eastern Province, Congregation of the Mission, Doctor of Humane Letters

1991 - Graduate Exercises

  • Ernest L. Boyer, Ph.D. (Speaker)

    Doctor of Pedagogy
  • Laura D. Blackburne

    Doctor of Laws
  • J. David Dunn

    Doctor of Commercial Science

1991 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Sister Mary Rose McGeady, D.C. (Speaker)

    Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Rev. Msgr. Robert J. Cunningham, J.C.L., V.G.

    Doctor of Letters
  • David Midland

    Doctor of Fine Arts
  • Robert G. Wilmers

    Doctor of Commercial Science

1990 - Graduate Exercises

  • Robert J. Dwyer (Speaker)

    Doctor of Commercial Science
  • Mary Frances Welch, O.S.F.

    Caritas Medal
  • Reverend Monsignor Vincent J. Ferrando

    Doctor of Humane Letters

1990 - Undergraduate Exercises

  • Peter P. Smith (Speaker)

    Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Paul W. Joy

    Doctor of Commercial Science
  • Sister Eileen Kinnarney, D.C.

    Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Reverend Edmund N. Leising, O.M.I.

    Doctor of Pedagogy