Ambassador Heyman, Leonhardt, Brennan Highlight Commencement 2015

May 20, 2015  |  by Michael Freedman

Niagara University graduated nearly 900 new alumni during a trio of commencement exercises held May 14-16, 2015.

Commencement 2015 commenced Thursday, May 14, with the awarding of advanced degrees to 247 students, including five who received doctoral degrees in leadership and policy. Attendees heard remarks from Bruce Heyman, the United States ambassador to Canada. Heyman, who previously spent more than 30 years as an investment banker with Goldman Sachs, was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

On Saturday, May 16, 633 undergraduate students received their degrees during a pair of ceremonies held in the Gallagher Center.

David Leonhardt, the 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist and managing editor of The Upshot, delivered the morning commencement address to Niagara’s College of Business Administration and College of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Like Heyman, Leonhardt was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for extraordinary personal and professional success. Monsignor James N. Connelly, a 1945 Niagara graduate and pastor emeritus at St. Pius X Church in Getzville, received an honorary Doctor of Laws from his alma mater.

That afternoon, Niagara’s College of Arts and Sciences and College of Education heard from Margaret Brennan, the CBS News correspondent assigned primarily to report on the United States Department of State. Brennan also reports from some of the world’s most troubled areas, particularly the Middle East. The Rev. Bernard M. Tracey, C.M., the executive vice president for mission at St. John’s University (and former director of campus ministry at NU), joined Brennan in the receipt of honorary doctorates.

The first graduate to walk across the stage at the afternoon ceremony was Kevin Macaulay, a Vietnam War veteran who was receiving his degree 50 years after he began pursuing it.

In addition, United States Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer addressed the graduates, calling NU “one of the finest institutions of higher learning, not just in Western New York, but in all of New York state.”

The Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., presided over the commencement exercises.