Niagara’s commencement exercises began on Thursday, May 9, with the graduate students. Keynote speaker Kenneth D. Taylor, the former Canadian ambassador to Iran who helped orchestrate the escape of six Americans from captivity during the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, received an honorary degree, along with William Lishman, an award-winning sculptor, filmmaker, inventor, naturalist and public speaker, and John M. Howard, an NU trustee and owner of John Howard Cellars of Distinction.
At the commencement liturgy on Friday, Most Rev. Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo, was presented with an honorary Doctor of Laws.
On Saturday, May 11, undergraduate students received their degrees at two separate ceremonies in the Gallagher Center. Nikolas Wallenda, the world-renowned daredevil who triumphantly crossed Niagara Falls on a two-inch steel wire last June, delivered the commencement address to Niagara’s colleges of Business Administration and Hospitality and Tourism Management at the morning event. He and John P. Rumschik, ’77, president and chief operating officer of M&T Insurance Agency Inc., received honorary degrees.
That afternoon, Niagara’s colleges of Arts and Sciences and Education heard from Father Levesque, who was presented with the university’s prestigious Medal of Honor in light of his numerous contributions to Niagara University and the surrounding communities.
Also at the ceremonies, NU alumnus Sen. George Maziarz,’76, received the St. Vincent De Paul Award for his “vision, accomplishments, and good works (that) reflect the life and ministry of St. Vincent de Paul.”