Niagara University awarded associate's, bachelor's, master's, doctoral degrees, and professional diplomas to more than one thousand candidates at its campuses in Lewiston, N.Y., and Vaughan, Ontario, May 12, 14, and 19, 2022. The four commencement exercises also featured keynote addresses from two prominent economists, a former NU dean, and the mayor of Vaughan; the presentation of numerous awards and honorary degrees; and a posthumous degree conferral.
The celebration got underway Thursday, May 12, at Artpark in Lewiston, N.Y., with the awarding of degrees to graduates of Niagara’s master’s and Ph.D. programs. Attendees heard remarks from Dr. R. Glenn Hubbard, dean emeritus and Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics at Columbia University. Dr. Hubbard, a distinguished scholar, administrator, teacher, and public servant whose career has spanned both government and academia, was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
Also that evening, Elizabeth Corieri, principal of Tuscarora Indian School in the Niagara Wheatfield Central School District, received the university’s Caritas Medal in recognition of her extraordinary commitment to educating young people.
On Saturday, May 14, Dr. Keith Miller addressed graduates of Niagara University’s programs in the colleges of Business Administration, Education, and Nursing during the morning commencement ceremony. A productive scholar, a respected teacher, and a highly regarded academic administrator, Dr. Miller has held leadership positions at six different universities across the United States, including Niagara University, where he served as dean of the College of Business from 1994 to 2001. He continues his relationship with Niagara as a member of its Board of Trustees.
Also that morning, Gerald and Karen Iglesia, founders of PrimeTime 585, were honored for their profound impact on the youth in their community with the St. Vincent de Paul Medal and the St. Louise de Marillac Award, respectively.
That afternoon, graduates from Niagara’s colleges of Arts and Sciences and Hospitality, Sport, and Tourism Management heard from Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, university professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. The world-renowned professor of economics, leader in sustainable development, senior UN advisor, bestselling author, and syndicated columnist also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
Two special honors were also given during the afternoon ceremony. Niagara University alumnus Mathon Noi received the Medal of St. Jean-Gabriel Perboyre, C.M., and Brother Martin Schneider, C.M., special assistant to the provost, was honored with the Dunleavy Medal for his 50 years of service to Niagara University.
A member of NU’s Class of 2008, Noi is co-founder of Building Minds in South Sudan, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving literacy, equality, and economic opportunity through community-based educational programs and facilities.
From his first appointment in Niagara’s College of Nursing, through his current role, which includes organizing and overseeing commencement, Brother Martin has been a dedicated member of the Vincentian community, an outstanding administrator, and a devoted and respected teacher, noted Dr. Sharon Watkinson, former chair of the theatre department and close friend, who read his citation.
The first degree awarded during the afternoon ceremony was Patrick Romano’s, a sports management and media communication major and member of NU’s ACHA Div 1 hockey team. Tragically, he died in an apartment fire in 2021. His friend and teammate Dan Smolka read a remembrance before Romano’s mother accepted the degree on her son's behalf.
“Patrick Romano impacted the life of everyone he came across. It didn’t matter if you knew him for a day, a week, or many years; he made you feel like you were his friend forever,” Smolka said. “I had the honor of being his defensive partner on the ACHA hockey team here at Niagara for two years, and it was some of the most memorable years of hockey that I’ve played. I speak for so many people when I say, I would do anything to change the past and to see you walk across this stage in person. But the truth is, you are here, because there is a part of you living on in the heart of all the people you have touched.”
On May 19, the Honourable Maurizio Bevilacqua provided remarks for Niagara University in Ontario graduates, the third class to graduate from its Vaughan location. He also received the university’s Founders Award for his extraordinary energy, vision, and steadfast support of Niagara University. Dr. Vincent Rinaldo, vice president for Ontario administration, was also presented with the St. Vincent de Paul Medal in recognition of the pivotal role he played in establishing the Niagara University in Ontario program in Vaughan. The ceremony took place at the Meridian Arts Centre in North York, Ontario.