University announces commencement speakers

St. John’s announced the speakers for this years commencement ceremony on the Queens and Staten Island Campuses. Pete Hamill, the distinguished writer in residence at NYU, will deliver the commencement address at the Staten Island campus ceremonies on May 15.

Hammill, a prominent writer and journalist, will also receive the Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree at the ceremony. His novel, Downtown: My Manhattan, was the required reading for the class of 2010’s Discover New York course four years ago.

Bob and Suzanne Wright, the co-founders of Autism Speaks will speak at the Queens commencement ceremonies on May 16.

Autism Speaks is the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. Each of the Wrights will also each receive the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Two others will be honored at the Queens commencement. St. John’s alumnus Paul J. Evanson, president and CEO of Allegheny Energy Inc., will receive the Honorary
Doctor of Commercial Science degree.

Rev. Guy A. Sansaricq, D.D., V.E., Auxiliary Bishop and pastor of St. Gregory the Great Church in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, will also receive the Honorary Doctor of Sacred Theology Degree.

Each year St. John’s forms a committee to develop a list of potential speakers which is then passed for approval by University President Rev. Donald J. Harrington and the Board of Trustees. In the past the committee has included students, faculty and senior administrators.

Dominic Scianna, the assistant vice president for Media Relations, says that he works with Dr. Pamela Shea-Byrnes, the vice president for University Ministry and University Events, to “vet” the potential speakers and enlist them for the commencement ceremonies.

Scianna also noted that potential speakers must meet the University’s standards in terms of Catholic values and the mission statement.

Past speakers have included Immaculée Ilibagiza, George Stephanopolous, Fr. Harrington and Bruce Beck.