Fairfield University announces speakers and honorary degree recipients for its 60th Commencement ceremony on May 23



Fairfield University's commencement speakers this year are both distinguished alumni of Fairfield: Dr. Katherine Lapp, is executive vice president of Harvard University, and Dr. James Abbruzzese, M.D., F.A.C.P. is the M. G. and Lillie A. Johnson Chair for Cancer Treatment and Research and Chairman of the Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. This will be the 60th commencement for Fairfield and will take place on Sunday, May 23, on Bellarmine Lawn with a ceremony at 9:30 a.m. for undergraduate students and a 3 p.m. ceremony for graduate students.

In addition to the speakers, honorary degrees will be bestowed on Dr. Mayra Luz Pérez Díaz, the first woman to be named president of the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in Managua, Nicaragua; Art historian Emily Rafferty, the first woman to be named president of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Rev. Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., professor of New Testament at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

Image: Katherine LappAs the chief administrative officer for Harvard University, Dr. Katherine Lapp oversees all financial, administrative, human resources, and capital planning functions as well as the administrative aspects of information technology for a university with over 13,000 employees, 18,000 students, and annual operating expenses of $3.8 billion.

She is also responsible for revising the university's budget and planning processes, re-structuring the capital planning and project management functions of the University, and implementing ambitious environmental goals, including the first University-wide greenhouse-gas emissions reduction pledge.

A 1978 alumna of Fairfield, Dr. Lapp will deliver the morning address to undergraduate students. A history major at Fairfield, she went on to earn a Juris Doctorate from Hofstra University in 1981 and served as the executive director of New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) for four years. Her next position was vice president for business operations at the University of California, where she coordinated finances, human resources, real estate, and facilities management for the system's 10 campuses. Her accomplishments there brought her to the attention of Harvard University, where she is now responsible for shepherding the university through the toughest economic challenge in its history. Dr. Lapp will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Image: James AbbruzzeseDr. James Abbruzzese, who will deliver the commencement address at the afternoon ceremony for graduate students, is a recognized leader in the field of pancreatic cancer research and treatment. He has published over 350 peer-reviewed articles, books, and book chapters, sits on several scientific advisory boards, and is a deputy editor of the journal, "Clinical Cancer Research."

He has co-edited books entitled "Gastrointestinal Oncology," published by Oxford University Press (2004), "Antioangiogenic Cancer Therapy," published by CRC Press (2008), and "Pancreatic Cancer," published by Springer (2010). His research group has been awarded a SPORE (Science Prize for Online Resources in Education) in pancreatic cancer and Interdisciplinary Research Consortium (U54) grant on angiogenesis from the NIH.

Born in Hartford, Conn., Dr. Abbruzzese completed his undergraduate work in biology at Fairfield University in 1974 and graduated medical school with honors from the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago, Ill. He completed residency in Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore Md., and fellowship in Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass. Dr. Abbruzzese will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Honorary degree recipients are:

Image: Mayra DiazDr. Mayra Luz Pérez Díaz, the first female president of the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in Managua, Nicaragua. A leader of an institution in one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, Dr. Pérez Díaz has embraced the formation of global partnerships between UCA and other universities, one of which is Fairfield, and made a commitment to social justice one of the hallmarks of an UCA education.

Named a professor at UCA in 1976, Dr. Pérez Diaz has held several positions there, including Culture Director, Vice Dean of the School of Humanities, Academic Vice President, and General Vice President, before being named President in 2005. Dr. Pérez Diaz will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Image: Emily RaffertyHistorian Emily Rafferty is the chief administrative officer of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the nation's largest and most comprehensive art museum. She joined the staff of the museum in 1976 and rose through the ranks until her promotion to president in 2005. Ms. Rafferty is a frequent speaker on non-profit management and fundraising, and has been active with a number of arts organizations over the years. Fairfield's new art museum will be displaying works of art from the Cloisters, which is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The recipient of many awards and honors, Ms. Rafferty has earned an "Ambassador to the Upper East Side Award" from the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District, and both a special service award for the Museum from the New York Landmarks Conservancy, and a community and public service "Emmy" Award from the National Academy for Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS). Ms. Rafferty will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Image: Daniel HarringtonThe Rev. Daniel J. Harrington, S.J. is professor of New Testament at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. He received his doctorate in biblical languages and literatures from Harvard University in 1970 and was ordained a priest in 1971. He has been general editor of New Testament Abstracts since 1972, is a past president of the Catholic Biblical Association of America (1985-86), and is the author of more than 40 books on various aspects of biblical studies, including the more recent "Why Do We Hope? Images in the Psalms" (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2008), "Meeting St. Paul Today" (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2008), "The Synoptic Gospels Set Free: Preaching without Anti-Judaism" (New York: Paulist Press, 2009), "Jesus and Prayer: What the New Testament Teaches Us" (Ijamsville, Md: The Word Among Us Press, 2009), and "Daily Reflections for Lent 2010" (Cincinnati: St Anthony Messenger, 2010). Fr. Harrington will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 5, 2010