DePaul University 2016 commencement speakers: Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, and business, education, technology and humanitarian thought leaders

Dignitaries are Edwin Silverman, Claudio Sanchez, Todd London, Lila Downs, Martin Castro, Kerrie Holley and Kathy Waller

DePaul Theatre School and School of Music Commencement Ceremony 2015
Honorary degree recipient Muhal Richard Abrams, a world-renowned pianist, addresses the graduates of DePaul University’s School of Music and The Theatre School at the 117th commencement ceremonies on June 13, 2015. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
CHICAGO — Speakers for DePaul University’s 118th commencement ceremonies are thought leaders in their respective fields including education, technology, social justice, business and the arts. They will address DePaul’s approximately 6,500 graduates at the university’s commencement ceremonies May 15 and June 11-12. Based in Chicago and recognized as the largest Catholic university in the United States, DePaul will have seven separate ceremonies for its 10 colleges and schools.

Speakers for the ceremonies include refugee and immigrant advocate Edwin Silverman; National Public Radio education correspondent Claudio Sanchez; theatre scholar Todd London; Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and actress Lila Downs; Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Martin Castro; software architect Kerrie Holley; and Coca-Cola CFO Kathy Waller. Each of the speakers will also receive an honorary degree.

DePaul’s colleges and schools have distinguished reputations for preparing graduates to work, succeed and contribute in the global community. The university’s tradition of providing a quality education to students from a broad range of backgrounds, with particular attention to first-generation students, has resulted in one of the nation’s most diverse student bodies. Graduates of DePaul are urban educated, giving them access to connect with a robust network of thought leaders from across the globe and providing them with real-world experiences.

Details about each college’s commencement ceremony, speakers and honorary degree recipients are listed below. For additional information visit, http://bit.ly/DPUGrad2016.

College of Law
May 15, 1:30 p.m.
Rosemont Theatre
5400 N. River Road, Rosemont

During a career spanning nearly four decades, Edwin Silverman led and shaped refugee resettlement and immigrant integration policy on the local, state and federal levels. With Silverman’s guidance, Illinois became a leader and national model for refugee resettlement. He began serving as the Illinois state refugee coordinator in 1976, first under the Governor’s Center for Asian Assistance, which then became the Refugee Resettlement Program under the Illinois Department of Public Aid. On a wider scale, Silverman worked with lawmakers and policy experts on refugee matters and helped draft the United States Refugee Act of 1980, which established the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program. From 2003-11, he also chaired the Advisory Council for Immigrant and Refugee Affairs for the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. Now retired, Silverman’s long career made it possible for international victims of war, violence and terrorism to make new lives in the United States.

College of Education
June 11, 8:30 a.m.
Rosemont Theatre
5400 N. River Road, Rosemont

As a longtime National Public Radio education correspondent, Claudio Sanchez has shared the stories of individuals, schools and educational reforms with a nationwide audience for over 25 years. His dedication to education reporting began at the United States-Mexico border. Sanchez grew up in Nogales, Mexico – a town straddling the border of Arizona and Mexico – where he attended schools on both sides for the border, until his parents prompted him to finish his education in the United States. His dreams were realized when he received a scholarship to Northern Arizona University to study journalism and discovered his love for radio. Sanchez’s career with NPR began in 1989 on the education beat where he has honed his journalism skills. His reports, which create a powerful image of the educational disparities facing America, air regularly on NPR affiliate shows such as “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered” and “Weekend Edition.”

School of Music and The Theatre School
(Combined ceremony)
June 11, noon
Rosemont Theatre
5400 N. River Road, Rosemont

Born and raised in Chicago, Todd London is one of the country’s leading proponents for the future of American theatre. In 18 years as artistic director of the New Dramatists, the nation’s oldest center for support of playwrights, he worked closely with hundreds of leading playwrights to develop their talents and encourage their careers. A prolific writer, his influential commentary published in books and journals has blended arts journalism and advocacy to advance the field of theatre. Today, he nurtures fresh talent and brings new voices to the stage through his leadership at the University of Washington’s School of Drama.

School for New Learning
June 11, 3 p.m.
Rosemont Theatre
5400 N. River Road, Rosemont

Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and actress Lila Downs blends contemporary and traditional Latin music to create her own unique style. Her first album, released in 1994, was a compilation of traditional Mexican stories and folklore interwoven with Downs’ distinctive musical interpretation. In subsequent albums – 11 total – she continued to share her culture’s history and indigenous traditions while also drawing from her experiences of hardship in Mexico and the U.S. to shed light on current issues facing Mexicans. Downs uses her music as a vehicle to depict ballads of love and compositions of social injustice.

College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the College of Science and Health
(Combined ceremony)
June 12, 8 a.m.
Allstate Arena
6920 N. Mannheim Road, Rosemont

A graduate of DePaul University, Martin Castro has spent much of his career advocating for social justice both locally and nationally. Appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in January of 2011, President Barack Obama elevated Castro two months later to the position of chairperson, making him the first Latino chairperson in the over half-century history of the USCCR. Castro also serves as president and chief executive officer of Castro Synergies, LLC, which provides strategic consulting services to corporations, entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations that seek to have a positive social impact on diverse communities. In 2009, Castro was appointed by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn to chair the Illinois Human Rights Commission, the state's public body that arbitrates complaints of civil rights violations in housing, employment, public accommodations and financial credit.

College of Communication and the College of Computing and Digital Media
(Combined ceremony)
June 12, 12:30 p.m.
Allstate Arena
6920 N. Mannheim Road, Rosemont

A Chicago native and DePaul Double Demon, Kerrie Holley has contributed significantly to the technology landscape over the past three decades. In recognition of Holley’s groundbreaking work in service-oriented architecture software engineering at IBM, he was appointed an IBM Fellow – the highest technical leadership position bestowed by the technology giant. In that position, he provided thought leadership in areas including service-oriented architecture, business agility and business process management. He currently serves as the vice president and chief technology officer at Cisco overseeing the areas of software platforms, data and analytics and automation platforms. He also holds several technology patents and is the author of two books: "Is Your Company Ready for Cloud" and “100 SOA Questions: Asked and Answered.” Outside of work, Holley is a strong advocate for mentoring, addressing cultural barriers, and the need for better education in the areas of math and science for underserved youth and college students.

Driehaus College of Business
June 12, 4:30 p.m.
Allstate Arena
6920 N. Mannheim Road, Rosemont

As executive vice president and chief financial officer of The Coca-Cola Company, Kathy Waller is a respected global leader in finance with a passion for sharing her success. She rose from senior accountant in accounting research to CFO over the course of almost 30 years at the world’s largest beverage manufacturer. She has accomplished many feats in these positions, including successfully navigating Coca-Cola through one of its toughest audits in history. Waller also is directly responsible for overseeing the company’s $46 billion net operating revenues brought in by Coca-Cola’s more than 500 products. Through her leadership on numerous boards and her roles at Coca-Cola, she has dedicated herself not only to her work, but to a career of bettering the business world for both businesses and minorities.

118th Commencement
This spring marks the 118th commencement for DePaul University. An estimated 6,400 students will graduate this academic year. DePaul is the largest Catholic university in the United States and the largest private, nonprofit university in the Midwest, with some 23,500 students and about 300 academic programs.

DePaul was founded in Chicago in 1898 by the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians), a Roman Catholic religious community dedicated to following the ideals of St. Vincent de Paul, the 17th century priest for whom the university is named. More information is at www.depaul.edu.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Wendy Smit
wsmit@depaul.edu
312-362-7749