DePaul University announces 2017 commencement speakers

Dignitaries are Stuart Dybek, Sharon Draper, Rick Kash, Paulette Brown, Marty Wilke, John Corigliano and Craig Hartman

Todd London DePaul Commencement 2016
Honorary degree recipient Todd London, a writer, scholar and theatre advocate, addresses the graduates of DePaul University’s School of Music and The Theatre School in 2016. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
CHICAGO — Speakers for DePaul University’s 119th commencement ceremonies are leaders in their respective fields including education, broadcast journalism, architecture, business and the arts. They will address DePaul’s approximately 6,500 graduates at the university’s commencement ceremonies May 14 and June 10-11. 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.

Commencement speakers include labor attorney and diversity advocate Paulette Brown; educator and children’s author Sharon Draper; composer John Corigliano; poet and fiction writer Stuart Dybek; architect Craig Hartman of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; broadcast executive Marty Wilke of WBBM-TV, Chicago; and vice chairman of Nielsen, Rick KashEach of the speakers will receive an honorary degree. Sister Margaret Mary Fitzpatrick, S.C., president of St. Thomas Aquinas College, will also receive an honorary degree from the College of Education.

DePaul’s colleges and schools have distinguished reputations for preparing graduates to serve a changing world. 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.

Details about each college’s commencement ceremony, speakers and honorary degree recipients are listed below. For additional information visit, http://bit.ly/DePaulGrad2017.

College of Law
May 14, 1:30 p.m.
Rosemont Theatre
5400 N. River Road, Rosemont

Labor and employment attorney Paulette Brown made history as the first woman of color to serve as president of the 400,000-member American Bar Association. As a young lawyer, Brown worked her way up to become the in-house counsel for several Fortune 500 companies, including National Steel Corporation, Prudential Insurance Company of America, Inc., and Buck Consultants. She later opened her own law firm, focusing on employment, civil rights and product liability law, and served as a municipal court judge. In 2005, she joined Edwards & Angell — now Locke Lord LLP — as a partner. She remains there today and co-chairs the firm’s diversity and inclusion committee. In the midst of her professional success, she devotes time to bringing attention to diversity issues within the legal profession. Before serving her historic term as president of the ABA from 2015-16, Brown held a variety of influential positions within the association. She served on the Commission on Women in the Profession and co-authored “Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms,” which became a tool for law firm partners to help retain women of color and to steward their careers toward leadership levels within organizations. 

College of Education
June 10, 8:30 a.m.
Rosemont Theatre
5400 N. River Road, Rosemont

Distinguished teacher and celebrated novelist Sharon Draper influences young lives through the power and beauty of literature. Draper was honored as the 1997 National Teacher of the Year for helping students understand complex issues through literature. Twenty years into Draper’s career as a high school English language arts teacher, a student dared her to enter a writing contest. Her story “One Small Torch” won first prize and publication in Ebony Magazine and ignited her writing career. Draper is best known for her award-winning young adult books, which cover important themes such as identity, peer pressure, slavery and abuse. In all, she has written 27 award-winning books and two books of poetry. She crossed genres with her New York Times-bestselling novel “Copper Sun,” which was named one of the Top Ten Historical Fiction Books for Youth.

Sister Margaret Mary Fitzpatrick, S.C., president and CEO of St. Thomas Aquinas College in New York, will also receive an honorary degree from DePaul’s College of Education. Fitzpatrick is a nationally recognized leader in higher education and a member of the Sisters of Charity. She spent 14 years at St. John’s University in New York, where she became known for her singular ability to motivate employees, engage students, create an intellectual dialogue and promote Vincentian values. In 1995, she became the eighth president of St. Thomas Aquinas, where she has placed sustainability at the forefront. Fitzpatrick remains involved in teaching as a tenured professor in the fields of education, mathematics, science and religion. Fitzpatrick lends her wisdom and leadership to service on a number of boards, including DePaul and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education.

School of Music and The Theatre School
(Combined ceremony)
June 10, noon
Rosemont Theatre
5400 N. River Road, Rosemont

American composer John Corigliano is the creator of more than 100 scores, three symphonies, eight concerti, one opera, and three large-scale voice and orchestra works. His body of work has been performed and recorded by some of the most prominent musicians in the world and has earned many awards including a Pulitzer Prize, the prestigious Grawemeyer Award and multiple Grammy Awards. In 1991, Corigliano wrote Symphony No. 1 in remembrance of friends lost to HIV and AIDS. The power, drama and scope of the piece resulted in it being performed worldwide by more than 150 orchestras. Corigliano won an Oscar for his score to Francois Girard’s film “The Red Violin,” perhaps his best-known work to the general public. Corigliano has been teaching for more than 40 years, serving on the composition faculty at the Julliard School of Music and holding the position of distinguished professor of music at Lehman College, City University of New York.

School for New Learning
June 10, 3 p.m.
Rosemont Theatre
5400 N. River Road, Rosemont

Poet and fiction writer Stuart Dybek is an integral part of Chicago’s literary history and a master of the short story. Raised on the South Side of Chicago, many of Dybek’s stories and poems are based on his experiences growing up as a second-generation Polish-American in the city. Critics have compared him to Saul Bellow, Sherwood Anderson, Franz Kafka and James Joyce for his distinct ability to capture a particular sense of place. His stories and poems have appeared in nearly every major literary magazine in the U.S., including The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine and The Paris Review. Dybek was a professor of English at Western Michigan University from 1974 to 2006 and has been a visiting professor at six other universities. He is currently a distinguished writer in residence at Northwestern University.

College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the College of Science and Health
(Combined ceremony)
June 11, 8 a.m.
Allstate Arena
6920 N. Mannheim Road, Rosemont

As a world-renowned architect, Craig Hartman is changing the face of major cities through his inspired design of commercial, civic and cultural buildings and entire urban districts. He is also a sought-after speaker on ways urban neighborhoods can be designed to solve major global problems, such as environmental degradation, climate change and social inequity. Hartman has spent his entire career at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, first in the Chicago office, then Houston and Washington, D.C. He has been based in San Francisco since 1990 and leads the firm’s West Coast design practice. Some of his recent notable projects include the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the international terminal in the San Francisco International Airport. Architectural Record described the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California, his most lauded work, as “one of the world’s most important works of architecture in the last 125 years.”

College of Communication and the College of Computing and Digital Media
(Combined ceremony)
June 11, 12:30 p.m.
Allstate Arena
6920 N. Mannheim Road, Rosemont

Broadcast television executive and DePaul alumna Marty Wilke is the first female president and general manager of WBBM-TV, CBS 2, in Chicago. Wilke works to make news more widely accessible to audiences and encourages journalists to think outside the box. Throughout her career, she has been a supporter of DePaul students by funding scholarships, offering mentorship and serving as a thought leader at her alma mater. Born and raised in Chicago, Wilke was the youngest of six children and followed in her sister Nancy Wilke’s footsteps to attend DePaul, where she discovered her passion for telling and writing stories. She spent a decade working for high-profile advertising agencies, then brought her collaborative personality and strong work ethic to WGN-TV. By the fall of 2012, she became president and general manager of WBBM-TV in Chicago, and under her leadership, the network forged new community partnerships, expanded local newscasts by six hours per week and increased viewership and revenue. In 2016, Make It Better magazine named Wilke one of “The 25 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.” Wilke and her sister Nancy created the Wilke Family Endowed Scholarship in 2012 to support other DePaul students who are forging paths similar to their own.

Driehaus College of Business and Kellstadt Graduate School of Business
June 11, 4:30 p.m.
Allstate Arena
6920 N. Mannheim Road, Rosemont

Rick Kash, vice chairman of the global consumer information analytics firm Nielsen, is a leading expert and author on business growth and consumer demand. Upon graduation from DePaul in 1968 with a degree in sociology, Kash made his mark on the consumer research industry by promoting a theory of demand-driven economics. Kash co-founded Nielsen’s micro-marketing supermarket and mass merchandiser information system to precisely target consumers. Today, more than 90 percent of consumer packaged goods marketers use this system. In 2012, he was named vice chairman of Nielsen. Kash is a member of the U.S. Senate Business Forum, which provides lawmakers with independent views on national matters affecting the economy and U.S. business performance. In addition to his work at Nielsen, Kash founded Genus Oncology, a biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering treatments for refractory cancers. Kash is an enthusiastic supporter of DePaul and a member of the Driehaus College of Business Dean’s Advisory Council.

About DePaul
DePaul is the largest Catholic university in the United States and the largest private, nonprofit university in the Midwest, with some 23,110 students and a wide range of academic and professional 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:
Kristin Claes Mathews
kristin.mathews@depaul.edu
312-362-7735​​