Suffolk University plans to celebrate its 2020 and 2021 graduates over two days in May with Commencement ceremonies to be held outdoors at historic Fenway Park, in accordance with public health guidelines and pending city approval, the University announced today.
Speakers and honorary degree recipients will include Martin (Marty) Baron, the recently retired executive editor of The Washington Post and former editor of The Boston Globe; Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Google’s chief health officer; Serge Georges Jr., an associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court; Carmen Ortiz, the former U.S. district attorney for Massachusetts who oversaw the prosecution of the Boston Marathon bomber; and Dorothy Savarese, chair and CEO of Cape Cod 5 and one of the nation’s top women in banking.
Suffolk University President Marisa Kelly said plans to hold Commencement exercises May 22-23 at Fenway were created with community safety as the highest priority and with public health guidance and requirements in mind. Under current capacity limits, Fenway is large enough to safely accommodate socially distanced students and some guests, in separate ceremonies for Suffolk’s College of Arts & Sciences, Sawyer Business School and Law School. Each graduating student will be allotted three tickets for their guests to attend their ceremony.
“In the face of a pandemic that has taken a very heavy toll, Suffolk students have managed to persevere and pursue their educational and personal goals. Perhaps more than ever, our 2020 and 2021 graduates deserve the opportunity to walk across that stage and reflect back on what they have accomplished and where they are going from here,” Kelly said.
“Fenway Park is one of Boston’s most iconic symbols, not only for those who live here, but also for people across the nation and around the globe,” Kelly continued. “Suffolk is the quintessential downtown Boston university, and like Fenway, we are of Boston, but our reach extends far beyond it. I can think of no better venue to celebrate our place in the city, and our students’ accomplishments in the face of adversity, than in this wonderful Boston landmark.”
Kelly praised the honorary degree candidates who will speak at Suffolk’s Commencement ceremonies for lifting up lives, safeguarding democracy and improving communities through public health and scientific advancements, the justice system and civic and community engagement.
“These are all accomplished leaders who embody Suffolk University’s values and whose work is especially powerful and relevant during these challenging times,” Kelly said. “We are honored to have each of them offer words of inspiration as we celebrate the accomplishments of these deserving graduates.”
Commencement Ceremony Information
Martin (Marty) Baron
Over the course of his 45-year career in journalism, Marty Baron has worked for and then led some of the nation’s top newspapers. During a period of tumultuous change for both the news industry and American democracy, he has emerged as a fierce champion of the free press and fearless investigative reporting.
As executive editor of The Washington Post from 2013 until his retirement in February 2021, Baron oversaw a dramatic expansion of the Post’s newsroom, its readership and its national and international impact at a time when then-President Donald Trump labeled the press “the enemy of the people.” The Post earned 10 Pulitzer Prizes while he was executive editor.
Bostonians know Baron from his 11-year tenure at The Boston Globe, which won six Pulitzers under his leadership, including the Public Service award for the Globe’s investigation into clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church. His role in that investigation was portrayed in the Academy Award-winning movie Spotlight.
In 2019, Suffolk’s Ford Hall Forum presented Baron with its First Amendment Award for “his powerful and fearless defense of the First Amendment, and his relentless pursuit of the truth over his storied career.”
Born in Tampa, Florida, Baron graduated from Lehigh University. He went on to work as a reporter at The Miami Herald and as an editor at both The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, before returning to the Herald as executive editor in 2000.
Dr. Karen DeSalvo
Dr. Karen DeSalvo, BA’88, HDHL’10, is a nationally recognized health policy leader working at the intersection of medicine, public health and information technology to improve the health of people and their communities.
In December 2019, DeSalvo was appointed Google’s first chief health officer, and she has devoted her first year to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing quality information to consumers and partnering with public health authorities to help end the disease.
Previously, as New Orleans Health Commissioner, she helped lead the effort to re-engineer health care in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina. She later served as acting assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration, and as the national coordinator for Health Information Technology.
DeSalvo received a BA in biology and political science from Suffolk University. She earned both MD and MPH degrees from Tulane School of Medicine, where she later served as a professor and vice dean. She also holds a degree in clinical epidemiology from Harvard. In 2010, Suffolk awarded her an honorary doctorate of humane letters.
Serge Georges Jr.
An associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), Serge Georges Jr., JD’96, has earned a reputation not only for legal brilliance, but also for the humanity he brings to his work as both a jurist and as an adjunct law professor at Suffolk University Law School, his alma mater.
When Governor Charlie Baker nominated Georges to the high court last fall, he noted that many lawyers considered him “their favorite judge—not because he gives them the answer they want, but because he knows the law, does his homework and treats everyone in his courtroom with dignity and respect.”
In addition to being only the fourth Black person ever to serve on the 328-year-old SJC, Georges is one of the few justices ever nominated to the high court from the district court level. The governor said that Georges’ “real-world experience on the District Court will improve the quality of the discussion and debate, and ultimately, the quality of the decisions that will be rendered.”
The son of Haitian immigrants, Georges grew up in Dorchester, blocks from the Boston Municipal Courthouse where he would one day preside. After graduating from Boston College and Suffolk Law, he spent more than 17 years in private practice, before then-Governor Deval Patrick appointed him to the city’s municipal court in 2013. From 2014 to 2018, he presided over the Dorchester Drug Court.
He is the third Suffolk Law graduate currently serving on the seven-member court, joining Justices Frank Gaziano and Elspeth Cypher.
As a partner at Anderson & Kreiger, Carmen Ortiz focuses her practice on internal investigations, corporate compliance, civil litigation and white collar criminal defense.
She served from 2009 to 2017 as U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, where she oversaw the investigation and litigation of many significant and complex criminal and civil cases involving financial and securities fraud, health care fraud, public corruption, money laundering, cybercrimes, national security, organized crime and violent crime. Among other high-profile matters, she directed the prosecutions of Whitey Bulger and the Boston Marathon bomber. Protecting the civil rights of Massachusetts residents was a top priority for Ortiz, and she implemented the district’s first Civil Rights Unit.
Before becoming U.S. attorney, Ortiz was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Economic Crimes Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She also served as an assistant district attorney in Middlesex County, as well as a defense attorney.
Among her many honors, Ortiz is listed among the 2020 Best Lawyers in America in the area of administrative/regulatory law. In 2014 she was named Latina Lawyer of the Year by the Hispanic National Bar Association, and in 2011 The Boston Globe named her Bostonian of the Year. She serves on the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Advisory Board of Trustees and is a board member at large for the Massachusetts Women’s Forum. Ortiz holds degrees from George Washington University Law School and Adelphi University.
Dorothy Savarese, MBA’04, is chair and chief executive officer of Cape Cod 5, a financial institution she joined in 1993 as a commercial lending officer.
Founded in 1855, the bank has more than $3.4 billion in assets and employs more than 500 people throughout Cape Cod, the islands and Southeastern Massachusetts. Cape Cod 5 has been named one of America’s Top Banks to Work For by American Banker Magazine and a Top Place to Work by The Boston Globe.
In 2020, Savarese was named one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking by American Banker magazine, for the ninth consecutive year.
Savarese serves as president of the Federal Reserve Board’s Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council, and represents the First District. The council advises the Federal Reserve Board of Governors on the economy, lending conditions and other issues related to community depository institutions. Savarese also chairs the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s First District Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council.
Governor Charlie Baker appointed her to the Massachusetts Economic Development Planning Council, formed in 2019 and made up of key business leaders, academics and health care representatives from across the state. Savarese is past chair of the American Bankers Association and the Massachusetts Bankers Association, and has served on the FDIC Advisory Committee on Community Banking. She also is known for her mentoring efforts, and has established a nationally recognized college internship program at Cape Cod 5.
Savarese, who holds an MBA from Suffolk University, has served on the boards of a number of local organizations, including the Cape Cod Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra, the Regional Employment Board of the Cape and Islands and the Housing Assistance Corporation.
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