Suffolk University today announced that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, longtime NAACP Legal Defense Fund leader Elaine R. Jones, and YMCA of the USA President and CEO Kevin Washington will be the speakers at its 2016 commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 22, at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on the Boston waterfront. The University will award each speaker an honorary doctorate.
“Each of our three speakers has spent a lifetime working to build a better nation through service, civil rights, and education,” said President Margaret McKenna. “Taken together, their accomplishments have had a significant impact on American life, and Suffolk University is honored to have them join us at commencement. Their example and their words will inspire our graduates as they meet new responsibilities and challenges.”
Warren, a consumer advocate, educator and policymaker, will address the undergraduate commencement for the College of Arts & Sciences at 1 p.m. She has been outspoken in promoting a more egalitarian financial system and, like many Suffolk students, was a first-generation college student from a working family. Warren was a law professor for more than 30 years. She was asked by the Obama administration to set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and she was chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. In 2012 she was elected to the U.S. Senate, where she represents the state of Massachusetts. Warren has published many articles and books, including the national best-sellers A Fighting Chance, The Two-Income Trap, and All Your Worth. TIME Magazine has, on three occasions, named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Warren is a graduate of the University of Houston and Rutgers School of Law.
Washington will deliver the commencement address at the 9 a.m. Sawyer Business School undergraduate commencement ceremony. Washington has led the national YMCA organization since February 2015 after serving as president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Boston. In his four years in Boston, Washington doubled membership to more than 40,000 households and brought a common purpose to the region’s 13 branches. He has served as a member of the YMCA of the USA board of directors and chaired an advisory committee that guided the development of the national organization's new strategic plan. As president and CEO, Washington sees the national YMCA as being focused on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. He has been involved with the YMCA since he was in grade school, and time spent on his favorite Y activity—basketball—led to scholarship to Temple University, where he received a bachelor’s degree. Shortly thereafter he began his YMCA career as a youth program director in his native Philadelphia.
Jones, an attorney who is president-emerita and director-counsel-emerita of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, will deliver the commencement address at the 5 p.m. Suffolk University Law School commencement ceremony. From the time she served with the Peace Corps in Turkey through her long career with the Legal Defense Fund, Jones has been a pioneer in seeking justice for people of color, women and the underprivileged. As a young attorney Jones took on death row cases; she was a counsel of record in Furman v. Georgia, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that abolished the death penalty in 37 states for 12 years. She was the first African American to serve on the board of governors of the American Bar Association and the first woman to lead the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the law firm founded by Thurgood Marshall. Jones holds degrees from Howard University and the University of Virginia School of Law, where she was the first black woman graduate.
The Blue Hills Bank Pavilion is located at 290 Northern Ave., Boston.
The Class of 2016 is made up of 2,337 people receiving undergraduate, graduate and Law School degrees. They range in age from 20 to 65 and hail from 30 states and 74 nations.
The commencement ceremony for the Sawyer Business School graduate programs will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 21, at the Westin Copley Hotel, 10 Huntington Ave., Boston, with restaurateur Barbara Lynch as speaker. The award-winning Boston chef, cookbook author and CEO of Barbara Lynch Gruppo operates seven food-and-drink-related venues and a foundation that provides programs for inner-city youth.
The College of Arts & Sciences graduate commencement ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 21, at the Westin Copley Hotel. Faculty member Sean Solley, a professor of Interior Architecture and Design in Suffolk’s New England School of Art & Design, will speak.