Commencement set for Saturday, May 15

Undergraduate, graduate ceremonies are held separately and feature speakers Yaffa Eliach and Rafael Suarez Jr. | May 12, 2004

On Saturday, May 15, the University holds its 166th commencement exercises at the Cintas Center with Yaffa Eliach, Holocaust survivor, author and professor, delivering the keynote address to the 1,281 members of the Class of 2004 who are receiving their undergraduate degrees.

Broadcaster Rafael Suarez Jr., known for his poignant interviews on National Public Radio and public television's "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," addresses the 702 students receiving graduate degrees in a separate afternoon ceremony.

Because the class sizes are so large, two ceremonies are being held. Commencement for undergraduates begins at 9:00 a.m., and the graduate students’ ceremony begins at 2:00 p.m. A Baccalaureate Mass is being held on Friday, May 14, at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral downtown.

Eliach, a native of Lithuania, escaped death in the Holocaust, which claimed the lives of more than 200 members of her family. As professor emerita of Jewish studies at Brooklyn College, Eliach uses her experience to teach others about the Holocaust and the way of life it destroyed. She founded America’s first Center for Holocaust Studies and served on President Jimmy Carter’s Holocaust Commission.

In 1995, CBS named Eliach Woman of the Year. She also served as the Edward B. Brueggeman, S.J., chair in ecumenical and interreligious studies at Xavier in 2003. The University is presenting Eliach with a degree of Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa, during the commencement ceremony.

As a journalist, Ray Suarez has covered the news from local, national and international perspectives. He spent seven years at NBC’s Chicago affiliate, WMAQ-TV, before moving to National Public Radio in 1993, where he hosted the call-in news program, "Talk of the Nation." In 1999, he joined "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" as a senior correspondent.

A founding member of the Chicago Association of Hispanic Journalists, Suarez has also written a number of books, and his essays and criticisms have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun. The University is awarding Suarez the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

In addition to Eliach and Suarez, other honorary degree recipients include: Cynthia Crown, who serves as director for the department of psychology’s interpersonal communications laboratory. For her achievements and professionalism, she receives the Paul L. O'Connor Leadership Award; Dave Flaspohler, who serves as director of the University’s center for excellence in education. For his nearly 40 years of service and dedication to the University, he receives the Paul L. O'Connor Leadership Award; James C. Eigel, retired CEO of Viking Resources Co. and current member of the development board for Corryville Catholic Elementary School. For his professional achievements and dedication to education, he receives the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

For graduation updates, visit the commencement web site. Maps, directions and parking information are available on the Cintas Center web site.