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University honors journalist at commencement

Broadcaster Ray Suarez received honorary doctorate, gave commencement address to graduate students

05/04/04

On Saturday, May 15, the University celebrated the 2004 commencement exercises for graduate and undergraduate students. During commencement, the University traditionally presents citations, awards and honorary degrees to notable individuals who have made certain contributions to Xavier or the greater society. One of those honored this year was Rafael A. "Ray" Suarez Jr., who was presented the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Ray Suarez has dedicated his life to understanding the world and its people, then sharing that understanding with the rest of us. In his quarter century as a journalist, he has introduced us to the best and worst in ourselves, showing us the events of our time from local, national and international perspectives.

Suarez’ broad interests surfaced early. He studied African history at New York University, then went on to earn a master’s degree in social science from the University of Chicago. He spent seven years at NBC’s Chicago affiliate, WMAQ-TV, covering a wide range of stories from local happenings to international affairs. In 1993 he moved to National Public Radio where he hosted the call-in news program, “Talk of the Nation.” In 1999 he joined “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” where he's currently a senior correspondent. He's also worked for CNN, CBS Radio in Rome, ABC Radio in New York and various American and British news services.

A life in journalism has brought Suarez much recognition, including two duPont-Columbia Silver Baton Awards, a Ruben Salazar Award from the National Council of La Raza and a Global Awareness Award from Current History Magazine.

A founding member of the Chicago Association of Hispanic Journalists, Suarez has also written a number of books, including “The Old Neighborhood: What we lost in the Great Suburban Migration: 1966-1999” and “Totally Brooklyn.” Furthermore, his essays and criticisms have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun.

In recognition of his contributions, Xavier University was proud to present Rafael A. Suarez Jr. with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.