Fairfield University 2016 Commencement — Sunday, May 22, 2016
Fairfield University announces its 66th commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 22, 2016. This year's speakers are Rev. Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, S.J., the principal and president of the Jesuit School of Theology and Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations in Nairobi, Kenya, who will be speaking at the undergraduate ceremony; and Cindi Bigelow, CEO of Bigelow Tea and dedicated community activist and advisor, who will be speaking at the graduate ceremony. The 2016 Commencement takes place on Bellarmine Lawn and begins at 9:30 a.m. with the undergraduate ceremony, followed by the graduate ceremony at 3 p.m. The total numbers of expected degrees to be awarded are: 1,030 Bachelor's, 423 Master's, 16 Sixth Year Certificates, and 27 Doctorates. Honorary degrees will also be bestowed on both speakers and three other recipients: Julio Ramirez ‘77, Don Gummer and Sr. Maureen Flemming, SSND.
Commencement Speakers and Honorary Degrees
Undergraduate Commencement Speaker — Rev. Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, S.J., Doctor of Laws
Fr. Orobator is currently the principal and president of the Jesuit School of Theology and Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations in Nairobi, Kenya. Between July 2009 and December 2014, he served as the provincial superior of the Eastern African Province of the Society of Jesus, an area that includes Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia. Fr. Orobator is the author of a number of books, the most current of which is Practicing Reconciliation, Doing Justice, Building Peace: Conversations on Catholic Theological Ethics in Africa. He gave a plenary address at Fairfield University at the Third International Receptive Ecumenism Conference in June 2014. Fr. Orobator will receive his honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the undergraduate ceremony.
Graduate Commencement Speaker — Cindi Bigelow, Doctor of Laws
Ms. Bigelow exemplifies the Jesuit tradition of promoting social responsibility and inclusion. She works with teens in Appalachia to rebuild homes and build relationships, continuously leveraging her business success for humanitarian causes. The Bigelow Tea Challenge in Fairfield teams with Wakeman Boys & Girls Club to raise over $100,000 annually to benefit 18 local charities. Ms. Bigelow serves as Advisor to teens with the Greenfield Hill Church service trip to Appalachia to rebuild homes each summer, and sponsors numerous events to benefit US Troops, Veterans, Norma Pfriem Breast Cancer Center, The Center for Women and Families, Connecticut Food Bank and Operation Hope among others. She is a former speaker at the Fairfield Awards Dinner, and will be receiving her honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the graduate ceremony.
Additional Honorary Degree Recipients
Julio Ramirez, ’77, PhD — Doctor of Science
Dr. Ramirez was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring by President Barack Obama, the Award for Education in Neuroscience from the Society for Neuroscience and the Distinguished Mentor Award from the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience. He graduated from Fairfield with a BS in Psychology, and received an MA and PhD from Clark University. Dr. Ramirez will receive his honorary Doctor of Science degree at the undergraduate ceremony.
Don Gummer — Doctor of Humane Letters
Mr. Gummer is a world-renowned modern sculptor, and Connecticut local. His largest exhibition ever is currently on display at Fairfield University’s Walsh Art Gallery at the Quick Center for the Arts, and features works in bronze and steel, along with painted wood wall reliefs and outdoor sculptures. The quality and scope of his work and exhibition is comparable to a show presented by a major museum, and Mr. Gummer has generously donated his time and resources to make great art readily available and accessible for everyone to see, reflect on and enjoy. Moreover, during the course of his exhibition, he has contributed to the vitality of campus life by participating in special programs for students, faculty, staff and the general public. Mr. Gummer will receive his honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the undergraduate ceremony.
Sr. Maureen Fleming, SSND — Doctor of Laws
Sr. Maureen of the School Sisters of Notre Dame is currently the coordinator of Pastoral Outreach Activities at St. Luke’s Parish in Westport, Connecticut. In 1995, she became director of Caroline House, a literacy center for immigrant women in Bridgeport started by her order, where she served until 2005. Fairfield University students and faculty volunteer at Caroline House in numerous capacities. She is an advocate for women's and children's rights, poverty and education. Sr. Maureen is also registered with the United Nations, and as an NGO she participates in lectures and conferences dealing with the issues and rights of women and children. Sr. Maureen will receive her honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the graduate ceremony.
Pictured: Cindi Bigelow, the graduate commencement speaker on May 22. Bigelow will also be receiving an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.