Niagara University was recognized 11 times on an NPR list of Best Commencement Speeches, Ever. NPR issued its list of more than 300 graduation speeches dating back to 1774. As part of our Focus on Education reporting, WBFO’S Eileen Buckley has a rundown of Niagara’s past commencement speakers that made the big list.
“Niagara has had a really fine tradition of inviting and engaging wonderful commencement speakers,” said Father James Maher, President of Niagara University. Niagara’s list of commencement day speakers is impressive, so it’s no surprise it caught the attention of the group who created the NPR listing.
Other former Niagara University speakers include John Roberts in 2005 and Clayyborne Carson in 2008.
“I think the message has been really so positive because it is connect to the mission,” said Father Maher. “It’s a very receptive audience that they are speaking to.”
The only other school in the Buffalo Niagara region that made the NPR Best Commencement Speeches, Ever list was the University at Buffalo for the 1995 speech of civil rights attorney William Kunstler.
Eleven of “The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever” were delivered at Niagara University:
* Mother Theresa (1982)
* Tim Russert (2000)
* Benjamin Carson Jr. (2003)
* John Roberts (2005)
* Michael Ignatieff (2006)
* Jennie Cyran (2007)
* Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M. (2007)
* Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M. (2007)
* Clayborne Carson (2008)
* Very Rev. David O’Connell, C.M. (2008)
* Jaclyn Rossi (2008)
Niagara University past speakers range from Mother Theresa appearing in 1982 to Tim Russert in 2000. Maher wasn’t President of the school at the time. Maher was named just last year to lead the school. But Father Maher notes the college continues to bring in highly recognized speakers to address both undergraduate and graduate students.
“This year we had three wonderful speakers. Paul McManus, one of our alums. But Andrea Elliott of the New York Times, and then George Will who spoke eloquently as well,” noted Maher.