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Jerry Lewis among commencement speakers

May 16, 2011

Chapman University will feature comedy legend Jerry Lewis among its commencement speakers this year, as the university’s 1,000-plus undergraduates and 600-plus graduate and law school students don caps and gowns for graduation ceremonies May 20 and 21.

Other speakers will include Robert E. Grant, CEO and president of Bausch and Lomb Medical; André Birotte Jr., U.S. district attorney for the Central District of California; Sonia Nieto, noted educator and author; Steve Mosko, president of Sony Pictures Television; and Chapman alumni Marc Nager ’06, founder of Startup Weekend; and Galal Kernahan ’48, pastor and education advocate.

Honorary degrees will be presented to Cruz Reynoso, who was the first Latino justice on the California Supreme Court; Leon Leyson, the youngest member of “Schindler’s List;” Rueben Martinez, noted literacy activist and Chapman presidential fellow; Susan Sygall, international mobility advocate; and Mosko.

Each of Chapman’s seven schools and colleges will hold its own separate ceremony with its own speaker and honorees.  The ceremonies will be held on Wilson Field and on the Bert Williams Mall.

Preceding the commencement ceremonies will be the Baccalaureate Interfaith Worship Service at 4 p.m. Friday in Fish Interfaith Center.

More information is available at the  commencement website. Scheduled ceremonies include:


5 p.m. School of Law Commencement and Hooding Ceremony, Wilson Field

Guest Speaker: André Birotte Jr., U.S. district attorney for the Central District of California.

Honorary degree: Cruz Reynoso will receive a Doctor of Laws degree, Honoris Causa. Mr. Reynoso, who graduated from UC Berkeley School of Law in 1958, became one of the first Latino law professors in the U.S., served as director of California Rural Legal Assistance, became the first Latino justice on the California Supreme Court (1982-1987), and received the nation’s highest civilian honor, the National Medal of Freedom.  At age 79 he continues to teach at UC Davis Law School and is active in community organizations throughout California.

8 p.m. Argyros School of Business and Economics Commencement, Wilson Field

Guest Speaker: Marc C. Nager, 2006 Chapman graduate. Mr. Nager is co-founder of the nonprofit Startup Weekend, now a worldwide phenomenon where entrepreneurs come together to launch startup businesses and share ideas.  Mr. Nager will also receive the Argyros Medal, a new award from ASBE.


8 a.m. College of Performing Arts Commencement, Bert Williams Mall

Guest Speaker: Jerry Lewis, comedy legend, movie icon and national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Mr. Lewis was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Chapman on the air during his telethon last year.

9:15 a.m. Wilkinson College of Humanities and Social Sciences Commencement, Wilson Field

Galal Kernahan, 1948 Chapman graduate; reporter, educator, pastor, community and education advocate will be present to receive the Harmon Wilkinson Award for Distinguished Contribution In the Humanities and Social Sciences. (No guest speaker.)

Honorary degree: Leon Leyson, Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa. Mr. Leyson survived the Holocaust as the youngest member of the real “Schindler’s List” of Jews employed by German industrialist Oskar Schindler during WWII.  He is a longtime supporter of and participant in Chapman’s Holocaust education programs.

10:45 a.m. College of Educational Studies Commencement, Bert Williams Mall

Guest Speaker: Sonia Nieto, Ph.D., a noted educator, author, and professor emerita of language, literature and culture at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, School of Education.  She will also receive the Changing the World Medal from the College of Educational Studies.

Honorary degrees: Rueben Martinez and Susan Sygall, both Doctors of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.  Mr. Martinez is owner of Santa Ana’s Librería Martinez Books and Art Gallery, a champion of literacy, especially in the OC Latino community, and serves as a Distinguished Presidential Fellow at Chapman University. Ms. Sygall is CEO and co-founder of Mobility International USA, a national nonprofit that empowers people with disabilities around the world to achieve their human rights.

1 p.m. Department of Physical Therapy Commencement, Hooding Ceremony, Memorial Hall

4:30 p.m. Schmid College of Science Commencement, Bert Williams Mall

Guest Speaker: Robert E. Grant, CEO and president of Bausch and Lomb Surgical, which he joined in 2010.  Prior to that, Mr. Grant he was president of Allergan Medical from 2006-2010.

6:15 p.m. Dodge College of Film and Media Arts Commencement, Wilson Field

Guest Speaker: Steve Mosko, president of Sony Pictures Television.

Honorary degree: Mr. Mosko will also receive a Doctor of Arts Degree, Honoris Causa.

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