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Tavis Smiley to send off graduates - Journalist and advocate commencement speaker at LIU’s May 15 graduation

A dynamic political voice of today, celebrated journalist and advocate Tavis Smiley will be the commencement speaker at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus May 15 at 10:15 a.m. on the campus athletic field near Flatbush and DeKalb avenues in downtown Brooklyn.

Smiley will address an audience that includes more than 1,700 graduating students, whose own experiences could help them readily connect with his messages of self-empowerment and positive change.

At the campus’ 78th commencement exercises, University President David J. Steinberg is expected to confer 776 undergraduate, 932 graduate and 69 doctoral degrees, including an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to Smiley and an honorary Doctor of Letters degree to writer Nicholas Pileggi.

Honorary degree recipient Nicholas Pileggi, an Oscar, Golden Globe and Writer’s Guild Award nominee, is an accomplished wordsmith. He began his career at the Associated Press in New York City, covering the police beat, before he moved to New York Magazine, where he built a reputation as the city’s top crime writer. He tapped into this background to pen the true-crime bestseller “Wiseguy.”

Distinguished Alumni Awards will be presented to three outstanding Brooklyn Campus graduates. Renowned art collector and real estate entrepreneur Mera Rubell ’68 is a partner in Rubell Hotels, LLC, and the Rubell Family Collection. Veteran executive Jack C. Stokes ’73 is manager of media relations at The Associated Press. Business executive Guy E. Marge ’65, ’67 is CEO and president of Storm Industries, Inc.

The Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Service will be presented to Philip Wolitzer, professor emeritus in the Department of Accounting, Taxation and Law. Wolitzer has taught, mentored and befriended thousands of students over his six-decade career at the Brooklyn Campus.

Receiving the Brooklyn Campus Secondary School Teacher of the Year Award is English teacher Holly Elise Slowik of Middle School 57, The Ron Brown Academy, in Brooklyn. She has dedicated herself to opening up a whole new world of learning for students in urban environments. The Brooklyn Campus salutatorian is Jacqueline Elaine Wright, a BS/MS business student majoring in accounting.

The commencement ceremony will be followed by the traditional campus celebration with friends and family members at a post-commencement barbecue.

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