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Drexel University Announces 2021 Commencement Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients

Drexel University graduate at Citizens Bank Park.

5/24/2021 10:36:19 AM

Drexel University’s commencement ceremonies for this year might look a little different, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the time-honored tradition of bringing notable and influential speakers to address, inspire and congratulate the graduating class remains strong.

This year, Drexel is hosting 16 different speakers at its various in-person and virtual commencement ceremonies, including virtual college and school ceremonies and a University-wide Commencement ceremony held at Citizens Bank Park on June 11. This year’s speakers are accomplished leaders, including several alumni, from different industries and backgrounds. Likewise, the seven honorary degree recipients (several with Drexel connections!) are also well respected and known for their leadership in academia, media, health care, engineering and activism.

As previously announced in DrexelNow, Elijah Anderson, PhD, one of the nation’s most influential scholars in the field of urban inequality, will address graduates at the University-wide Commencement ceremony.

Here are the speakers and honorary degree recipients for this year’s commencement ceremonies:

Commencement Speakers

College of Medicine: In-person ceremony on May 18 at the Mann Center for Performing Arts that was also livestreamed.

  • Speaker: Physician-scientist and mRNA researcher Drew Weissman, MD, PhD.

Thomas R. Kline School of Law: In-person ceremony on May 19 at the LaSalle University McCarthy Stadium that was also livestreamed.

  • Two commencement speakers: Philadelphia Judge Frederica Massiah-Jackson addressed the school’s 2020 graduates and Senior U.S. District Court Judge C. Darnell Jones, II addressed 2021 graduates.

Note: The following colleges and schools will hold their own virtual ceremonies from June 7–10. More information can be found here.

College of Computing & Informatics: Virtual ceremony on June 7 at 10 a.m.

  • Speaker: Det Ansinn ’95, a software development pioneer and serial entrepreneur.

Pennoni Honors College (Custom-Designed): Virtual ceremony on June 7 at 1:30 p.m.

  • Speaker: Dawn Marie Bazemore, a dancer/choreographer using art to investigate sociopolitical issues. 

LeBow College of Business and School of Economics: Virtual ceremony on June 7 at 5 p.m.

  • Speaker: Stanley W. Silverman ’69, ’74, a thought leader on leadership, entrepreneurship, and corporate governance and Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Drexel University. 

College of Arts and Sciences: Virtual ceremony on June 8 at 10 a.m.

  • Speaker: Carole Gardner Dodson ’71, an ExxonMobil retiree whose accounting career spanned the globe.

Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship: Virtual ceremony on June 8 at 1:30 p.m.

  • Speaker: Vijay Ullal ’82, an investor supporting “magic” business ventures.

Goodwin College of Professional Studies: Virtual ceremony on June 8 at 5 p.m.

  • Speaker: Marilou E. Watson, JD, an IP attorney bringing life sciences training to protect clients’ ideas

College of Engineering: Virtual ceremony on June 9 at 10 a.m.

  • Speaker: Anne Stevens ’80, a global engineering executive for automotive, aerospace and IT.

School of Biomedical Engineering, Science & Health Systems: Virtual ceremony on June 9 at 1:30 p.m.

  • Speaker: Catherine Ford Corrigan, PhD, an expert on the biomechanics of human injury.

School of Education: Virtual ceremony on June 9 at 5 p.m.

  • Speaker: Fredericka K. Reisman, PhD, professor emerita and founder of Drexel University’s School of Education.

Westphal College of Media Arts & Design: Virtual ceremony on June 10 at 10 a.m.

  • Speaker: Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives 

Dornsife School of Public Health: Virtual ceremony on June 10 at 1:30 p.m.

  • Speaker: Kenneth Olden, PhD, a public health professional with a legacy of promoting excellence.

College of Nursing and Health Professions: Virtual ceremony on June 10 at 5 p.m.

  • Speaker: Randolph Rasch, PhD, a nursing educator who designed prisons health services.

Honorary Degree Recipients 

  • Elijah Anderson, PhD: Exploring inequality in urban America
    • For his scholarly work in exposing and redressing urban inequality, Drexel University is proud to present Elijah Anderson with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
  • Gail Walker Hearn, PhD: Pioneer in the field of conservation learning and research
    • For her dedication to conservation and the environmental sciences, Drexel University is proud to present Gail Hearn the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
  • Daniel J. Hilferty: Transformative health care leader
    • For his dedication to expanding access and innovation in health care, Drexel University is proud to present Daniel J. Hilterty with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
  • Bill Marimow: Journalist with “a dead reckoning for truth”
    • For his commitment to a free press and its central role in preserving democracy, Drexel University is proud to present Bill Marimow with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
    • Note: Marimow delivered the keynote addresses at Drexel’s 2020 Commencement.
  • Evelyn and Jim Piazza: In memory of their son, on a mission to end fraternity hazing
    • For their activism and determination to safeguard students from the dangers of fraternity hazing, Drexel University is proud to present Evelyn Piazza and Jim Piazza each with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
  • Allen Sabinson: Westphal College dean, three decades in show business
    • For his dedication to excellence and innovation in media studies, Drexel University is proud to present Allen Sabinson with the degree of the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
  • Anne Stevens ’80: Global engineering executive for automotive, aerospace, IT
    • For her stellar career in engineering and corporate leadership, Drexel University is proud to present Anne Stevens with the degree of Doctor of Engineering, honoris causa.