Novelist Sapphire and CNN Anchor Don Lemon to Speak at Commencement

Brooklyn, N.Y.—This year’s Commencement Exercises mark a number of firsts for Brooklyn College. Not only is it the first time the College is holding separate ceremonies for undergraduate and graduate students, it’s also the first time in which the keynote speakers are two figures of renown who happen to have graduated fairly recently from the College.

Sapphire, ’97, whose novel Push served as an inspiration for the movie Precious, one of this year’s Oscar nominees, will speak at the master’s ceremony on May 26 in Whitman Auditorium, in the first-ever indoor ceremony in the College’s history. The next morning, Don Lemon, ’96, an Emmy Award–winning journalist who anchors the weekend CNN Newsroom, will address the baccalaureates on the Central Quadrangle. Both will receive Distinguished Alumni Honors.

“It will be a joy to welcome distinguished alumni and guests to our campus for our commencement activities,” says Karen Gould, who will be installed at the baccalaureate ceremony as the first woman president at the College. “The outstanding quality of this year’s honorees and keynote speakers, along with the large number of graduating students, will make our commencement ceremonies very special. Graduating from Brooklyn College transforms lives, and this will always be our greatest point of pride.”

As 2,249 baccalaureate and 1,157 master’s candidates—one of the largest graduating classes in the College’s history—gear up for this year’s ceremonies, they have a lot more to look forward to than just the excitement being generated by Sapphire and Lemon.

Jasmine Patel, former president of the Student Forensics Team and a pre-med student who has been accepted at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center, will welcome the Baccalaureate Class of 2010. The College will then present an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommon Professor of Education at Stanford University. Leonard A. Herzenberg, ’52, an immunologist recognized internationally for developing a fluorescence-activated cell sorter, will receive an honorary Doctor of Science.

This year’s Presidential Medals will be bestowed to Martin Sass, ’63, founder and CEO of M.D. Sass, a leading investment management firm, and chairman of the Brooklyn College Foundation’s Investment Committee; and Madelon L. Rand, ’64, a longtime educator and a lecturer in the English Department.

Alumni Honors will be conferred upon Felice C. Frankel, ’66, a scientific imagist at Harvard University, where she heads the Envisioning Project. 

Guests of honor at the master’s ceremony include CUNY Trustee Cory Provost; CUNY Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning, Construction and Management Iris Weinshall, ’75; and Graduate Center President William P. Kelly. Guests at the baccalaureate ceremony include CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein; Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, ’70; CUNY Trustee Philip Alfonso Berry; and President of the Brooklyn College Alumni Association Ron Schweiger, ’70.