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Widener University announces speakers for its May 2017 ceremonies

2017 Commencement Speakers

Widener University is pleased to announce the distinguished speakers for its May 2017 commencement ceremonies: Dr. Kimberlyn Leary and Dr. Steve Gillon.

Leary will speak at the graduate student commencement ceremony. It will be held on Memorial Field at the university on Friday, May 19 at 9:30 a.m.

Leary is an associate professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and an associate professor of health policy and management at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, where she is the “Enabling Change” program director. She is also senior advisor to the CEO at the National Math and Science Initiative. As a Robert Wood Johnson health policy fellow, she formerly served as an advisor to the White House Council on Women and Girls, and as an advisor to the White House Office of Management and Budget’s Health Division in the Public Health and Medicare branches.

She holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan, an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School and an AB from Amherst College, where she serves as a trustee.

Gillon, an alumnus of the class of 1978, will speak at the undergraduate student ceremony. It will be held on Memorial Field on Saturday, May 20 at 9:30 a.m.

Gillon is scholar-in-residence at The History Channel and professor of history at the University of Oklahoma. He has written numerous books and articles about modern American politics and culture. In addition to his scholarly work, Gillon hosts shows and serves as an on-air consultant for The History Channel. From 1998-2006, he anchored the network’s Sunday morning current events program, HistoryCENTER. He has also hosted Our Generation, Movies in Time, and History v. Hollywood. His last three books have been turned into prime-time television specials. He is currently working on a book about race and politics in modern America.

He holds an A.M. and a Ph.D. from Brown University and has taught at Yale University and Oxford University.

Both Leary and Gillon will receive honorary degrees during the ceremonies. The degrees recognize their accomplishments and records of service, in addition to the ways they exemplify the Widener mission. The university recently revised its process for the nomination of honorary degree recipients, soliciting nominations from faculty, staff, students and trustees.

“I am delighted to recognize Dr. Leary and Dr. Gillon with these honorary degrees. The entire university community is looking forward to the messages they will share with our graduates,” Widener University President Dr. Julie E. Wollman said. “Commencement is the highlight of our academic year and their contributions are certain to make the ceremonies memorable.”

Headshots of both Leary and Gillon are available for download here.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. Visit the university website,