Canisius Announces 2018 Commencement Speakers

February 28, 2018


BUFFALO, NY – Canisius College will welcome two leaders from Western New York’s medical community to campus this May to deliver commencement addresses for the undergraduate and graduate classes of 2018.  Both are Canisius alumni. 

Allegra C. Jaros ’93, MBA ’96, president of the new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital, will deliver remarks to the graduate Class of 2018 on Wednesday, May 16 at 7:00 p.m. in the Koessler Athletic Center.  Norma J. Nowak ’79, PhD, executive director of the University at Buffalo’s Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences, will address the Canisius College undergraduate Class of 2018 on Saturday, May 19 at 10:00 a.m., also in the Koessler Athletic Center. 

Appointed president in May 2014, Allegra Jaros most recently oversaw the relocation of Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo on Bryant Street to its new facility on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.  The John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital is now the regional center for comprehensive and state-of-the-art pediatric trauma, surgical and medical care. 

In addition to planning and executing the historic and successful move, which saw 125 patients transferred, Jaros’ leadership played an instrumental role in the evolution of the hospital’s operational and business development strategies.  This resulted in physician recruitment, improvements in quality care delivery, the overall experience for patients, physicians and staff, successful clinical outcomes, as well as increased market share and revenue generation. 

Jaros earned a BS in finance from Canisius in 1993 and an MBA from the college in 1996. 

Norma Nowak is an acclaimed researcher and renowned leader in the field of human genomics.  Her research contributed directly to the Human Genome Project, which described the sequencing of the human genome.  

It also resulted in genomic-based approaches to understanding heritable disorders and cancer.  Nowak later founded Empire Genomics LLC (2006), which offers genetic tests for more than 200 ailments and diseases, enabling personalized medicine. 

Nowak previously served as director of science and technology for UB’s New York State Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (2003-2015).  She is also the former director of the UB/Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center Genomics Facility (1999-2012), a collaborative research lab. Her efforts have been instrumental in obtaining more than $70 million in funding for research and infrastructure in the region.   

Nowak holds a BS in biology from Canisius College, and an MS in natural sciences and a PhD in experimental pathology both from the State University of New York at Buffalo.  She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in human genetics at Roswell Park. 

Canisius will confer honorary degrees upon Allegra Jaros and Norma Nowak during commencement ceremonies.  Also receiving honorary degrees in May:

Rev. Daniel L. Benning, pastor of the Upper Room Church of God in Christ in Buffalo, NY and New York Central Jurisdiction’s Chief Adjutant;

Edward Burke Carey ’69, president of Carey Realty Investments in Columbus, OH and former chair of the Canisius College Board of Trustees;

LeRoi C. Johnson ’71, attorney and owner of the Law Office of LeRoi C. Johnson and acclaimed artist;

Daniel P. Starr ’58, PhD, professor emeritus of history at Canisius College and longtime director of athletics; and

Gerald Zon ’67, PhD, director of business development for TriLink BioTechnologies in San Diego, CA, which provides services for educators and academic researchers in gene therapy, chemotherapy and diagnostics. 


For more information about Canisius College commencement ceremonies, contact the College Communications Office at 716-888-2790. 

Canisius is one of 28 Jesuit universities in the nation and the premier private university in Western New York.