Plenty of Pomp and Circumstance at Commencement 2019

Graduate Commencement Speaker Hon. Lawrence J. Vilardo ’77, HON ’19 addresses the Class of 2019

May 23, 2019


The Class of 2019 joined the ranks of Canisius College alumni, following graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies on May 15 and May 18, respectively. The pomp and circumstance of the week was accompanied by the emotion and pride of the newly-minted graduates, their families, and Canisius faculty and staff.

The celebratory events kicked off on Wednesday, May 15 with graduate ceremonies. Nearly 200 members of the class received their diplomas after hearing from commencement speaker and Canisius alumnus Hon. Lawrence J. Vilardo ’77, HON ’19, a U.S. District Court Judge.

The tradition of commencement week continued on Friday, May 17 with the ROTC Commissioning Ceremony (pictured below), held in the Montante Cultural Center.  A total of 19 cadets, including 10 Canisius students, were commissioned as 2nd lieutenants in the U.S. Army.  Those Canisius cadets are: Kevin Cadme – New York Army National Guard – Quartermaster; Garret Clabeaux – Distinguished Military Graduate – US Army Reserves – Transportation Corps; Daniel Emerson – Distinguished Military Graduate – Active Duty – Infantry; Trevor Hamm – Distinguished Military Graduate – Active Duty – Military Intelligence with a branch detail of Infantry; Abbey Marchewka – New York Army National Guard – Medical Service Corps; Shane Moran – Distinguished Military Graduate – Active Duty – Quartermaster; Michael Sanzone – Active Duty – Field Artillery; Theodore Snyder – New York Army National Guard – Field Artillery; Michael Solak – Active Duty – Signal Corps with a branch detail of Infantry; and Christopher Ulm – Active Duty – Medical Service Corps.

The college also recognized the newly-pinned officers during undergraduate commencement ceremonies.


This past year marked the 100th anniversary of the partnership between Canisius College and the U.S. Army. The formation of the Student Army Training Corps, a body formed principally to train specialists for the U.S. Army made its debut at Canisius in 1918 and later transformed to ROTC in the 1950s.

In recognition of the century-old partnership, the ROTC Class of 2018-19 presented Canisius President John Hurley with a framed photograph that includes a very weathered picture of the 1918 Student Army Training Corps alongside a replicated version of the same picture, featuring the Canisius College ROTC class, 100 years later.


2nd Lt. Michael Sanzone ’19 presents Canisius President John J. Hurley with a framed portrait of the 1918 Student Army Training Corp and the 2018-19 ROTC class.

Following Spring Honors Convocation, students, families and faculty made their way to the Koessler Athletic Center for Baccalaureate Mass (pictured below). This time-honored religious service is largely planned by Canisius students to recognize the achievements of the graduating seniors and to reflect on their personal and spiritual growth throughout their four years at Canisius. 


Jared Westhoven ’19 carries the Cross during Baccalaureate Mass 2019. Behind him, Tom Karins ’19 carries the Peace Pole.

Commencement 2019 culminated on Saturday, May 18 when the college conferred more than 450 degrees to students from the Wehle School of Business, the College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Education & Human Services.

Humanitarian David N. Campbell, co-founder and chair of All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response, addressed the undergraduate class.  He was also one of five to receive an honorary doctorate during undergraduate commencement. 


Humanitarian David N. Campbell addresses the undergraduate Class of 2019

Other honorary doctorate recipients included Rev. Patrick J. Frawley, senior vice president of social responsibility for Centene Corp. and former CEO of Fidelis Care, now a subsidiary of Centene; Willie “Hutch” Jones, CEO and co-founder of the Willie Hutch Jones Educational and Sports Program; and Sr. Mary Johnice Rzadkiewicz, founder and executive director of the Response to Love Center. Professor Emerita of Biology at Canisius I. Joan Lorch also received an honorary doctorate but was unable to attend Saturday’s ceremony. Deborah A. DiMatteo MBA ’88 and John R. Connolly ’72 received LaSalle Medals at the ceremony.