Commencement 2019

February 12, 2019

BUFFALO, NY – Canisius College will welcome two leaders from the Western New York community to campus this May to deliver commencement addresses for the undergraduate and graduate classes of 2019.  

Hon. Lawrence J. Vilardo ’77, U.S. District Court Judge, will deliver remarks to the graduate Class of 2019 on Wednesday, May 15 at 7:00 p.m. in the Koessler Athletic Center. David N. Campbell, co-founder and chairman of All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response, will address the Canisius College undergraduate Class of 2019 on Saturday, May 18 at 10:00 a.m., also in the Koessler Athletic Center.


Nominated to the U.S. District Court in 2015 by former President Barack Obama, Judge Vilardo began his law career long before his unanimous confirmation in the U.S. Senate. A founding partner at Connors & Vilardo LLP, he specialized in trial and appellate practice, civil and criminal litigation, state and federal courts, and administrative agencies. Prior to Connors & Vilardo, Judge Vilardo was an associate at Damon & Morey law firm located in Buffalo, NY.

In addition to his practice, Judge Vilardo has addressed the New York State Bar Association, the National Federation of Paralegal Associations and the Western New York Paralegal Association on client and civil procedures. 

Judge Vilardo’s relationship with Canisius College has been built over a long span of time. He is a member of the college’s Board of Trustees, the governing body of the college, as well as the Desmond Law Society, which is comprised of alumni who are practicing, presiding or retired attorneys and judges.

Judge Vilardo earned a BA, summa cum laude, in history and political science from Canisius in 1977 and a JD, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1980.


David Campbell, a former technology executive and investment banker, used his humanitarian endeavors to form All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response, a non-profit natural disaster response organization of which he is founder and chairman. Beginning his career in 1963 at IBM, Campbell has held such positions as president and CEO of Computer Task Group, CEO of Xpedior and president of BBN Technologies.

Campbell was on the verge of retirement in 2004 when the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami hit Southeast Asia where he was living at the time. Determined to help those affected, he spearheaded volunteer efforts, traveling to Thailand to assist thousands in need. This transformative experience led him to create his non-profit organization, which facilitates assistance to natural disaster survivors and which received the highest possible rating by Charity Navigator and

Canisius will confer honorary degrees upon Vilardo and Campbell during commencement ceremonies. Also receiving honorary degrees in May:

Rev. Patrick J. Frawley, senior vice president of social responsibility for Centene Corp. and former CEO of Fidelis Care, a subsidiary of Centene; 

I. Joan Lorch, PhD, professor emerita of biology at Canisius College and former chair of the Biology Department;

Willie D. “Hutch” Jones, CEO and co-founder of the Willie Hutch Jones Educational and Sports Program, and teacher and coach for Buffalo Public Schools; and

Sr. Mary Johnice Rzadkiewicz, CCSF, founder and executive director of the Response to Love Center.

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

Canisius College is one of 28 Jesuit colleges in the nation and the premier private college in Western New York.