Commencement Speakers and Honorees


Commencement Speakers and Honorees

Tuesday, May 9 at 10 a.m. - William G. Rohrer College of Business

David L. Cohen, keynote speaker and recipient of honorary Doctor of Laws degree 

David L. Cohen is senior executive vice president, chief diversity officer and senior counselor to the CEO for Comcast Corporation and NBCUniversal, where his responsibilities include corporate communications, government and regulatory affairs, public affairs, legal affairs, corporate administration, and community investment. In addition to a decades long career in law, business and government, Cohen is a civic leader whose many honors include the Americanism Award of the Anti-Defamation League and the American Red Cross Citizen of the Year Award. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Jerry Maginnis, Medal of Excellence recipient 

Jerry Maginnis volunteers his time as Accounting Executive in Residence in Rowan’s William G. Rohrer College of Business, a position in which he advises, lectures to and helps prepare students as they transition from college to careers. A retired managing partner of the Philadelphia office of KPMG, an international professional services company recognized as one of the “Big Four” accounting and audit firms, Maginnis also serves as chair of the Rowan University Accounting Advisory Board and is faculty advisor to Rowan’s new chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, the international honor organization for financial information students and professionals. For his commitment, dedication and inspiration to our business leaders of tomorrow Maginnis will be honored with a Medal of Excellence.

Tuesday, May 9 at 2 p.m. - College of Humanities & Social Sciences and School of Earth & Environment

Amanda Ashworth '07, keynote speaker 

Amanda Ashworth was formerly a publisher at the academic publishing house Routledge where she managed some 140 journals on the U.S. Behavioral Science and Social Care list and its staff. She was with the company for six years and was awarded the Informa award for Best New Start Publication for the journal Applied Neuropsychology: Child. Ashworth graduated from Rowan in 2007 with honors and a degree in English and Writing Arts. At Rowan she received the Robert Boyle Humanitarian Award for volunteer work in South Africa. She is developing her own publishing company through which she plans to write and produce children’s books that explore topics in mental health and spirituality.

Wednesday, May 10 at 10 a.m. - College of Communication & Creative Arts and College of Performing Arts

Tom Stathakes '83, keynote speaker and Medal of Excellence recipient

Tom Stathakes is senior vice president and general manager of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and CSN California. A 1983 Rowan graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Radio, Television & Film, Stathakes is a generous donor to his alma mater and sponsors internship opportunities for Rowan students through Philadelphia-based Comcast. He has also connected Rowan students to Los Angeles-based internships at NBC Sports Group. Stathakes will receive the Medal of Excellence from Rowan in recognition of the excellence in sports communication he’s exhibited throughout his career.

Wednesday, May 10 at 4 p.m. - College of Education

Dr. Michael W. Apple ‘67, keynote speaker and distinguished alumnus designee 

Dr. Michael W. Apple ’67 is the John Bascom Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He also holds Distinguished Professor appointments at the University of Manchester in England and Northeast Normal University in China. A former elementary and secondary school teacher in New Jersey and past-president of a teachers union local, Apple has worked with governments, universities, activists and dissident groups throughout the world on educational research, policy and practice issues. Among numerous awards and accolades, Apple has been named a fellow by the American Educational Research Association and earned the Distinguished Academic Achievement Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Thursday, May 11 at 10 a.m. - Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering

Barbara Ann Kushner, keynote speaker and recipient of honorary Doctor of Engineering degree

Barbara Ann Kushner is president and CEO of Armand Corporation, an engineering, technology and construction management company based in New York City that was born of a dream to be her own boss. She acted on that dream while working for a defense contractor in the 1990s and, some 27 years later, Armand Corporation maintains offices at three locations and holds a portfolio of assignments and projects including housing, disaster recovery, public buildings, transportation, transit and program management. Her story reflects Rowan University’s values as illustrated by its creation of degrees in construction management and engineering entrepreneurship.

Bo Niland '80, Medal of Excellence recipient

Bo Niland is CEO and co-founder of Harpoon Medical, his fourth medical device startup over a 25-year career in the industry. Baltimore, Md.-based Harpoon Medical is in the clinical stage of developing a technology that would enable surgeons to perform a minimally invasive procedure to repair a mitral valve on a beating heart. A 1980 Glassboro State College graduate with a degree in Law &  Justice, Niland took a sales position with a medical devices company shortly after graduating and found great success as an entrepreneur. He started a previous company, Vapotherm, to help people with sleep apnea and the pioneering treatment he developed has been used for more than one million patients worldwide. Niland holds 12 U.S. patents for the Vapotherm treatment.

Thursday, May 11 at 2 p.m. - College of Science & Mathematics

Dr. Shirley Malcom, keynote speaker and recipient of honorary Doctor of Science degree

A former high school science teacher and assistant professor of biology at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, Dr. Shirley Malcom is head of Education and Human Resources Programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. A previous recipient of 16 honorary degrees, Malcom graduated high school at 16 and holds a B.S. in zoology from the University of Washington, an M.S. in zoology from the University of California at Los Angeles and a Ph.D. in ecology from the Pennsylvania State University. She is an internationally recognized leader in efforts to improve access of girls and women to education and careers in science and engineering.

Friday, May 12 at 10 a.m. - School of Health Professions

Dr. Adrienne Kirby, keynote speaker and Medal of Excellence recipient

Dr. Adrienne Kirby is president and CEO of Cooper University Health Care where she’s responsible for all hospital and ambulatory operations and oversees the physician group and the Institute structure. Kirby has played an integral role in fostering the partnership between Rowan University and Cooper University Health Care and supporting the clinical education of students at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. Kirby earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing degree from Rutgers University and her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a fellow and certified healthcare executive of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Friday, May 12 at 2 p.m. - Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Boyd R. Buser, keynote speaker and Medal of Excellence recipient

In July 2016, Dr. Boyd R. Buser was inaugurated as the 120th president of the American Osteopathic Association. A board-certified physician in osteopathic manipulative medicine and family medicine, Buser is also vice president for health affairs and dean of the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine. Previously, he served as interim vice president and dean of the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, Maine. Among Buser’s many honors, he is a recipient of the Riland Medal for Public Service from the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Pioneer of Osteopathic Medicine Award from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Dr. Linda Boyd '84, distinguished alumnus designee 

Dr. Linda Boyd, a nationally known expert in medical education, empathy and burnout in medicine, and women’s health issues, is a 1984 graduate of Rowan’s School of Osteopathic Medicine (SOM) who previously held leadership positions at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, the Medical College of Georgia and several national medical education committees. In 2013, she returned to RowanSOM as a professor senior associate dean for Academic Affairs, leading efforts to create a holistic review admissions process, enhance faculty development and modernize the medical school’s curriculum. Most recently, Dr. Boyd oversaw the growth of RowanSOM’s class size through an innovative expansion of the Problem Based Learning curriculum.

Friday, May 12 at 6 p.m. - Cooper Medical School of Rowan University

Dr. Robert J. Laskowski, keynote speaker and Medal of Excellence recipient

Dr. Robert J. Laskowski is a well-known educator, consultant, writer and retired physician executive who serves as principal of Laskowski Advisors—a consultancy devoted to assisting healthcare organizations and professionals innovate through understanding value. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of American Medical Colleges, where he is past-chair. In 2014, Laskowski retired as president and CEO of Christiana Care Health System in Wilmington, Del., one of the nation’s largest healthcare systems with 11,000 employees. He holds an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.