Fairfield University Announces Speakers

FAIRFIELD—Fairfield University has announced that its 72nd Commencement ceremonies will take place on Saturday, May 21, for graduate students and Sunday, May 22, for undergraduate students. Both ceremonies will be held on Bellarmine Lawn of the University campus. The total numbers of expected degrees to be awarded are: 1,082 bachelor’s, 499 master’s, 23 sixth-year certificates, and 39 doctorates.

This year’s speaker at the undergraduate ceremony will be Robert D. Manfred, Jr., attorney, business executive, and current Commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB). The graduate ceremony speaker will be Allison Rivera, president of Saint Martin de Porres Academy in New Haven, a tuition-free independent Catholic middle school based on the Jesuit Nativity School model.

Manfred, who will also receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the undergraduate ceremony, became the Commissioner of Baseball in January 2015. As the leader of the National Pastime, Manfred has set goals for the game that focus on international growth, the infusion of technology, and the expansion of youth participation through Major League Baseball’s Play Ball program. MLB has staged special events internationally and domestically, including an historic trip to Cuba in 2016, the sport’s inaugural games in Europe in 2019 in London, and the 2021 trip to Iowa’s famed Field of Dreams. With two labor agreements during his tenure as Commissioner, Baseball’s unprecedented streak of uninterrupted play on the field since 1995 has continued. Under Manfred’s guidance, MLB has formed core partnerships with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Jackie Robinson Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer. In 2021, Manfred established MLB’s new annual Lou Gehrig Day to continue the game’s support in the fight against ALS. Manfred is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, as well as Harvard Law School.

Rivera’s entire professional career has been dedicated to serving marginalized and underserved people. For four years, she served as the executive director of the Connecticut chapter of Best Buddies International, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending the social isolation of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Rivera was a member of the founding team at Saint Martin de Porres Academy in New Haven, a tuition-free independent Catholic middle school based on the Jesuit Nativity School model, working toward social justice by breaking the cycle of poverty through education and opportunity. In 2010, she was appointed president and currently oversees the general operations and management of the school and its $2 million operating budget, which is fundraised annually. Rivera, who will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the graduate ceremony, is a graduate of the University of Vermont, as well as Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

Honorary degrees will also be bestowed upon two recipients: Carl F. Bailey Jr. ’75, president and founder of Bailey & Beatty Financial Services and founder of Danbury Grassroots Academy, a free, year-round program focusing on education, character, tennis, and health; and Nicole Hockley, co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise, which aims to help students, teachers, and parents recognize the signs of social isolation and anger in students, to head off violence before it starts. Sandy Hook Promise is a nonprofit created following the death of her son Dylan along with 19 other first-graders in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

For more information about Fairfield University and the 72nd Commencement ceremonies, visit

Fairfield University is a modern, Jesuit Catholic University, rooted in one of the world’s oldest intellectual and spiritual traditions. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students from 36 states, 47 foreign countries, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are enrolled in the University’s five schools.  In the spirit of rigorous and sympathetic inquiry into all dimensions of human experience, Fairfield welcomes students from diverse backgrounds to share ideas and engage in open conversations. The University is located in the heart of a region where the future takes shape, on a stunning campus on the Connecticut coast just an hour from New York City.