ST. BONAVENTURE - The Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, director of the Department of Religion at historic Chautauqua Institution for 13 years, will be the keynote speaker Sunday, May 11, at St. Bonaventure University's 154th Commencement.
Campbell will be among three distinguished guests receiving honorary degrees. Also being honored are Ann L. Swan, a longtime benefactor of St. Bonaventure and a staunch supporter of Catholic higher education; and Neal J. Johnson, class of 1973, president and CEO of Special Olympics New York.
Commencement Exercises, set for 10:30 a.m., will conclude a weekend of activities for St. Bonaventure graduates.
The annual Candlelight Induction Ceremony, when degree candidates are welcomed into the St. Bonaventure Alumni Association, will be held at 8:45 p.m. Friday, May 9, in front of De La Roche Hall on campus.
Saturday's events on May 10 include the commissioning of ROTC cadets as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army, which takes place at 10 a.m. in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts; an Honors Award Ceremony at 11:30 a.m. in the Reilly Center Arena; and the Baccalaureate Mass at 4:30 p.m., also in the Reilly Center Arena.
Campbell retired in December from the institution, an internationally renowned center for religion, the arts, education and recreation on Chautauqua Lake for 140 years.
A distinguished lifelong ecumenist, she served as the first ordained woman appointed as general secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.
Prior to her time at the NCCC USA, Campbell served as director of the U.S. Office of the World Council of Churches.
During her time as general secretary, Campbell, in concert with Paul Gorman, Carl Sagan, Dean James Morton and Albert Gore, founded what is today the National Religious Partnership on the Environment. She continues to serve as chair of the board.
Campbell is a devoted activist for peace and social justice, believing that citizens in a democracy must act on their conscience.
This commitment was crafted during her life-changing work with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and was deepened in the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu referred to her as "a woman of courage and compassion."
He pointed out that Campbell was the only woman in the clergy procession of more than 200 for his installation as Archbishop of South Africa, commenting, "Her voice helped to bring an end to the evil of apartheid."
Campbell's commitment to growing the global compassion movement is reflected in her work with Charter for Compassion International.
She chairs its governing body, the Global Compassion Council. She is co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, providing leadership to GPIW's important work with women throughout the world.
She chaired the Global Health Council and served the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Councils on faith and values.
Campbell has received 14 honorary degrees and, in 2010, was awarded the Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award. She is author of "Living Into Hope: A Call to Spiritual Action for Such a Time as This," and "Prayers From Chautauqua," a collection of her prayers published in 2013.