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(Boston) – Larry Lucchino, Boston Red Sox president and CEO, will deliver the commencement address at Boston University’s 135th graduation ceremonies at BU’s Nickerson Field at 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 18. He is a key member of the team’s new leadership who guided the Sox to World Series victories in 2004 and 2007, which coincided with the freshman and senior years of BU’s Class of 2008.
The Yale Law School grad, who will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws, will speak before more than 5,000 graduates and 20,000 guests at New England’s largest graduation ceremony.
BU President Robert A. Brown announced the commencement and baccalaureate speakers and honorary degree recipients to the members of the Class of 2008 this morning at the annual Senior Breakfast, held at the George Sherman Union.
Early in his legal career, Lucchino, a Pittsburgh native and Princeton graduate, joined the Washington, D.C. law firm of Williams & Connolly. There, he was mentored by founder Edward Bennett Williams, who also was an owner of the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Redskins.
Williams appointed Lucchino general counsel for the Redskins, and then to the same position with the Orioles. Ultimately, Lucchino became president and chief executive officer of the Orioles. Faced with the need for a new facility, he made a decision that has changed the way ballparks are conceived and constructed. Instead of building a multi-purpose stadium outside the urban area, his design team built a ballpark in downtown Baltimore close to the Inner Harbor, one that resembled the idiosyncratic and cherished fields that had been built generations ago. Oriole Park at Camden Yards began a trend that has been replicated in baseball cities throughout America.
Lucchino became president and CEO of the San Diego Padres under new owner Tom Werner, and in 2001, Lucchino and Werner joined John Henry to buy the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park. Long constrained in an aging and cramped facility, the Red Sox had often considered replacing Fenway but Lucchino recognized the value of history and instead led efforts to improve the facility, known as “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.” After a four-game sweep of the Rockies in the 103rd World Series last fall, the Red Sox stood alone atop the baseball world for the second time in four seasons and for the seventh time in club history.
Brown also announced that William H. Hayling, M.D., mentoring advocate who co-founded “100 Black Men,” will deliver the Commencement day baccalaureate address at 9:00 a.m. at Marsh Chapel, and will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
Dr. Hayling gained admission to BU at age 17, and two years later was admitted to the Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., beginning a medical career in obstetrics and gynecology that spanned over 50 years, during which he delivered over 8,000 babies. Dr. Hayling is most widely known for co-founding, along with baseball legend Jackie Robinson and future New York City mayor David Dinkins, “100 Black Men,” an organization designed to improve the quality of life for African Americans and other minorities through mentoring programs. In 1983, Dr. Hayling was elected the first national president of 100 Black Men of America, and today, he volunteers with Mentoring Today for Tomorrow, an after-school program for young people in Riverside County, Calif. Dr. Hayling is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American College of Surgeons.
Also receiving honorary degrees are: Philanthropist and BU Trustee Emeritus Earle M. Chiles; Millard “Mickey” Drexler, chairman & CEO of J.Crew Group, Inc.; and tennis legend and National Women’s Hall of Fame member Billie Jean King, a leader in the movement to bring gender equity to sports.
Chiles, who will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters, is president of Earle Chiles and Affiliated Companies, a Portland, Oregon-based property investment, management and development firm, and president of The Chiles Foundation. Through his efforts and the legacy of philanthropy begun by his grandfather and shared by his parents, the Chiles name has been recognized in the higher education and medical communities for the foundation’s broad efforts to support building projects, research and scholarships. His mother, Virginia Hughes Chiles, was born in Boston and graduated from Boston University. He was elected a BU trustee in 1986 and served on the board until 2007, when he was named Trustee Emeritus. Today, Chiles serves on BU’s Board of Overseers.
The son of a New York garment-district buyer, Mickey Drexler grew up in the Bronx and earned a Master of Business Administration at BU in 1968. While a BU student, he landed his first full-time position in retail, a merchandising internship at Abraham & Strauss. After stints at Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s, Drexler engineered a turnaround at specialty retailer Ann Taylor, followed by 18 years at Gap, Inc., where he was named president in 1987 and CEO in 1995. While on his watch, the company grew from $400 million to $14 billion in annual sales. In 2003, he became chairman and CEO of J.Crew Group, Inc., taking it public in June 2006. Despite falling sales and profits among other retailers, J.Crew has experienced steady and healthy growth and a stock value that has more than doubled in the past two years. Drexler will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters.
Billie Jean Moffit King won 39 Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed-doubles tennis titles, including a record 20 Wimbledon championships, but leading a movement to bring gender equity to the sport of tennis may have been her most significant victory. In 1972, she won the U.S. Open but received substantially less than the men’s winner. She threatened to boycott future tournaments, and the 1973 U.S. Open became the first major event to offer equal prize money to men and women. King, who will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters, played a central role in the formation of the Women’s Tennis Association, the Women’s Sports Foundation, and “Women’s Sports Magazine.” She has created foundations that help enhance the lives of women of all ages and that promote health, fitness, education and social change to benefit men and women across a variety of issues. She continues to be a leader in the fight for equality in other areas, especially on behalf of those in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. In 2006, the National Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open, was renamed the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in recognition of her contributions to tennis, sports and society. She was named one of the 100 most important Americans of the 20th century by “Life” magazine.
Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 30,000 students, it is the fourth largest independent university in the United States. BU consists of 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school’s research and teaching mission.