On Sunday, June 11, 2017, more than 480 students from the Class of 2017 will graduate with the words of Dr. John Sexton, Ph.D., ringing in their ears. Sexton is the President-Emeritus of New York University and is currently NYU’s Benjamin Butler Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus of the Law School.
Sexton received a bachelor’s degree in history, a master’s degree in comparative religion and a Ph.D. in the history of American religion from Fordham University. Sexton also holds a degree magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.
In addition to these, he holds 18 honorary degrees. On Commencement Day, Sexton will add another degree to his curriculum vitae: an honorary doctorate of laws degree from Union.
President Stephen C. Ainlay remarked, “We are delighted and honored to welcome someone of John Sexton’s stature to Union. He has been a tireless advocate for higher education. I’m personally gratified to call John a friend, and I’m certain his message to graduates is something they will remember for a long time.”
Sexton served as president of NYU from 2002 through 2015. During this time, Sexton presided over the university’s largest increase in the numbers of Arts and Science faculty. In addition, applications for undergraduate admissions reached record quantities and NYU’s world rankings climbed.
In recognition of his achievements as an outstanding university president, Sexton received the TIAA-CREF Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence in 2015. Sexton has also received the Institute of International Education’s Duggan Award for Mutual Understanding. Sexton’s tenure at NYU was marked by the designation of NYU as a Global Network University, with a network of 11 international academic centers on six continents and degree-granting campuses located in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai.
NYU also merged with Polytechnic University, forming the NYU Tandon School of Engineering in 2014. In 2008, Sexton accomplished the most successful fundraising campaign in the history of American higher education. Sexton has held a multitude of prestigious positions outside of NYU as well.
In spring 2016 Sexton occupied the Kluge Chair in American Law and Governance at the Library of Congress. Currently, he is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and also serves on the board of the Institute of International Education. He is past chair of the American Council on Education. Before coming to NYU, Sexton served as a clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals. F
rom 1966 to 1975, Sexton was a professor of religion at Saint Francis College in Brooklyn. This year’s commencement – Union’s 223rd – will be held on Hull Plaza on June 11, 2017, at 10 a.m. More information and a list of previous speakers can be found on Union’s website.