NEW YORK – ABC news anchor Ted Koppel and his wife, Grace Anne Dorney (UGE ’60), will deliver the keynote address to Fordham’s 3,980 graduates on May 17, marking the University’s 158th Commencement and the final graduation ceremony for the Rev. Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J., as University president. “Grace Anne and Ted Koppel, who will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary on May 17, the day of our Commencement, will have a message for the class of 2003 not only in what they say, but also in what they represent: a combination of distinguished professional achievements and sound personal and family relationships,” said Father O’Hare, who will retire June 30 after 19 years of service. Father O’Hare, who will receive an honorary doctorate of letters for his contributions to the Fordham community during his historic 19-year tenure, will also present the Koppels with honorary doctorates of humane letters. Koppel, a 39-year veteran of ABC News, has been the principal on-air reporter and interviewer for “Nightline” since the program was introduced in 1980.
He has won every major broadcasting award, including 37 Emmy Awards and seven Peabody Awards. Koppel, the managing editor of “Nightline,” recently returned from covering the war in Iraq. Grace Anne Dorney Koppel graduated from Fordham with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. Prior to graduating, Ms. Dorney Koppel taught in the New York public school system and worked as a teaching assistant in Fordham’s Department of Speech and Drama, where she coached Jesuit seminarians to perfect their rhetorical and public speaking skills. She received a master’s degree in communications research from Stanford in 1967, after which she lectured in the sociology department at the University of Hong Kong and conducted media research for the Archdiocese of Hong Kong. Ms. Dorney Koppel later earned her J.D. from Georgetown Law School and practiced law in the Washington, D.C., and Maryland private sector with a special interest in criminal and civil litigation.
Since 1989, she has been counsel to Koppel Communications, Inc., where she also serves as vice president and treasurer. Liam Neeson, an Academy Award-nominee and a leading international film star, will receive an honorary doctorate of fine arts. The Irish-born actor has appeared in more than 20 films since 1981, including Gangs of New York, Schindler’s List and Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace. Neeson recently appeared on Broadway in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which earned him a 2002 Tony Award nomination. Neeson originally pursued a career in teaching. He attended Queens College in Belfast, majoring in physics, computer science, math and drama. He set teaching aside to join the prestigious Lyric Players Theatre in Belfast and in 1981 made his motion-picture debut in the epic saga Excalibur. William J. Small, vice chairman for news and documentaries at the National Television Academy, will be awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters.
Small has spent most of his professional life in mass communications. He is responsible for a number of innovations and improvements in the Emmy Award structure and judging process. He has also supported the National Television Academy’s ongoing commitment to broadcast journalism programs in colleges and universities. Prior to joining the Academy, Small served as dean of Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business Administration from 1992 through 1994. He also served as the Distinguished Felix E. Larkin Professor and director of the Center for Communications at the graduate school from 1986 to 1997. Before his stint at Fordham, Small served as president of United Press International (UPI), the nation’s second largest news agency, president of NBC News and as a corporate vice president at CBS in Washington, D.C. William D. Walsh, a founder and general partner of Sequoia Associates of Menlo Park, Calif., will receive an honorary doctorate of laws. Walsh’s primary responsibilities relate to deal structuring and the ongoing management services that Sequoia, a private investment firm, provides to its portfolio companies.
Walsh (FCO ’51), a 2002 recipient of the Fordham Founder’s Award, provided a generous contribution to help fund the construction of Fordham’s William D. Walsh Family Library. The library, which opened in 1997 at the Rose Hill campus, is one of the most technologically advanced facilities in the nation. Walsh has also served on several boards, including the Fordham University Board of Trustees, the American Ireland Fund and the Harvard Law School Dean’s Advisory Board. Arthur Taylor, former president of Muhlenberg College, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Taylor’s tenure at the college was marked by his focus on students. Muhlenberg’s prominence as a fine liberal arts college grew substantially under Taylor’s administration. He was one of 50 college presidents recognized for outstanding leadership in student character development by the Templeton Foundation. Prior to going to Muhlenberg, Taylor served for seven years as dean of the business faculty and of the Graduate School of Business Administration at Fordham University.
Earlier in his career, Taylor served as president, chief operating officer and director of CBS, Inc. He also founded two investment banking firms, was the founding chairman of the Entertainment Channel (now the Arts and Entertainment Network), the founding president of the New York City Partnership and a founding member of the Berkshire-Taconic Foundation. Mary M. Lai, Long Island University’s chief financial officer, will receive an honorary doctorate of business. Lai began her business career as a public accountant at Klein, Hinds & Finke in 1942. She returned to her alma mater in 1946 to serve as the university’s bursar. From there, she worked her way up to her current position. Lai has served on countless boards, belongs to a number of professional organizations and has been honored several times for her work. She was the 1999 recipient of the Executive of the Year Award from the Institute of Management Accountants. A faithful Roman Catholic, she was awarded the Model of Faith Award from Long Island University’s Campus Ministry. She is a trustee of East New York Savings Bank and serves on the advisory council for the Center for Economic Research.