Inspiring Lineup for 2024 Commencement | University of Bridgeport (2024)

Bridgeport, CT – May 3, 2024 – University of Bridgeport (UB) is proud to announce renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump as the distinguished guest speaker for its 2024 commencement ceremonies. Mr. Crump will be joined by student speakers in addressing the graduates, trustees, faculty, staff, families, and friends at the Hartford Healthcare Amphitheatre in Bridgeport on May 4, 2024, to celebrate and honor this year’s graduating classes. The undergraduate ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. and the graduate ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. as an estimated 1,200 students will receive their certificates and associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. President Danielle Wilken will also deliver remarks to the graduates and preside over the ceremonies.

Mr. Crump will deliver the keynote address and receive an honorary degree from the University. Listed among the Most Influential People of 2021 by Time 100, Mr. Crump has established himself as one of the nation’s foremost lawyers and advocates for social justice. His advocacy has led to legislation preventing excessive force and developing implicit bias training and policies. He has represented families in high-profile civil rights cases, including Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Stephon Clark, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. These high-profile cases are only a small part of the legal and social justice work that Mr. Crump and his firm take on. Crump also represented residents in Flint, Michigan, affected by poisoned water, and the family of Henrietta Lacks in a landmark reparations case. He was the first African American chair of the Florida State University College of Law Board of Directors and is the founder and director of the Benjamin Crump Social Justice Institute. In 2021, St. Thomas University College of Law announced the Benjamin L. Crump Center for Social Justice in his honor. He is a frequent contributor to MSNBC, CNN, and USA Today and author of Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People.

UB alumnus Robert Padula ’69 will receive an honorary degree for his outstanding achievements in his professional career and his life’s work dedicated to those facing mental health challenges. Mr. Padula was a first-generation college student who received an athletics scholarship to UB. After graduating, Mr. Padula joined the Rhode Island Air National Guard, serving with the 102nd Tactical Control Squadron and the 156th Tactical Control Group. He was later named Airman of the Year in 1971. Mr. Padula served as the CEO of GenCorp Insurance. Throughout his career, he served as president of the Kent County Agents Association, the Independent Insurance Agents of Rhode Island, and vice president of the Professional Insurance Agents of New England. He also served as president of the Rhode Island Society of Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters (CPCU). In addition, Mr. Padula served on boards for Kent Hospital, Women and Infants Hospital, and GenCorp’s charitable fund and on finance and investment committees for Butler Hospital and Care New England. In 2010, he was awarded the Bell Award from the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island.

The undergraduate ceremony will include a student address by Karen Nineth Garza, who is graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Garza, a lifelong Bridgeport resident, will graduate first in her class. As a UB student, she served as president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) club and vice president of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) club. Garza also participated in UB’s National Foundation (NSF) Hispanic Serving Institution (HIS) Pilot Project: Fostering Hispanic Achievement in Computer Science and Engineering using the Affinity Research Model.

The graduate ceremony will include a student address by Oluwademilade Iretomiwa Faloye, who is graduating with a Master of Science in Analytics and Systems. Faloye was a member of University of Bridgeport’s Theta Delta Chapter of the International Business Honor Society. As a graduate student, she was a core member of Bridges and the international campus church, fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment for UB students. Faloye served as a 2024 class representative for the Student Government Association and worked as a graduate assistant for the Ernest C. Trefz School of Business and the School of Science and Society.

Note: Members of the media are welcome to attend, and early entrance will be available. Parking information at Please direct media inquiries to Abby Levandoski, communications manager, at

About University of Bridgeport

University of Bridgeport offers career-oriented undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees and programs for people seeking personal and professional growth. The University promotes academic excellence, personal responsibility, and commitment to service. Distinctive curricula in an international, culturally diverse, and supportive learning environment prepare graduates for life and leadership in an increasingly interconnected world. The University is independent and non-sectarian.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Abby Levandoski
Communications Manager
University of Bridgeport
Phone: 203-576-4151


Inspiring Lineup for 2024 Commencement | University of Bridgeport (2024)


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