Philanthropist Kerry Alys Robinson named commencement speaker

UP ceremonies are highlighting service leaders this spring

By Camille Kuroiwa-Lewis | March 17, 2024 3:41pm
UP's undergraduate ceremony will take place Sunday, May 5 at 10 a.m. in Chiles Center. Photo Illustration by Molly Lowney

Kerry Alys Robinson, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, is speaking at this year's undergraduate commencement, according to a Wednesday, March 13 press release. 

Catholic Charities USA is a membership-based organization that supports an agency-network dedicated to serving at-risk communities. Robinson is an expert in Catholic leadership and philanthropy as well as the author of “Imagining Abundance: Fundraising, Philanthropy, and a Spiritual Call to Service.”

“Robinson is an inspirational leader who has devoted her professional life to service and to the advancement of human flourishing,” President Robert Kelly said in a uportland Instagram post from March 13.

Additionally, Robinson is one of five servant leaders receiving honorary doctorates this year. The Christus Magister medal, UP’s highest honor, will be offered to Sister Donna Markham, the previous president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. 

The Nursing and Health Innovations pinning ceremony will also feature speaker Troy Larkin, who is the executive director for nursing outcomes and education at the Providence Nursing Institute. The graduate commencement’s speaker is president and CEO of Volunteers of America Oregon, Kay Toran.

“We’re on a mission to not just be the University of Portland, but in fact, the University of, for and with Portland and our global community,” Kelly said in the video. “Throughout their life and work, our honorees this year capture that mission so well” 

The undergraduate ceremony will take place Sunday, May 5 at 10 a.m. in Chiles Center. 

The undergraduate commencement is preceded by four other ceremonies, including the School of Nursing and Health Innovations pinning ceremony on May 3 at 4:15 p.m., the ROTC commissioning ceremony on May 4 at 11 a.m., the graduate school commencement on May 4 at 1 p.m. and a baccalaureate mass on May 4 at 4:30 p.m. All events are held at the Chiles Center.

Camille Kuroiwa-Lewis is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at