Synchrony CEO Margaret M. Keane to Deliver St. John’s University Commencement Address

Students throwing commencement caps in air
April 29, 2019

St. John’s University announced today that alumna Margaret M. Keane ’81C, ’87MBA, Chief Executive Officer of Synchrony (NYSE: SYF) —one of the nation’s premier consumer financial services companies—will serve as the distinguished speaker and honoree at the University’s Queens, NY, campus undergraduate Commencement Exercises to be held on Sunday, May 19, at 10 a.m.

Ms. Keane, who also serves as Secretary of the St. John’s University Board of Trustees, will  receive the honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree. A double alumna of the University, Ms. Keane regularly ranks on Fortune’s “Most Powerful Women” list and is a recognized leader in financial services, where she combines her passion for emerging technology and employee development. Ms. Keane is also the President of the Synchrony Foundation, helping to direct the company’s citizenship and community platform, Families That Work.

“It is a great honor for St. John’s University that such an accomplished and distinguished business leader—one of our very own—accepts our invitation to speak to graduates at this year’s Commencement ceremony,” said Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., President of St. John’s University.

“Margaret has long been influential in business and one of the most powerful women in financial services. Here at St. John’s, we also know her as a devoted trustee, a dedicated alumna, and a classic example of the story of student success that is testimony to the University’s enduring mission.”

“Margaret is known for her visionary business acumen, her support of employee development, and for building a diverse, caring and inclusive culture at Synchrony; she is also a  philanthropic leader sharing her time, knowledge and financial support with a variety of causes. With a humble personal story of overcoming obstacles to achieve professional success, her message of transformation will certainly resonate with our newest alumni as they embark on the next chapters in their lives,” stated President Gempesaw.

St. John’s University will host its Staten Island, NY, campus Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 18, at 10 a.m. in Carnesecca Arena on the Queens campus. The Commencement speaker is Vincent P. Colman ’82CBA, Vice Chairman, New York Metro Region, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. With more than 30 years of professional experience, Mr. Colman—who is also a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP—serves large multinational companies and marquis business clients, and has a wide range of experience in accounting, auditing, financial reporting, mergers and acquisitions, and risk management. A magna cum laude graduate of St. John’s University where he serves on the Board of Advisors for The Peter J. Tobin College of Business, Mr. Colman supports many civic, nonprofit, and philanthropic organizations.

“The road to personal and professional success that Vincent P. Colman has traveled began at St. John’s University,” stated President Gempesaw. “It is only fitting that road leads him back to alma mater as Commencement speaker for our Staten Island campus graduates.”

In addition, St. John’s will host separate Commencement Exercises for graduate students earning degrees from its six colleges and schools beginning on Friday, May 17. St. John’s will host a Commencement ceremony on its Rome, Italy, campus in June. The invited speakers for each of these ceremonies are

Linda S. Sanford ’74Ed, ’98HON, Senior Vice President (retired), IBM Corporation, and Member Emerita, St. John’s University Board of Trustees
College of Professional Studies Queens Graduate Commencement Exercises
Friday, May 17, 2019
5 p.m., Carnesecca Arena, Queens Campus

Frank J. DellaFera ’81P, Cofounder and President, Fera Pharmaceuticals, LLC
College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Queens Graduate Commencement Exercises
Monday, May 20, 2019
6 p.m., Carnesecca Arena, Queens Campus 

James J. Shannon ’87CBA, Senior Partner and Chief Operating Officer, Indus Capital Partners, LLC, and Member of the Board of Trustees, St. John’s University
The Peter J. Tobin College of Business Queens Graduate Commencement Exercises
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
6 p.m., Carnesecca Arena, Queens Campus 

Anita Gomez-Palacio ’65Ed, ’89PD, Executive Director of Operations (retired), Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, and Member of the Board of Trustees, St. John’s University
The School of Education Queens Graduate Commencement Exercises
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
6 p.m., Carnesecca Arena, Queens Campus 

Kevin J. Donnellan ’79C, ’81G, Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff, AARP
St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Queens Graduate Commencement Exercises
Thursday, May 23, 2019
6 p.m., Carnesecca Arena, Queens Campus

Jeh Charles Johnson, J.D., Former US Secretary of Homeland Security, and Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
Commencement Speaker and Recipient of the honorary Doctor of Laws degree
St. John’s School of Law Commencement Exercises
Sunday, June 2, 2019
Noon, Carnesecca Arena, Queens Campus 

Alfredo Ferrante, Ph.D. ’00G, Head of Unit, International Relations, Dipartimento per le Politiche della Famiglia, Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri
Ceremony Speaker
Rome Commencement Exercises
Sunday, June 9, 2019
6 p.m., Courtyard, Rome Campus 

For more information, please visit For all media inquiries, please contact Brian Browne, Executive Director for University Relations and Assistant Vice President for Government Relations, at [email protected] or [email protected].