Pro Football Hall of Fame CEO to Address Madonna University’s 2018 Graduates

May 01, 2018

LIVONIA, Mich. – David Baker, CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, will speak at Madonna University’s 71st Commencement ceremony to be held Saturday, May 12, 2018, in Hall C, at Suburban Collection Showplace, Novi, Mich.

Baker will give the keynote address at the 2 p.m. graduation exercise for some six doctoral, 225 master’s, and 729 undergraduate students in the school of business, and colleges of arts and humanities, education, natural and social sciences, and nursing.

“We are honored that David is speaking to our graduates this year, and we are pleased to bestow on him an honorary doctorate,” said Madonna President Michael A. Grandillo, Ph.D. “A passionate leader in business, politics and sports, he will inspire our graduates to go forth and change lives with all they have learned at Madonna,” he continued. “The entire Madonna community is looking forward to having him join in celebrating our students’ success.”

Former Madonna President, Sr. Rose Marie Kujawa, Ph.D. also will be awarded an honorary doctorate during the ceremony. The Distinguished Alumna Award will be presented to Christina Kary, Ph.D., who graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry.

About David Baker, Doctor of Laws

As president and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, since January 2014, David Baker has transformed the Hall through his vision and leadership. By focusing on the organization’s powerful Mission and core values – commitment, integrity, courage, respect and excellence he dramatically expanded the Hall of Fame’s brand.

Baker is dedicated to inspiring exponential growth in people and organizations that seek to make a difference in their communities and the world. Under his guidance, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has broadened programming across the country; increased television ratings and exposure of its Mission, Vision and Values, and recorded the best financial results in the Hall’s 55-year history.

An attorney by trade, Baker earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature and criticism from the University of California at Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate from the Pepperdine School of Law. At Pepperdine he served as editor-in-chief of the Pepperdine Law Review. He played professional basketball in Switzerland and worldwide with a Christian basketball team.

Prior to joining the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Baker served as mayor and councilman of Irvine, California, and as managing partner for Union Village in Henderson, Nevada, the first integrated health village in the world. He also was commissioner of the Arena Football League where he established the first-ever Mission Statement and Fan Bill of Rights. In 2017, he joined a long list of distinguished winners, when he was bestowed the prestigious March of Dimes Sports Leadership Award.

The father of three sons and a daughter, Baker and his wife Colleen are the proud grandparents of eight grandchildren.

About Sister Rose Marie Kujawa, C.S.S.F., Ph.D., Doctor of Humanities

Madonna University’s sixth President, Sister Rose Marie Kujawa, retired in 2015 after 14 years of visionary leadership. She currently serves as Delegate for Consecrated Life for the Archdiocese of Detroit working with over 1,000 religious sisters, brothers and priests.

Sister Rose Marie took a hands-on approach to her work as President, creating distance learning degree programs and partnerships in Taiwan, China, Haiti and the United Arab Emirates; she also joined students and faculty members on a service-learning pilgrimage to Lourdes, France.

Under her leadership, retention improved by eight percent, the University’s first doctoral program (the Doctor of Nursing Practice) was launched, and Madonna became the first independent university in Michigan to be awarded the Community Engagement Classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. She led more than $40 million in campus improvements, including construction of the school’s first stand-alone building in 40 years, and Livonia’s first LEED Certified building at the Gold Level.

Prior to her presidency, Sister Rose Marie served 17 years as academic vice president during which she led the college’s transition to a university, and six years as Provincial Secretary of the Felician Sisters. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Madonna University, in 1966, and taught high school and college mathematics. She received her master’s and Ph.D. from Wayne State University.

Kujawa was extremely active in Livonia and surrounding communities, serving on the boards of the Livonia Chamber of Commerce and the Livonia Symphony, and working with the Livonia Rotary Club. A trustee and executive board member of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the Michigan Catholic Conference, she also served on several other higher education and health-related boards.

About Christina Kary, Distinguished Alumna

After earning her degree, Christina Kary, earned a Ph.D. in pharmacology in 1973 from the University of Missouri. She began her career at Dow Chemical where she was trained in toxicology. She worked there for five years. Kary’s post-doctoral work took her to Baylor University in Houston, where she spent four years, after which she joined Shell Oil as a supervisor. Later she was promoted to manager of toxicology. Her next career move was to Ashland Oil in Ashland, Kentucky, where she was director of toxicology and a consultant.

Kary spent some time consulting for ENSR in Chicago, before returning home to Michigan, as a consultant for Ground Water Technology in Farmington Hills. Fittingly, she finished her career where she had started, working in toxicology for Dow Chemical.

As a hobby, Kary helps her brother John produce wine, calling herself “his top assistant.”

During Madonna’s Homecoming Weekend 2017, she was on campus for a special art exhibit of her parents’ collection of Polish Folk Art, which Kary and her brother donated to the University.

“The time I spent at Madonna set me on a path for my whole career. My education sustained me throughout.”

About Madonna: Liberal arts education, career preparation and service-learning have been the hallmarks of a Madonna University education for 80 years. In addition to the beautiful main campus, conveniently located at I-96 and Levan Road in Livonia, Madonna offers academic programs in Gaylord, Macomb, and online in China, Haiti and the United Arab Emirates. Michigan’s most affordable, independent, Catholic, liberal arts university, Madonna offers more than 100 undergraduate and 35 graduate programs in the colleges of arts and humanities, natural and social sciences, education, and nursing and health, as well as the School of Business.

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