Commencement 2019


Date: Friday May 31, 2019

Location: David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center — 10 Lincoln Center Plaza (Columbus Avenue and 65th Street)

Time: 1:30 p.m. Ceremony begins in David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center

R.S.V.P.: by May 17, 2019. (R.S.V.P.s received after that date will be subject to a late registration fee.)

View 55th Commencement Program (2019)

We look forward to celebrating the achievements of our doctoral and master’s graduates at this year’s Commencement. 

Academic Attire:
To purchase attire - Order from Herff Jones online or contact directly:

Paul Reilly at Herff Jones
Phone: (516) 781- 0348
Fax: (516) 781-0349

Please note:
If you plan to participate in the Academic Procession, payment is mandatory to complete your registration. Please pay online via Eventbrite. Graduation fee includes 4 guest tickets. Extra tickets are $25 per guest with a limit of 6 extra tickets per graduate. All tickets will be distributed at academic attire pick-up.

A late fee will be charged for registration after May 18, 2019. Late registration is $225 for those who own academic attire and $350 for those who will rent academic attire.


Thompson 2019 Commencement

James Phillip Thompson (Ph.D. ’90, Political Science) is a leading urban planner and political scientist whose career exemplifies a commitment to academic research, community development, coalition building, and government service. Currently deputy mayor for strategic planning initiatives for New York City and associate professor of political science and urban planning at MIT, Thompson has been acknowledged by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as “one of the foremost experts on how to better serve and lift up low-income neighborhoods.”

Appointed deputy mayor in February 2018, Thompson is responsible for New York City’s signature Pre-K for All program, consumer affairs, and worker protection expanding the city’s investment in minority and women-owned businesses, and encouraging greater voter participation. He is currently on community service leave from MIT, where, along with his teaching and research, he leads MIT’s Housing, Community, and Economic Development Group.

Thompson’s academic interests and his community and government service have informed each other throughout his career, starting with a position in the Manhattan borough president’s office while he pursued his master’s in urban planning at Hunter College. After receiving his doctorate in political science at The Graduate Center, he served under Mayor David Dinkins as the mayor’s housing coordinator and as deputy general manager for the operations and development for the New York City Housing Authority.

Thompson has said that “experts are the people who work and live in the community,” and he has brought that focus on local participation and coalition building to many sectors of his work and research. He has advised trade unions in their efforts to work with immigrant and community groups. His work as a consultant on health care as part of New York State’s Vital Brooklyn plan, a $1.4 billion initiative to revitalize central Brooklyn, had its roots in Thompson’s connections to the local community and his research and thorough data analysis.

His expertise in urban policy, race, health, and the environment is sought well beyond New York City. He has advised the government of Colombia and its local stakeholders on sustainable environmental and community-development programs; the government of Haiti on post-earthquake housing planning and design; and on post-disaster training with the city of New Orleans.

He is the author of Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities and the Call for a Deep Democracy.

Thompson has a B.A. in sociology from Harvard University. He has taught at Barnard College and Columbia University.


Roxanne Gay 2019 Commencement

Novelist, essayist, memoirist, cultural critic, commentator, and teacher, Roxane Gay has been called “a writer unfazed by inconvenient truths and a champion of women — especially gay and black women.”

Gay’s writing brings personal and scholarly perspective to the subjects of sexual violence, racism, body image, identity, and politics. She is the author of Ayiti, a story collection about Haiti and the Haitian diaspora; the novel An Untamed StateThe New York Times best-seller Bad Feminist; critical essays on “our culture and how we consume it”; and Difficult Women, a short story collection.

The New York Times said of Gay’s best-selling book, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, “At its most symphonic, it’s an intellectually rigorous and deeply moving exploration of the ways in which trauma, stories, desire, language and metaphor shape our experiences and construct our reality.”

Gay’s writing has been published in Best American Mystery Stories 2014Best American Short Stories 2012Best Sex Writing 2012A Public SpaceMcSweeney’sTin HouseOxford AmericanAmerican Short FictionVirginia Quarterly Review, and many others. She edited Best American Short Stories 2018, and Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture. She has been a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times since 2015. She is currently working on several television and film projects and is the author of Marvel’s World of Wakanda. In 2019 she created and now edits an online magazine, Gay: Culture, Provocatively, and she co-created and co-hosts the Luminary podcast Hear to Slay.

The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Gay was born in Omaha, Nebraska. She received her Ph.D. in rhetoric and technical communication from Michigan Technological University and joined the faculty of Purdue University in 2014 as associate professor of English, where she teaches creative writing, fiction, and creative nonfiction at the graduate and undergraduate levels. She was named a Presidential Visiting Fellow at Yale this year and is teaching a seminar called Writing Trauma.

She is in great demand as a public speaker. Her 2019 public appearances include Hawaii Theatre Center, Colorado College, Skidmore College, Loyola University Maryland, Colby College, the University of Southern California, and The Graduate Center. She has appeared as a guest on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah; Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live; NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross; and the Sarah Silverman show I Love You, America.

Luis 2019 Commencement

Luis A. Miranda Jr. has dedicated his career to the public good as a leader in Latino political, economic, educational and cultural advocacy.

Luis A. Miranda Jr. is founding partner of The MirRam Group, a government affairs, lobbying, and political consulting firm in New York City. He has served in three New York City mayoral administrations. He is the founding president of the Hispanic Federation and past chairman of the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation. He is board chair of the Latino Victory Fund and the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance. He is a board member of The Public Theater, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, NYC & Company, and the nonprofit The City. Miranda chairs the advisory boards to Broadway League’s Viva Broadway and the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies (CLACLS) at The Graduate Center. In 2017, he and his family established the Miranda Fellowship for the Study of Puerto Rican Migration and Communities, which is awarded to an incoming doctoral student in history at The Graduate Center.

Miranda and his family have supported the relief efforts in Puerto Rico following the destruction of Hurricane Maria in September 2017. They have actively fundraised for the Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS for Puerto Rico program, raising over $43 million to date for community organizations throughout the island. In honor of the historic run of the musical Hamilton in Puerto Rico in 2019, the Miranda family, the producers of Hamilton, and the Flamboyan Foundation have partnered to create the Flamboyan Arts Fund, with the goal of raising $15 million for arts and culture on the island.

Miranda earned his B.A. degree from the University of Puerto Rico and pursued graduate work in psychology at New York University. He and his wife, Dr. Luz Towns-Miranda, have been married for 40 years and have two adult children, Luz Miranda-Crespo and Lin-Manuel Miranda. They reside in the Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights/Inwood.


Jacobson Commencement 2019

As a professor of sociology at The Graduate Center and through his public service leadership, Michael P. Jacobson (Ph.D. ’85, Sociology) has dedicated his career to promoting social justice through expert data-driven research, training, and education. His work exemplifies doctoral education at The Graduate Center, where students develop research skills and innovative ideas to address society’s most pressing challenges.

Jacobson has maintained close ties to The Graduate Center and CUNY since receiving his doctorate in sociology. He has taught at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and at The Graduate Center, and, in 2013, co-founded and became executive director of the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance. The institute works with government agencies as well as nonprofit organizations, philanthropic institutions, and the private sector across the country with the goal of more equitable and efficient public service. Among the institute’s projects are “Equality Indicators,” providing cities with tools to understand and measure equality, and a partnership with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office to lay the foundation for data-driven decision-making to strengthen the office’s commitment to fairness and equal justice. 

Combining his academic and public work, Jacobson teaches a capstone course at The Graduate Center that offers doctoral and master’s students experience working on public service projects through the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance.

Before the institute, Jacobson spent eight years as president of the Vera Institute of Justice, which focuses on reforming justice systems by ending mass incarceration, promoting equity in criminal justice and law enforcement, and strengthening families and communities. 

He has more than 20 years of government service in New York City as correction commissioner, probation commissioner, and deputy budget director in the New York City Office of Management and Budget.

Jacobson has served as chair of Altus, a global alliance working across continents and from a multicultural perspective to improve public safety and justice.

He is the author of Downsizing Prisons: How to Reduce Crime and End Mass Incarceration (New York University Press, 2005).

In 2017, The Graduate Center honored Jacobson with its Alumni of the Year Award.

Ashna Ali Commencement 2019

Ashna Ali (Ph.D. ’19, Comparative Literature) defended her dissertation, “Migritude: Migrant Structures of Feeling in a Minor Literature of Globalization,” under the direction of Distinguished Professor Robert Reid-Pharr. Issues of migration are close to her heart and her family’s story. Ali, who is from Bangladesh, grew up in Italy and came to the United States to pursue a B.A. at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University.

Her doctoral research was supported by the Dean K. Harrison Dissertation fellowship and a dissertation fellowship from the Institute for Research in African Diaspora to the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC).

Over the course of her graduate career, she taught courses in literature and writing at City College, Queens College, and Townsend Harris High School. She also taught courses in the Food Studies department at The New School, and was a Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) fellow at Brooklyn College. She proudly served in multiple roles with the Doctoral Students Council (DSC) and co-chaired the Postcolonial Studies Group (PSG).

In the fall, she will join the English faculty of Bard High School Early College Manhattan.