The speaker for the College’s 67th undergraduate commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 21 will be History Professor John Langdon, Ph.D., class of 1967. At the ceremony, Dr. Langdon will received an honorary degree, as will two other individuals -- educator and long-time Red Cross worker Elaine Clyburn ’56 and Joseph Parkes, S.J., who has been instrumental in the growth of the Cristo Rey Network of high schools.

Dr. Langdon has been in the history department at Le Moyne since 1971, teaching either Western Civilization or World Civilizations during each of his 46 years in teaching. He was named Teacher of the Year at Le Moyne in 1989 and was named the College’s first O’Connell Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities in 1996. In 2011 he received the Distinguished Educator Award from the Central New York Council for the Social Studies, and in 2012 was named Distinguished Social Studies Educator of the Year by the New York State Council for the Social Studies. His publications include, as sole author, July 1914: The Long Debate, 1918-1990 (1991); four books as co-author with Edward H. Judge as follows: A Hard and Bitter Peace: A Global History of the Cold War (third edition, forthcoming in 2017); The Cold War: A History Through Documents (third edition, forthcoming in 2017); The Cold War: A Global History with Documents (2010); and Connections: A World History (third edition, 2015); and one book as co-author with Barnett Singer, Cultured Force: Builders and Defenders of France’s Colonial Empire (2004).

He also wrote Against the Sky, the history of Le Moyne, which was published in 1996 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the College's founding. He is currently working on a book - tentatively titled A Beacon to Us All - to mark the College's 75th anniversary in 2021. He received a B.A. with honors in history from Le Moyne and a Ph.D. in history from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Drafted into the army in 1968, he served six years in the U.S. Army Reserve before being honorably discharged as Sergeant First Class.

Honorary Degrees

Elaine Clyburn ‘56, first came to the Red Cross in 1969 to use her training in medical social work as a hospital field director during the Vietnam War, serving as an advocate for military personnel and as a communications link between service personnel and people back in the United States. Over her career, she has been involved in 46 disaster relief operations that have taken her to every state with the exception of Idaho. She has served in numerous leadership roles both as a paid Red Cross staffer and as a volunteer.

In 2001, immediately after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Clyburn was summoned to Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and asked  to serve as the director of the Disaster Operations Center in charge of providing relief to those affected by the attacks. She stayed on the job as director for almost a full year. Clyburn is very proud that as an African American woman she was the first person of color to serve as a Level 5 Disaster Director, the highest level within the Red Cross system.

She has also worked at teaching position at Colorado State University, where she taught in the newly emerging social work program, and at Villa Maria College, where she headed the social work program. During those years of academic life Clyburn maintained her relationship with the Red Cross as a volunteer. She has received many rewards and citations during her almost 50 years of Red Cross service, including a Presidential Citation for her long and dedicated service and a Legacy Award for service to the armed services in a time of war. A native of Buffalo, she received a B.S. degree in social science from Le Moyne College and a Master of Social Work degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Joseph Parkes, S.J. serves as chair of the Cristo Rey Network board.  As one of the founders of Cristo Rey New York High School (CRNYHS) in 2004, he has served as president of this school in East Harlem since its opening. Under his leadership, 100% of CRNYHS graduates have earned college acceptances.

Father Parkes has more than 25 years of experience in education across a variety of school models. He has taught and held administrative roles at Ateneo de Manila High School in the Philippines, St. Peter’s Preparatory School in New Jersey, and Fordham Preparatory School in New York City.  While provincial of the New York Province of the Society of Jesus, Father Parkes helped to build and launch Loyola Jesuit College, a secondary school in Abuja, Nigeria. This range of experience informs his perspective on identifying the most effective innovations to impact the Cristo Rey educational model.

Earlier in his career, Father Parkes worked as assistant to the provincial and associate editor of America magazine.  He is a vice chair on the Georgetown University board and a member of the Fordham University and Saint Peter’s University boards.  Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed him chairman of the New York City Campaign Finance Board.  A native of Jersey City and a graduate of St. Peter's Prep, he earned his Bachelor's degree from the Fordham University College of Philosophy & Letters, his Masters of Arts in Medieval History from the University of Wisconsin and his Masters of Divinity from Woodstock College.