Shenandoah University will celebrate its 2014 Commencement in the Smith Library Plaza on Saturday, May 10, at 1:45 p.m. It is expected that 250 August 2013 graduates and 327 December 2013 graduates will join the 707 May candidates for degrees during the celebration this Saturday.
Executive Director and co-founder of the Smashing Walnuts Foundation Ellyn Miller will deliver the commencement address, while Eric Schaeffer, artistic director and co-founder of Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, will be awarded the honorary Doctor of Arts.
Ms. Miller’s daughter, Gabriella Miller ‘13, the inspiration for the creation of the Smashing Walnuts Foundation, was a national childhood cancer advocate who lost her year-long battle with brain cancer on October 26, 2013, just two weeks after receiving her honorary degree from Shenandoah University. The mission of the Smashing Walnuts Foundation is to raise awareness of pediatric cancer and funding for pediatric brain cancer research.
Due to her grace and determination under dire circumstances, Miller is regularly asked to speak about the need for pediatric brain cancer funding. She successfully lobbied Congress to pass The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act to increase pediatric disease funding at the National Institutes of Health by $126 million. The act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on April 3, 2014.
Mr. Schaeffer has received six Helen Hayes Awards for Outstanding Direction and 28 nominations. He also received a Drama Desk nomination for “Follies.” Schaeffer has directed more than 80 productions at Signature Theatre, an award-winning theater that produces world premiere plays and musicals as well as reinvents new interpretations of the American musical.
In 2009, Signature was awarded the 2009 Regional Theatre Tony Award® for excellence in the theater. Signature is home to the American Musical Voices Project, the largest musical commissioning program in the United States, which has awarded over $750,000 to composers to write new musicals.
Schaeffer co-founded and serves on the steering committee of Taking Care of Our Own, a special initiative to help artists in emergency health situations in the Washington, DC area. On Broadway, his productions include “Putting It Together” starring Carol Burnett, “Glory Days,” “Million Dollar Quartet” and the Tony Award®-nominated “Follies.” In the West End/London, he directed “The Witches of Eastwick” and “Million Dollar Quartet.”
His latest projects are a new production of “Gigi” for Broadway in 2015, the new musicals “Beaches” and “The One,” as well as a new production of “Elmer Gantry” at Signature Theatre.
Shenandoah University’s May Commencement ceremony is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. on Saturday, May 10, 2014, on the field behind the Brandt Student Center, located on the main campus of Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia.
Visit www.su.edu/commencement for more details on Shenandoah University’s 2014 Commencement exercises.