Richard J. Riordan, Alonzo King to Address Dominican University of California Class of 2005

California Secretary for Education Richard J. Riordan is the 2005 commencement speaker at Dominican University of California. Honorary degrees will be awarded during the ceremony to Riordan and to Alonzo King, the founder and artistic director of Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet.

Commencement will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 14 in the Forest Meadows Amphitheater on the Dominican campus. The outdoor amphitheater is located behind the Conlan Recreation Center at Grand and Acacia avenues. In the event of rain, the ceremonies will be held in the Conlan Recreation Center.

Approximately 310 undergraduate and graduate students from the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Business, Education, and Leadership will graduate from Dominican his year

“We are delighted that Richard Riordan and Alonzo King will address our graduating class,” says Joseph R. Fink, president of Dominican University of California. “As an institution that has been training educators since 1924, we applaud Richard Riordan’s philanthropic efforts supporting education. These efforts span more than 20 years and have helped to raise millions of dollars to improve schools and promote literacy.”

Riordan will be awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. King will be awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

“Alonzo King’s works exemplify innovation, artistry, and creativity,” notes Dr. Fink. “Renowned for his skill as a teacher, Mr. King is an artist of exceptional talent and a model for our students and all university students.”

Riordan is the former two-term mayor of Los Angeles, elected first in 1993 and again in 1997 when he won by a landslide. Riordan was appointed California’s secretary for education in 2003 and plans to continue to fight for educational reform through the private sector after he leaves office on June 30.

While serving as mayor, Riordan created a citywide system of neighborhood councils that give community organizations a greater voice in city government. Riordan successfully streamlined certain business regulations and established "one-stop" centers around the city for functions such as permit applications. Riordan paid special attention to improving the state of the Los Angeles Unified School District and campaigned heavily for reform-oriented candidates. Riordan was a founding member of the LEARN school reform effort, and a founding board member for L.A.'s BEST (Better Educated Students for Tomorrow), an after-school program serving thousands of children in Los Angeles' disadvantaged neighborhoods.

In 1981, Riordan created the charitable foundation that bears his name to help children read and write. Through its signature “Rx for Reading” program, the Riordan Foundation has distributed some 21,700 computers to 2,100 schools in 40 states and enabled the purchase of 128,000 books for elementary classroom libraries. For children with limited access to books, Riordan also created the “Recreational Reading Mini-Grant Program” that awards $1,000 grants to teachers to help them create a library inside their classrooms. Since 1993, this program has donated $1.5 million in book grants serving more than 30,000 children in grades K-5. Riordan launched “Read to me,” a reading program that encourages parents and caregivers to begin reading to their children at an early age.

Alonzo King, an internationally acclaimed choreographer, has created contemporary ballets for more than 50 dance companies including the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Frankfurt Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, the Hong Kong Ballet, and the Washington Ballet. In 1989 he opened the San Francisco Dance Center, which has become the largest public dance space on the West Coast and makes a wide variety of dance forms available to the community. King has served on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, and the California Arts Council. He is a former art commissioner for the City and County of San Francisco.

“I am deeply honored by this recognition from Dominican University, ” says King. “I accept it as a testimony to the shoreless depth of education that lies within art making, and with gratitude to all those who help me do what I do.”

Dominican’s School of Arts and Sciences is home to the Division of Natural, Behavioral, and Health Sciences and the Division of Arts and Humanities. The School of Business, Education, and Leadership is home to the Division of Business and International Studies, the Division of Education, and The Institute for Leadership Studies.