NPR President John Lansing '09 is Bellarmine's 2021 commencement speaker, Honorary Degree recipient

April 22, 2021

John Lansing, CEO of NPR

NPR President and CEO John Lansing, a Bellarmine University alumnus and former trustee, will be the commencement speaker this year for the university, which will hold several smaller ceremonies on May 7 and 8 to comply with COVID-19 protocols. He will also receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
Lansing, a veteran cable television and government broadcast executive, is passionate about public service and the media’s role in a strong democracy. At NPR, he oversees an iconic news organization with a nationwide network of journalists and 17 international bureaus. NPR draws more than 28 million listeners each week and 40 million unique monthly visitors to its website and is the nation's leading producer of podcasts.
Before he moved to NPR, Lansing was the first CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). He also worked for nearly 20 years at Scripps, including eight years as president of Scripps Networks.
Lansing graduated from Bellarmine University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication after a journey that spanned nearly 30 years. He arrived on the campus in 1981; in 1985, just shy of completing his degree, he left to take the position of news director at a television station in Grand Rapids, Mich., and his career expanded from there.
In 2010, he was named to the Bellarmine University Gallery of Distinguished Graduates. He was a member of the Bellarmine Board of Trustees from 2010-17, including a term as vice-chair from 2014-16. In 2021, he was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.
Commencement details
To provide appropriate physical distancing, Bellarmine will hold five small commencement ceremonies at Freedom Hall—two on Friday, May 7, and three on Saturday, May 8. 
Graduates will be physically distanced while seated and in the lineup. Guest seating will also be physically distanced. Everyone who enters Freedom Hall must wear a face covering and have their temperature checked at the doors, and everyone attending must have a ticket. Each graduate received five tickets.
Lansing’s recorded speech will be broadcast at each of the ceremonies, which will be live-streamed on Bellarmine’s website,, and the university’s Facebook page. Graduates who did not feel comfortable attending an in-person ceremony will be recognized virtually.
Here is the schedule:
Friday, May 7, 2-4 p.m.: Classes of 2020 and 2021 doctoral graduates 
Friday, May 7, 7-9 p.m.: Class of 2020 bachelor’s and master’s graduates
Saturday, May 8, 9-11 a.m.: Class of 2021 graduates in Nursing and Clinical Sciences and the College of Health Professions majors (bachelor’s and master’s)
Saturday, May 8, 2-4 p.m.: Class of 2021 graduates in Education, Business, and Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences (bachelor’s and master’s) and Master of Arts in Communication and Master of Science in Digital Media graduates 
Saturday, May 8, 7-9 p.m.: Class of 2021 Bellarmine College of Arts & Sciences, bachelor’s graduates only 
Among those receiving diplomas will be mother and daughter Tonya and Shayna Allen. Tonya, who earned an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) degree in May 2020, is a sergeant in Bellarmine’s Public Safety Office. Daughter Shayna, who entered Bellarmine at age 16, is graduating with a Bachelor of Health Science in Medical Laboratory Science degree. They will walk in Shayna Allen’s ceremony, at 9 a.m. on May 8.


Photo of John Lansing: Deveney Williams/NPR


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