Jazz Legend Wynton Marsalis Named Colgate University 2023 Commencement Speaker

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Marsalis to receive honorary degree alongside Joe Castiglione ’68, IIya Kaminsky, Mary Ann Moran ’77 and Mark S. Siegel ’73. 

An icon of the jazz world with more than 110 recordings to his name, Wynton Marsalis will provide remarks at Colgate University’s 2023 commencement on Sunday, May 21. 

Marsalis presently serves as managing and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, director of the Jazz Studies Program at The Juilliard School, and president of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation. Born in New Orleans, La., in 1961, he is the son of jazz pianist and music educator Ellis Marsalis Jr. Wynton Marsalis started playing trumpet at age 6 and grew up playing in everything from New Orleans traditional marching bands, to funk bands, concert bands, symphonic orchestras, and small jazz ensembles.

To date, Marsalis has performed 4,862 concerts in 856 cities and 65 countries around the globe. Over the past four decades, Marsalis has rekindled and animated widespread international interest in jazz through performances, educational activities, books, curricula, and relentless advocacy. He is the author of seven books, including two books for children.

Today, Marsalis continues the renaissance he sparked in the early 1980s, attracting new generations of young talent to jazz and illuminating the mythic meanings of jazz fundamentals. Marsalis has been called the “Pied Piper of Jazz” and the “Doctor of Swing.” Since his recording debut in 1982, he has released more than 110 jazz and classical recordings. Marsalis performs and composes across the entire spectrum of jazz and has written jazz-influenced chamber music and symphonic works for revered classical ensembles in the United States and abroad. His body of original work includes (but is not limited to) 600 songs and movements, 11 dance scores, 13 suites, four symphonies, two chamber pieces, two string quartets, a jazz oratorio, a fanfare, and concertos for violin and tuba.

Marsalis was appointed Messenger of Peace by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan (2001), awarded the National Medal of Arts (2005), and earned the National Medal of Humanities (2016). Britain’s Royal Academy of Music has granted Marsalis honorary membership; in the fall of 2009, he received France’s highest distinction, the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. 

Wynton Marsalis’ core beliefs are based on jazz fundamentals: freedom and individual creativity (improvisation), collective action and good manners (swing), as well as acceptance, gratitude, and resilience (the blues). 

2023 Honorary Degree Recipients

Joe Castiglione ’68

Now in his 41st season on Red Sox radio, Castiglione has the longest tenure of any Red Sox radio broadcaster and of any Boston baseball broadcaster in history. 

Prior to his move to Boston, Castiglione called television games for Cleveland in 1979 and 1982 and for Milwaukee in 1981. The Hamden, Conn., native has announced television games for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and college basketball on NESN. 

During the offseason, Castiglione taught classes in broadcast journalism at Northeastern University for 29 years, from 1985 to 2013; at Franklin Pierce University for 15 years, from 1996 to 2010; and at Emerson College in 1996. Since 1990, he has also served as a Jimmy Fund staff member in fundraising. 

Castiglione earned a history degree from Colgate and a master’s from Syracuse University. He is the author of Broadcast Rites and Sites: I Saw It on the Radio with the Boston Red Sox (Taylor Trade Publishing, 2006) and was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2014. Castiglione is also a member of the Massachusetts and Ohio Broadcast halls of fame and the New England chapter of the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. He is also the recipient of the Luigi Pirandello Award for distinguished people of Italian descent. He and his wife, Jan, have three children and six grandchildren. They reside in Marshfield, Mass.

IIya Kaminsky

Ilya Kaminsky is the author of the widely acclaimed Deaf Republic (Graywolf, 2019) and a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award for Poetry.

Poems from Deaf Republic were awarded Poetry magazine’s Levinson Prize and the Pushcart Prize. He is also the author of Dancing In Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004) and Musica Humana (Chapiteau Press, 2002). Kaminsky has won the Whiting Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Metcalf Award, the Dorset Prize, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and the Foreword Magazine Best Poetry Book of the Year award. Recently, Kaminsky was on the short list for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. 

His poems have been translated into numerous languages, and his books have been published in many countries including Turkey, Holland, Russia, France, Mexico, Macedonia, Romania, Spain, and China, where his poetry was awarded the Yinchuan International Poetry Prize. His poems have been compared to work by Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, and Marina Tsvetaeva.

He is the editor of several anthologies, among them The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry (Ecco, 2010), co-edited with Susan Harris; A God in the House: Poets Talk About Faith (Tupelo Press, 2012), co-edited with Katherine Towler; Gossip and Metaphysics: Russian Modernist Poets and Prose (Tupelo Press, 2014), co-edited with Katie Farris and Valzhyna Mort; and In the Shape of the Human Body I am Visiting the Earth: Poems from Far and Wide (McSweeney’s, 2017), with Dominic Luxford and Jesse Nathan. With Jean Valentine, he has co-translated Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva.

Kaminsky was born in the former Soviet Union city of Odessa. He lost most of his hearing at age 4 after a doctor misdiagnosed mumps as a cold, and his family was granted political asylum by the United States in 1993, settling in Rochester, N.Y. After his father’s death in 1994, Kaminsky began to write poems in English. 

In the late 1990s, Kaminsky co-founded Poets For Peace, an organization that sponsors poetry readings in the United States and abroad. He has also worked as a law clerk at the National Immigration Law Center and at Bay Area Legal Aid, helping the poor and homeless to overcome their legal difficulties. He teaches at the MFA program at San Diego State University. He currently teaches at Princeton and lives in New Jersey with his wife, Katie Farris.

Mary Ann Moran ’77

Moran is a University of Georgia Foundation Distinguished Professor in the Department of Marine Sciences. She earned degrees at Colgate University (BA, biology, 1977), Cornell University (MS, natural resources, 1982), and the University of Georgia (PhD, ecology, 1987). 

Moran is a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the American Academy of Microbiology, and she is a recipient of the American Society for Microbiology D.C. White Research and Mentoring Award. Moran has held elected offices in AAAS and the American Academy of Microbiology. She has served on the Board of Reviewing Editors for AAAS Science Magazine and is on the editorial boards of mBio, PNAS, and Environmental Microbiology. Moran is presently a member of scientific advisory boards for the Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute, the Simons Collaborative Marine Atlas Project (CMAP), and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Biosciences Division.

Moran’s research program focuses on the genetic and ecological underpinnings of bacterial sulfur and carbon cycling in the ocean, with the goal of understanding the role of marine bacteria in the production of gasses related to climate change. 

Mark S. Siegel ’73

A respected entrepreneur and business leader who deeply believes in philanthropic duty and community service, Mark S. Siegel has held numerous leadership positions in health care, the visual arts, and business.

Siegel currently serves as an active member of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was chair of the board from 2008 to 2010. In 2018, he was selected to be one of 12 directors of the new Cedars-Sinai Health System Board, which is charged with governing the regional hospital network that Cedars-Sinai is developing across Southern California. 

For 12 years Siegel served on the Board of Trustees of the J. Paul Getty Trust, where he was named chair of its Investment Committee and later chair of the board, serving from 2010 to 2015 in that capacity. Under Siegel’s leadership, the trust’s investment assets grew substantially; major new acquisitions of art were made; two CEOs were recruited; and various internal governance concerns, as well as international restitution claims for antiquities, were all amicably resolved.

Siegel is the founder and president of ReMY Investors & Consultants, Inc., which has offered investment advisory services since 1993. Prior to founding ReMY, Siegel held numerous executive positions in various Shamrock Companies (the investment entity for the Roy Disney family). Through Shamrock and ReMY, Siegel has overseen public and private investments for more than 40 years.

Siegel graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Colgate University, where he earned his degree in philosophy. He earned his JD from the University of California at Berkeley, graduating Order of the Coif. In 2009, Siegel established a sizable yearly endowed prize at Colgate for great undergraduate teaching, named in honor of his favorite philosophy professor, the late Jerry Balmuth, Harry Emerson Fosdick Professor of philosophy and religion emeritus.