Actor, Author, and Youth Advocate
Hill Harper is an award-winning actor, best-selling author, and philanthropist. Harper starred on the hit CBS drama CSI: NY, HLN's How It Really Happened with Hill Harper, and Showtime's award-winning series Homeland. This fall, Harper began his role as Dr. Marcus Andrews on the highly anticipated new show, The Good Doctor, on ABC. In theaters, he can be seen in the movie Concussion and the recently released Tupac Shakur biopic, All Eyez on Me.
Harper has earned seven NAACP Image Awards for his writing and acting and is a New York Times best-selling author for his books Letters to a Young Brother (which was also named "Best Book for Young Adults" by the American Library Association in 2007), Letters to a Young Sister, and The Conversation. Additionally, he has written Letters to an Incarcerated Brother and The Wealth Cure: Putting Money in its Place. Harper founded the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, which is dedicated to empowering, encouraging, and inspiring underserved youth to succeed through mentorship, scholarship, and grant programs.
Harper graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree from Brown University, where he was valedictorian of his department. He graduated cum laude with a Juris Doctorate degree from Harvard Law School. He also holds a master's degree with honors from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and holds honorary doctoral degrees from Winston-Salem State University, Cheyney University, Westfield State College, Tougaloo College, Le-Moyne Owen College, Dillard University, and Howard University.
Harper currently serves on the President's Cancer Panel, having been appointed by President Obama in 2011. He travels worldwide as a motivational speaker, addressing current affairs and life-awakening topics to a wide array of audiences of youth, adults, couples, and business leaders. As an entrepreneur, he is also a job creator: Harper owns The Roasting Plant Coffee Roastery in Detroit, a hotel in New Orleans, and The Architect & Co., a health and wellness company. In 2014, People Magazine named him one of their Sexiest Men Alive.
Mayor of New Haven, 1994-2013
Recipient of the Honorary Degree of Humane Letters
John DeStefano, Jr. is executive vice president of Start Bank of New Haven, a U.S. Treasury Community Development Financial Institution Bank of which he was an incorporating director and on whose board he continues to serve. Start is a locally owned, governed, and managed bank, dedicated to serving both its community development and commercial bank mission. Mr. DeStefano also holds an appointment as an instructor in the Political Science Department at Yale University.
DeStefano served as the 49th mayor of New Haven from 1994 through 2013. Elected mayor 10 times, DeStefano is the city's longest-serving mayor. During his tenure, he served as a member of the school board and as the appointing authority for the board's other members and led New Haven's nationally acknowledged school reform initiative. "New Haven School Change" is a collaborative, comprehensive, and persistent effort among parents, the American Federation of Teachers, community-based and business organizations, and Yale University, the principal funder of New Haven Promise, the city's merit-based full college scholarship program. DeStefano also chaired the Citywide School Construction Program, a $1.5 billion effort that rebuilt, or built new, virtually every school building in New Haven.
During his time in office, the city undertook a number of immigration initiatives, including the Elm City Resident Card, which was made available to all residents of the city for identification and to enable access to city services, irrespective of immigration status. Also during DeStefano's tenure, the city initiated a living (minimum) wage program, a domestic partner benefits initiative, and the state's first public financing program for elected officials.
New Haven experienced robust population, job, and economic growth throughout this period as the city solidified its position as a major educational and medical center. Collateral growth in life science and entrepreneurial business continue to flourish in the city.
During his time in office, DeStefano served as the president of both the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and the National League of Cities, the oldest and largest association of America's cities and towns. The National Civic League named New Haven an All-America City three times during his tenure.
'83, President, Capozzi Advisory Group, LLC
Graduate School Commencement Speaker - Afternoon Ceremony
Rick Capozzi is a highly regarded industry leader in financial services and former managing director, national sales manager at Morgan Stanley.
His notable 35-year career has taken him throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Holding senior leadership positions with some of the world's largest organizations, including TD Bank, Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo, and UBS, Capozzi's success has been built upon the application of sound principles, proven strategies, and actionable tactics.
Capozzi is currently president of Capozzi Advisory Group, LLC, a consulting and training firm working with many of the top banks and wealth management firms in North America. He is quietly opening his playbook to bring real-world experience and deep industry knowledge by offering proven winning strategies and solutions to achieve sustainable growth. His workshops on leadership and wealth strategies have helped tens of thousands of financial professionals around the world become more successful.
Capozzi brings unique experiences and perspectives as an author, keynote speaker, entrepreneur, adjunct professor, award-winning athlete, accomplished artist, and a lecturer on leadership at universities nationwide. He recently published his second book, entitled The Growth Mindset: Leadership Makes a Difference in Wealth Management, in October 2017.
Capozzi received his Bachelor of Science degree in economics from Southern Connecticut State University in 1983 and has attended leadership development programs at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management; University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School; and the University of Virginia's Darden School of Management.
Capozzi and his family reside in northern New Jersey.
Founder and Chairman, School Development Program and the Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine's Child Study Center
Graduate School Commencement Speaker - Evening Ceremony
Dr. James P. Comer has concentrated his career on promoting a focus on child and adolescent development as a way of improving schools. In 1968, he founded the Comer School Development Program that promotes collaboration between parents, educators, and community members in order to improve social, emotional, and academic outcomes for children, which in turn, help them achieve greater school success. He has improved the educational environment in more than 1,000 schools nationwide, authored numerous publications, and received many awards for his work, including 49 honorary degrees.
In addition to lecturing and consulting widely across the United States at colleges and universities, medical schools, scientific associations, and public school districts, Comer has lectured, observed, and discussed child care, school conditions, and reform around the world, in places such as London, Paris, Tokyo, Dakar, Senegal, and Sydney.
In 2014, President Barack Obama appointed Comer to his Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. In 2016, he became a member of the Aspen Institute's National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development.
Comer received a Bachelor of Arts degree in zoology and social sciences from the University of Indiana, a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan, and an M.D. from Howard University. He is also a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Welcome to the Southern Connecticut State University alumni family!
We serve as a virtual conduit for our alumni, by offering networking opportunities, both social and professional, family events, seminars and panels about the issues that matter most to you and of course, Homecoming.