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Skidmore College

Skidmore announces 2024 Commencement speakers

April 2, 2024

Luis A. Miranda Jr. and Luz Towns-Miranda, esteemed community activists, philanthropists, and exemplars of civic engagement, will address Skidmore’s Class of 2024 and receive honorary degrees during the College’s 113th Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 18, at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). 

Miranda Jr. has four decades of experience as a leader in the public, private, political, and advocacy sectors. Arriving in New York City from Puerto Rico in 1974, he was drawn to community action when he organized his neighbors to fight for better schools for their children. In the 1980s, he was a special advisor for Hispanic Affairs to Mayor Ed Koch and served in key roles for the Dinkins and Giuliani administrations. A founding partner of the MirRam Group, Miranda has consulted on several successful political campaigns, including the senatorial campaigns of Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Most recently, he managed New York Attorney General Letitia James’ successful re-election. Miranda is the founding president of the Hispanic Federation and is currently the chairperson of the Latino Victory Fund, the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, Viva Broadway, and The Public Theater. He is a board member of The City and former chair of the Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center. Miranda’s memoir, “Relentless: My Story of the Latino Spirit that is Transforming America,” will be released by Hachette Books in both English and Spanish on May 7, 2024. 

Towns-Miranda is a licensed psychologist and psychoanalyst whose varied experiences have included assessment and treatment of foster care children, running a therapeutic nursery, and teaching family practice residents at Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center and Montefiore Medical Center. She is frequently called on as a consultant, working with The Community Association of Progressive Dominicans, where she has been instrumental in the development of its mental health programs, and Acacia, a provider of mental health and substance abuse recovery services in the Bronx. She has been on the 18B panel in all five boroughs for over 20 years. Towns-Miranda worked as a New York City firehouse clinician following 9/11 and served on the New York State Board of Psychology. She currently serves on the board of trustees of The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the American Theater Wing, and on the national board of directors of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Miranda and Towns-Miranda have been married for 46 years and raised Luz Miranda-Crespo, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Miguel Towns in the Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights/Inwood. They are the proud grandparents of six. The family has expanded their philanthropic giving through the Miranda Family Fund and the Miranda Family Fellowship, a program for which Skidmore is a partner institution. 

Murat C. Yildiz, assistant professor of history, has been selected as the 2024 faculty speaker. Yildiz’s research and teaching interests focus on the intersections of sports, intercommunal relations, subject formation, and the body and gender in the modern Middle East. His current book project, tentatively titled "Let's Get Physical: How Istanbul's Muslims, Christians, and Jews Created 'The Ottoman World of Sport'," examines the making of a shared physical culture at the end of an empire. His writings have appeared in numerous publications, including the International Journal of Middle East Studies, the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, and AJS Perspectives: The Magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies. He is an assistant editor of Arab Studies Journal. 

In addition to remarks from President Marc Conner to the Class of 2024, Skidmore College Board of Trustees Chair Jon Achenbaum ’77 and Class of 2024 President Vicky Grijalva will also offer their congratulations to the graduating class.  

Commencement exercises will begin at approximately 10:40 a.m. Saturday, May 18, and a livestream of the event will be available via the Skidmore website. For additional information, visit the Commencement website

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