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D’Youville University Features AI Robot Commencement Speaker

April 24, 2024
D'Youville University Graduation

BUFFALO, NEW YORKD’Youville University announced their spring 2024 commencement speaker will be an Artificial Intelligence (AI) robot, capping their year-long campaign generating awareness and education around AI. The social humanoid robot, named Sophia, was created by Hanson Robotics, an engineering and robotics company founded in Dallas, Texan in 2007. Over 2,000 students, faculty, staff, family, and friends will witness this unique and memorable experience at the LECOM Harborcenter on May 11, 2024.

“A major role of higher education is to be an incubator for innovation, and to prepare students for both the opportunities and challenges of the future,” says President Lorrie Clemo, PhD. “This event will represent an intersection of technology and education. As our students celebrate an important life milestone, we hope to keep them thinking big as they move onto careers that promote wellness and respond to the healthcare crisis our society is facing.”

D'Youville University is no stranger to imbedding technology into their campus experience and has taken several steps to build awareness around virtual reality and AI. In 2022, the University launched the MetaReady program which offers every first-year student a Meta Oculus device for delivering asynchronous developmental and academic programming through. The Health Professions HUB also provides students interprofessional education facilities including an immersive virtual reality “black box” simulation center. Most recently, employees took part in a “March Madness” style all-staff competition where they were tasked with incorporating AI into their daily work. The winning office successfully applied AI to complete a 12-week project in just 10 hours.

A commencement address is meant to add to the pomp and circumstance of the ceremony, showcasing the hard work and accomplishments of each student in the audience. Commencement speakers also offer an opportunity for reflection. Sophia is aiming to accomplish both goals, functioning as “the last lecture” through an interview-style discussion with John Rizk, D’Youville University Student Government Association President, and candidate in the accelerated Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree program.

“I use AI every day, multiple times a day,” says Rizk. “I am much more productive and organized having AI in my pocket to help me with daily tasks. AI to me is what the calculator was to my parents. I’m excited to interview Sophia and help affirm AI is not going away, and that my generation needs to figure out how to appropriately deal with it.”

Leading up to commencement, D’Youville University has offered various educational opportunities to students, faculty, and staff throughout the year to better understand and apply AI. In addition to online training modules, developmental lunch sessions, and podcasts, the University recently hosted its annual “unpacking” event where 250 community members learned about the future of AI in healthcare.

“Our students will be the future of healthcare delivery. As we move to put our lives in their hands, D’Youville University hopes to ensure all students understand technology and can think critically about the future they build for us,” continued Clemo. “From that respect we are thrilled to welcome Sophia to our commencement, providing a safe environment for people to learn through experience.”

About D’Youville University

D’Youville University is a nationally ranked private university founded in 1908 and headquartered in Buffalo, New York, which offers degrees in the health sciences and business. D’Youville University promotes a healthy mind, body, and spirit. Through transformational educational experiences, students are prepared for growth, career success, and upward mobility. For more information, visit

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