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“The Lion King” producer, Pulitzer Prize-nominated photographer and Golden Apple president/CEO to speak at SXU’s 2011 Spring Commencement

Don Hahn, Michael Carroll and Dominic Belmonte to receive honorary degrees at May 15 ceremony

Chicago (April 26, 2011) Award-winning film producer Don Hahn, photojournalist and Romanian Children’s Relief founder Michael Carroll, and Golden Apple Foundation President and CEO Dominic Belmonte will speak at Saint Xavier University’s 2011 Spring Commencement on Sun., May 15.

Hahn and Carroll will speak at the Undergraduate Ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m., and Belmonte will speak at the Graduate Ceremony, which begins at 3 p.m. Both ceremonies will be held in the Shannon Center Main Arena at SXU’s Chicago campus, 3700 W. 103rd St. All three speakers will receive honorary degrees. 

Hahn produced some of the most successful Walt Disney animated films of the past 20 years, including Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Emperor's New Groove, Earth and Oceans. Hahn was the first producer to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar for an animated film for Beauty and the Beast and his films have been nominated for 18 Academy Awards. Hahn also has written several books, owns his own film production company called Stone Circle Pictures and currently is producing a remake of Tim Burton's Frankenweenie.

Carroll is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated photojournalist who was one of the first journalists to courageously travel into Romania after the fall of its communist regime in 1989. Upon his arrival, he walked into one of the most horrific scenes of the 20th century; the orphanages and pediatric AIDS wards in Romania. His incredible photographs and heart-wrenching stories ran in The Boston Globe and The New York Times, opening the eyes and hearts of the Western world to the plight of the Romanian children.

Hahn and Carroll recently held the Chicago premiere of their new documentary, Hand Held, at SXU. The film explores the overcrowded Romanian orphanages housing more than 400,000 children and Carroll’s efforts to tell their story and bring them aid, eventually resulting in him founding Romanian Children’s Relief. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his work. Watch video of the SXU premiere here.

Belmonte has been president and CEO of the Golden Apple Foundation for Excellence in Teaching since 2006. He co-created the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois program in 1989, named by Harvard University as one of 15 programs out of 1,200 nationwide as a finalist for its Innovations in American Government award. Belmonte also co-created the Golden Apple Teacher Education program in 1996, an alternative pathway to teacher certification for mid-career adults wishing a career in teaching secondary math or science or teaching elementary school children. Belmonte is the author of two books, Teaching From the Deep End and Teaching on Solid Ground. He taught English for 20 years at York Community High School in Elmhurst, Ill., and earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in English at the University of Illinois at Chicago.