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2019 Commencement Honorees

Frank Bisignano is the chairman and chief executive officer of First Data – one of the largest Fintech companies in the world, processing $2.6 trillion in payments a year. Bisignano’s leadership includes executive roles at the world’s largest financial institutions, serving as Co-COO and CEO of Mortgage Banking at JPMorgan Chase and for Citibank, CAO and Leader of Global Transaction Services.

Bisignano also contributes time and attention to many causes including: Accolades for leading a diverse workforce and inclusion in the 2018/19 Bloomberg Equality Index; founding the 100,000 Jobs Mission for veterans; receiving the USO’s Colonel Michael Endres Leadership Award and 2012 Man of the Year; leading the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project, which digitized hundreds of thousands of King’s documents; and serving via multiple board positions, including Humana, the Partnership for New York City, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, The NY Battery Conservancy, The Perelman Center for Performing Arts at the World Trade Center, and as trustee of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Bisignano has three children, Morgan, Alexa and Henry. He and his wife, Tracy, reside in New Jersey.

Norman C. Francis, J.D., is president emeritus of Xavier University of Louisiana. During his presidency, the nation's only historically Black and Catholic university more than doubled its enrollment, broadened its curriculum, expanded its campus, and strengthened its financial base. Francis, then the longest-sitting university president in the U.S. (since 1968) and himself an alumnus, was at Xavier for more than five decades as an administrator. He was credited with being the catalyst for nearly every building constructed on the campus during a period of four decades. In 2006, then-President George W. Bush presented him with the nation’s highest civil award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In 2009, Francis was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News Media Group and the Harvard Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership. He has received more than 40 honorary degrees and at least 20 major awards in recognition of his leadership in higher education as well as his unselfish service to New Orleans and to the nation.

Jeanne Craig Sinkford, D.D.S., Ph.D., D.Sc., FACD, FICD, is senior scholar-in-residence emerita, Office of the President and CEO of the American Dental Education Association. She is professor and dean emeritus of Howard University College of Dentistry, where she served as dean from 1975-1991. She is an internationally renowned dental educator, administrator, researcher and clinician.

Sinkford finished first in the dental class of 1958 at Howard University before pursuing graduate study at Northwestern University where she received her M.S. (1962) and Ph.D. (1963). She completed a pedodontic residency at Children’s Hospital National Medical Center in 1975. She became the first woman dean of a dental school in the U.S. in 1975. Sinkford has more than 100 articles published in refereed journals and has written an instructional manual for Crown and Bridge Prosthodontics. From 1992 to 2011, she was responsible for the women’s and diversity programming at the American Dental Education Association (formerly, American Association of Dental Schools). Under her leadership, ADEA created numerous opportunities for the advancement of women and under-represented minorities. Sinkford holds honorary degrees from the University of Michigan, Meharry Medical College, Georgetown University, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and the University of Detroit Mercy. She has received Alumni Achievement Awards from Northwestern University and Howard University and numerous other citations for exceptional professional achievement. Sinkford was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1975. She is a life member in the American Dental Association and was elected in 2012 to life membership in the National Dental Association.

Michael R. Winston, Ph.D., is a historian and academic administrator. Winston was appointed to the Howard University faculty in 1964. Two years later, he became associate director of the Institute for Services to Education, which developed the National Upward Bound Program for the Office of Economic Opportunity during President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration.  In 1968, Winston returned to Howard as assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and later, as director of Research in the Department of History. From 1973 to 1983, he was director of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, where he established the Manuscript Division, Research Department, Oral History Department, the University Archives and the Howard University Museum. He became vice president for Academic Affairs in 1983 and retired from Howard in 1990. In 1992, he became vice president of the Alfred Harcourt Foundation followed by president in 1993 until retiring in 2008. Howard’s Interim President, Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, appointed Winston as academic counsel in 2013 and then provost and chief academic officer from 2014 to 2015. Winston retired a year later.

Winston earned a bachelor’s degree in history, magna cum laude, from Howard University in 1962. He studied at the University of California, Berkeley, obtaining a master’s degree in French History in 1964 and the Ph.D. in European History in 1974. In 2008, Rollins College awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.