2017 Commencement Speaker


AVE MARIA, Fla. (February 14, 2017) — Ave Maria University announced today that Mr. Daniel A. D’Aniello, co-founder and Chairman of The Carlyle Group, will be its commencement speaker at this year’s graduation exercises.  The University also announced that it will confer an honorary degree on D’Aniello in recognition of his exemplary life as an entrepreneur, corporate executive, philanthropist, and Catholic layman.

Dan D’Aniello was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, raised by a single mother, and started working at the age of nine as a stock boy at his uncle’s produce market.  He subsequently worked his way through college at Syracuse University where he graduated at the top of the Business School.  He enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the time of the Vietnam War, served on the U.S.S. Wasp, and had four major deployments during his time of service.  Last year, D’Aniello received the Lone Sailor Award from the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation.

D’Aniello placed his MBA from Harvard Business School in the service of successful stints at TWA, Pepsico, and Marriott International before co-founding The Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset management firm, in 1987.  Carlyle currently has offices in 20 countries spanning six continents and manages $169 billion of assets across its portfolio of funds.

D’Aniello also serves as Chairman of the Board of the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts Foundation in Vienna, Virginia, and is Co-Chairman of the Board of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC.   He and his wife Gayle have been married for  40 years and have two adult children.

“We are thrilled to have a role model like Dan D’Aniello as our commencement speaker,” said Jim Towey, president of Ave Maria University.  “He has succeeded at the highest levels without compromising his Catholic faith.  The Board of Trustees is delighted to confer the University’s highest honorary recognition on him,” he added.  “Our students will benefit greatly from his words of wisdom.”

Ave Maria University’s commencement takes place on May 6, 2017 at 10 a.m. in the Tom Golisano Field House.  Over 200 men and women are expected to receive degrees at this year’s ceremony.   This will be the institution’s 13th graduation exercises and the 10th on its permanent campus.  Recent commencement speakers have included former Florida Governor Jeb Bush; Florida Governor Rick Scott; Librarian of Congress Dr. James Billington; President of the American Enterprise Institute, Dr. Arthur Brooks; and His Eminence Sean Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and AMU trustee.