St. Bonaventure University

Alumni News

Delta CEO Ed Bastian, '79, to speak at SBU’s graduation; Fr. Kevin Mullen to be honored

Feb 22, 2024

Fr. Kevin Mullen and Ed BastianDelta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, ’79, will be the keynote speaker at St. Bonaventure University’s 164th Commencement Exercises on May 12 in Reilly Center Arena.

Fr. Kevin Mullen, O.F.M., will receive an honorary doctorate at the ceremony. The former Siena College president (2007-2014) was, since 2014, the provincial minister of Holy Name Province until it merged with five other U.S. Franciscan provinces to become the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe in October 2023. A trustee of St. Bonaventure since 2014, his term on SBU’s board expires this spring.

Bastian, a 25-year Delta veteran, has been a leader in Delta’s long-term strategy and a champion of putting Delta’s shared values of honesty, integrity, respect, perseverance and servant leadership at the core of every decision.

“I’ve had the opportunity to be with Ed three times since becoming president, including once when he spoke last fall at a dinner honoring him in New York,” said Dr. Jeff Gingerich, university president. “To listen to a person of his stature in the business world so committed to leadership driven by the values we embrace was really inspirational.”

Since Bastian was named CEO in 2016, Delta has become the world’s most awarded airline, having been named the Wall Street Journal’s top U.S. airline; the top-ranking airline in Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies; the most on-time global airline by FlightGlobal; the Platinum Award recipient for operational excellence by Cirium; among TIME100’s Most Influential Companies; and a Glassdoor Best Place to Work.

Bastian’s values-based leadership propelled the airline to become an industry leader and a trusted global brand, guided by empathy, humanity and devotion to service. He has helped steer Delta, which has more than 100,000 employees worldwide, through the most challenging periods of the company’s history, including 9/11, bankruptcy and COVID-19.

In 2018, Fortune magazine named Bastian among “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders,” and in 2019, he was elected to the membership of the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2021, amidst a global pandemic, Ed was awarded for his Executive Leadership in FlightGlobal’s 2021 Airline Strategy Awards and named among the Top 10 CEOs of 2021 in Glassdoor’s Employees’ Choice Awards as a leader who excelled at supporting their people.

Bastian was most recently honored by his peer CEOs and named Chief Executive magazine’s 2023 Chief Executive of the Year. He was also named the 2024 Georgian of the Year by Georgia Trend Magazine.

Bastian joined Delta in 1998, was named chief financial officer in 2005, and was appointed as company president in 2007. He previously held senior finance positions at Frito-Lay International and Pepsi-Cola International. Bastian started his career with Price Waterhouse.

A native of Poughkeepsie, New York, Bastian graduated from SBU with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He received an honorary degree from his alma mater in 2008


About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. Out of 167 regional universities in the North, St. Bonaventure was ranked #6 for value and #14 for innovation by U.S. News and World Report (2024).