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'Law & Order' actress, CVS head to speak at Pitt graduations

| Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 3:57 p.m.
S. Epatha Merkerson
S. Epatha Merkerson
Larry J. Merlo, president, chief executive officer and director of CVS Health
Larry J. Merlo, president, chief executive officer and director of CVS Health

An award-winning actress and the head of the nation's largest pharmacy chain will give keynote speeches at commencement ceremonies at the University of Pittsburgh this month in the Petersen Events Center.

Pitt officials said screen and stage actress S. Epatha Merkerson, known for her long-running role as Lt. Anita Van Buren on NBC's “Law & Order,” will speak at the undergraduate commencement at 1 p.m. April 30.

Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Health, will be the featured speaker at Pitt's graduate school commencement at 4 p.m. April 29.

Merlo, a 1978 graduate of Pitt's School of Pharmacy and a member of the university's board of trustees since 2013, joined CVS in 1990 and became president and CEO of the pharmacy health care provider in 2011. Under his leadership, CVS in 2014 became the first national pharmacy chain to ban tobacco sales in its stores.

Merkerson, a Michigan native, graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Her nearly 40-year acting career started at a New York City off-Broadway theater, and Merkerson now co-stars on “Chicago Med,” an NBC TV medical drama. She has been recognized with an Emmy, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award and four NAACP Image awards.

Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said the university is starting a new tradition this year with two commencement ceremonies on separate days.

“Our undergraduate and graduate ceremonies, while occurring on different days, will share one unchanging goal: to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduating students,” Gallagher said.

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