Graduation boasts star-studded speakers: James Brennan

By Erin Fogerty

James Brennan has been chosen as the Undergraduate morning ceremony’s commencement speaker. Brennan, who graduated from USD in 1996, will be speaking to the graduating seniors in the College of Arts and Science. The morning ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. on Sunday, May 26, in the Jenny Craig Pavilion.

Brennan, referred to as “San Diego’s King of Nightlife,” by the U-T San Diego, is a very successful entrepreneur. Brennan has opened a handful of lounges and restaurants in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, Pacific Beach, La Jolla, Point Loma and downtown La Mesa. Two of Brennan’s nightclubs, Stingaree and Bar West, are often populated with USD seniors on the weekends. Both of these bars were designed and developed by Brennan. Stingaree has been named one of the top ten nightclubs in the entire country by while Bar West is one of the only premier night clubs students have access to in Pacific Beach.

The king of nightlife has given San Diego more than just nightclubs. The entrepreneur is involved in various nonprofits and charities in the community. Brennan sits on the Board of Directors for Catholic Charities of San Diego, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Cathedral Catholic High School. In 2013, Brennan was named Big Brothers Big Sisters Person of the Year.

Brennan grew up in Rockaway, New York. When Hurricane Sandy left the communities of Breezy Point, Belle Harbor and Rockaway in shambles this fall, Brennan felt that he had to do something. He founded Rockaway Reach, which is a disaster relief fund. In days after the disaster, he hired tractor-trailers to send generators, space heaters, and water pumps into the affected communities. Rockaway Reach was responsible for repairing the plumbing, electrical and heating systems in over one hundred homes.

Brennan has done a lot of good for communities on both the east and west coast. Although his nightclubs and restaurants sounded familiar to students, no one knew who James Brennan was.

“I’ve been to Stingaree before but I never imagined the owner would be speaking at a graduation ceremony,” English major Mary Gaule said. Hopefully he will keep us entertained and who knows, maybe he will have some great advice!”