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Disney executive to address graduates

The Fredonia State College commencement speaker will be Karl L. Holz, alumnus and president of Disney Cruise Line and New Vacation Operations.

He will address the ceremonies scheduled for 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. May 14 in Steele Hall Arena.

"Karl Holz is one of SUNY Fredonia's most distinguished alumni," noted Dennis Hefner, college president. "We are very excited to have him join us on this most significant day in the life of the campus and look forward to his message to our students and their families."

Holz leads several key operations for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.

His team at Disney Cruise Line includes more than 5,500 shoreside cast members and shipboard crew members.

He oversees the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder and newly launched Disney Dream cruise ships, as well as Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the Bahamas, and Disney's cruise terminal in Port Canaveral, Fla.

His priorities include launching the Disney Fantasy, the company's fourth cruise ship, currently under construction in Papenburg, Germany. The ship's maiden voyage is scheduled for next March.

Holz also leads the development of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, a new beachfront resort opening in August on Oahu in Hawaii; and Adventures by Disney, a division of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts that operates guided family-vacation tours in celebrated destinations worldwide.

He joined Disney in 1996 as vice president of Downtown Disney at the Walt Disney World Resort.

He later served as vice president of Epcot, then senior vice president of Walt Disney World Operations before being named president of Disney Cruise Line in 2003. In 2004, he moved to Paris as president and CEO of Euro Disney S.A.S.

In February 2009, Holz was appointed to his current position as president, Disney Cruise Line and New Vacation Operations.

Before joining Disney, he served as vice president of theme park operations for Knott's Berry Farm in Southern California and previously was president of Sky Chefs Airport Concessions Inc.

Holz earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Fredonia State in 1973 and in 2005 received the Outstanding Achievement Award, the Fredonia Alumni Association's highest honor.

He lives in Orlando, Fla., with his wife, Wendy, also a Fredonia State graduate.

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