Commencement This Weekend

Your Guide to Fairfield’s 69th Commencement Ceremonies: Sunday, May 19, 2019

Undergraduate Commencement speaker, Chris Lowney

Chris Lowney, co-founder of Jesuit Commons and vice-chair of the board of CommonSpirit Health will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at this year's undergraduate commencement ceremony.

Commencement weekend is here! This is what you need to know:

In Stag Country, Commencement is a day that is years in the making. Classes, activities, and internships are completed, lifelong friends are solidified, and the procession behind Bellarmine Hall signifies the next step in a Stag’s future. For those watching and cheering – both in-person and online – below is some important information you will need to know. Additional details can be found at .

The ceremony for undergraduates will be at 9:30 a.m., and the graduate ceremony takes place at 3 p.m. Both ceremonies will be held on Bellarmine Lawn.

This year's speaker at the Fairfield University's undergraduate ceremony will be Chris Lowney, celebrated author, co-founder of Jesuit Commons, and vice-chair of the board of CommonSpirit Health, among several other philanthropic endeavorsThe graduate ceremony speaker will be Billy Shore, founder of Share Our Strength and the “No Kid Hungry” campaign, and former Congressional appointee to the National Commission on Hunger.

The total numbers of expected degrees to be awarded are: 958 Bachelor's, 388 Master's, 27 Certificates of Advanced Study, and 32 Doctorates. Honorary degrees will also be bestowed on both speakers and three other recipients: William Atwell, P’08, managing director of Atwell Partners, LLC and former chair of the Fairfield Board of Trustees; Marna Borgstrom, president and CEO of Yale New Haven Health Systems; and Hector M. Sanchez, principal of Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport, CT.

Commencement Speakers & Honorary Degrees

Undergraduate Commencement Speaker — Chris Lowney, Doctor of Laws

Chris Lowney is the co-founder of Jesuit Commons, which pioneered online university-level education access for refugees. He is also one of the co-founders of the Contemplative Leaders in Action program, which works with young adults to encourage the formation of emerging leaders. Additionally, Lowney founded Pilgrimage for Our Children’s Future, to support education and healthcare projects in developing countries. He currently serves as co-chair of the board of Catholic Health Initiatives. Lowney’s 18-year career with the finance firm J.P. Morgan took him to all corners of the world and helped inspire him to write several best-selling books, including Heroic Leadership which has been translated into 11 languages.  Other works include Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads, the first book to explore the Pope's leadership approach; and Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World). Lowney graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University, where he also earned his master’s degree in philosophy. He will receive his honorary Doctor of Laws degree during Fairfield University’s undergraduate Commencement ceremony. 

Graduate Commencement Speaker — Billy Shore, Doctor of Laws

Billy Shore along with his sister, Debbie, founded Share Our Strength, which is committed to ending childhood hunger in the United States. The organization’s “No Kid Hungry” campaign has provided more than one billion meals to children since it began in 2010. Additionally, Shore hosts a weekly podcast, “Add Passion and Stir,” which brings together well-known chefs and change-makers to talk about the central role food plays in social justice. From 2014 to 2015, he served as a Congressional appointee to the National Commission on Hunger. Shore was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News and World Report, he is a winner of the prestigious Jefferson Award for Greater Public Service, and he has authored four books on social change. Shore graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and earned his law degree at George Washington University. Shore will receive his honorary Doctor of Laws degree during Fairfield’s graduate Commencement ceremony.

Additional Honorary Degree Recipients

William Atwell, P’08 — Doctor of Laws

As a member and chair of Fairfield’s Board of Trustees, William Atwell, P’08 served the Fairfield University community for more than 12 years. He is currently managing director of Atwell Partners, LLC, a financial consulting firm, following his retirement as president of Cigna International. Prior to that, he spent six years as president and executive vice president at The Charles Schwab Corporation. Atwell spent 23 years of his early career at Citibank and currently serves on many boards, including the Eisenhower Fellowship Foundation. He graduated with a business degree from C.W. Post College and went on to earn an MBA from Long Island University. Atwell will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree during Fairfield University’s undergraduate Commencement ceremony.

Marna Borgstrom — Doctor of Laws

Since 2005, Connecticut local Marna Borgstrom has been president and CEO of Yale New Haven Health System and Yale New Haven Hospital. With revenues of $4.5 billion, Yale New Haven Health is the largest health system in the region and the largest employer in Connecticut. She serves on the Connecticut Hospital Association Board of Trustees and the Greater New Haven Regional Leadership Council. Additionally, Borgstrom was the previous chair of the Connecticut Hospital Association Board of Trustees, and served on the boards of the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, the United Way of Greater New Haven, and the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce. In 2017, Modern Healthcare named Borgstrom among the “Top 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare.” Her long list of other honors includes the Anti-Defamation League’s Torch of Liberty Award and the Connecticut Women in Leadership Award. Ms. Borgstrom earned her master’s degree in public health from Yale University’s School of Epidemiology and Public Health. She will receive her Doctor of Laws degree during Fairfield University’s undergraduate Commencement ceremony.

Hector M. Sanchez – Doctor of Laws

Hector M. Sanchez is the principal of Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Since his appointment in 2007, he has made it a priority to forge a relationship with both Fairfield’s Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions and the Center for Faith and Public Life. Out of this partnership has grown the STEP (Student Teacher Empowerment Partnership) program, which focuses on improving literacy among Bridgeport school children, while providing learning opportunities for aspiring teachers in the University’s graduate teaching program. The STEP program has since expanded to include professional development for teachers, academic support for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, and community service and service-learning opportunities for more than 100 Fairfield University students annually. These accomplishments earned the partnership an award of excellence from the New England Board of Higher Education in 2013. Sanchez earned his master’s degree from City University of New York and his sixth-year diploma in educational leadership from Southern Connecticut State University. He will receive a Doctor of Laws during Fairfield University’s Graduate Commencement ceremony.

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