Fairfield University announces it will celebrate its 68th commencement on May 20. Graduate and undergraduate ceremonies will be held on Bellarmine Lawn, on the University campus.
This year's speakers are Brother Guy Joseph Consolmagno, S.J., the director of the Vatican Observatory and the president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, who will be speaking at the undergraduate ceremony; and John R. Mitchell, chairman of Mitchell Stores and bestselling author, who will be speaking at the graduate ceremony.
The 2018 undergraduate commencement takes place on Bellarmine Lawn and begins at 9:30 a.m., followed by the graduate ceremony at 3 p.m. The total numbers of expected degrees to be awarded are: 967 Bachelor's, 385 Master's, 15 6th Year Certificates, and 39 Doctorates. Honorary degrees will also be bestowed on both speakers and four other recipients: M. Shawn Copeland, PhD, William P. Egan ’67 P’99, Rev. James Michael Bowler, S.J., and The Honorable Mark R. Dybul, MD.
Commencement Speakers & Honorary Degrees
Undergraduate Commencement Speaker — Brother Guy Joseph Consolmagno, S.J., Doctor of Science
Brother Guy Joseph Consolmagno, S.J., is the director of the Vatican Observatory and president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation. Since 1993, his research at the Observatory has explored connections between meteorites, asteroids, and the evolution of small solar system bodies. His work has taken him to every continent on Earth, and in 2000 an asteroid was named after him. Along with more than 200 scientific publications, Br. Consolmagno is the author of a number of popular books including Turn Left at Orion (with Dan Davis), and most recently Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (with Paul Mueller). He has hosted science programs for BBC Radio 4, and he has been interviewed in numerous documentary films. He's also appeared on The Colbert Report, and for more than a dozen years he has written a monthly science column for the British Catholic magazine, The Tablet. Br. Consolmagno will be receiving an honorary Doctor of Science degree during the undergraduate ceremony.
Graduate Commencement Speaker — John R. Mitchell, Doctor of Laws
John R. Mitchell is chairman of Mitchell Stores.
Mr. Mitchell joined the family business after completing his MS at the University of California-Berkeley and grew it to be a business known for employee engagement and longevity of service. In 2003, he launched a “second career” as a speaker and author. His first book, Hug Your Customers: The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding Results, was a Wall Street Journal best seller and received rave reviews in The New York Times. Mr. Mitchell has become known as a passionate enthusiastic public speaker, keynoting at over 200 events for corporations, and he has national television and radio shows. He shares with his family a number of community leadership awards including awards from the Anti-Defamation League, the Menswear Division of UJA-Federation of New York, and Sacred Heart University. He is on the Yale Cancer Board, he is a trustee at the Greenwich Hospital, and he is an executive in residence at the Columbia University School of Business. Mr.Mitchell also offers hugging workshops for corporations. Mr. Mitchell will be receiving an honorary Doctor of Laws degree during the graduate ceremony.
Additional Honorary Degree Recipients
William P. Egan ’67, P’99 — Doctor of Laws
William P. Egan is founder and general partner of Alta Communications and Marion Equity Partners, Massachusetts-based venture capital firms. He founded Alta's predecessor firm and has identified and backed several of America's leading growth companies in the information technology, life sciences, and communications industries, including Fedex and Continental Cablevision. Bill is an owner of the Boston Celtics professional basketball team and the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Triple A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. He is past president and chairman of the National Venture Capital Association, a former trustee of Fairfield University and the University of Pennsylvania, and a former member of the Board of Overseers of The Wharton School. Mr. Egan received a degree in Economics from Fairfield University and an MBA from The Wharton School. Mr. Egan will receive his honorary Doctor of Laws at the undergraduate commencement ceremony.
Rev. James Michael Bowler, S.J. – Doctor of Laws
Rev. James Michael Bowler, S.J., currently serves as pastoral minister at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Charlotte, NC, focusing on spiritual direction, supervision of spiritual directors, and offering the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Fr. Bowler is the former director of Fairfield University’s Center for Ignatian Spirituality, and facilitator for Catholic and Jesuit Mission. Prior to his 11-year tenure at the University, he was a faculty member and then headmaster at Fairfield College Preparatory School. Fr. Bowler served for more than 20 years in the area of spiritual direction as director of the Campion Renewal Center, executive director of the National Jesuit Retreat and Renewal Ministries, and as a staff member at the Guelph Center of spirituality in Ontario, where he was responsible for training and supervising spiritual directors in the Ignatian tradition. Fr. Bowler currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Loyola University New Orleans, and will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree during the undergraduate ceremony.
M. Shawn Copeland, PhD — Doctor of Laws
M. Shawn Copeland, PhD, is professor of systematic theology in the Department of Theology with a joint appointment in the Program in African and African Diaspora Studies at Boston College. In addition to her previous academic roles, she has held visiting positions at Harvard Divinity School and Boston College, and is recognized as one of the most important influences in North America in drawing attention to issues surrounding African American Catholics. Dr. Copeland is a former Convener of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium (BCTS), an interdisciplinary learned association of black Catholic scholars, and she was the first African American woman to serve as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. She has lectured extensively in the United States where she aims to introduce listeners to African American historical, cultural, and intellectual experience and to underscore the significance of advocacy for social justice in bringing about the concrete human good. Dr. Copeland will be receiving her honorary Doctor of Laws degree during the undergraduate commencement ceremony.
The Honorable Mark R. Dybul, MD — Doctor of Science
The Honorable Mark R. Dybul, MD, is professor of medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and co-director of Georgetown’s Center for Global Health and Quality, engaging international partners to explore new policy and management strategies in response to pressing global health issues, and supporting countries as they tackle major challenges. Through his work as a clinician, scientist, teacher, and administrator over the past 25 years, Dr. Dybul is known as an expert and key leader in global health. He led the implementation of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest international health initiative in history for a single disease. Later, he served as executive director of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Additionally, Dr. Dybul headed the International Prevention of Mother and Child HIV Initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Dybul will be receiving an honorary Doctor of Science degree during the graduate commencement ceremony.