Fairfield University awards 1,279 diplomas at 63rd commencement
On a drizzly day that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits, Fairfield University awarded a total of 1,279 degrees Sunday, May 19, 2013, including 858 bachelor's degrees, 396 master's degrees, 19 certificates of advanced study, three Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees, and three associate's degrees.
The undergraduate ceremony was held on Bellarmine Lawn, but due to a steady rain, the graduate ceremony was moved indoors, to Alumni Hall. The last time a commencement ceremony was held inside was 1982.
The Reverend Michael J. Garanzini, S.J., president of Loyola University Chicago and the General Secretary for Higher Education for the Society of Jesus, gave the undergraduate address, encouraging graduates to live lives of service.
“You know the effects of Hurricane Sandy and experienced them first hand,” he said. “I don’t need to site statistics for you that we live on a plane that is stressed, where food and energy supplies are increasingly challenged, where we will need to make some major decisions about how we live on this globe so that we do not experience political, economic and social chaos some day soon. Who will create the conditions for solving these problems and who will begin the process of living more simply and in touch with our world and its issues? Who, if not you?”
Valedictory speaker Kevin Reda, a politics and International Studies double major with a minor in economics, spoke of September 11 when his father survived the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, and the outpouring of support from Fairfield when he ran a race in support of a family member fighting M.S. “I have learned that being a man or woman for others is not as much about the impact it has on us individually, but the ability of our selfless actions to move and inspire those that we are serving.”
Daniel Jones received the St. Ignatius Loyola Medal, given to the senior who best exemplifies the true spirit of a Jesuit education.
An honorary Doctor of Laws degree was bestowed on Sister Maureen Clark, CSJ, a Sister of St. Joseph, who has worked in the correctional systems in Pittsburgh and Massachusetts. Journalist William P. McDonald ’75 received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. He was part of a New York Times team that won a 2000 Pulitzer Prize for the series “How Race Is Lived in America.”
The graduate ceremony featured two honorary degree recipients: Patrick W. Kelley '76, P'12, M.D., DrPH, director of the Boards of Global Health and African Science Academy Development at the U.S. National Academies, who was the commencement speaker; and Sister Patricia Farrell, OSF, LCSW, LMHP, a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Family, Dubuque, Iowa.
“The educated, especially at the professional level, like yourselves, are parties to a social contract,” noted Dr. Kelley. “Empowered professionals, such as each of you, in recognition of their status, assume an obligation to use their position and capabilities to lead the creation of more equitable societies where health, education, security and opportunity are more accessible to all, where the treasury of the talents God has given to each of us, can be fully at the service of all of us.”
Erin Radocchia, who, like both of her parents, graduated from the School of Nursing, delivered the class address. She joked that, as a baby, she was the youngest ‘student’ ever at Fairfield, “getting passed from my mother to my father in between classes in the halls of the School of Nursing.
“Eighteen years later, those halls would become the ones I knew best, as I pursued my own bachelor of science degree in nursing at Fairfield,” she said. “I was inspired, not only by my parents' thirst for knowledge and commitment to service professions, but also by Fairfield's Jesuit ideals.”
Loretta Egan Murphy, who earned an M.S. in nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner track, received the St. Ignatius Loyola Medal.
Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., observed, “During your time of study here, you shaped us all with your enthusiasm, with your passion for learning, with your good humor, and through the close relationships that you have forged here, which I am sure will be with you for the rest of your life.”