Theologian and scientist Brother Guy Joseph Consolmagno, S.J., director of the Vatican Observatory will receive an honorary doctor of science degree.
Before members of Fairfield University’s Class of 2018 ascend the steps of Bellarmine Hall to receive their diplomas at the University’s 68th Commencement exercises on Sunday, May 20, renowned theologian and scientist Brother Guy Joseph Consolmagno, S.J., director of the Vatican Observatory and president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, will receive an honorary doctor of science degree and address the undergraduates.
Also known as the “Pope’s Astronomer,” perhaps there is no one more appropriate than Br. Consolmagno to encourage the graduates to “reach for the stars,” as they begin their lives as newly minted Fairfield alumni. Since 1993, Br. Consolmagno’s research at the Vatican 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 the International Astronomical Association (IAU) named an asteroid after him, asteroid 4597 Consolmagno, in honor of his contributions to the study of meteorites and asteroids.
Along with more than 200 scientific publications, Br. Consolmagno is the author of a number of popular books including bestseller 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. Television appearances include The Colbert Report, and for more than a dozen years he has written a monthly science column for the British Catholic magazine, The Tablet.
Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Br. Consolmagno earned his bachelor of science and master of science in Earth and Planetary Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and his PhD in planetary science from the University of Arizona. He was a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at the Harvard Observatory from 1978-80, and continued as a postdoc and lecturer at MIT. In 1983 Br. Consolmagno left MIT to join the U.S. Peace Corps and serve in Kenya for two years teaching physics and astronomy. Upon returning to the U.S. in 1985, he taught physics at Lafayette College prior to entering the Jesuit order in 1989 and taking vows as a Jesuit brother in 1991. Br. Consolmagno also studied philosophy and theology at Loyola University Chicago, and physics at the University of Chicago before his assignment to the Vatican Observatory in 1993.
Fairfield University will also bestow an honorary doctor of laws degree on John R. Mitchell. The Chairman of the Mitchell Stores and best-selling author will address graduates at the Graduate Commencement exercises. After joining his family business and earning his MS at the University of California-Berkeley, Mitchell 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.