The rainy weather did not dampen the spirits of 1,279 graduates who received their degrees at Fairfield University’s 63rd Commencement in May. There were 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 awarded.
The undergraduate ceremony was held on Bellarmine Lawn, but because of steady rain the graduate ceremony was moved indoors to Alumni Hall. The last time a Fairfield 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 commencement address, encouraging graduates to find inner peace.
For Fr. Garanzini, that has involved staying in touch with God. “May you become as bold as the prophets, in pointing to injustice which you will surely encounter,” he urged. “May you be as revolutionary as the Gospels, with their command to forgive, to put service as the highest value. Fairfield nurtured this in you.”
The valedictory speaker was Kevin Reda ’13, a politics and international studies double-major with a minor in economics who coached lacrosse at Fairfield Prep. He spoke of drawing inspiration from the words of the late Jim Valvano, a great college basketball coach who felt that every day one should laugh, spend time in thought, and express emotion.
“I hope that you will remember all of the things that Fairfield has taught us, and strive to include Valvano’s messages in your lives moving forward,” Reda told the audience of about 5,000.
University President Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., presented Daniel Jones ’13, a politics major, with the prestigious St. Ignatius Loyola Medal, bestowed annually by the Fairfield University Alumni Association to the senior who best exemplifies the true spirit of a Jesuit education. Loretta Egan Murphy, who earned an M.S. in nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner track, received the medal at the graduate ceremony.
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.” His family includes Fairfield graduates: brother, James E. McDonald ’66, his wife Irene Leopold McDonald ’84, and a cousin, Ann McDonald Langan ’74.
The graduate ceremony featured two honorary degree recipients: Sister Patricia Farrell, OSF, LCSW, LMHP, a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Family, Dubuque, Iowa; and 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.
Dr. Kelley observed, “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, M.S.’13, delivered the graduate class address. Both of her parents also graduated from the School of Nursing. “I was inspired, not only by my parents’ thirst for knowledge and commitment to service professions, but also by Fairfield’s Jesuit ideals,” she said.
Fr. von Arx sent off graduates with these words: “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.”