Reno To Speak At Commencement Exercises In May

Five to receive honorary degrees

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

United States Attorney General Janet Reno will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and address the Class of 1997 when Boston College holds its 121st Commencement Exercises on Monday, May 19 in Alumni Stadium.

Four other honorary degree recipients will be recognized by the University: Boston College Trustee John A. McNeice Jr. '54; Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, president of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, and of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum ; singer, scholar and civil rights activist Bernice Johnson Reagon; and Peter B. Dervan '67, Bren Professor of Chemistry at California Institute of Technology.

Janet Reno

Reno was sworn in as the nation's 78th attorney general by President Clinton on March 12, 1993, making her the first woman to hold that position.

During her term in office, Reno has worked in several key areas: reducing crime and violence by incarcerating serious, repeat offenders and finding alternative forms of punishment for first-time, non-violent offenders; focusing on prevention and early intervention efforts to keep children away from gangs, drugs and violence; enforcing civil rights laws to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans; and carrying out regulations protecting the environment.

Prior to her appointment, she had served since 1978 as the state attorney for Dade County, Fla., a post to which she was elected five times. She also was an assistant state attorney and staff director of the Florida House of Representatives Judiciary Committee until 1976, when she became a partner in the Miami-based law firm of Steel, Hector & Davis.

Reno received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Cornell University in 1960 and a law degree from Harvard University Law School in 1963.

John A. McNeice Jr.

McNeice is the retired chairman and chief executive officer of The Colonial Group, Inc., one of the most successful mutual fund management firms in the country. A member of BC's National Development Board, he has served for many years as a volunteer in University initiatives, including the $136-million Campaign for Boston College. McNeice was a member of the Campaign's Steering Committee and chairman of the Alumni Campaign Committee during the 1987-91 drive.

His gifts to Boston College established the Peter F. Drucker Chair in Management Sciences, and the Margarete and John A. McNeice Jr. Scholarship Fund, which assists economically disadvantaged BC students from the Boston area.

McNeice joined Colonial Management Associates in 1956 and, after earning a master of business administration degree from Northeastern University in 1960, was appointed vice president in 1968. He became executive vice president in 1974 and president and CEO in 1975. In 1982, he led a management group in the purchase of Colonial and became chairman and CEO a year later. The company became The Colonial Group in 1985 when it went public, and was eventually acquired by Liberty Financial Companies, creating the nation's 24th largest fund.

In addition to his Boston College service, McNeice is active in many educational and charitable activities in Greater Boston. He is chairman of the Boston Archdiocese Catholic Charities, trustee and president of The Boston Catholic Foundation, chairman of the board of trustees of Nativity Preparatory School, and a trustee of Boston College High School. In addition, he serves on the boards of the American Ireland Fund, the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, the Pope John XXIII Medical Moral Research and Education Center, and other organizations.

McNeice was awarded the 1994 William V. McKenney Award by the Boston College Alumni Association as the individual best personifying the University's ideals.

He will receive an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree at Commencement.

Cardinal Roger Etchegaray

Cardinal Etchegaray has been recognized as a leader in ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue throughout his career as a priest and bishop.

As advisor to Pope John Paul II on issues concerning human rights, developing countries and international peace, he represents the pontiff in bringing aid and relief to areas of suffering in the world. He has symbolized the commitment of the Catholic Church to helping humanity while visiting countries such as Iran, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopa, Cuba, El Salvador, Rwanda and Bosnia.

The former archbishop of Marseille, France, he later served as president of the Episcopal Conference of the Bishops of France. He also was president of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences and was among the periti at the Second Vatican Council providing consultation in theology, scripture and canon law to the bishops.

He was ordained a priest for the diocese of Bayonne, France in 1947 and received a licentiate in theology and a doctorate in canon law from the Gregorian University of Rome.

In 1969, he was ordained a bishop and named auxiliary bishop of Paris, prior to becoming archbishop of Marseille. Pope John Paul II appointed him a cardinal in 1979 and he served as cardinal archbishop of Marseille until he was named as president of the two pontifical councils in 1984.

The pope also appointed Cardinal Etchegaray as president of the central committee for the Jubilee of the Year 2000.

Cardinal Etchegaray will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Bernice Johnson Reagon

Reagon, American University Distinguished Professor of History, is well known for her performances with the group Sweet Honey in the Rock, the a cappella ensemble she founded in 1973. She also has built a successful career as a solo recording artist, composer, historian and author specializing in African-American oral traditions, and is curator emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.

Her most recent works include We Who Believe In Freedom: Sweet Honey in the Rock and We'll Understand It Better By and By . Reagon was the conceptual producer and narrator of the Peabody Award-winning radio series, "Wade in the Water: African-American Sacred Music Traditions," produced by the Smithsonian Institution and National Public Radio, and has served as consultant, composer and performer in several film and video projects.

An activist in the civil rights movement, Reagon was a member of the original Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee Freedom Singers. She was featured in the 1992 Emmy-nominated television program "The Songs Are Free: Bernice Johnson Reagon with Bill Moyers."

Reagon has received a MacArthur Fellowship, Presidential Medal and the Charles E. Frankel Prize for outstanding contribution to public understanding of the humanities.

She will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at Commencement.

Peter B. Dervan

Dervan, who holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Boston College, was appointed Bren Professor of Chemistry in 1988. Since 1994, he also has served as chairman of the Cal Tech Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.

Dervan has influenced the field of organic chemistry through his studies of the chemical principles involved in the recognition of genetic material during DNA sequences. His creation of novel synthetic molecules which closely resemble natural proteins is regarded as highly useful for biological and, potentially, medical applications.

After earning his doctoral degree in 1972 from Yale University, Dervan spent a year at Stanford University as a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow. His honors include the Harrison Howe Award, the Arthur C. Cope Award, the William Gibbs Medal, the Nichols Medal and the Maison de la Chimie Foundation Prize.

Dervan was among the invited speakers at a symposium held in April, 1992 to dedicate the Eugene F. Merkert Chemistry Center.

He will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Commencement Exercises will begin at 10 a.m. In the event of rain, Commencement will take place in Conte Forum.

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