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Boston College Honorary Degree Citations 2014

(Back) University President William P. Leahy, SJ, with John F. Kerry JD’76, (front, L-R) Robert Morrissey ’60, Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez ’76, Bob Cousy and Ann Riley Finck ’66. (Photo by Gary Gilbert)


His parents named him Robert Joseph Cousy, but to Boston Celtics fans he is known simply as “Cooz.” A basketball legend, he led the Celtics to six NBA championships with innovative passing and playmaking that made his teammates better and transformed the game itself.

Off the court, he helped establish America’s first major sports union, the National Basketball Players Association. As the civil rights era dawned, he took public and private stances against racism in support of the first black players to enter the NBA.

After retiring as a professional basketball player in 1963, he came to the Heights to coach the Boston College Eagles, compiling a record of 117 wins and 38 losses in six seasons. He later became a coach and broadcaster in the National Basketball Association, as well as president of the NBA Hall of Fame, to which he was inducted in 1971.

He was married for 63 years to his high school sweetheart, and they were blessed with two daughters, including a 1973 Boston College graduate. He and his family have long supported causes in their Worcester community, and for more than 20 years spent summers teaching hundreds of boys about basketball and life at Camp Graylag in New Hampshire.

For his powerful example as a husband and father, talented athlete and person in service to others, Boston College confers on Robert J. Cousy the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.


For more than 40 years, Ann Riley Finck has served as a critical care nurse at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, one of the world’s leading teaching and research hospitals. Working in the neuro-intensive care unit, this award-winning nurse practitioner manages post-operative patient care, trains the next generation of nurses and shares her deep knowledge of neuroscience nursing through her dynamic lectures and publications.

A proud Boston College alumna, she generously serves her alma mater as vice president of the BC Alumni Association, founding member of the Council for Women of Boston College, mentor, and volunteer. She has hosted send-off events for incoming freshmen, organized class reunions and chaired the efforts for Parents Weekend—something she is quite familiar with as the parent of five Boston College graduates.

In 2011, the Connell School of Nursing presented her with its Dean Rita P. Kelleher Award for outstanding achievements as a nurse leader and clinician. Her commitment to the University has been recognized with the Parent Volunteer of the Year Award.

For dedication to Boston College and her expertise in the art and science of nursing, the University awards Ann Riley Finck the degree of Doctor of Nursing Science, honoris causa.


Following in the footsteps of her father, a pioneering doctor celebrated in New York City for his grass-roots health and education initiatives, Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez has dedicated her life to improving health disparities in the South Bronx and Queens.

Her inspired leadership has transformed Urban Health Plan Inc. from a single site into an extensive network recognized as one of the nation’s top 20 community health centers. It annually serves more than 50,000 individuals, regardless of their ability to pay, through programs that are hailed as national models.

One vital initiative, its award-winning asthma management program, has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency for reducing asthma-related hospitalization rates in the South Bronx, an area disproportionately affected by respiratory ailments.

Passionately committed to a vision of care where no person lacks access to essential health services, this 1976 graduate of Boston College has shared her expertise and the lessons of her success through membership on many professional boards and organizations, including New York City’s Commission for Economic Opportunity.    

For invaluable contributions to health care and community life, Boston College confers upon Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez the degree of Doctor of Social Science, honoris causa.  


Born in 1943, John Forbes Kerry learned early in life about the human cost of warfare among nations. His father was a member of the United States Army Air Corps during World War II, and later became a member of the United States Foreign Service. His mother worked as a Red Cross nurse in France, and her family home was destroyed during the war.  As a young naval officer, he experienced firsthand the high price of conflict in Vietnam, where he earned a Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, and three Purple Hearts.

His time in Vietnam spurred him to become an outspoken critic of the war, and led him to put his talents to work for others, including fellow veterans. This commitment to service called him to enroll in Boston College Law School, become a prosecutor in the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office, and ultimately seek election as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, and then as United States Senator.

He served the people of Massachusetts on Capitol Hill for 28 years, and took a leadership role on key foreign policy and national security issues as Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman. In February 2013, President Obama named him United States Secretary of State. As America’s top diplomat, he has confronted challenging geopolitical issues around the world, most especially in the Middle East, Ukraine, Afghanistan and South Sudan.

In recognition of a lifetime of service to the Commonwealth and our country, Boston College bestows on John Forbes Kerry the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

A devoted husband and father, loyal alumnus and acclaimed investment expert, Robert J. Morrissey defines the three loves of his life as family, faith and Boston College.

Raised by his mother after his father’s death, he graduated cum laude from Boston College with an economics degree in 1960. After law school, he became a law partner at the age of 30, but it is in the world of investment where he has made his greatest contribution. 

Elected to the Boston College Board of Trustees in 1980, he has chaired the Investment and Endowment Committee since 1981. His investment acumen has helped increase the University’s endowment from $18 million to more than $2 billion.  
A founding partner of the law firm Morrissey, Hawkins & Lynch, he also serves in leadership positions on investment committees for the Archdiocese of Boston, the New England Province of Jesuits, and the Society of Jesus worldwide.
Beyond his professional and volunteer successes, he is most proud of his family. He and his wife of 50 years, Alyce, raised five children, all Boston College graduates.

For distinguished service to his alma mater, the Society of Jesus and the Catholic Church, Boston College awards Robert J. Morrissey the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.