Honorary degrees

Boston College honorary degree recipients - Commencement 2017
BC Events / Commencement | May 23, 2017

L-R (standing): Boston College Board of Trustees chair John F. Fish; Father Leo B. Shea, MM, '60; University President William P. Leahy, S.J.; Christopher E. O'Donnell '92; Cardinal Seán O'Malley, OFM., Cap. archbishop of Boston; (seated) Tiffany Cooper Gueye '00, PhD '07; U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.; Amy Chin Guen MSW '52 (Photo by Gary Wayne Gilbert)

At its 141st Commencement Exercises on May 22, Boston College presented honorary degrees to U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who also addressed the Class of 2017; longtime Boston area community activist Amy Guen M.S.W.’52; Tiffany Cooper Gueye ’00, Ph.D.’07, CEO of non-profit organization BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life); film and television star Chris O’Donnell ’92; and Fr. Leo B. Shea, M.M. ’60, missioner for Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

Read about the honorees here; their degree citations are below:


Robert P. Casey Jr.


Robert P. Casey Jr., the senior United States senator from Pennsylvania, comes from a family long involved in politics and public service.  His father was governor of the state for eight years, and Senator Casey himself served as auditor general and treasurer of Pennsylvania before his election to the US Senate in 2006.

He is known among his constituents and Congressional peers as an effective advocate for children and families and is recognized as one of America’s most prominent Catholic politicians. He introduced legislation in support of the Emergency Medical Services for Children program, and guided into law a bill to make early learning part of a continuum of education, working in concert with the K-12 system.

In the Senate, he was the primary sponsor of the Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, which enables families to save through tax-advantaged savings accounts for the long-term care of loved ones with disabilities.

Senator Casey has drawn on his faith during his time in public service – beliefs grounded in Jesuit and Catholic education at Scranton Preparatory School, the College of the Holy Cross, and the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University of America. After college, he became a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, serving as a teacher and basketball coach at the Gesu School in inner-city Philadelphia.  

In recognition of his principled and dedicated leadership during a complex, divisive political time, Boston College awards U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey Jr., the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.



 

Tiffany Cooper Gueye '00, PhD '07

Tiffany Cooper Gueye is head of the Boston-based non-profit BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), which offers expanded learning programs to nearly 15,000 students in grades pre-K to 12 throughout the United States. Growing up in inner-city Boston, she attended public school in an affluent suburb through the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity program, where she learned first-hand that not all children have equal educational opportunities.

Ever mindful of that experience, Gueye has dedicated her professional life to providing children with access to the life-changing power of a high-quality education. Starting at BELL as a tutor in 1998, she became involved in efforts to establish successful after-school and summer programs with an emphasis on academic achievement, confidence building, and community and parental engagement. Named CEO of BELL in 2008, she has led a dramatic expansion of its programs, including development of a partnership model with organizations such as the YMCA.

She holds bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from Boston College and is recognized as a national expert in out-of-school learning, measurement, and evaluation. Highly respected within her field, she is often sought after to speak at national conferences and has provided testimony before lawmakers in Congress.

In recognition of her achievements and unwavering efforts to empower children through education, Boston College confers on Tiffany Cooper Gueye the degree of Doctor of Science in Education, honoris causa.


 

Amy Chin Guen MSW '52

Amy Chin Guen celebrates the 65th anniversary of her graduation from the Boston College School of Social Work this June.  The first American-born daughter of a merchant family that held education in high regard, she remains, at 93, a tireless advocate in Boston’s Chinatown community, her place of birth.

This devoted wife, mother, and pioneering social worker was an early proponent of hospice care in Massachusetts, trained professionals as the director of social case work at Youville Hospital, and served on the state’s inaugural social work licensing board. She has fought neighborhood displacement by urban renewal and facilitated the establishment of local social service agencies to assist underserved immigrants.

Her efforts continue to benefit many through the South Cove Manor Nursing Facilities Foundation, which operates the region’s premier elder and rehabilitation facility serving the Asian community, and the South Cove Community Health Center, which offers culturally nuanced healthcare.

A petite powerhouse known as “Auntie Amy” for her service to Chinatown, she has received lifetime achievement awards from the National Association of Social Workers Massachusetts Chapter and her undergraduate alma mater, Regis College. When the Chinese Historical Society of New England honored her with its Sojourner Award in 2016, she pledged to continue to work as long as her health permits, inspiring all present.  

For her zeal, tenacity, and community impact, Boston College bestows on Amy Chin Guen the degree of Doctor of Social Science, honoris causa.



Christopher E. O'Donnell '92

Fame came early to Chris O'Donnell, who made his motion picture debut while still a student in the Carroll School of Management. His performance in the 1990 film "Men Don't Leave" launched an acting career that spans a quarter-century, including an award-winning part in "Scent of a Woman," starring on Broadway in Arthur Miller's "The Man Who Had All the Luck," and, for the past eight seasons, portraying enigmatic lead character G. Callen in the hit CBS series "NCIS: Los Angeles."

His talent earned him a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame; his values keep him grounded. The youngest of seven, he is widely known as a family man devoted to Caroline, his wife of 20 years, and their five children.

A graduate of two Jesuit schools—Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois, and Boston College—he uses his celebrity status to serve people in need. An advocate for veterans and the homeless, he received the prestigious Caritas Award from California's Saint John's Health Center in Los Angeles. He has endowed a scholarship fund at Boston College, and remains close to his alma mater, most recently visiting campus to speak with students about the importance of family and faith.

Adhering to his beliefs, unblinded by the spotlight of Hollywood, Chris O'Donnell leads by example. In recognition of his integrity and achievements, Boston College awards Chris O’Donnell the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.


 

Father Leo B. Shea, MM, '60

Father Leo Shea has served the world’s poor since graduating from Boston College in 1960, first with the Boston College Lay Apostolate Program in Jamaica, and then during a half-century of global ministry with the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

Educated in a Catholic grammar and high school, he earned a degree in English from Boston College in 1960, and then taught as a volunteer at St. George’s College in Jamaica. The following year, he entered the Maryknoll religious community, and was ordained five years later.

He began a 16-year mission in Venezuela in 1975, living in a shack in the Caracas slum of Nueva Tacuagua, where he preached in the streets and drew strength from liberation theology.

In 1983, he became Maryknoll Regional Superior for Venezuela-Colombia, and subsequently the first co-director of a commission investigating human rights abuses in Venezuela.

He returned to the United States in 1991 to serve as Vicar General of Maryknoll. In that role, he helped establish the Maryknoll Lay Mission Association to support missionaries worldwide, as well as the Chinese Seminary Teachers and Formators Project, which has brought 150 Chinese priests and women religious to study in the United States.

For his tireless, generous commitment to the poor and disenfranchised, education and human rights and Maryknoll missionaries across the globe, Boston College confers on Father Leo B. Shea, MM, the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.