At its 142nd Commencement Exercises on May 21, Boston College presented honorary degrees to Archbishop of Atlanta Wilton D. Gregory, the highest-ranking African American bishop in the United States, who also addressed the Class of 2018; retired Boston College administrator Joseph Duffy, S.J., '50, MA'51, STL'58, former University Secretary and former rector of the Jesuit Community; Drew Gilpin Faust, outgoing president of Harvard University; Kendall B. Reid '79, award-winning HBO documentary producer; and Alberto Vasallo III '89, president and CEO of El Mundo Boston.
Read about the honorees here; their degree citations are below.
MOST REVEREND WILTON D. GREGORY
As an 11-year-old at St. Carthage Grammar School in Chicago, Wilton D. Gregory knew that he wanted to be a priest, but never imagined that his vocation would one day lead him to become Archbishop of Atlanta—one of the nation’s fastest-growing archdioceses. The highest-ranking African American bishop in the U.S. Catholic Church, he has been at the forefront of critical issues facing the Church and wider society. While president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2001–2004, he played a critical role in the Church’s response to clergy sexual abuse, especially in the drafting and approval of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. A builder of bridges among people of all ages, races, and viewpoints, he chaired the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Special Task Force to Promote Peace in Our Communities, which held discussions between bishops and individuals affected by violence and released recommendations to foster healing and lasting peace through concrete action and ongoing dialogue. Following Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, he worked with lay leaders to commission a conservation and sustainability plan for the Archdiocese of Atlanta. He has also written pastoral statements regarding the death penalty, euthanasia, and physician-assisted suicide. For his service to the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the U.S. Catholic Church, and his inspiring commitment to faith and justice, Boston College awards Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
KENDALL BRIDGES REID
For 27 years, Home Box Office was home base for film producer Kendall Bridges Reid. In the film Journey of the African-American Athlete, this gifted storyteller helped document the many challenges and indignities, as well as the significant triumphs, of Black athletes ranging from Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson to Althea Gibson and Wilma Rudolph. Acclaimed as the most comprehensive examination of the history of the African-American athlete, this documentary celebrated the pioneering achievements of Blacks in all sports. She and her collaborators followed with Dare to Compete: The Struggle of Women in Sports, which traces the history of American women and their fight for equality in athletics. Highlighting the strife and victories of many of the greatest American female athletes, the film demonstrates how each generation narrowed the gender gap on and off the field. Both documentaries won Peabody Awards. This 1979 Boston College graduate also created acclaimed films that linked sports and race, including documentaries of Boston Celtics great Bill Russell, the 1968 Detroit Tigers, and O.J. Simpson. For her contributions to the world of film and our understanding of the struggle for racial and gender equality in America, Boston College awards Kendall Bridges Reid the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa.
JOSEPH P. DUFFY, S.J.
A man for others, Joseph P. Duffy of the Society of Jesus has devoted most of his life in service to his alma mater. As University secretary, he directed these Commencement Exercises with patience, grace, and attention to detail. During his two-decade tenure, the event evolved from a ceremony witnessed only by the Alumni Stadium audience to one viewed worldwide via webcast. This native Bostonian and proud Eagle earned a trio of degrees from Boston College after graduating from Boston College High School. During a distinguished early career as an educator, dedicated to enriching the hearts and minds of youth, he was named principal of Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine, and later BC High, which established a scholarship in his honor. Returning to the Heights, he joined the Lynch School of Education faculty, and went on to serve as Jesuit Community rector and as a University trustee. A popular figure on campus, he remains active with the Boston College Association of Retired Faculty, for which he is a liaison to several campus groups, including the Office of the Provost and the Jesuit Community. To this loyal son of Boston College, the University confers on Joseph P. Duffy, S.J., the degree of Doctor of Science in Education, honoris causa.
DREW GILPIN FAUST
There are those who write history and those who make history. Drew Gilpin Faust has done both. A highly respected historian and academic leader, she was named the 28th president of Harvard University in July of 2007, making her the first woman to lead the nation’s oldest university since its founding in 1636. Harvard’s Lincoln Professor of History and a scholar of the Civil War, she is the author of six books, and was awarded the Bancroft Prize in 2009 for her most recent publication, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. She also served as founding dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, which is dedicated to creating and sharing transformative ideas across the arts, humanities, and sciences. With grace and pragmatism, she has sought to improve access to Harvard College for students of all economic backgrounds by increasing financial aid. Under her leadership, Harvard broadened its international reach, put a renewed emphasis on the arts, sought sustainable solutions, and opened classrooms to all by launching the online learning partnership “edX.” For her insightful examination of our nation’s history, her contributions as one of the world’s most influential educational leaders, and her steadfast faith in the future of the liberal arts university, Boston College confers on Drew Gilpin Fa ust the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
ALBERTO VASALLO III
The son of immigrants from Cuba and Ecuador, Alberto Vasallo III has dedicated his life to providing news and opportunity for the growing Latino community and to forging connections on its behalf with his hometown of Boston. A 1989 graduate of Boston College, he is president and CEO of El Mundo Boston, which publishes the largest Spanishlanguage newspaper in New England. A successful family-run business founded in 1972, El Mundo Boston has expanded to include a digital presence and event sponsorships, making it the premier point of contact with the region’s Hispanic marketplace. More than 20 years ago, he began a partnership with the Boston Red Sox to create Latino Youth Recognition Days, in which more than 1,500 schoolchildren have been honored for their academic achievements. He also established the El Mundo Latino Family Festival, an annual event that brings thousands of people to Fenway Park to celebrate Latino culture. In 2004, he launched El Mundo Latino Career Expo, the largest Latino career fair in New England. Each year, he hosts the Hispanic Heritage Breakfast, which gathers leaders from public and private sectors to honor the contributions of Latinos. He has also been an influential host and producer of a Spanish radio show and local public affairs television programs. In recognition of his lifelong commitment to the Latino community, Boston College confers on Alberto Vasallo III the degree of Doctor of Social Science, honoris causa.
University Communications | May 21, 2018