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Secretary of State Kerry to Deliver Commencement Address

Cousy, Finck, Izquierdo-Hernandez, Morrissey also to be given honors

John Kerry JD '76

By Office of News & Public Affairs |

Published: Apr. 24, 2014

US Secretary of State John F. Kerry, a Boston College Law School graduate and former senior US senator from Massachusetts regarded as one of America’s most eminent senior statesmen, will address the graduates at the University’s 138th annual Commencement Exercises on May 19.

University President William P. Leahy, SJ, will present Kerry with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the ceremony, which will be held at 10 a.m. in Alumni Stadium, rain or shine. Commencement information is available at

BC will also present honorary degrees to: Boston Celtics legend and basketball Hall-of-Famer Bob Cousy; Ann Riley Finck ’66, an award-winning leader in the nursing profession; Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez ’76, president and CEO of Urban Health Plan Inc.; and University Trustee Robert Morrissey ’60, founder and senior partner of Boston law firm Morrissey, Hawkins & Lynch.

Following the main Commencement event, some 4,000 Boston College students will receive their undergraduate and graduate degrees at separate ceremonies held around campus.

Following his nomination in December of 2012 by President Barack Obama, John F. Kerry JD’76 became the first sitting Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman in more than a century to serve as America’s top diplomat. Since then, he has traveled to many of the world’s geopolitical flashpoints, including the Middle East, Ukraine and Afghanistan, and led diplomatic efforts on issues such as the removal of chemical weapons from Syria, the Middle East peace process, and the South Sudan conflict. Kerry also has traveled twice to the Vatican to meet with the Holy See on a range of issues.

Prior to his appointment, Kerry represented Massachusetts for 28 years in the Senate, the last four as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he took a leadership role on key foreign policy and national security issues, among them Afghanistan and Pakistan, nuclear nonproliferation, and global climate change. Kerry chaired the Asia and Middle East subcommittees, where he authored and passed major legislation on international drug trafficking and money laundering, humanitarian aid, and climate change. He also worked with Sen. John McCain to investigate the fate of American POWs in Vietnam, and helped negotiate the UN’s genocide tribunal to prosecute war crimes in Cambodia.

He held senior positions on the Finance, Commerce, and Small Business committees, and was a member of the bipartisan Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, where he worked across party lines to try and reduce the country’s debt and strengthen its economy.  
Shortly before he graduated from Yale University in 1966, Kerry enlisted to serve in the US Navy, and went on to serve two tours of duty. He served in combat as a Swift Boat skipper patrolling the rivers of the Mekong Delta, returning home from Vietnam with a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with Combat V, and three Purple Hearts. Back in the United States, Kerry began to speak out forcefully against the Vietnam War. He also began a lifelong fight for veterans as a co-founder of the Vietnam Veterans of America, and later as a senator who fought to secure veterans’ benefits, extend the GI Bill for Higher Education, and improve treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

He is the author of the best-selling books A Call to Service: My Vision for a Better America and The Moment on Earth, the latter co-written with his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry.


Robert J. “Bob” Cousy is known to countless basketball fans as “The Cooz,” and to many headline writers as “The Houdini of the Hardwood” – an innovator whose passing, playmaking and daring transformed basketball from its set-play origins to the modern pro game recognized today.

The New York City native played college basketball at the College of the Holy Cross before the Boston Celtics drafted him in 1950. He helped lead the Celtics to six NBA championships, was a league MVP, 12-time All-Star and was elected to the NBA Hall of Fame. Off the court, he was a leading force behind the creation of the NBA Players Association.

Following his retirement from the Celtics in 1963, Cousy came to the Heights to coach the BC men’s team, where he compiled a record of 117-38 in six seasons. His Eagles teams appeared in two NCAA tournaments and one NIT.

He went on to be an NBA coach, a broadcaster, elected president of the Hall of Fame and author of the autobiography The Last Loud Roar and the essential primer Basketball Principles and Techniques.

In recent years, Cousy was accorded a different kind of admiration for his devotion to his wife of 63 years and former high school sweetheart, the late Marie “Missie” Cousy. For a decade during which Missie battled dementia, Cousy quietly assumed the task of primary caregiver to the woman he lovingly referred to as “my bride.”

At Commencement, Cousy will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.


Ann Riley Finck ’66 is a neuro intensive care nurse and nurse practitioner at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, where she has worked for more than 45 years. She provides bedside and post-operative care to critically ill patients and manages overall post-operative care of all the patients on the neurological service.

In addition, she works as a preceptor instructing new nurses in critical care and heads the medical center’s group that is tasked with improving care to patients and the hospital environment for their families. In 2012, she was honored with Columbia University’s Clinical Nursing Excellence Award.

A Connell School of Nursing graduate, Finck served a year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Jamaica before embarking on her career in nursing. Finck also holds a master’s of science in nursing from Columbia University.

A founding member of the Council for Women of Boston College and vice president of the Alumni Association, Finck has been a dedicated Boston College volunteer, supporter and mentor. She has served as chairwoman of the Parents’ Weekend Committee, hosted Freshmen Send-Off events and served on reunion committees. Her ties to University include being a parent of five Boston College graduates. She was recognized for her outstanding service as a Boston College volunteer with the 2001 John J. Griffin Sr. Alumni Association Award. In 2011, she was presented with the Connell School of Nursing’s Dean Rita P. Kelleher Award in recognition of her career accomplishments as a nurse leader, scientist and clinician.

The University will award Finck an honorary Doctor of Nursing Science degree at Commencement.


Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez ’76, president and CEO of Urban Health Plan Inc., is committed to reducing the health disparities in the communities served by her organization. Under her leadership, Urban Health Plan has grown from a single facility to an accredited multi-site, federally qualified health center network located in the South Bronx and Queens, New York.

More than 50,000 patients are served annually by UHP, which in 2009 was named one of the top 20 community health centers in the country by the Bureau of Primary Health Care. UHP has been recognized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for its asthma management program, which has reduced asthma-related hospitalization rates in an area where residents suffer in disproportionate numbers. 

An examplar of outstanding leadership in community-based organizations, Izquierdo-Hernandez was recently elected to a two-year term as president of the board of the Community Health Care Association of New York State, and also serves on multiple professional and community boards and organizations. She was a member of the NYC Commission for Economic Opportunity, an appointed task force led by the Bloomberg administration, which developed innovative anti-poverty approaches for the city.

In addition to her bachelor’s degree in psychology from BC, Izquierdo-Hernandez holds master’s degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University (in speech and language pathology) and from its Mailman School of Public Health (in health policy and management).

Boston College will award her an Honorary Doctor of Social Science degree.


Robert J. “Bob” Morrissey ’60, a founding member and senior partner of the law firm of Morrissey, Hawkins & Lynch in Boston, has provided valuable leadership to Boston College for more than three decades. A graduate cum laude in economics from BC, Morrissey was first named to the University’s Board of Trustees in 1980. After serving as a trustee associate from 1996-97, he joined the board again in 1998. His notable contributions to the board include chairing the Investment and Endowment Committee, and helping to plan BC’s “Ever to Excel” capital campaign.

Raised primarily by his mother following his father’s death, Morrissey graduated from BC and entered law school (a mentor told him, “You can go into business from law, but you can’t go into law from business”), before going onto what he describes as “unexpected” career success.

Morrissey is chairman of the board of trustees at Belmont Savings Bank and a trustee of at least four Gabelli Funds.  He is chair of the Investment Committee of the Finance Council at the Archdiocese of Boston; a member of the International Investment Advisory Committee, Society of Jesus, Vatican City, and chair of the Investment Advisory Board of the New England Province of the Society of Jesus.  Additionally, he is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board at Harvard Law School.

Morrissey – who says the three loves in his life are his family, the church, and Boston College – and his wife, Alyce, are the parents of five BC graduates.

Boston College will confer an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree on Morrissey.