SJU Announces 2018 Commencement Speakers, Honorary Degree Recipients

Don DiJulia ’67, retiring athletics director, to address undergraduate ceremony

Thursday, March 22, 2018

PHILADELPHIA (March 22, 2018) — Saint Joseph’s University has announced its speakers and honorary degree recipients for the Class of 2018's Commencement held on Saturday, May 19, in the Michael J. Hagan '85 Arena.

Dominick J. DiJulia ’67, the longtime vice president of athletics and athletics director at Saint Joseph’s, will address undergraduates at 9 a.m. He will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters along with Sister Helen Cole, SSJ, MSW, LCSW, director and founder of Guadalupe Family Services in Camden, N.J.

Chief Executive Officer and Chair of the Board for Kings Food Markets Inc. Judith A. Spires will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and offer remarks to graduate and doctoral students at the 3 p.m. ceremony.

“All three of these individuals model the personal and professional integrity and success that we wish for our graduates,” says University President Mark C. Reed, Ed.D. “We are fortunate to count them among our alumni and friends.”

DiJulia, who will retire at the end of the academic year, is in his sixth decade on Hawk Hill, having dedicated much of his life to Saint Joseph’s, as a student-athlete, assistant basketball coach, athletics director (1976-81 and 1988-2018) and vice president of athletics. He has overseen much of the athletic program’s development in the last 30 years, including the creation of five varsity programs, the expansion and renovation of Michael J. Hagan ’85 Arena and the enhancement of varsity and recreational sports with the addition of the Maguire Campus.

DiJulia was part of the men’s basketball team’s successful quest for the perfect regular season and run to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2003-04. He was awarded the 2009 Gary Cunningham Lifetime Achievement Award and named Northeast Regional Division I-AAA Athletic Director of the Year in 2005. In his honor, the Atlantic 10 (A10) Conference established the Don DiJulia Athletic Director Internship, awarded annually to an aspiring athletic director. DiJulia was inducted to the SJU Athletics Hall of Fame on March 3 and will be inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame on April 16.

A Philadelphia native, Sr. Cole has served the people of Camden for nearly 30 years. As a newly minted Sister of Saint Joseph in the 1980s, she was assigned to Holy Name School before later forming Guadalupe Family Services, offering clinical counseling and direct social services for families, in 1995. Sr. Cole is a licensed clinical social worker and primarily works as a grief counselor for families of murder victims. She holds an annual vigil to honor homicide victims and their memories. Sr. Cole was recognized this month with the Federal Bureau of Investigation Director’s Community Leadership Award, where Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson described her as “the Mother Teresa of Camden.”

Spires has served as CEO of Kings Food Markets Inc. since 2010, and as president from 2010 to 2015, when she took on the position of board chair. She oversees a portfolio of contemporary and gourmet markets operating along the East Coast. Spires’ 30-year career in the food industry began in 1970 as a cashier at Acme Markets Inc., where she would work her way up to president of the 124-store chain in 2006. She has also served as president of Albertsons’ Dallas Fort Worth and Rocky Mountain divisions. Spires’ dedication to customers and the community has earned her industry recognition, most notably the Outstanding Champion Award from the Network of Executive Women; the Paradigm Award, the Philadelphia region's most prestigious award for business women; and the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Organization's Business Person of the Year. Spires serves as chair of SJU’s Academy of Food Marketing.

Students, families and friends can find the details of Commencement online.

Media Contact

University Communications,, 610-660-1222


Founded in 1851 in the Jesuit tradition of academic excellence, Saint Joseph’s University is a top-ranked Catholic University that provides a rigorous, student-centered education. With a total enrollment of 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students, SJU offers a wide array of academic programs designed so that each graduate enters the world with a competitive resume and global perspective. This is achieved through intense academic study led by thought-leading faculty scholars, a comprehensive campus experience and robust study abroad, service-learning, internship and co-op programs. Upon graduation, nearly 100 percent of students are employed, pursuing advanced degrees or volunteering in prestigious service programs. A member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, SJU offers 20 Division I intercollegiate men’s and women’s sports. SJU alumni — over 68,000 strong — provide a powerful network that spans the globe.

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