SJU Releases Commencement Information, Announces Speakers

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Note: Students and others attending commencement can find information about the ceremony at

PHILADELPHIA (March 28, 2013) — Saint Joseph’s University will grant honorary degrees to Elisabeth A. Hagen, M.D. ’91 (B.S.), under secretary for food safety for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and John W. O’Malley, S.J., university professor in the Department of Theology, Georgetown University, at the 2013 Commencement ceremonies, which are set for Saturday, May 11. The graduate, doctoral and College of Professional and Liberal Studies ceremony begins at 9 a.m., the undergraduate at 3 p.m. Both ceremonies will be held on the Maguire Campus.

In addition, Ambroise Dorino Gabriel, S.J., director of Foi et Joie: Haiti, and Rafael García Mora, S.J., the national director of Fe y Alegria: Bolivia, will both receive honorary degrees at the undergraduate ceremony.

“I look forward to welcoming these four extraordinary public servants and educators to Saint Joseph’s University,” says President C. Kevin Gillespie, S.J. ’72. “It is especially inspiring to our students, faculty and alumni that each honoree has chosen to dedicate their lives to the greater good of humanity.”


Elisabeth A. Hagen, M.D. ’91, who will speak at the undergraduate ceremony and receive the Doctor of Public Service, is a model scientist, physician and public servant, whose primary concern is protecting public health through food safety. Prior to her appointment in 2010 as under secretary, Hagen served as the USDA’s chief medical officer, advising the FSIS and other USDA mission areas on a range of human health issues, such as food safety, nutrition and zoonotic diseases. As under secretary, she oversees the policies and programs of the Food Safety and Inspection Service, the USDA’s public health regulatory agency that ensures that the nation’s commercial meat, poultry and egg products are safe, wholesome and correctly labeled and packaged.

In addition to several hospital and university appointments, Hagen’s background includes publishing research in infectious diseases and providing medical care to underserved populations. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Saint Joseph’s and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and is certified in infectious diseases.


John W. O’Malley, S.J., who will speak at the graduate, doctoral and College of Professional and Liberal Studies ceremony and receive the Doctor of Humane Letters, is an award-winning author and consummate historian and theologian. Fr. O’Malley’s academic specialty is the religious culture of early modern Europe, especially Italy. He has lectured widely in North America and Europe to both professional and general audiences, and has received best-book prizes from the American Historical Association, the American Philosophical Society, the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference and the Alpha Sigma Nu fraternity. His best-known books are The First Jesuits (Harvard University Press, 1993), which has been translated into ten languages, and What Happened at Vatican II (Harvard, 2008). He has edited or co-edited a number of volumes, including three in the Collected Works of Erasmus series (University of Toronto Press, 1999). Of special significance is The Jesuits and the Arts, which was published by Saint Joseph’s University Press in 2005.

Ambroise Dorino Gabriel, S.J., the director of Foi et Joie: Haiti, will receive an honorary Doctor of Education at the undergraduate ceremony. Foi et Joie, meaning “Faith and Joy” (in French), is an international educational system dedicated to building schools and developing educational infrastructure. Fr. Gabriel is working to create a new education system in Haiti, which requires him to build schools, seek out and hire teachers, develop curricula and finance all aspects of the schools. Since the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the organization started 17 grammar schools throughout the country.  Inspired by these efforts, a group of Saint Joseph’s faculty, administrators and staff, as well as a group from Archmere Academy in Claymont, Del., chose to help Foi et Joie: Haiti by forming SJU Project Haiti and entering into a partnership, committing intellectual and fundraising resources to improve pedagogy in the schools.

Fr. Gabriel is a quadra-lingual Jesuit who has received a Master’s in Theology, a Licentiate in Philosophy, and has pursued doctoral studies in anthropology at Laval University in Québec, Canada. He is the author of an important work on Voodoo and religion, entitled La Cérémonie du Bois-Caïman et le sens du vodou dans les luttes identitaire, religieuse et politique du people haïtien (Port-au-Prince: Imprimerie Henri Deschamps, 2011).

Rafael García Mora, S.J., the national director of Fe y Alegria: Bolivia, will also receive an honorary Doctor of Education at the undergraduate ceremony. Fey y Alegria, which also means “Faith and Joy” (in Spanish), is an international education program founded in Jesuit philosophy to serve the poor and marginalized. In Bolivia, Fr. García Mora has provided leadership for a national, regional and local staff who work in some 400 schools, transforming the lives of more than 160,000 students. Fr. García Mora leads his staff with ingenuity and devotion to academic excellence. Celebrating 10 years of collaboration, the SJU and Fe y Alegria: Bolivia partnership is best known for its faculty and staff immersion experience, but it also includes joint research projects and training opportunities, among other initiatives. Fr. García Mora is a biologist who earned a doctorate from the University of Barcelona. He also holds degrees in ecology and the environment from the University of Nottingham, England. 

Media Contact

Harriet K. Goodheart, Assistant Vice President for University Communications, 610-660-1532,


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 8,500 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 60,000 strong - provide a powerful network that spans the globe.

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