News & Events

Four honorary degrees awarded during Commencement

Four honorary degrees awarded to religious, educational, philanthropy and business leaders

Published: May 20, 2013.

Lewis University awarded four honorary degrees at the Spring Commencement Ceremonies in May, recognizing the achievements of Jay D. Bergman, president of a nationwide energy company and member of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE); Dr. Michael Vinciguerra, retiring this month after 11 years as the highly respected President of the University of St. Francis; Rosemary Croghan, a registered nurse who has become a very effective advocate and leading philanthropist in supporting Catholic education for the less fortunate; and Reverend J. Bryan Hehir, Secretary for Health and Social Services for the Archdiocese of Boston and the Parker Gilbert Montgomery Professor of the Practice of Religion and Public Life at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Mr. Bergman and Dr. Vinciguerra were honored at the Commencement Ceremony for Graduate Students on Saturday, May 18. During the Sunday, May 19 Ceremony for Undergraduates, honorary degrees were presented to Mrs. Croghan and Father Hehir.

Lewis University hosted its largest class ever at the May Commencement ceremonies with 970 students graduating over the weekend. The Graduate Degree Ceremony was followed by the President’s Reception for Graduates and Guests, hosted by Brother James Gaffney, FSC, President. The Sunday schedule began with the Baccalaureate Mass celebrated by Most Rev. Raymond E. Goedert, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus, Archdiocese of Chicago, Father Hehir, one of the honorary degree recipients, con-celebrated the Mass along with Reverend Dan Torson, C.P.P.S., University Chaplain and Professor of Theology, and Reverend Kevin Spiess, Professor of Business Administration at Lewis University.

Dr. Suzanne O’Brien, Professor and Chair of Elementary Education, gave the faculty address Saturday during the Graduate Commencement Ceremony. Cassandra K. Myers of Huntley, Ill., presented the Student Lasallian Address as the representative of the undergraduates who received degrees on Sunday. Bryan Bolton of Downers Grove, Ill., and Melissa Farmer of Flossmoor, Ill., received the Father Aquinas Colgan Award at the Undergraduate Degree Ceremony for exemplary personal, intellectual and social develop in the spirit of the Mission of Lewis University.

A dynamic business leader, Jay D. Bergman, President and CEO of Petco Petroleum Corporation, is also Chairman of the Board of American Heartland Bank and Trust Company located in Sugar Grove, Ill. He is also recognized for his very dedicated commitment to higher education. Along with his service on the IBHE, he is a Trustee for Illinois State University, making him the only person who currently holds a seat as a Trustee of one of the State’s public universities while also serving as a member of the IBHE. He also generously shares his time and talents as a Board member for the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago, and the Will County Community Foundation.

Dr. Michael Vinciguerra is noted for his remarkable accomplishments at the University of St. Francis, particularly in developing a plan to enhance USF’s vital presence in its neighborhood, and strengthen the university’s Catholic and Franciscan identity and heritage. He successfully led efforts to establish a Rialto Square campus in Joliet and to expand and significantly renovate USF’s campus. During his tenure, USF adopted a 15-year, $70 million campus master plan that has resulted in acquiring all campus properties from its founding Congregation of Franciscan Sisters and providing for major enhancements throughout the campus. Dr. Vinciguerra also has forged partnerships within educational, corporate and civic communities that have advanced Catholic higher education.

Rosemary Croghan is a member of the founding board of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, established in 1996 as a way to help low-income students get an affordable private college preparatory education. Now a member of the Board of Directors of the national Cristo Rey Network, she also is actively involved with the Big Shoulders program in the Archdiocese of Chicago where she is a Gallagher Scholar Mentor, counseling promising students who attend Big Shoulders schools. She and her husband, John Croghan received the prestigious Elizabeth Ann Seton Award in 2006 from the National Catholic Education Association for their exceptional generosity to the inner city schools of the Archdiocesan Big Shoulders Fund program. The couple has established the Cardinal’s Award, given annually for teacher achievement in a Big Shoulders Fund-supported school. A Chicagoan, Rosemary has contributed throughout her life to education through personal service, creative vision and highly generous support. She also is active as a Trustee for Loyola University and Loyola Academy.

Reverend J. Bryan Hehir is nationally known for his work in public service and social services. His extensive writings and scholarly research focus on ethics and foreign policy, as well as the role of religion in American society and world politics. Earlier in his career, he provided leadership as President of Catholic Charities USA, which at that time served as the national agency for local Catholic social services and spent approximately $2.8 billion annually to help the needy. Along with his current positions with the Archdiocese of Boston and his faculty, he currently is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Philosophical Society, Council of Foreign Relations, the Arms Control Association, the Global Development Committee, and the Independent Sector. A priest who is a highly regarded academic and religious leader, Father Hehir is noted for providing ethical insight on sensitive political issues throughout his career.

Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition, offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to a nearly 6,600 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report. Visit www.lewisu.edu for further information.

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