Speaker and Honorary Degree Information

The 2014 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree recipients will be announced in April. Below is information on recent honorees:

Honorary Degree Recipient and Commencement Speaker

Sen. Toomey

Honorable Patrick J. Toomey
Doctor of Letters

Sen. Pat Toomey was elected to the US Senate from Pennsylvania on a platform of limited government, economic and job growth, and restoring fiscal responsibility.

Since joining the Senate in 2011, he has distinguished himself as a leader on economic, financial services and budget issues. He is known as a champion of fiscal responsibility and, in his first year in the Senate, was appointed to the bipartisan Super Committee tasked with forming a deficit reduction plan.

He authored a series of bills that became the foundation for the Jumpstart Our Business Startups, or JOBS, Act. The JOBS Act cuts regulatory burdens on small and medium-sized businesses, making it easier for them to raise much-needed capital and create thousands of jobs. It passed the House and Senate in a bipartisan fashion, was signed by President Barack Obama and is now the law of the land.

The senator serves on the Finance; Banking; Budget; and Joint Economic committees; and he is the chairman of the Senate Steering Committee—the coalition of Republican senators that advocates for innovative, conservative policies. He also is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection, as well as of the Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions and Family Policy. Additionally, he serves on the following subcommittees: Securities, Insurance and Investment; Housing, Transportation and Community Development; Health Care; Taxation and IRS Oversight.

Sen. Toomey previously served in Congress as a member of the House of Representatives from Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District, where he championed economic growth and fiscal discipline. In fulfillment of his three-term pledge, he retired from the House in 2004.

In addition to his public service, the senator has served as president of the Club for Growth, owned and operated a small restaurant chain in the Lehigh Valley, and worked in the financial services industry.

A graduate of Harvard University, he lives in Zionsville with his wife, Kris, and their three children.

Honorary Degree Recipients

John Carr

John L. Carr
Doctor of Social Science

John L. Carr is the director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. This new initiative seeks to educate, encourage and support Catholic lay leaders in carrying out their vocations to be “salt, light and leaven” in public life. This effort is unprecedented in its focused efforts to equip and assist Catholic lay men and women in bringing the fullness of Catholic social teaching into public life in more affirmative, consistent and effective ways.

Carr also is the Washington correspondent for America, a national Catholic weekly magazine. In fall 2012, he served as a resident fellow on religion and politics at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University.

Prior to these roles, he served for more than two decades as director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). In that role, Carr assisted the bishops in sharing, applying and advocating Catholic social teaching on a broad range of national and international issues. He helped build the Catholic community’s capacity to defend human life and dignity, and pursue justice and peace. Carr worked with the bishops on the development of several statements, including Communities of Salt and Light, Everyday Christianity and Faithful Citizenship, and he represented the USCCB at the Vatican and in the Middle East, Central America, southern Africa, Southeast Asia and Russia. He was the original convener of the Circle of Protection, an ecumenical coalition defending the poor and vulnerable in debates over US budget priorities.

Before his time at the USCCB, Carr served as secretary of Social Concerns for the Archdiocese of Washington, as education director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and as legislative coordinator for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Outside the Catholic Church, Carr served as executive director of the White House Conference on Families under President Jimmy Carter and as director of the National Committee for Full Employment, a civil rights, labor and religious coalition led by Coretta Scott King. 

He currently serves as vice chairman of Bread for the World and on the board of the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minnesota. He has received numerous honors from universities and national organizations, including the Vision Award from Catholic Charities USA and recognition as a Hunger Hero by Bread for the World.

Carr is a graduate of Saint John Vianney College Seminary and the University of St. Thomas. He and his wife, Linda, have four children and two grandchildren.

Ron Delany

Ronald M. Delany '58 VSB
Doctor of Humane Letters

Ronald “Ron” Delany ’58 VSB rose to international fame in 1956, when, as a 21-year-old Villanova student from Dublin, he won the gold medal in the men’s 1,500-meter final at the Summer Olympics in Melbourne. By the time he retired from competition in 1962 at the age of 26, the middle-distance runner was one of Villanova’s and Ireland’s most accomplished athletes.

Delany had come to Villanova on an athletic scholarship and trained under legendary men’s track and field coach James “Jumbo” Elliott. Even before he competed in Melbourne, Delany had made his mark in June 1956 by becoming the seventh man to run a sub-4-minute mile, after Roger Bannister had set the precedent two years earlier.

Delany won numerous NCAA and IC4A titles. Known for his kick in the final lap of a race, Delany dominated the indoor track. From 1956 to 1959, he won 40 consecutive indoor competitions in the United States, including 33 mile races. He was the mile world record holder from 1958 to 1962.

Delany also excelled in the international arena. He earned bronze in the 1,500 at the European Athletics Championships in Stockholm in 1958 and gold in the 800-meter at the World University Games in Bulgaria in 1961.

In recognition of his lifetime achievements, the University College Dublin conferred on Delany an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 2006. That same year, Delany received the Freedom of the City of Dublin, an honor that has been bestowed on such recipients as John F. Kennedy, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Bono. The Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland presented him with an honorary fellowship in 2009.

Delany has served as president of the Ireland Chapter of the Villanova University Alumni Association (VUAA) since the chapter’s founding in 1999. Under his leadership, the chapter has supported Villanova’s Irish Studies and track and field programs. The VUAA presented Delany with its highest honor, the St. Thomas of Villanova Alumni Medal, in 2003.

Following his retirement from athletics, Delany, who had earned a degree in Economics at Villanova, built a successful business career with Aer Lingus and the British & Irish Steam Packet Co. (B & I Line). He now manages his own marketing and public relations consultancy in Dublin.

In addition, Delany has served in numerous positions, including chairman of the Irish Sports Council, and is a member of several halls of fame.

Ron Delany and his wife, Joan, live in Carrickmines, County Dublin. They have four children and 15 grandchildren. Delany published his autobiography, Staying the Distance, in 2006.

The Scott Family

Elizabeth F. and Jay Scott
Doctor of Humanities

Elizabeth F. and Jay Scott are the co-executive directors of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation—but they were parents first. When their daughter Alexandra “Alex” Scott decided to hold a lemonade stand to raise money to help doctors find new treatments and, ultimately, cures for all childhood cancers, including her own, they supported Alex’s mission every step of the way. Along with helping Alex host her yearly lemonade stands, they made appearances, helped plan fundraising events and, perhaps most importantly, continued Alex’s legacy of hope after cancer took her life in 2004. What started as the vision of one little girl has been embraced by a nation of volunteers. To date, under the leadership of the Scotts, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation has raised more than $60 million and funded more than 275 research projects on the way to completing Alex’s mission—helping to find a cure for all kids with cancer.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand has been featured in People, Sports Illustrated, Good Housekeeping and many other local and national magazines. Stories about Alex and her lemonade stands, as well as other children holding stands, have run in newspapers worldwide, including The Philadelphia Inquirer, USA Today, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

Beyond their work with the Foundation, the Scotts are committed to supporting efforts that examine pediatric cancer treatments and inroads to cures. They speak frequently to groups on topics related to Alex and her inspiration, and participate on panels at national conferences. The Scotts have accepted awards recognizing Alex and the work of the Foundation from organizations such as the Association for Fundraising Professionals, Kellogg’s, The Philadelphia Foundation, the Philadelphia 76ers, Please Touch Museum and Volvo.

The Scotts are the authors of the illustrated children’s book entitled Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand. They live outside of Philadelphia with their three sons, Patrick, Eddie and Joey.

Future Commencement Weekend Dates

Year 2015: May 15—16
Year 2016: May 13—14
Year 2017: May 19—20

2013 Commencement Memories

2013 Commencement Memories