2016 Speaker and Honorary Degree Information

Honorary Degree Recipient and Commencement Speaker

George Raveling


George Raveling, ‘60 is the current Director of International Basketball for Nike and a former men’s college basketball coach.

Raveling was born in in Washington, DC and was a basketball standout in high school. He went on to receive an athletic scholarship to attend Villanova University, where he led the Wildcats in rebounding from 1958-60. He graduated from Villanova with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and then began a career as a marketing analyst for Sun Oil Company.

A few years later, Raveling returned to Villanova as an assistant coach and became known as a proficient recruiter. George’s talents were noticed by University of Maryland coach, Lefty Driesell, who made George his first hire. In 1972, Raveling became the head of Washington State, where his teams made it to the NCAA twice and six of his players made NBA rosters with many others playing professional overseas.

In 1983, George became the head coach of the University of Iowa and had back-to-back 20 win seasons and a pair of NCAA Tournament berths during his tenure. After his stint at the University of Iowa, Raveling took the head coaching job at the University of Southern California, where he took the Trojans to two NCAA appearances and, in 1992, was named Kodak National Coach of the Year, Basketball Weekly Coach of the Year Black Coaches Association Coach of the Year. In 1994, he was named the CBS/Chevrolet National Coach of the Year. As he’d done in his previous institutions, George used his platform as head coach to influence more than just his players and implemented “Reading with Raveling,” a program designed to improve inner city kids’ reading skills.

After his tenure at USC, Raveling had brief stints as a color commentator for FOX Sports and CBS. Then, Raveling took on the job of Director of Grass Roots Basketball for Nike. In 2000, he was promoted to Director of Global Basketball, and at the age of 70 when most people are deeply immersed in retirement, George was named the Director of International Basketball for Nike.

Raveling was the first African-American coach in the ACC and PAC-8 (now the PAC-12), and served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic teams in 1984 and 1988. He is not only known for making history by breaking down racial barriers as a coach, but also was a part of history when in 1963 he received the original copy of the Martin Luther King Jr.’s, “I Have a Dream” speech. 

Raveling has been inducted into numerous hall of fames, including the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015, and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013 when he was honored with the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also been inducted into the hall of fames at Washington State, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Villanova University and the Black Coaches Association. Raveling has published two books, War on the Boards and A Rebounder’s Workshop and is a renowned speaker and a former member of the National Speakers Association

Honorary Degree Recipients

Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, CSJ


Sister Tesa Fitzgerald is a Sister of St. Joseph, an educator and humanitarian. In 1985, after becoming a foster parent to eight children of incarcerated mothers, Sister Tesa turned St. Rita’s Convent in Long Island City into a home for children with mothers in prison, with the goal of maintaining the bond between families during incarceration. 10 years later, Sister Tesa founded Hour Children, a non-profit organization based in Queens, NY, that helps incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children successfully rejoin the community, reunite with their families and build healthy, independent lives.

Sister Tesa and Hour Children’s goal is to end the cycle of intergenerational incarceration by providing compassionate and comprehensive support services in prison and in the community. These services include prison visitation, supportive housing, job training and placement, mentoring, mental health support and child care. An empty convent became Hour Children’s first house, where mothers came to reunite with their kids. Today, the Hour Children oversees three apartment buildings, three thrift stores, a day care center, an after-school program, a job training program, a group home, a food pantry, a mentoring program and four communal homes.

The effectiveness of Sister Tesa and Hour Children’s loving and compassionate approach is reflected in their recidivism rate of three percent, which is far lower than the New York State rate of 39 percent. Only one child, of the hundreds of families with whom Hour Children has worked, has followed their mother into prison. The rest are living productive lives with in their communities.

Sr. Tesa is devoted to the people she serves, and her staff, many of whom have been incarcerated, championing a model of evolutionary and sustainable change. Believing, wholeheartedly, in a person’s potential to change and acknowledging every child’s right to a stable and secure family, Sister Tesa lives among and stands beside the families that she serves, helping them to achieve their potential.

Prior to finding Hour Children, Sister Tesa was responsible for New York State curriculum oversight for Catholic elementary schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn, and was both a school Principal and teacher at various Catholic elementary schools. She also worked for the Providence House, visiting prisons and interviewing women who were in need of housing upon their release.

Sister Tesa has a Bachelor's degree in Education from Brentwood College and a Master’s in Education from Queens College. She has been named a CNN Hero (2012), a White House Champion of Change (2013), the 2014 winner of the Opus Prize, and in 2015 was awarded the Cross Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice.

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson


Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson is the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Archbishop emeritus of Cape Coast, Ghana.

Cardinal Turkson was born in 1948 in Ghana, and attended St. Teresa's Seminary and St. Peter's Regional Seminary before being ordained to the priesthood in 1975. He continued his studies in Rome at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, earning a license in Sacred Scripture, and then began work on his doctoral thesis. He holds master’s degrees in Theology and Divinity from St. Anthony-on-Hudson, Conv. Franciscan Seminary in New York. Turkson also speaks six languages—Fante, English, French, Italian, German and Hebrew.

Cardinal Turkson has held various roles since his ordination, including acting chaplain and lecturer at the University of Cape Coast, visiting lecturer at the Catholic Major Seminary and Chancellor of the Catholic University College of Ghana since 2003. In October 1992, Cardinal Turkson was appointed Archbishop of Cape Coast and received episcopal ordination in March 1993. Ten years later, Pope John Paul II named him to the Sacred Council of Cardinals. In September 2013, he was confirmed by Pope Francis as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Turkson also served as president of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference from 1997 to 2004, and was a member of Governing Council of the University of Ghana, Legon and of the Board of Directors of Central Region Development Commission. He was the treasurer of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar from 2007 to 2009 and currently serves as Vice President of the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Anglophone West Africa, after serving as its President from 2007 to 2010. He was also Chairman of the Ghana Chapter of the Conference of Religions for Peace and Ghana National Peace Council.

Cardinal Turkson is known for his faithful service to the Catholic Church, for his extraordinary commitment to and work for interfaith dialogue, and for his consistent prophetic voice for the poor and the preservation of all creation. A champion of environmentalism and sustainability, Cardinal Turkson provided the draft of Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home, to Pope Francis prior to the eagerly anticipated declaration of the Pontiff’s encyclical on the environment and human ecology in May 2015.

During his time as an Archbishop and Cardinal, Cardinal Turkson has received numerous honors and awards including honorary degrees from the University of Ghana in Legon, the University of Education in Winneba, Holy Cross College at Notre Dame and Duquesne University. He is also the recipient of the Order of the Star, a national honor of the Republic of Ghana.

University Commencement Ceremony Video

Visit this link to view an archived webcast of the 2016 University Commencement Ceremony. Having trouble playing the video stream? Please confirm that your computer/mobile device meets the viewing requirements.


In addition, the video of the University Commencement Ceremony and each College Convocation will be available for viewing on the University's YouTube channel and available for download via ITunesU.


Future Commencement Weekend Dates

Year 2017: May 19-20
Year 2018: May 18-19