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Villanova University Announces Admiral William J. Fallon as Commencement Speaker

Admiral Fallon (United States Navy, retired), who served as Vice Chief of the U.S. Navy during Sept. 11 and head of U.S. Central Command during the Iraq War, will receive an honorary degree

Also receiving an honorary degree is Sister Teresita Hinnegan, founder of the Maternity Care Coalition of Philadelphia and a renowned advocate for health care and maternal/child health issues

For Immediate Release
April 24, 2009

VILLANOVA, Pa., April 24, 2009 – Villanova University President, the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., announced that Admiral William J. Fallon, United States Navy (retired), will address the class of 2009 as the commencement speaker. Admiral Fallon, Villanova University ’67, will receive the degree of Doctor of Military Science, honoris causa, in a commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. on May 17 in Villanova Stadium. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in the Pavilion.

In addition, the degree of Doctor of Medical Science, honoris causa, will be given to Sister Teresita Hinnegan, RN, CNM, MSW, a well-known and respected advocate for maternal/child health who founded the Maternity Care Coalition in Philadelphia to address high infant mortality rate and lack of accessible services for pregnant women.

Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipient

Admiral William J. Fallon, a 1967 graduate of Villanova University and its Navy ROTC program, retired from the United States Navy in 2008 after a distinguished 40-year career of military and strategic leadership. He has led U.S. and Allied forces in eight separate commands and has played a leadership role in military and diplomatic matters at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

As head of U.S. Central Command from March 2007-March 2008, Fallon directed all U.S. military operations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa, focusing on combat efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also led the U.S. Pacific Command for two years, directing political-military activities in the Asia-Pacific region. His achievements include a resumption of military engagement with China, new outreach to India, a new agreement on a strategic framework with Japan and humanitarian assistance to the victims of the 2004 Tsunami in Southeast Asia.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Fallon was serving in the Pentagon as Vice Chief of the Navy. He personally directed the recovery of the Navy staff in the wake of the attack and led the missions against Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan. He later commanded the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and U.S. Fleet Forces Command, with responsibility for the readiness of U.S. Naval forces worldwide.

Fallon is currently a Robert E. Wilhelm Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for International Studies and owns a private consulting business. He is also a member of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States and serves as co-chair of both the Center for Strategic and International Studies Commission on Smart Global Health Policy and the National Association of Corporate Directors 2009 Blue Ribbon Commission.

Honorary Degree Recipient

Throughout her life, Sister Teresita Hinnegan, RN, CNM, MSW, has fought for better health care for economically disadvantaged women and has become a well-known and respected advocate for maternal/child health issues. Since the age of 21, she has been a member of the Medical Mission Sisters, an international community of Roman Catholic Sisters whose work includes health care, education, the development of women and gaining justice for those denied human rights.

Sister Teresita helped co-found the Maternity Care Coalition (MCC) in Philadelphia to address the high infant mortality rate and lack of accessible services for pregnant women. Since its founding, MCC has nurtured more than 50,000 families and has become a leader in successfully changing the systems that deliver health care to the region’s underserved pregnant women and infants.

Since retiring in 2002, Sister Teresita has focused her efforts on the prevention of violence and exploitation of women and girls. In 2007, she developed the Center for the Empowerment of Women and Girls in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia, a center seeking to raise awareness of the issues of violence and exploitation of women at the individual and societal level.

Villanova University, a co-educational Roman Catholic institution, was founded by the Order of Saint Augustine in 1842. A premier institution of higher education, Villanova provides a comprehensive education rooted in the liberal arts; a shared commitment to the Augustinian ideals of truth, unity and love; and a community dedicated to service to others. A wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered through the University’s four colleges: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering and the College of Nursing, as well as the Villanova School of Law. With a total enrollment that surpasses 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students, Villanova is the oldest and largest Catholic university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

*For photos or full biographies of Admiral Fallon and Sister Teresita, please contact the Villanova University Media Relations Department.