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Timothy P. Shriver, PhD, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics, to Deliver Villanova University's 2012 Commencement Address

Shriver, U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin, MD, MBA, and Costco Executive James D. Sinegal will be awarded honorary degrees at May 20 commencement ceremony

Timothy P. Shriver, PhD

VILLANOVA, Pa. – The Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, President of Villanova University, has announced that Timothy P. Shriver, PhD, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics, will serve as the University’s 2012 commencement speaker. Shriver will deliver the commencement address at this year’s ceremony, to be held on Sunday, May 20, at 10 a.m., in Villanova Stadium. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in The Pavilion.

Shriver also will receive the degree of Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa. Annually, Villanova students organize and host the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Fall Festival, the largest student-run Special Olympics competition in the world. A hallmark event at the University now for 23 years, the Fall Festival brings together more than 1,300 coaches and athletes and 2,500 volunteers from the Villanova student body and surrounding community.

Honorary degrees will also be awarded to U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin, MD, MBA, and James D. Sinegal, Director and Co-Founder of Costco Wholesale Corp. Dr. Benjamin will receive the degree of Doctor of Medical Science, honoris causa, while Sinegal will receive the degree of Doctor of Commercial Science, honoris causa.


Timothy P. Shriver, PhD, is a social leader, educator, activist, film producer, and business entrepreneur. In his role as Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics, Shriver serves nearly 4 million Special Olympics athletes and their families in 180 countries. The international organization was founded in 1968.

In his 15 years at the helm of Special Olympics, Shriver has helped transform Special Olympics into a movement that focuses on acceptance, inclusion and respect for individuals with intellectual disabilities in all corners of the globe. Shriver led the organization’s growth agenda, resulting in the recruitment of more than 2 million new athletes worldwide. He has worked with the leaders of China to initiate a thriving program, highlighted by the country’s hosting of the 2007 Special Olympics World Games in Shanghai. He has also worked with world leaders to advance the growth of the Special Olympics mission and vision, while challenging nations to adopt more supportive and just policies.

Shriver has also created new Special Olympics programs in athlete leadership, cross-cultural research, health, education and family support. Among them, Special Olympics Healthy Athletes has become the world’s largest public health screening and education program for people with intellectual disabilities.

Harnessing the power of Hollywood to share the stories of inspiration and change, Shriver co-produced DreamWorks Studios’ 1997 release, “Amistad,” and Disney Studios’ 2000 release, “The Loretta Claiborne Story.” He is Executive Producer of “The Ringer,” a Farrelly Brothers’ film, and “Front of the Class,” a Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie.

Shriver also co-founded and currently chairs the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, the leading research organization in the field of social and emotional learning.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Yale University, a master's degree in Religion and Religious Education from The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Connecticut. He is the recipient of six honorary degrees as well as numerous awards.


Regina M. Benjamin, MD, MBA, is the 18th Surgeon General of the United States. As America’s Doctor, she provides the public with the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and the health of the nation. Dr. Benjamin also oversees the operational command of 6,500 uniformed public health officers who serve in locations around the world to promote and protect the health of the American People.

Dr. Benjamin is former associate dean for Rural Health at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile and past chair of the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States. In 1995, she was the first physician under age 40 and the first African-American woman to be elected to the American Medical Association Board of Trustees. She served as president of the American Medical Association (AMA) Education and Research Foundation and chair of the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs. In 2002, she became the first African-American female president of a state medical society in the U.S. when she assumed leadership of the Medical Association State of Alabama.

In 1998, Dr. Benjamin was the U.S. recipient of the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights. She received the 2000 National Caring Award, which was inspired by Mother Teresa, and was recognized with the Papal honor Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice from Pope Benedict XVI. In March, Dr. Benjamin became the recipient of the 2011 Chairman’s Award during the worldwide broadcast of the 42nd NAACP Image Awards.

Dr. Benjamin has a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Xavier University, New Orleans, an M.D. degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and an MBA from Tulane University. She attended Morehouse School of Medicine and completed her family medicine residency in Macon, Ga. Dr. Benjamin is the recipient of 15 honorary degrees.


James D. Sinegal is Director and Co-Founder of Costco Wholesale Corp. He co-founded the company with business partner Jeff Brotman in 1983 and has served as a director since its inception. Sinegal held various leadership roles throughout his career, including as President of Costco until February 2010. Most recently, he served as Costco’s Chief Executive Officer until his retirement on January 1, 2012.

Costco is a recognized leader in the field, dedicated to quality and respected for its business ethics. A multi-billion dollar global retailer, Costco Wholesale currently operates 601 warehouse clubs in eight countries.

Prior to co-founding Costco, Sinegal spent almost 30 years in the retail business beginning at 18 years old while a college student. He worked for 25 years for a discount merchandising company, Fed Mart Corporation, and its successor company, The Price Club, serving as Executive Vice President of those companies.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.