VILLANOVA, Pa. – The Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, Villanova University President, announced that Robert F. Moran ’72 VSB, a Villanova alumnus and Chairman of the Board of GNC Holdings, Inc., will address the Class of 2018 as the University’s commencement speaker. Moran will also receive the degree of Doctor of Commercial Science, honoris causa. The University’s 175th commencement will be held Friday, May 18, at 4 p.m., in Villanova Stadium. In the event of severe weather, the ceremony will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 19 in the Stadium.
Honorary degrees will also be awarded to Sister Deirdre M. Byrne, POSC, MD, a doctor, surgeon and medical missionary; The Rev. Dr. Wayne E. Croft, Sr., pastor, writer and scholar; James C. Davis ’81 VSB, a Villanova alumnus and Chairman and Founder of Allegis Group; and Terence O’Toole ’80 VSB, a Villanova alumnus and Co-Chair and Trustee of The O’Toole Family Foundation.
COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER AND HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT:
Robert F. Moran ’72, VSB, currently serves as Chairman of the Board of GNC Holdings Inc. Before assuming the role of Chairman, he was GNC’s Interim Chief Executive Officer and remains actively involved in the company’s operations. Prior to his leadership at GNC, he spent several years as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PetSmart, Inc. Moran joined PetSmart in 1999 as President of North American stores and was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer in 2001. In 2009, he was named President and Chief Executive Officer. Moran retired from his position in 2013.
With more than 40 years of international, financial, operational and merchandising experience in the retail sector, Moran has served as President of Toys R Us, Ltd, Canada; Chief Executive Officer of Sears de Mexico; and Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Galerias Preciados of Madrid, Spain. In 2011 and 2012, he was named to Fortune Magazine’s list of the Top 50 People in Business.
Moran previously served as a member of the Villanova School of Business Dean’s Advisory Council and currently is a member of the Board of Directors of the GNC Holdings Inc., Hanesbrands, Inc., and Fressnapf Holdings SE.
In addition, he sits on the Board of the United States Track & Field Foundation, a non-profit organization that, in addition to supporting Olympic hopefuls in track & field, brings physical fitness programs to schools. Moran also is involved with St. Michael’s Indian School in northern Arizona. The school is one of the missions founded by Saint Katharine Drexel and provides education to Native American children in one of the most impoverished communities in the United States.
Moran is a major contributor to the Phoenix Ballet and Experience Camps for Grieving Children, which offers free, one-week camps for boys and girls who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver. He has always made giving to Villanova University a priority, generously supporting numerous initiatives throughout the University.
Moran received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from the Villanova School of Business in 1972, and holds Honorary Doctorate degrees from the University of Arizona and The Citadel.
HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENTS:
Sister Deirdre M. Byrne, POSC, MD, a member of the Order of the Little Workers of the Sacred Heart, as well as a physician, surgeon and retired U.S. Army officer will receive the degree of Doctor of Medical Science, honoris causa. Currently serving as a full-time medical missionary at the Catholic Charities Medical Clinic in Washington, D.C., Sr. Byrne’s rich and varied career has led her through 29 years of service as a family doctor and general surgeon in the U.S. Army to a call to religious life providing medical care for refugees, the poor and the uninsured.
Sr. Byrne was called to the religious life while pursuing her other passion—medicine. She joined the U.S. Army in 1978 to help pay her tuition at Georgetown University. After graduating from medical school in 1982, Sr. Byrne practiced family medicine until 1990 when she began her second medical career in general surgery. She served as an active duty military officer from 1982 to 1989, and after completing a year of missionary work from 1989 to 1990 she began her surgical residency training. Sr. Byrne continued her service with the military as an Army reservist. It was during her time with the U.S. Army that Sr. Byrne pursued the call to religious life—a call she had felt since her childhood.
She began her formation in 2002 and professed her first vows in 2004. After making her first profession, Sr. Byrne was deployed three times as a U.S. Army reservist in the Army Medical Corp. From 2003 to 2008, she served at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Ft. Carson in Colorado and in Afghanistan. When Sr. Byrne returned from Afghanistan, she professed final vows with the Little Workers in 2011.
Sr. Byrne’s medical background influenced the start of a clinic run by the Little Sisters at their mission house in Washington, D.C. Staffed by volunteers and the five sisters who live at the convent, the mission offers a pro bono physical therapy clinic twice a week and an eye clinic for diabetics once a month. The clinic is an official rotation site for Georgetown University medical students and George Washington University's physical therapy department.
The Rev. Dr. Wayne E. Croft, Sr., a pastor, writer and scholar will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. He serves as the Senior Pastor of the St. Paul’s Baptist Church in West Chester, Pa. Prior to his time at St. Paul’s, he served The Church of the Redeemer Baptist in Philadelphia for 20 years. Dr. Croft is the founder of the Redeemer Renaissance Community Development Corporation, a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He is also the President of the NAACP’s West Chester Branch, and has been inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers of Morehouse College.
A prolific writer, Dr. Croft’s sermons have been published by The African-American Pulpit Journal under the title “The Promise Guaranteed, A Candidate for the Hall of Faith,” and his article, “What Does It Mean to Preach Biblically Today.” He is the author of the book Unexpected Calls to Unexpected Places, and Pretty Poison: Seven Deadly Sins; and a forthcoming book, There’s A Bright Side Somewhere: The Motif of Hope in African American Preaching During Slavery and Post-Civil War. Dr. Croft is also a contributor to the books From One Brother to Another: Voices of African-American Men, Volume 2 and Athens & Oxford Sermons, Volume 10. He has published three articles in the Past Master section of Preaching Magazine: “John Jasper: Preaching with Authority,” “E. K. Bailey: Expositor of the Word,” and “Gardner C. Taylor: Poet Laureate and Dean of Preachers.” He has also written a book that chronicles his journey to serve as pastor of the St. Paul’s Baptist Church.
Dr. Croft has served as Dean of the Pennsylvania Eastern Keystone Baptist Association. He has also served as assistant professor of Homiletics and Liturgics at Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University in Philadelphia and now serves as The Jeremiah A. Wright, Sr. Associate Professor of Homiletics and Liturgics in African American Studies at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.
Dr. Croft earned an associate’s degree from Pinebrook Jr. College and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Trinity College, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now Palmer Theological Seminary), and a Master of Theology degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. He graduated with distinction from Drew University in Madison, N.J., with a Doctor of Ministry degree and a Doctor of Philosophy degree, becoming the first person to earn both a Doctor of Ministry and Doctor of Philosophy degree from Drew University.
Dr. Croft is married to Dr. Lisa L. Croft, a family physician, and they have three children, Darlene, an attorney in Charlotte, N.C.; Wayne Jr., a recent graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga.; and Candace Nicole, a senior at Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga.; and a granddaughter, Patterson.
James “Jim” C. Davis, ’81, VSB, chairman and co-founder of Allegis Group, the largest provider of staffing services in North America, will receive the degree of Doctor of Commercial Science, honoris causa.
Headquartered in Hanover, Md., Allegis Group specializes in staffing services and solutions, human capital management and information technology services through its operating companies: Aerotek, TEKsystems, Allegis Global Solutions, MarketSource, Aston Carter and Major, Lindsey & Africa.
In addition to his role at Allegis Group, Davis is also managing member of Redwood Capital Investments, a private investment company, chairman of Erickson Living, a leading developer and manager of continuing care retirement communities and chairman of Maxim Healthcare Services, a nationwide provider of nursing services.
Davis serves on the board of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, The Children’s Scholarship Fund, Johns Hopkins Medicine and the University of Richmond. He is co-chair of Villanova’s capital campaign, “For the Greater Great: The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change,” is a former member of the University’s Board of Trustees, and served on the Campaign Organizing Group. Davis and his wife, Kim, have always made giving to Villanova a priority, generously supporting numerous initiatives throughout the University.
Davis earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Villanova University in 1981. He and Kim have two grown children.
Terence O’Toole, ’80 VSB, co-chair and trustee of The O’Toole Family Foundation will receive the degree of Doctor of Commercial Science, honoris causa. O’Toole and his wife, Polly, established The O’Toole Family Foundation in 1993. Originally focused on education, the foundation’s initiatives have been expanded to include sustaining quality journalism and supporting various cultural, athletic and other community-enhancing programs.
O’Toole is the founder and managing member at Macanta Investments LLC, a private investment entity. He is also the co-founder and co-managing member at Fremont Macanta LLC. Prior to joining Macanta, O’Toole was a co-Managing member mof Tinicum Capital Partners II LP from 2005 until 2012, when he became the co-managing member of Tinicum LP. Prior to 2005, he was a partner at Goldman Sachs and a member of its Investment Committee; at the end of his 21-year career at Goldman Sachs he was the chief operating officer of the Principal Investment Area.
O’Toole earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics degree in 1980 from Villanova University, where he graduated summa cum laude, and a Master of Business Administration degree in 1983 from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, where he was named the Henry Ford Scholar as the top student in his class. While at Villanova, he was editor-in-chief of The Villanovan, the University’s student newspaper. O’Toole maintains strong ties with his alma mater, serving on the Villanova board of trustees from 2001 to 2012, including a term as board chair. He is co-chair of Villanova’s capital campaign, ”For the Greater Great: The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change.” Terry and Polly O’Toole are ardent supporters of Villanova, generously supporting numerous initiatives throughout the University.
O’Toole has served on more than 25 corporate and philanthropic boards, serving in roles ranging from board chair to chair of finance and investment committees. He currently serves on the boards of Fremont Macanta LLC, Ashby Street Outdoor Holdings LLC, Forum Energy Technologies Inc., Pontos Aqua Holdings, LLC, F+W Media, Inc. and Skyway Towers Holdings II LLC. He also serves on the board of trustees of the Hospital for Special Surgery and on the board of directors of US Squash.
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 six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit www.villanova.edu.