2018 Speaker and Honorary Degree Information

Honorary Degree Recipient and Commencement Speaker

Robert F. Moran


Robert F. “Bob” Moran ’72 VSB is chairman of the board of GNC Holdings Inc. Before assuming this role, he was GNC’s interim chief executive officer, and he remains actively involved in the company’s operations. Prior to his leadership at GNC, he spent several years as the chairman and chief executive officer of PetSmart, Inc. Moran joined PetSmart in 1999 as president of North American stores. He was appointed president and chief operating officer in 2001, and became chief executive officer in 2009. Moran retired as PetSmart’s chairman and chief executive officer 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 as one of Fortune Magazine’s “Top 50 People in Business.”

Moran previously served as a member of the Villanova School of Business Dean’s Advisory Council and, in addition to his service with GNC, is currently a member of the board of directors of Hanesbrands, Inc. and Fressnapf Holdings SE.

In addition, he sits on the board of the USA Track & Field Foundation, a nonprofit organization that, in addition to supporting Olympic hopefuls in track and field, brings physical fitness programs to schools. He is also involved with St. Michael’s Indian School in northern Arizona. The school, one of the missions founded by St. Katharine Drexel, educates Native American children in one of the most impoverished communities in the US.

Moran is a major contributor to the Phoenix Ballet and to 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.

He earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the Villanova School of Business in 1972 and holds honorary doctorates from the University of Arizona and the Citadel.


Honorary Degree Recipients

Sister Deirdre Byrne, POSC, MD


Sister Deirdre “Dede” M. Byrne, POSC, MD, grew up in McLean, Va., and was called to the religious life while pursuing her other passion—medicine. Sister Dede joined the US Army in 1978 to help pay her tuition at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She graduated from medical school in 1982 and 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 in 1990, she began her surgical residency training. Sister Dede continued her service with the military as an Army reservist, ultimately serving for 29 years in the military as a family doctor and then general surgeon.

It was during her time with the Army that Sister Dede pursued the call to religious life—a call she had felt since her childhood. She was considering giving up the medical profession to pursue the religious life, but a conversation with the Rev. John A. Hardon, SJ, changed her mind. Father Hardon told her to find a community that would allow her to keep practicing medicine because there is a “desperate need for good Catholic doctors during these spiritually challenging times.” In 2000, Sister Dede returned to Washington, D.C., to serve the poor. It was during this time that she was introduced to the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts, an Italian pontifical institute founded in 1894. They have five mission sites in the United States, as well as missions in India, Albania, Argentina and Italy. Sister Dede felt called to the order, which was composed of about 80 percent schoolteachers and 20 percent medical workers. She began her formation in 2002 and professed her first vows in 2004.

After making her first profession, Sister Dede was deployed three times as a reservist in the Army Medical Corps. From 2003 to 2008, she served at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C., at Fort Carson, Colo., and in Afghanistan. Sister Dede described that time as having “one foot in the military door and one foot in the religious door.” When she returned from Afghanistan, the order’s Mother General asked if she could retire from the military, which she did in 2009. She professed final vows with the Little Workers in 2011. Sister Dede now serves as a full-time medical missionary at Catholic Charities Medical Clinic in Washington, D.C., where she cares for refugees, the poor and the uninsured, as well as in overseas service in Haiti, Iraq and Sudan.

Sister Dede’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 people with diabetes 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


The Rev. Dr. Wayne E. Croft Sr. is a pastor, writer and scholar. He is the senior pastor of 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 and a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and 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.

Dr. Croft is also a prolific writer. The African-American Pulpit Journal published his sermons, “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 books Unexpected Calls to Unexpected Places and Pretty Poison: Seven Deadly Sins, and a newly released 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 the 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 United Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia.

Dr. Croft earned an associate’s degree from Pinebrook Junior College and graduated magna cum laude from Trinity College, earning a Bachelor of Arts. He earned a Master of Divinity from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now Palmer Theological Seminary) and a Master of Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. He graduated with distinction from Drew University in Madison, N.J., with a Master of Philosophy, a Doctor of Ministry and a Doctor of Philosophy , becoming the first person to earn both a Doctor of Ministry and Doctor of Philosophy from Drew.

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.


Irwin Medway


James “Jim” C. Davis is the chairman and co-founder of Allegis Group, the largest provider of staffing services in North America. 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 University’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 in Accounting from Villanova University, magna cum laude, in 1981. He and Kim have two grown children.


Terence "Terry" O'Toole


Terence “Terry” O’Toole is co-chair and trustee of The O’Toole Family Foundation, which he and his wife, Polly, established 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 Macanta, O’Toole was a co-managing member of 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 in 1980 from Villanova University, where he graduated summa cum laude, and a Master of Business Administration 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.

University Commencement Ceremony Video

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Future Commencement Weekend Dates

Year 2019: May 17-18
Year 2020: May 15-16
Year 2021: May 14-15