Queens, NY (May 21, 2023) – More than 2,300 undergraduate degrees were conferred to students of St. John’s University on Sunday as graduates, faculty, parents, and guests celebrated the accomplishments of the Class of 2023.
More than 12,000 guests gathered on the Great Lawn of the Queens campus to celebrate the University’s 153rd Commencement. The achievements of the Class of 2023 were recognized in a ceremony that honored students from the Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island, NY, campuses, as well as online learners. Graduates ranged in age from 19 to 63 and included more than 70 international students.
His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Ph.D. ’10HON, Archbishop of New York, served as distinguished speaker and thanked the new graduates for being part of “an honored tradition of learning, and for giving tradition a good reputation.”
Cardinal Dolan, one of the most influential Catholic leaders in the United States, was honored with the University’s Gold Medal, presented by President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. Cardinal Dolan served as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from November 2010 to November 2013 and is also former Chairman of Catholic Relief Services. He remains an active voice in defense of the poor, refugees, and asylum seekers, and a driving force in cultivating charitable outreach throughout the archdiocese.
Cardinal Dolan was joined by Sr. Regina Bechtle, S.C., a writer, theologian, and member of the Sisters of Charity, who received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree for her work in the field of spiritual leadership; and St. John’s alum Pascal Desroches ’86CBA, Chief Financial Officer, AT&T, Inc., and education advocate, who received an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree. In a special separate ceremony, the University conferred an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree on Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, the namesake of the Maurice R. Greenberg School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science at St. John’s University. He serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Starr Insurance Companies, a global insurance and investment organization, and is the former Chairman and CEO of American International Group.
St. John’s University draws its mission from St. Vincent de Paul, the 17th-century French Catholic priest who dedicated himself to serving the poor. Reflecting on his own Vincentian education in high school, Cardinal Dolan thanked the Class of 2023 who, by their example, help to teach him. He then praised the Class of 2023 for “taking time out for learning, to acquire knowledge,” referencing St. Thomas Aquinas’ belief that “God’s most profound gift to us is our mind.”
During his welcoming remarks, Fr. Shanley reminded graduates of how “uniquely gifted they are by God” and urged them to pursue a purpose-driven life. “The meaning of our lives is something we choose freely for ourselves,” he said. “We need to find some stable and far-reaching goal for our lives that invokes making a contribution to the world in the service of others in the Vincentian tradition. A sense of purpose gives us determination and resilience in the face of difficulty.”
Student speaker Jethro Casie likened the college experience to running a lengthy race and urged members of the Class of 2023 to never forget their shared growth. “To achieve greatness, you start where you are, you use what you have, and do what you can,” Jethro said, quoting tennis legend and activist Arthur Ashe. “The thing about growth is that it’s hard at first, messy in the middle, but so beautiful at the end.”
The Class of 2023 adds to the ranks of St. John's 195,000 living alumni.
(Mandatory credit to St. John's University) https://photos.app.goo.gl/bz9mmUBdUutzBsr68
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St. John’s University is a private, coeducational, Roman Catholic University founded in 1870 by the Congregation of the Mission (the Vincentians), with its main campus located in Queens, NY. St. John’s University also has campuses and locations on Staten Island and in Manhattan, NY; in Rome, Italy; in Paris, France; and in Limerick, Ireland. St. John’s University is comprised of six Schools and Colleges, including the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, The Peter J. Tobin College of Business (including the Maurice R. Greenberg School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science), The School of Education, and the School of Law. As of Fall 2022, the University has nearly 1,400 full- and part-time faculty, 15,652 undergraduate students, and 4,011 graduate students who come from 45 states and 118 countries. St. John’s offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs, including 16 doctoral programs.