College announces Commencement speaker
Observer Staff Report | Friday, May 19, 2017
Editor’s Note: A version of this story was published April 25.
Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke will address 2017 graduates at this year’s Commencement ceremony on May 20, according to a College press release.
Burke will receive Saint Mary’s highest honor, an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree, at the ceremony, according to the release. She has advocated for children and the disabled throughout her career, pursuing reforms to law enforcement procedures and social service programs.
“Justice Burke’s distinguished legal career and demonstrated care for the most vulnerable members of our society is a testament to her commitment to justice,” Saint Mary’s President Jan Cervelli said in the release. “A leader in her chosen profession and in the service of others, she represents the qualities we seek to instill in Saint Mary’s students.”
Burke was the first woman appointed to the Illinois Court of Claims, and she earned a position on the Illinois Appellate Court in 1995. Burke was appointed to the state Supreme Court in 2006 after Chief Justice Mary Ann McMorrow retired, and she was elected to a ten year term in 2008, according to the release.
Burke played an integral role in initiating the Chicago Special Olympics, which she later helped develop into the International Special Olympics, according to the release.
“The common theme in Justice Burke’s life and career is dedication to advancing the common good for all people,” Cervelli said in the press release. “She will send our newest graduates into the world with an inspirational message and an example that reflects the essence of their Saint Mary’s education.”
The College will also award two additional honorary degrees at this year’s ceremony, according to the release.
Sr. Maura Brannick will earn recognition for extending care to uninsured residents of St. Joseph County. Brannick, a registered nurse, established a clinic to provide basic services to patients without access to Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance, according to the release. Because of her dedication to caring for the local community, she has received various honors, including a 1991 Points of Light Award from then-President George H. W. Bush.
Dorothy M. Feigl, a College chemistry professor, will also be recognized for her long-term commitment to Saint Mary’s. According to the release, she served as a Board of Trustees member from 1976-1982 and as vice president and dean of faculty from 1985-1999.
“Sr. Maura and Professor Feigl embody the spirit of Saint Mary’s,” Cervelli said in the release. “Through their expertise and their example, they have shown us the ideal of servant leadership.”