College announces 2018 Commencement Speaker
Observer Staff Report | Friday, May 18, 2018
Carolyn Woo, the former chief executive officer of Catholic Relief Services, will address the Saint Mary’s class of 2018 at its Commencement ceremony on May 19, according to a College press release.
Woo will be awarded the College’s highest honor, an Honorary Doctor of Humanities, at the ceremony, according to the release.
Woo immigrated to the United States for her studies after being born and raised in Hong Kong. She returned to her alma mater, Purdue University, as an associate professor in 1981 and as a full-time professor in 1991. According to the release, she served in several leadership roles at Purdue, as both the director of professional master’s programs in the Krannert School of Management and associate executive vice president for academic affairs.
In 1997, Woo took on the role of Martin J. Gillen Dean of the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, which she held until 2011. In 2012, she began her time as the chief executive officer of Catholic Relief Services, where she served until 2016, according to the release.
“Carolyn Woo embodies the spirit we strive to instill in our students: She is a woman of action,” College President Jan Cervelli said in the release. “Her career is a testament to the power of leadership that serves the greater good.”
The College will also award an additional honorary degree to Sister Margaret “Peggy” O’Neill, according to the release.
O’Neill has spent her life advocating for peace, according to the release. In her time working in the Diocese of San Salvador, she has promoted peace through her work with Salvadoran refugees during the civil war and creating an educational and cultural center in El Salvador that emphasized the importance of art and spiritual reflection.
According to the release, she currently serves as a faculty member of Santa Clara University’s Casa de la Solidaridad in El Salvador. O’Neill had also spent over 25 years working as a theology professor in the past.
O’Neill has received several honors for her work, including the 2008 Peacemaker Award of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace and the 2008 Ciudadana Ilustre Award, according to the press release.
“Sister Peggy O’Neill enriches the lives of those around her with her buoyant spirit and unflagging commitment to service,” Cervelli said in the release. “Her accompaniment of people in need serves as a shining light through darkness.”