Mayor Landrieu to speak at Commencement
The 2018 Commencement speaker at Saint Michael’s College on May 13 at 10 a.m. in the Ross Sports Center will be New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, whose leadership in the removal of Confederate monuments last year led to his powerful and nationally acclaimed speech about the matter a year ago. Landrieu learned recently that he will be honored for those efforts with the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award later in May.
Also receiving honorary degrees at Commencement in this 175th anniversary year of the Society of St. Edmund (Saint Michael’s College’s founding religious order), will be the Rev. Joseph McLaughlin, SSE, a former Saint Michael’s trustee and professor who also was Edmundite Superior General from 1986 to 1991; and President Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University since 1989 and a dedicated champion for educating low-income black, Latino and immigrant Washington women.
“The College is pleased to have three honorary degree recipients who reflect the Edmundite commitment to a fair and just society for all, rooted in service to others and faith,” said Saint Michael’s President John J. Neuhauser, articulating a Commencement theme that connects the degree recipients. “One honoree, a son of Charlestown and an Edmundite and longtime teacher at the College who led the Edmundites during a period of change and consolidation; another a devoted college leader who turned a college of privilege to an amazing conduit whose mission is to provide lives of fulfillment for a disenfranchised, neglected population in Washington, DC; and a mayor with long, deep roots in the South who spoke eloquently and bravely of the need to say the truth about our country’s past. All three embody the Edmundite spirit of humble service to others and they each make this College proud to name them graduates.”
About Mitch Landrieu
Mitch Landrieu is a politician and lawyer who became Mayor of New Orleans in 2010. He attended that city’s Jesuit High School, which he has said instilled in him a sense of self-discipline and a commitment to service. He graduated in 1978 and attended Washington D.C.’s Catholic University of America, where he majored in political science and theatre (and had as a mentor Rev. Gilbert Harke OP, a Dominican priest, director and playwright who also had a close connection to Saint Michael’s Playhouse founders Don and Joanne Rathgeb). Landrieu then went on to Loyola University Law School where he received a juris doctorate. Landrieu taught at Loyola Law and engaged in legal practice in the city.
Politics runs in Landrieu’s family: he is the son of a former New Orleans Mayor and the brother of Louisiana’s U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu. In 1987 he was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives, and for 16 years he held the seat held by his father and sister before him.
During his terms as lieutenant governor, Landrieu made a priority of increasing his state’s capacity for disaster response and homeland security. Landrieu also serves as his state’s CEO for the Department for Culture, Recreation, and Tourism. He says that his approach to public service is “based around five core governing principles: diversity as a strength, not a weakness; economic diversification and expansion; working regionally to compete globally; adding value to raw material, native talent and intellectual capital; and setting goals to international standards, not the southern average”
In 2009, Landrieu became a supporter of the Jazz Foundation of America. He presented Agnes Varis with the “Saint of the Century” Award at the Jazz Foundation of America’s annual benefit concert in support of Varis’s and the Jazz Foundation’s work to help save jazz musicians, especially those affected by Hurricane Katrina.
In May 2017, Landrieu gave a speech regarding race relations in defense of his removal of statues in New Orleans honoring Confederate generals and soldiers, leading the push to remove the monuments after nine members of a historic African American congregation in Charleston, S.C. were fatally shot by a white supremacist, promoting a national reckoning with Confederate imagery in the modern day.
In a powerful speech that received national attention for its eloquence, Landrieu called for people to unify behind a shared future, saying, “We have not erased history; we are becoming part of the city’s history by righting the wrong image these monuments represent and crafting a better, more complete future for all our children and for future generations.” Landrieu is author of the recently published book “In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History” (Penguin/Random House), which centers on the statue controversy. Another Saint Michael’s connection for the mayor is that the mayor’s office’s current communications director is alumnus Tyronne Walker, Saint Michael’s Class of 2005 and former Student Association president.
Landrieu will be awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on May 20 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, The Kennedy Library Foundation announced in late March.
About the other 2018 honorary degree recipients:
Rev. Joseph McLaughlin, S.S.E.
The Rev. Joseph McLaughlin, S.S.E., Ph.D., is a member of the Society of St. Edmund, and Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies and Irish History at Saint Michael’s College. Born and raised in Boston, he graduated from Saint Michael’s in 1966 after making his religious profession of vows as an Edmundite in 1964. Both he and his classmate/confrère Richard Berube were ordained priests in 1970 in the College Chapel after theological studies leading to S.T.B. and M.A. degrees at the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. Subsequently, Fr. McLaughlin served as the first Director of the Edmundite Seminary Program there from 1974-1976. He began teaching theology at Vermont’s Saint Michael’s in 1970, and returned here in 1978 to teach religious studies, while later also serving the Edmundite community as a General Counselor (1978-82), House Superior (1980-82), and Treasurer General (1982-86).
In 1986, Fr. McLaughlin was elected the 13th Superior General of the Society of St. Edmund and the 14th Chair of the Saint Michael’s Board of Trustees. He served in these positions concurrently from 1986-1990. He previously had been the Clerk of the Board (1979-86). His term as Superior General was marked by major consolidations of the Society’s works in order to re-focus efforts on its core mission. As Board Chair, and together with President Paul Reiss, he led the efforts that formally established the College’s endowment fund and placed it under professional management. He also effected major changes in the College’s governance structures and policies and its relationship with the Society.
Subsequently, he earned his PhD in Early Modern Irish History at the National University of Ireland Galway before returning to teaching religious studies at Saint Michael’s, where he introduced courses in Irish history. His long-standing interested in the history of the College and the Edmundites bore fruit in scholarly booklets and papers, notably From Pontigny (1978) and “The Limerick Lad, the Burlington Lady and the founding of St. Michael’ College” (1998). He received the Joanne Rathgeb Teaching Award in 1996.
Public service has been important for Fr. McLaughlin since his high-school days when he served as a president of the Youth for Kennedy movement in 1960. Since 1979, he has served with diligent enthusiasm along with others from Saint Michael’s on the municipal water commission for the Winooski Park section of the Town of Colchester (Colchester Fire District No. 1), motivated by the view that access to safe drinking water is “a basic and universal human right” as spoken of frequently by Pope Francis.
President Patricia McGuire, J.D., has been the president of Trinity Washington University since 1989. Before Trinity she was a project director for Georgetown’s D.C. Street Law Project, a legal affairs commentator for the award-winning CBS children’s newsmagazine “30 Minutes” and the Fox Television program “Panorama” in Washington, and the Assistant Dean for Development and External Affairs for Georgetown University Law Center, where she was also an adjunct professor of law.
President McGuire earned her B.A. from Trinity College and her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. She is a member of the board of directors of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the Washington Metropolitan Consortium of Universities, the D.C. College Success Foundation, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Catholic Charities of D.C., United Educators, and the Ameritas Mutual Holding Company. She is also a member of the Independent Governance Advisory Panel for the American Red Cross and of the Women’s Advisory Board of the Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital. In 2000, President McGuire was appointed by D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams and the D.C. Financial Control Board to a special term on the Education Advisory Committee overseeing the D.C. Public Schools. From 2014 to 2015 she held a position on the U.S. Department of Education Advisory Committee on Student Financial Aid. President McGuire has received honorary degrees from Georgetown University, Howard University, Chatham University, Emmanuel College, College of New Rochelle, Liverpool Hope University, Mt. Aloysius College and College of St. Elizabeth. Other awards include the Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence (2016), the Carnegie Award for Academic Leadership (2015), the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award (2015) from SOAR!, the Henry Paley Award (2012) for leadership in Higher Education from The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the Alexander Meiklejohn Award for defense of academic freedom (2010). Additionally, she was named “Leader of the Year” by the Greater Washington Board of Trade in 2007. She writes and speaks on topics regarding higher education and women and Catholic education. She has been credited for putting emphasis on educating low- income Washington women, including black, Latino and immigrant students. Her articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, Current Issues in Catholic Higher Education, and many other publications.
More on Saint Michael’s Commencement Weekend: Baccalaureate will be Saturday, May 12, 2018 in the Chapel of Saint Michael’s the Archangel. Tickets for Commencement in the Ross Sports Center are required. Live broadcasts can be seen on closed-circuit large screens in McCarthy Arts Center (no tickets required, air conditioned).