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May 5, 2011

Lafayette Will Award Four Honorary Degrees at 176th Commencement

Lafayette will award honorary doctorates to four distinguished leaders at 176th Commencement Saturday, May 21.

The College previously announced that Gwendolyn L. Ifill, managing editor and moderator for Washington Week and senior correspondent for The NewsHour at PBS, will be the Commencement speaker. She will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Journalism degree.

Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J., who has served as president of College of the Holy Cross for the past 11 years–the second longest tenure in that position–will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

Wilbur W. Oaks ’51, highly esteemed physician and retired professor of medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pa., and founder of Saint John’s Hospice Homeless Soccer Team Program, Body and Soul, will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.

Salvatore J. Panto Jr., mayor of the City of Easton and outstanding supporter of Lafayette, will be awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service.

Commencement will be held at 2:30 p.m. on the Quad. The academic procession will begin at 2:15 p.m. The Baccalaureate service will be held at 10:30 a.m. the same day, also on the Quad, and will feature a sermon by John Colatch, College chaplain and director of religious life.

Gwen Ifill

GWENDOLYN L. IFILL is managing editor and moderator for Washington Week and senior correspondent for The NewsHour at PBS. Her journalism career, which spans more than 30 years, includes serving as chief congressional and political correspondent for NBC News, White House correspondent for The New York Times, and local and national political reporter for The Washington Post.

Ifill has covered six Presidential campaigns and moderated two vice presidential debates. Author of The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, she has received awards from Radio and Television News Directors Association, Harvard’s Joan Shorenstein Center, and Ebony Magazine. She holds a B.A. in communications from Simmons College, Boston, Mass., and serves on the boards of Harvard University Institute of Politics and Committee to Protect Journalists.

Michael C. McFarland

REV. MICHAEL C. McFARLAND, S.J. has been president of College of the Holy Cross for the past 11 years, the second longest tenure in that position. He led the record-setting $216 million campaign, which secured additional resources for financial aid and established new faculty positions. The College’s most ambitious building project—an integrated science complex—was completed in 2010. He also has built critical partnerships in the City of Worcester, Mass.

A computer scientist with extensive liberal arts teaching experience and a special interest in the intersection of technology and ethics, McFarland was previously dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Gonzaga University, Spokane, Wash., and was associate professor of computer science and head of the department at Boston College. He serves on the boards of Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts and Worcester Catholic Charities.

McFarland holds a bachelor’s in physics from Cornell University, and a master’s and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1975 and earned a master’s in divinity and a Th.M. in social ethics from the Weston School of Theology.

Wilbur W. Oaks ’51

WILBUR W. OAKS ’51 is a highly esteemed physician and has been professor of medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pa., for more than 50 years. He founded the Saint John’s Hospice Homeless Soccer Team Program, Body and Soul for which he received the 1,000 Points of Light award from President George H. W. Bush and a resolution from the City of Philadelphia.

Oaks received the Lafayette Medal for Distinguished Service in 2001and a year later, the Joseph E. Bell ’28 Alumni Distinguished Service Award. He served as a member of Lafayette’s Board of Trustees from 1996 to 2001, president of the Alumni Association from 1994 to 1996, and on many all-College committees.

A member of the men’s soccer team from 1947 to 1950, Oaks was captain his last year. The men’s soccer field was named in his honor in 2005: Bourger Field at Oaks Stadium, and he was inducted into the Maroon Club Hall of Fame in 2009. His three daughters, Susan ’78, Cynthia ’80, and Sally Lou ’84 are also Lafayette graduates, and two of his granddaughters are current students. A chemistry graduate, he holds an M.D. from MCP Hahnemann University.

Salvatore J. Panto Jr.

SALVATORE J. PANTO JR., recognized for making Easton cleaner and safer as well as restoring its fiscal stability, has also been an outstanding supporter of Lafayette. He joins President Daniel H. Weiss each fall to welcome the incoming class and is often on campus for other meetings and events. Last year he gave the opening remarks for an exhibit of  projects on service learning in Easton as well as other communities.

Panto has led an economic development program that has brought more than $190 million in public and private investment and created hundreds of new jobs in the city. The projects include adaptive re-use of the former Pomeroy Building (vacant for more than 35 years), Lafayette’s North Third Street campus, and an improved waterfront park.

Panto holds a bachelor’s from Kutztown University and master’s in educational administration from Lehigh University. He has been a teacher in the Easton Area School District and chief administrative officer of the Charles Chrin Companies. He served a previous term as Easton’s mayor from 1984 to 1992. He is past president and board member of Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities, and member of the National League of Cities, serving on the environmental steering committee and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

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