University of St. Francis celebrates winter commencement

Jan. 8, 2010

Students will come from 32 states to attend University of St. Francis commencement ceremonies on Saturday, Jan. 16, when the university will graduate 495 bachelor’s and master’s students. Degrees will be presented by University of St. Francis President Michael J. Vinciguerra and J. Bradley Webb, chair of the university’s Board of Trustees.

Commencement speaker, the Rev. John P. Foley, S.J. will receive the University of St. Francis honorary doctorate of humane letters degree. A Chicago native, Foley entered the Society of Jesus in 1954. He earned a B.A. in Latin from Xavier University in Cincinnati and holds an M.A. in Sociology and a M.Ed. from Loyola University in Chicago. From 1961 to 1995, he served the Jesuit missions in Peru, working primarily in education. He served as president of two of Peru’s Jesuit K-12 schools.

He returned to Chicago in 1995 to collaborate in establishing Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. He was named president of the school in 1996. Foley raised more than $26 million during this eight-year tenure as president. More importantly, he established the tradition and spirit of a school that has become a national model. In January 2005, he assumed the presidency of the Cristo Rey Network of which he is presently executive chair.

Foley has received four honorary doctorates in recognition of being the founder of the first Cristo Rey School, from Georgetown University, Fordham University, Marquette University and Loras College. Foley was featured in an October 2004 “60 Minutes” segment on Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. The National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) awarded him the Seton Award in 2007. He was also featured in Fast Company in April 2006 and named in Newsweek’s “Who’s Next for 2007.”

President George W. Bush awarded Foley with the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second highest honor for a civilian, for his commitment to helping his fellow citizens lead lives of integrity and achievement. He was also presented with the Pax Christi Award, the highest award bestowed by Saint John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota.

The University of St. Francis in Joliet serves 3,600 students nationwide, offering 38 undergraduate programs, four degree-completion programs and 12 graduate programs, along with a doctorate in nursing practice. Programs are offered in arts and science, business, education, nursing and health care and social work. For information, call (800) 735-7500 or visit