The university has announced that Enda Kenny, the current Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland, will be the speaker for Boston College's 137th commencement ceremony on May 20, celebrating the school's Sesquicentennial anniversary.
Kenny became prime minister, also know as Taoiseach, in 2011 and is a leader of the Fine Gael political party. He previously served as Minister for Tourism and Trade from 1994 to 1997. BC President Father Leahy will present Kenny with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the ceremony.
University spokesman Jack Dunn told the Boston Irish Reporter that BC is excited to have the prime minister speak at its commencement, given the school’s historic ties to Ireland as well as Northern Ireland. BC was originally founded in 1863 to serve the sons of Irish immigrants in Boston.
“Boston College was founded by a Jesuit from Ulster 150 years ago to serve the sons of Boston’s Irish immigrants. Given our connections to Ireland and Boston College’s reputation as America’s foremost university in the field of Irish Studies, we are pleased that the Taoiseach will join us for our Commencement and receive an honorary degree during our Sesquicentennial celebration,” said Dunn.
BC's long history with Ireland will also be apparent this fall, when the former Irish President Mary McAleese will be on campus as a visiting scholar.
The ceremony will also award four other honorary degrees, including to Wayne Budd, BC '63, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. Mary Lou DeLong, who has worked with the university's Sesquicentennial Steering Committee, will receive the honorary Doctor of Human Letters degree. Cornelia Kelley, headmaster of Boston Latin School, as well as alumna of Newton College of the Sacred Heart, will also receive the honorary Doctor of Human Letters degree. The Rev. James Wood, S.J., who is the namesake and founder of the Woods College of Advancing Studies, will receive an honorary Doctor of Human Letters degree as well.