Boston College announced on Thursday that Isabel Capeloa Gil, the president of the International Federation of Catholic Universities, will speak to the Class of 2019 at the university's 143rd Commencement on May 20.
Gil, who is the first female president of the International Federation of Catholic Universities, is an advocate for global engagement in higher education as a means of establishing a more just and equitable world.
A professor of culture studies at Catholic University of Portugal, Gil has studied diversity and conflict through a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates literature, the arts, and other areas.
Gil, who grew up in China and is fluent in five languages, has also been a visiting professor at multiple universities around the world, including MU University (Munich), Hamburg University, Ca’Foscari University (Venice), the Houston School of Film at the National University of Ireland, PUC Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), and USJ (China).
Notably, Gil will be the seventh woman to deliver a commencement address in BC's 156-year history. The lack of female commencement speakers at BC was recently brought to students' attention with "Where Are All the Female Commencement Speakers?" by Katherine Carroll, LSEHD '20, a letter to the editor that was published by The Gavel in February.
Gil will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the ceremony, alongside four other recipients of honorary degrees.
Retired administrator Dan Bunch '79, BCSSW '81, will receive an honorary Doctor of Social Sciences degree. Since his retirement in 2017, Bunch has served as the special assistant to the vice president of student affairs to help provide programming and outreach to AHANA students.
Former assistant dean and professor Reverend Robert D. Farrell, S.J., MA ’58, STM ’65, will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
Thomas D. O’Malley, P ’87, P ’89, P ’00, the former vice chair of investment banking firm Salomon Brothers, will be the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Business Administration. A former member of the Boston College Board of Trustees, his family established the O'Malley Family Athletic Endowed Scholarship Fund for student athletes at BC.
Award-winning author Marilynne Summers Robinson, recipient of a National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama in 2012 and a 1982 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her first novel, Housekeeping, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
The 143rd Commencement Exercises with take place May 20 in Alumni Stadium at 10 a.m.
UPDATE: April 25, 2019
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Gil will be the sixth female commencement speaker in BC's history, when in fact she will be the seventh.