Commencement 2015: Upholding the Faith in the Public Square | Franciscan University of Steubenville
  • Franciscan University of Steubenville Commencement 2015: Upholding the Faith in the Public Square

    Archbishop Lori, Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, and Lou Holtz to Receive Honorary Degrees

    Lou Holtz; Their Royal Highnesses the Grand Duchess and Grand Duke of Luxembourg; Most Rev. William Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore

    April 13, 2015

    STEUBENVILLE, OH—The May 8-9, 2015, commencement exercises at Franciscan University of Steubenville will mark the graduation of more than 660 students. Four remarkable individuals will also receive honorary degrees at the ceremonies for living their faith in the public square and earning the respect of Catholics worldwide.

    Events begin on Friday, May 8, with the 6:00 p.m. Baccalaureate Mass. Saturday, May 9, will see the graduate commencement exercises at 9:00 a.m., followed by the undergraduate commencement at 11:30 a.m.

    Those being honored at the 2015 exercises are His Excellency the Most Reverend William E. Lori, archbishop of Baltimore; Their Royal Highnesses Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess María Teresa of Luxembourg, and Lou Holtz, former ESPN analyst and NCAA football coach.

    MORE: Livestream | Events Details

    Archbishop Lori, presider at the Baccalaureate Mass, will receive an honorary doctorate in sacred theology for his commitment to religious liberty and desire to fight religious oppression. In 2011, then-Bishop Lori was appointed chair of the USCCB's newly-formed Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty to address growing concerns about religious liberty protection in the United States. He was installed as archbishop of Baltimore in May 2012.

    Under Archbishop Lori's leadership, the Committee for Religious Liberty has provided guidance for U.S. Catholics in the struggles with the Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate, which requires employers to provide insurance coverage that includes sterilization, contraception, and abortion-causing drugs and devices. The committee also promoted the defense of faith-based adoption agencies, which were threatened by state governments after refusing to compromise their religious beliefs. 

    Their Royal Highnesses the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess will receive honorary doctorates in Christian ethics for their conviction in favor of a culture of life.

    His Royal Highness, who will serve as the May 9 graduate commencement speaker, has served as the Head of State of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg since October 2000.

    His Royal Highness chairs a number of economic, social, cultural, sports, and other associations as well as the Civil Emergency Services; he is also commander-in-chief of the Luxembourg Army, holding the rank of general, as well as being an honorary major in the British Parachute Regiment. He has been a full member of the International Olympic Committee since the Nagano session of February 1998.

    Her Royal Highness married the Grand Duke in February 1981. In 1997, Princess Maria Teresa was made a Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO, through which she promotes the education of young girls and women and fights against poverty.

    She places particular emphasis on the cause of child soldiers and the protection of children and orphans affected by HIV/AIDS, and in 2006 received the Path to Peace Award from the Holy See for her active involvement in humanitarian causes. In 2007, she was named an "Eminent Advocate for Children" of UNICEF.

    The Grand Duchess is also a member of the Honorary Board of the International Paralympic Committee, and in 2010, she launched the Foundation of the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess inspired by her 2009 visit of the Bujumbra prison in Burundi. The foundation's goal is to ease the liberation of minor individuals from prison and offer opportunities for their futures.

    Holtz, speaking at the May 9 undergraduate commencement, will receive an honorary doctorate in communications for his service as a public leader and sports authority unashamed of his Catholic faith. Born only four miles from Steubenville in Follansbee, West Virginia, Holtz has been a longtime and ardent supporter of Franciscan University's Christ-centered, virtue-driven approach to intercollegiate athletics.

    Holtz is the only coach in the history of college football to take six different teams to a bowl game, win five bowl games with different teams, and have four different college teams ranked in the final Top 20 poll. He was selected for the College Football Hall of Fame, class of 2008 – an elite group of just over 800 individuals to earn this distinction.

    The author of three New York Times best-selling books, Holtz recently retired after a long tenure as a college football studio analyst on ESPN.

    This year’s top 10 home states for the Class of 2015 are Ohio, California, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Illinois, Texas, Maryland, West Virginia, and Michigan. The Class of 2015's top 10 majors are theology, business (with six majors within this department), nursing, catechetics, psychology, education, communication arts, philosophy, English, and biology.

    All events will take place within Finnegan Fieldhouse, which underwent an extensive expansion and remodeling of its second floor in fall 2014. For the first time, graduates will line up in the fieldhouse's new addition instead of in the J.C. Williams Center.

    The Class of 2015 also includes the first full graduating members of the Center for Leadership, which was established in 2011 with the commitment to fostering virtues, imparting knowledge, and cultivating practical skills essential for effective, lifelong Christian leadership. These 39 students entered in the 2011-12 academic year, and currently more than 20 majors are represented in the program, whose students come from 28 states.

    Franciscan University President Father Sean O. Sheridan, TOR, will confer the degrees, and Father Richard Davis, TOR, chairman of the Board of Trustees, will preside at both ceremonies along with members of the Board of Trustees and Board of Advisors.

    For those unable to attend, all ceremonies will be live-streamed at

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