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The Saint Anselm Crier

The student news site of Saint Anselm College

The Saint Anselm Crier

The student news site of Saint Anselm College

The Saint Anselm Crier

2024 honorary degree recepients announced

As spring semester begins, plans for the 2024 Commencement are well underway, with a recent announcement identifying this year’s Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipients.

Saint Anselm alumns Carole Cafferty ‘88, Joseph Horton ‘77, Mary Jo O’Dwyer Majors ’69, and Robert Savard ‘71 will be presented with honorary degrees, and fellow alumni  Lauren Chooljian ’10 will serve as Commencement Speaker for the 131st Commencement.

Carole Cafferty is honored on account of her work in the field of criminal justice. A 1988 graduate of Saint A’s and professor at UMass Lowell, Cafferty is well-known for her contributions to the field of criminal advocacy and corrections. According to her bio on the Educational Institute at MIT, where she serves as co-director, “she has developed integrative programs to empower incarcerated people through therapeutic and educational opportunities, many of which have been replicated both within the United States and internationally.” Her honorable work in assisting incarcerated individuals makes her a prime candidate for this recognition at Commencement.

According to Presisdent Favazza, Joseph Horton ‘77 was initially approved as an Honorary Degree recipient last year, but due to scheduling conflicts, will be officially honored at the 2024 Commencement. After receiving his Masters of Science from Michigan State University in 1978 and a Doctorate of Education from Vanderbilt University in 1988, Horton returned to Saint A’s as a Criminal Justice professor, and later a lecturer for Humanities and Coversatio programs. He is primarily known by Anselmians for his previous positions as both Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs. In a statement from the College, Horton is described as the “embodiment of what it means to be an Anselmian and the best of dedicated leaders on the Hilltop.”

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Captain Mary Jo O’Dwyer Majors is a retired career military nurse, having served in the US Navy Nurse Corps for over 43 years. In 2010, she was honored as Massachusetts’ “Outstanding Woman Veteran of the Year” by the Massachusetts Department of Veteran Services. The daughter of a WWII army veteran, Mary Jo Majors cared for wounded Vietnam War Veterans at Naval Hospital in Memphis, Tennesee, before continuting to work in numerous others hospitals around the country, including the Naval Hospital in Naples, Italy. After retiring as the Director of Clinical Operations and Director of Nursing at South Cove Community Health Center in Boston, she continues to volunteer locally in the area with veterans and military families. Majors was selected due to her career of service that represents the College’s overall mission and nursing program.

Robert Savard, the namesake of the Savard Welcome Center, is the founder of Florida-based executive search firm The Desmond Group, LLC. A recognized speaker in the realm of career and professional development, Savard graduated from Saint Anselm with a history degree in 1971. Before founding his own company, Savard held an impressive career with Aetna Life & Casualty, working various management, financial, and human resource positions. In a statement sent out to the college, President Favazza remarked that it is Savard’s “many quiet contributions, often behind the scenes, that speak most loudly about his connection to the college.”

Favazza remarked that historically, Commencement speakers are typically not as young as Lauren Chooljian, who only graduated from Saint Anselm in 2010.  However, Chooljian’s experience in investigative reporting makes her a highly credible speaker for the 2024 graduates. Her investigative work with New Hampshire Public Radio, which exposed a culture of sexual misconduct within a local addiction treatment network, was met with threats, vandalism, and harassment. As Dr. Favazza mentioned in his previous statement to the college, Chooljian’s ability to uphold and defend democratic principles despite personal sacrifice and threats, makes her an embodiment of honorable national values. 

When asked about the process of selecting candidates for this Commencement tradition, Dr. Favazza shared that while the whole campus is invited to nominate candidates, an internal committee manages the task of researching and selecting individuals. He added that multiple faculty members advocated for Chooljian to serve as Commencement speaker.

Favazza added that while a connection to the college not required, it is worth recognizing that this year, all Honrary Degree recipients, as well as the Commencement Speaker, are Saint A’s graduates. Overall, when making nominations, the College looks for individuals who primarily lead a life of example, all while boasting remarkable contributions to their respective fields.

As Saint Anselm celebrates the 50th anniversary of women at the College, President Favazza shared with the Crier that this year they paid special attention towards having female representation at the Commencement Ceremony. This is prevalent in this year’s recognition of three successful alumnae, Carole Cafferty, Captain Majors, and Lauren Chooljian, in their three distinct fields.

Carole Cafferty graduated in 1988 (Courtesy/
Joseph Horton graduated in 1977 (Courtesy/Dean Horton)
Robert Savard graduated in 1971

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