Confetti flies at the end of the 2018 Undergraduate Commencement ceremony in O'Shaughnessy Stadium on May 18, 2018 in St. Paul.

Speakers Announced for 2019 Commencement Ceremonies

Speakers have been announced for four University of St. Thomas commencement ceremonies next month:

School of Law: The Hon. David Stras, a U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals judge and a former associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, will address 167 School of Law graduates and their guests. Commencement ceremonies begin at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1200 S. Marquette Ave., in downtown Minneapolis.

Judge David Stras

A special Mass will precede the ceremonies for School of Law graduates and their guests at 10:30 a.m. in the Schulze Grand Atrium at the School of Law; the Rev. Dan Griffith, Wenger Family Faculty Fellow and chaplain of the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy, will preside.

After commencement ceremonies, graduates and their guests are invited to return to the Schulze Grand Atrium for a reception.

About the speaker: Stras, who earned his J.D. degree from the University of Kansas School of Law, was a professor of law at the University of Minnesota Law School from 2004 to 2010. He was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2010 by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. President Donald Trump appointed him to his current judgeship in January 2018.

The student speaker at this year’s School of Law commencement is Abou Amara.

Commencement Mass will be held for all St. Thomas graduates, their families and guests at 7 p.m. Friday, May 24, at the Cathedral of St. Paul, 239 Selby Ave., St. Paul. The Most Rev. Bernard Hebda, archbishop of St. Paul  and Minneapolis, will preside, and the university’s internationally renowned Liturgical Choir will sing.

Baccalaureate ceremony: The Rev. Gregory Boyle, S.J., founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, will deliver the commencement address at St. Thomas’ baccalaureate ceremonies. The ceremonies begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 25, in O’Shaughnessy Stadium on St. Thomas’ St. Paul campus. A reception follows in the campus quadrangle for nearly 1,300 graduates and their guests.

Father Greg Boyle

About the speaker: Boyle served from 1986 to 1992 as pastor of Dolores Mission Church, then the poorest Catholic parish in an area of Los Angeles with the highest concentration of gang activity in the city. He witnessed the enormous impact on his community of gang violence, which peaked at 1,000 gang-related killings in 1992. While law enforcement tactics and criminal justice policies focused on suppression and mass incarceration, Boyle and parish and community members adopted what was a radical approach at the time: to treat gang members as human beings.

In 1988, they began what eventually would become Homeboy Industries, now the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. It employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprise, as well as provides critical services to thousands who seek a better life.

Boyle is the author of Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, a 2010 New York Times best-seller. His newest book, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship, was published in 2017. He has received the California Peace Prize and has been inducted into the California Hall of Fame. In 2014, the White House named Boyle a “Champion of Change.” He received the University of Notre Dame’s 2017 Laetare Medal, the oldest honor given to American Catholics.

Abby Heller, undergraduate student speaker

The student speaker at this year’s undergraduate ceremony is Abby Heller.

Graduate ceremony: Lee Anderson, the award-winning Minnesota entrepreneur, philanthropist and former St. Thomas trustee for whom Anderson Athletic and Recreation Center, Anderson Student Center and Anderson Parking Facility are named, will deliver the commencement address at St. Thomas’ graduate commencement ceremony.

The graduate ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 25, in O’Shaughnessy Stadium on the St. Thomas campus in St. Paul. A reception follows.

Anderson will address about 900 recipients of graduate degrees awarded by St. Thomas’ College of Arts and Sciences, Opus College of Business, Graduate School of Professional Psychology, School of Divinity, School of Education, School of Engineering, and School of Social Work.

Virginia Hubbard Morris, chair and chief executive officer of Hubbard Radio and a member since 2014 of St. Thomas’ Board of Trustees, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

About the speaker: Anderson is owner and chairman of APi Group Inc., parent company to more than 40 independently managed life safety, energy, specialty construction and infrastructure companies around the world. APi Group also is recognized as one of the largest specialty contractors in North America.

Anderson graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1961 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He envisioned a military career but returned to work in his family’s business after his father became ill. He is now a director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Horatio Alger Association and a member of the Minnesota Executive Organization, the Chief Executives Organization and the World Presidents Organization.

Named a “trustee emeritus” by the University of St. Thomas last year, Anderson was a member of the university’s Board of Trustees from 2000 to 2014. In 2002, he received St. Thomas’ John F. Cade Award for entrepreneurial excellence. In 2005, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from St. Thomas. In 2008 he was inducted into the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame. In 2010 he and his wife, Penny, received the National Catholic Education Association’s Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Award for their support of Catholic education.

A focus of the Andersons’ philanthropy in recent years has been support of U.S. military veterans. Their generosity has helped to create and sustain the Veterans’ Resource Center and funding for veterans’ scholarships at St. Thomas.

Dougherty Family College commencement ceremony: Sixty-one students will receive Associate of Arts degrees at the inaugural commencement ceremony of St. Thomas’ new two-year college. St. Thomas trustee Michael Dougherty, the Twin Cities businessman for whose family the college was named, will give the commencement address.

The Dougherty Family College ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, May 26, in Woulfe Alumni Hall of Anderson Student Center on the St. Thomas campus in St. Paul. A reception follows in Scooter’s, on the east end of the student center’s first floor.

About the speaker: Michael Dougherty is founder and chairman of Dougherty Financial Group in Minneapolis. He is a 1962 graduate of the College of St. Thomas and was elected to the University of St. Thomas Board of Trustees in 2003. He, too, was the recipient of St. Thomas’ John F. Cade Award for entrepreneurship (in 2005) and has been honored with the University of Minnesota’s Regents Award, was named in 2003 to the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, and in 2017 received the Spirit Award from Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Dougherty also founded the Prostate Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota and the Dougherty Hospice in Sioux Falls.

The student speaker for the Dougherty Family College commencement is Kelly Ordonez-Saybe.

For additional information: Graduating students and their guests are invited to visit St. Thomas’ commencement Web site,, for details on hotel accommodations, photography, parking, location changes in case of inclement weather and more.