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Holy Cross graduates 697 during the College’s 157th Commencement

Chris Matthews ’67, host of NBC’s The Chris Matthews Show and MSNBC’s Hardball, delivered the principal address and received an honorary degree on Friday, May 23, as Holy Cross graduated 697 men and women during the College’s 157th commencement ceremony. The author of Hardball (1988), Kennedy & Nixon (1996), Now Let Me Tell You What I Really Think (2001), and American: Beyond Our Grandest Notions (2002), Matthews has distinguished himself as a journalist, Washington bureau chief, presidential speechwriter, congressional staffer and best-selling author of four books. He joined the San Francisco Examiner in 1987, serving as Washington Bureau Chief for 13 years. Prior to entering journalism, Matthews served as a speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter and a top aide to House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr.

In his address to the graduates, Matthews recalled his own years on Mount St. James, where he first earned the nickname “Arguing Matthews.”

“Each evening,” Matthews explained, “I would go up to the old Kimball—this is long before Hogan—cafeteria to buy a Coke, hang out and talk politics. Massachusetts Congressman Edward Markey, who is a friend of mine and a B.C. ‘double eagle,’ says I still do. I make a living, he says, ‘just going down to the Holy Cross cafeteria each evening.’”

Speaking through a rain shower, in his trademark high volume, Matthews began his speech by saying, “In 10 minutes flat, I’m going to tell you how to fight for your best values, find your way in this world, pursue your dream and follow-up on the very best hunch you ever had about yourself.”

Matthews cited the Holy Cross Commencement of 1905 and invoked the principal address of that graduation’s main speaker.

“Ninety-eight years ago,” he said, “President Theodore Roosevelt stood here and argued that the world of politics was divided in two groups: men who mean well and cannot do anything and the other of men who are thoroughly efficient but don’t mean well at all. ‘I want to see a combination of the power of efficient action with the power of fealty to lofty ideals,’ he told the 1905 graduating class. Teddy wanted to get the good people ready for action. Me, too. Today, like the great Rough Rider himself, I’ve tried to level the playing field a bit, because while it’s morally healthy to be innocent of cheating, as the Jesuits were the first to grasp, it’s not healthy to be innocent of the game. So today is your day. But don’t worry. There will be time to dream, to think, to try, to fail, to learn, to carry on, to dream some more. You leave here with two gems for which men and women have come here to seek from the world over: A rebellious spirit that triumphs even now over repressive government. And an ‘only-in-America’ attitude toward what is possible. They are this country’s crown jewels and today, my fellow Crusaders, through the grace of God, hard work and hope, they are yours.”

Other individuals receiving honorary degrees at Commencement were Iris Cantor and Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J.

A philanthropist and health care advocate, Iris Cantor is also known as a patron of the arts. As president and chairman of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, her extraordinary efforts have led to the founding of the Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center and of the Iris Cantor-UCLA Women’s Health Center and the Iris Cantor Center for Breast Imaging, also at UCLA. Cantor’s passionate support for the visual arts has been acclaimed internationally. Among the many awards she has received are the honorable distinction of Chevalier in the French National Order of the Legion of Honor for her work promoting appreciation for the French sculptor Auguste Rodin, and the prestigious title of Cavaliere Ufficiale in the Order of Merit, one of Italy’s highest public service awards. At Holy Cross the name of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Gallery commemorates Iris Cantor’s vision and generosity, as do artworks by Rodin and others that as a result of her gift grace the campus.

Widely regarded as the most prominent, living American Catholic theologian, Cardinal Dulles was the first American theologian to be named to the College of Cardinals and the first American Jesuit to become a cardinal. He is the author of 21 books and 700 articles, and his work is a foundation of theology courses and ecclesiological discussions. Cardinal Dulles is the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham University.

The valedictory address was delivered by Jonathan Favreau ’03. A political science major from North Reading, Mass., Favreau was chosen from among 17 of the top 30 students who submitted speeches to the 2003 Valedictorian Selection Committee. While at Holy Cross, Favreau has remained very active on campus and in the community. He has served as the director of the Welfare Solidarity Project of Worcester and volunteered with the student-staffed Oncology Volunteer Effort at UMASS Memorial Hospital (M.O.V.E.) An avid writer, he has also worked as the editor of The Crusader’s opinion section.

One of the College’s Dana Scholars, Favreau was named a Harry S. Truman Scholar in March of 2002. The $30,000 scholarship is awarded to approximately 75 students nationwide each year who have extensive records of public and community service, are committed to careers in government or public service, and possess outstanding leadership skills. In the spring of 2001, Favreau worked as a press intern for U.S. Sen. John Kerry in the Holy Cross Washington Semester Away Program. His thesis, which was based in part on his work in Washington, was awarded the Maurizio Vannicelli Prize for the best research paper produced in the Washington Semester Away Program. Favreau presented his paper, titled “The Politics of Abandonment: White Working Class Defection from the Democratic Party,” at the College last November. In addition to receiving a bound copy of his thesis, Favreau was presented with a book award during Commencement exercises. Working as a press aide on John Kerry’s presidential campaign following graduation, Favreau plans to attend law school and pursue a career in public service.

In his address, Favreau urged his classmates to think about the nature and well-being of their future communities:

“There seems to be one last bulletin here that Career Planning forgot to drop in our mailboxes,” he said. “Now, I realize that most of us already have jobs, but all of these positions are part time, and I’m sure all of us have the necessary qualifications. The employers are our communities, and while each position is already being filled by millions all over the world, there is a desperate need for more help. And here’s some of what we need: Soccer coaches, Den Mothers, PTA members, Neighbors who help you move in and promise to keep in touch when they move you out, Friends who come early and stay late, Shoulders to cry on, Big Brothers and Sisters, Family comedians, Tee Ball Umpires, Letter-to-the-Editor authors, Voters who care about any issue from Traffic Lights and Tax Reform to Potholes and Peace on Earth, Organizers and Activists, Critics and Supporters, Voices for those who are having trouble getting theirs heard, Summertime Porch-Sitters with special degrees in talking about everything and nothing until the mosquitoes bite, Mentors, Philanthropists, Signature collectors, Boo-boo fixers, Grocers to the hungry, Roofers to the homeless, and Believers—especially believers.”

 

 

Jonathan Favreau '03

Valedictorian Jonathan Favreau '03

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