2012 Honorary Degree Citation

Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J.
Doctor of Humane Letters

Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J.

You blessed this College with your love of all things Holy Cross for 12 years. You stand on the stage where, over a dozen such Commencement seasons, you welcomed your Crusaders to step forward into their future. Each proud member of the Class of 2012 feels blessed by your presence and by your enduring inspiration.

You became a member of the Society of Jesus in 1975, and, in a bit of foreshadowing, you were later ordained on this Hill, in St. Joseph Memorial Chapel. You taught computer science at Boston College and at Gonzaga University, and served as dean of Gonzaga's College of Arts and Sciences. In 2000, Holy Cross welcomed you back to Mount St. James as its new president.

You, in turn, brought the College into the 21st century with great wisdom, inspiration and a "glimpse of transcendence," just as you called for in your inaugural address. You described your vision for an exemplary Jesuit education at Holy Cross, saying, "We are committed to producing strong and purposeful leaders, leaders committed to the common good, leaders who, transformed themselves, become a transforming presence in the world."

Through your own years of leadership, you transformed Holy Cross. You added 400,000 square feet of new building space to our campus, including our acclaimed Integrated Science Complex. You provided a home away from home for new generations of Crusaders with two new residence halls, Williams and Figge.

You oversaw a 61 percent increase in the College's endowment, due in part to your record-setting "Lift High the Cross" campaign, which supported financial aid, faculty resources and so many critical needs.

With an eye to the economic challenges of our times, you increased financial aid, including free tuition for enrolled students from Worcester whose families earn less than $50,000 a year. In addition to a 50 percent increase in applications to Holy Cross, you doubled the diversity of our student body. You established a new level of excellence on the Hill, making Holy Cross a college of choice for a new generation.

You created and nurtured significant community partnerships, including the acclaimed Nativity School of Worcester.

You gave our hometown boys of summer, the Worcester Tornadoes professional baseball team, its own field of dreams. You expanded community-based learning for Holy Cross students and fostered new programs and services for children and families living in the South Worcester, College Hill and Quinsigamond Village neighborhoods.

Following your remarkable presidency, you have returned to your passion for computer science, exploring the ethical issues of our technological world as a visiting scholar at Santa Clara University. Your next challenge is guiding the merger of the Society of Jesus' New England and New York provinces, and later the Maryland Province, as the Jesuits continue their crucial mission and ministry on the East Coast.

Beyond these accomplishments, your greatest contribution shines in the unforgettable example you have lived as a Jesuit priest who serves the greater glory of God as a true "man for others."

That all may know of our immense gratitude and appreciation for your leadership and achievements in Catholic and Jesuit higher education, for lighting our path and ensuring the successful future of Holy Cross, the College confers upon you this day the degree Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.