2013 Honorary Degree Citation

Janet Eisner, S.N.D
Doctor of Humanities

Revered Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, you were called to a lifetime of service to education. You have answered that call with daily and heartfelt commitment, passion, and action. You have served as the president of Emmanuel College in Boston for 34 years, longer than any woman currently serving as president at an American college or university.

With great love, strong determination, and inspired leadership you have brought Emmanuel, closing in on its centenary of offering a Catholic liberal arts education, to new heights. You have done so by always keeping your beloved students and their promising futures as your guide, with a laser-sharp focus on the College's mission and values; and with a profound faith and love of God.

Your exceptional leadership skills may have been seeded in the corridors of St. Mary's High School in Lynn, Massachusetts, where you were head of student government and a member of the debate team. Responding to God, you entered the order founded by St. Julie Billiart to educate the poor.

After receiving your undergraduate degree from Emmanuel, you became a teacher and went on to earn a master's degree from Boston College and a doctorate from the University of Michigan. Before becoming president of Emmanuel at age 39 — at a time when very few women held such posts — you served Emmanuel as a distinguished faculty member, chair of the English department, and director of college admissions. As president, you provided the founding vision for the Colleges of the Fenway collaboration, producing a model of cooperation for all of higher education. Thirteen years ago, you brokered a landmark agreement with Merck Pharmaceutical that sparked development, new facilities, and new opportunities on campus for study, research, and community life.

Among your many achievements, you shepherded Emmanuel's critical transition to coeducation in 2001. Over the past decade, applications have increased eleven-fold and enrollment has tripled as you have attracted excellent students and faculty committed to learning and teaching at a Catholic college of liberal arts and sciences.

Beyond your unparalleled leadership of Emmanuel, you work tirelessly in service to other colleges and secondary schools, academic organizations, state boards, and national commissions, including the American Council on Education, the Association of Governing Boards, the Archdiocese of Boston's Catholic schools initiatives, and many others.

Holy Cross has benefitted from your wisdom and leadership during your time as a member of our Board of Trustees and Advisory Board, and as an honored speaker at our Presidential Inauguration Faculty Symposium in 2012. That all may know of our esteem for you and your vast contribution to American higher education, and that all may rejoice in and commemorate your faith, leadership, and service to God and to the world, the College of the Holy Cross confers upon you this day the degree, Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa.