46th Commencement Honorary Degree Recipients Announced

Carl Anderson

Carl Anderson

News Story: April 1, 2012

An Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree will be presented to Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, at Sacred Heart University’s 46th annual Undergraduate Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 13. Anderson will deliver the commencement address.

At Graduate Commencement on Saturday, May 12, Dr. Susan Davis will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. She is the chief executive officer of St. Vincent’s Health Services, a member of Ascension Health. She will deliver the keynote address to the graduates and their family and friends.

The Class of 2012 includes 846 undergraduates who will be receiving associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. Master’s degrees, professional certificates and doctorates will be presented to 744 graduate students.

As supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, Carl Anderson is the chief executive officer and chairman of the board of the world’s largest lay Catholic organization. Its 1.8 million members are based in more than 14,000 local councils across the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico and Poland. Anderson has had a distinguished career as a public servant, educator and lay Catholic leader. From 1983 to 1987, he served in various positions of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, including special assistant to the President and acting director of the Office of Public Liaison. Following his service at the White House, he served for nearly a decade on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. From 1983 to 1998, he taught as a visiting professor of Family Law at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. In 1988, he became the founding vice president and first dean of the Washington, D.C., session of this graduate school of theology now located at The Catholic University of America.

He has written several books, including two New York Times bestsellers: A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World; and Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love (co-authored with Msgr. Eduardo Chavez). Pope John Paul II appointed Anderson as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life and the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and as a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and as a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family. He is a board member of the Institute for the Works of Religion (I.O.R.) — the Vatican Bank. He also serves as a consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pro-Life Committee, Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage and Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.

Anderson is a board member of The Catholic University of America and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. He has received honorary doctorates from The Catholic University of America; The Pontifical Theology Academy of Krakow; St. Vincent’s Seminary, Latrobe, Pa.; Albertus Magnus College, New Haven, Conn., and Ave Maria University, Naples, Fla. He is also the recipient of many honors, including the Archdiocese of Denver’s Imago Dei Award; the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s Canterbury Medal; the Path to Peace Foundation’s Servant of Peace Award; the Pontifical North American College’s Rector’s Award;

The John Carroll Society Award; the City of Rome’s Lupa Capitolina Award; the Sister of Life’s John Cardinal O’Connor Award and the Knights Holy Sepulchre’s Gold Palm of Jerusalem Award. He holds degrees in philosophy from Seattle University and in law from the University of Denver. He is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia. In addition to his leadership of the Knights of Columbus, Mr. Anderson is a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Sylvester; a Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great; and a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Dr. Susan DavisAs chief executive officer of St. Vincent’s Health Services, Dr. Susan Davis serves as Ascension’s market leader for New York, Florida, Alabama’s Gulf Coast and Connecticut. She provides strategic and operational leadership for St. Vincent’s Health Services, while promoting alignment among Health Ministries within her assigned markets on issues related to mission and vision. She is a hands-on leader who has been known to pitch in by donning her scrubs and working with her staff. Her considerable experience in nursing gives her a unique perspective as she puts her focus on patient safety and developing programs that respond to the needs of the community. She came to St. Vincent’s from an 18-year career at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, NY, where she developed and implemented a variety of successful clinical services, including a new regional heart center for residents of the upstate New York area.

Davis received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Mt. Saint Mary College, Newburgh, NY, her master’s degree in nursing administration and her Doctorate of Education with an emphasis in management from Columbia University. She is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Since taking over as St. Vincent’s CEO in 2004, Davis has presided over the opening of the region’s most advanced operating suites and intensive care units and has launched the most ambitious technology upgrade in the center’s history. She currently oversees a $160 million dollar master facility plan, which is being supported by a $60 million capital campaign. Major components of the project include the new Elizabeth Pfriem SWIM Center for Cancer Care and the Michael J. Daly Center for Emergency and Trauma Care, which opened in early 2010. St. Vincent’s Health System includes the Medical Center, Southern Connecticut’s largest behavioral health system, St. Vincent’s College, St. Vincent’s Special Needs – the state’s largest center for children with disabilities – as well as St. Vincent’s Foundation, which is one of Ascension’s most successful foundations. Most recently, St. Vincent’s was selected by Quinnipiac University School of Medicine to develop a joint clinical partnership, which creates the third medical school in the State of Connecticut, with the first class scheduled for 2013.

Davis has received both local and national recognition for her commitment to the community and to volunteerism. She has been recognized for her service with the United Way, Hospice, and the American Cancer Society in New York State and Connecticut. Her commitment to patient safety and excellent outcomes has made her a change agent at St. Vincent’s and within the health care industry.