SHU Announces 48th Commencement Honorary Degree Recipients

News Story: May 9, 2014

Honorary Degree Recipients are Ernie Anastos, news anchor; Jim Costello, retired comptroller for General Electric and former SHU Board member; and Kathleen Deignan ’71, professor and director of Iona Spirituality Institute.

An honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree will be presented to Ernie Anastos, Emmy award-winning news anchor for the Fox flagship station, WNYW-TV, in New York. James Costello, retired comptroller for General Electric and former member of the SHU Board of Trustees, will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. They will receive the degrees at Sacred Heart University’s 48th annual Undergraduate Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 18. Anastos will deliver the commencement address. At the Graduate Commencement on Saturday, May 17, SHU will present Kathleen Deignan, director of the Iona Spirituality Institute and professor of religious studies, with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Deignan will also deliver the keynote address to the graduates and their family and friends. The SHU class of 2014 includes 837 undergraduates who will be receiving associate and bachelor’s degrees, and 774 graduate students who have earned master’s degrees, professional certificates and doctorates. This year, the ceremonies for both graduate and undergraduate students will take place at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.

Anastos is currently a news anchor for Fox’s flagship station, WNYW-TV in New York. He is also the creator and host of Positively Ernie, a program that aims to inform and entertain viewers with inspirational stories. He has extensive experience in the news world and is a seasoned anchor and reporter. He has been a substitute host for ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS Morning News. He has also created and hosted information programs for CBS, Lifetime and ABC and appeared in major motion pictures and primetime dramas such as Independence Day, Summer of Sam and 24. Anastos is also a celebrated author of historical and children’s literature. His many awards include a Lifetime Emmy Award, Outstanding Anchor Single Newscast for the London bombings on Fox 5 News, the New York City Police Journalism award, the New York State Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame – Ellis Island Medal of Honor award and more. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University and has participated in postgraduate studies at Columbia University.

Costello is a graduate of Northeastern University in his native Boston where he earned a business degree in industrial management. As an officer in the U.S. Navy, he served in the Western Pacific and at the Pentagon. He was released from service in 1956 and entered into a lifelong affiliation with one company: General Electric. For the next 15 years, he filled numerous roles there before accepting management positions in Schenectady, N.Y., and then Pittsfield, Mass. In 1977, he arrived at GE world headquarters in Fairfield. Just two years later, he was named vice president and comptroller—positions he held until his retirement in 1992. He has also enjoyed leadership roles in a number of professional and nonprofit organizations. These include the National Council of Northeastern University, the Financial Executives Institute and the Board of Visitors for Fairfield University’s School of Business Administration. He was a Sacred Heart trustee for many years and received the University’s Bishop Walter W. Curtis Medal of Honor in 1994. He and his wife, Ginny, were also honored with Sacred Heart’s annual Discovery Award in 2006.

Kathleen Deignan, a member of the Congregation of Notre Dame founded by Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, is currently a professor of religious studies and director of the Iona Spirtuality Institute. She teaches several courses covering such topics as the study of religion and Catholicism in the contemporary world. She has devoted her work to transmitting the spiritual and intellectual legacies of Thomas Merton and her mentor, Thomas Berry, in a variety of academic, artistic and pastoral formats. She was the founder of the Iona peace and justice studies program and the Iona Peace Institute in Ireland. She also founded the Iona Spirituality Institute, which sponsors a variety of programs for spiritual enrichment. She has composed more than 200 songs for liturgy and prayer that were published in a dozen CDs by Schola Ministries. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Sacred Heart University, a master’s in Christian spirituality and a doctorate in historical theology from Fordham University and was named a GreenFaith Fellow.

The graduation ceremonies will conclude a year-long celebration of Sacred Heart’s 50th anniversary. To commemorate Sacred Heart’s history and growth, selected alumni from each graduating class have been invited to participate in the procession.