ST. BONAVENTURE - More than 40 years removed from his commencement in St. Bonaventure's Reilly Center, Dr. Charles Dougherty told more than 700 graduating students Sunday morning that the university will shape them in ways they might not yet foresee.
"St. Bonaventure will shape your choices, and while it may be in subtle ways, what you learned here will guide you in some of the most important decisions of your life," said Dougherty, a 1971 alumnus and president of Duquesne University for the past 10 years.
Dougherty said students at what many people perceive to be an isolated location in Olean will often be far more worldly and open-minded than students graduating from metropolitan campuses. The broad-based liberal arts education they receive at St. Bonaventure and the intentional focus on the integrity and value of all people will serve graduates well as they move on in life, he said.
"Their actual talents are limited to A, B and C, but they won't be able to see their context, the lasting value of the entire alphabet, like you will," Dougherty said. "They will be far more isolated and self-absorbed."
Dougherty received an honorary doctorate of humane letters, as did Sr. Mary Jean Ryan, chair of the board of SSM Health Care in St. Louis, Mo., and John R. McGinley Jr., an attorney with Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott LLC in Pittsburgh, Pa., and outgoing chair of St. Bonaventure's Board of Trustees.
McGinley had already served 10 years during the 1990s as a trustee when he returned in 2004 as chair to help the university recover from an academic and athletic scandal.
"He partnered with our presidents - Father Dominic Monti and Sister Margaret Carney - to stabilize a shaken and fractured board with his calm, guiding hand, with a sense of humor and a fund of football metaphors that endeared him to those who served alongside him," said Trustee Leslie Quick III, reading the citation to honor McGinley.
More than 435 undergraduate students and more than 285 graduate students received their degrees.
MBA candidate Brian Michel was the student speaker. He wondered how he might be able to change the world for the better when he came to college.
"But the reality is, it's the Bonaventure community that changes you," Michel said.
Michel added later: "We've gone from being followers to leaders, from being thinkers to being innovators, from being good to being great."