The message to students from La Salle University Interim President Tim O’Shaughnessy, ’85, was succinct and clear: You should be proud.
O’Shaughnessy addressed nearly 800 undergraduate students at the University’s 2021 Honors Convocation, held virtually on Oct. 7. The annual gathering is reserved for La Salle students who maintained a 3.5 grade point average or better while completing at least 24 credit hours in the 2020-21 academic year.
O’Shaughnessy lauded the students for achieving academic excellence in a non-traditional year that posed exceptional challenges to their preferred learning environments and styles. The Spring 2021 term offered a primarily in-person experience for La Salle’s students, following a Fall 2020 semester with a reduced on-campus capacity.
“While much has changed since La Salle University was founded nearly 160 years ago, what will never change is the resiliency of our students and the Lasallian community members dedicated to providing the best educational experience for our students,” O’Shaughnessy said. “Our mission and values serve as a guide for us, to ensure that each student in our charge is treated with respect and compassion, and leaves us with a conviction that they will make a difference in the world.”
He continued: “You have demonstrated a commitment to being exceptional—in classrooms, living rooms, basements, labs, clinical settings, internships, and wherever learning took place.”
Speaking to the students and their families, O’Shaughnessy congratulated both. The latter, he said, served as integral support “while navigating the challenges of this past year.”
The virtual Honors Convocation also recognized the Most Reverend Nelson J. Perez, Archbishop of Philadelphia. O’Shaughnessy visited Perez at the Archdioce of Philadelphia’s office in Center City to confer an honorary degree from the University upon the archbishop. From 1994–2008, Perez led courses in two academic departments and in La Salle’s Bilingual Undergraduate Studies for Collegiate Advancement (BUSCA) program for Spanish-speaking students.
“I was grateful and humbled to bestow this honorary degree upon Archbishop Perez, as he is truly a testament to the shared belief that a Lasallian Catholic education prepares students for the lifelong pursuit and exploration of wisdom, knowledge, and faith,” O’Shaughnessy said. “I know this to be true because we were blessed to have the archbishop as a member of our faculty for nearly 15 years. While at La Salle, he helped shape not only our students’ minds but also their spirits, as a member of both our psychology and religion and theology departments. We are very proud and privileged to see him leading the archdiocese here in Philadelphia and we look forward to the great work he will continue to perform as he shepherds us as our Archbishop.”
“The pillars of Lasallian charism, faith, community, and service echoed loudly through campus then, just as they do now,” Perez said. “It fills me with great joy to celebrate the academic successes of La Salle’s students, with their professors and family members. Your work in the classroom has resulted in tremendous achievements. I congratulate you and look forward to seeing what you accomplish in the years to come. Explorers are never lost. I am confident you’ll be blazing great trails wherever you go.”
Perez joins a list of remarkable honorary degrees recipients from La Salle University, which includes: John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States; Marian Wright Edelman, civil rights activist and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient; and Fran Dunphy, ’70, who amassed more victories than any other men’s basketball coach in Philadelphia Big 5 history, among many more.
Honors Convocation also provided a platform upon which to recognize six University faculty members who have received accolades in the last year for outstanding contributions to teaching, scholarship, and service:
—Christopher A. Vito