Sister Mary Scullion to receive honorary degree during La Salle’s Commencement Weekend

March 13, 2023
Sister Mary Scullion, R.S.M., will receive an honorary degree during La Salle’s Commencement Weekend 2023. Photos courtesy of Project HOME and Sisters of Mercy.

She has worked more than a half-century to support Philadelphians who suffer mental illness and housing insecurities. 

 Sister Mary Scullion, R.S.M., a champion of Philadelphia’s homeless and mentally ill communities, and co-founder of Project HOME, will receive an honorary degree from La Salle at Commencement Weekend 2023, the University announced. 

La Salle will confer a doctor of humanitarian services degree to Scullion at its May 13 undergraduate Commencement ceremony, to be held at McCarthy Stadium on the University’s campus.  

“Sister Mary Scullion is nationally renowned for her commitment to the people of Philadelphia. She is a treasure to our city and an emblem of justice whose work continues to inspire hope and create impactful change,” said University President Daniel J. Allen, Ph.D. “The breadth of her life’s work is in direct alignment with our University’s historic mission, and I can think of no one more befitting to receive an honorary degree from La Salle University than Sister Mary.” 

Scullion is the first recipient of an honorary degree from La Salle since 2021, when current Explorers men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy, ’70, and chairman and CEO of LabCorp. Adam Schechter, ’86, were honored in ceremonies recognizing the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field. Past recipients of honorary degrees from La Salle include: John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States; Marian Wright Edelman, civil rights activist and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient; and Dunphy, who has earned more wins than any men’s basketball coach in Big 5 history; among many more.

Scullion, of the Sisters of Mercy, began her work nearly a half-century ago in the 1970s. Committed to ending homelessness, she founded Women of Hope in 1985 to connect housing-insecure, mentally ill women in Philadelphia with support services and permanent residences. Her work continued through the years, leading to the founding of Project HOME in 1988. The mission of the organization, which has earned national acclaim, centers on ending the pernicious cycles of homelessness and poverty in Philadelphia—the largest, poorest city in America—by providing housing, employment, education, and health care to the city’s chronically homeless and low-income residents. 

Time magazine recognized Scullion in 2009 as one of its “100 Most Influential People in the World,” an honor she shared that year with former First Lady Michelle Obama and journalist Oprah Winfrey. 

—Christopher A. Vito