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Legendary philanthropist and eminent Bostonian Jack Connors Jr. will serve as Emmanuel College’s 2024 Commencement Speaker.

With his unparalleled insight into leadership and public service, Mr. Connors will surely inspire our community, especially members of Emmanuel’s graduating class, at the College’s 102nd Commencement Exercises, scheduled for Saturday, May 18th.

Connors is a founding partner of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Inc., a full-service marketing communications company. Under his leadership, Hill Holliday evolved from a one-room shop to one of the top 20 advertising firms in the United States. Early in his career, Mr. Connors became interested and active in the philanthropic life of the city of Boston, serving on boards and leading civic campaigns. Today he is known throughout Greater Boston for these efforts as well as for his business acumen.  

An advocate for Boston’s world-class hospitals, Jack Connors served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Partners HealthCare System (now Mass General Brigham) for 16 years and became Chairman Emeritus in July 2012. As co-founder and Chairman of the Camp Harbor View Foundation, he has dedicated himself to serving inner-city youth through its summer camp and year-round programs. In addition, his leadership has been instrumental in the Campaign for Catholic Schools, which resulted in the rebuilding of five schools and a teen center in Boston’s poorest neighborhoods.

A graduate of Boston College, Mr. Connors served on the Emmanuel College Board of Trustees from 2005 to 2011, and again from 2018 to 2023. As Chair of the Board’s Development Committee, he played a major role in the success of the College’s Campaign for Our Second Century. He received an honorary degree from Emmanuel College in 1985.

2024 Commencement will also see honorary degrees awarded to Sister Anne M. Donovan, SNDdeN, Treasurer of Emmanuel College, and Father Oscar Pratt, Pastor of Saint Katharine Drexel Parish in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood.

A Sister of Notre Dame de Namur and a graduate of the Emmanuel Class of 1962, Sister Anne Donovan, SNDdeN, has played a pivotal role in implementing strategies that have enabled Emmanuel to sustain the vibrancy of its Catholic educational mission. These strategies have included the creative leveraging of the College’s real estate holdings in support of the educational experience and student financial aid. 

Sister Anne’s creativity and business acumen were especially vital to the success of Emmanuel’s 75-year ground-lease agreement with Merck & Co. in 2000, which set the stage for the subsequent transformation of the College’s enrollment, programs, and physical plant. In the years that followed, Sister Anne played a central part in the design and construction of new campus facilities, including the Jean Yawkey Center, the Maureen Murphy Wilkens Science Center, and St. Julie Hall. Additionally, she oversaw the comprehensive restoration of the iconic Eisner Administration Building, the renovation of Roberto Clemente Field in collaboration with the City of Boston, and the creation of the state-of-the-art Wilkens School of Nursing & Clinical Sciences in Marian Hall. In the course of these and other projects, Sister Anne has earned the respect and friendship of leading regional figures in government, finance, law, real estate, architecture, construction, and many other fields—along with the admiration and affection of Trustees, staff, faculty, and students past and present.

Rev. Oscar J. Pratt, II was ordained to the ministerial priesthood in 1996 and serves as the Pastor of Saint Katharine Drexel Parish, a Black Catholic Community, in Roxbury/Dorchester. Throughout his life, Rev. Pratt has been a pastoral priest, an effective preacher and a dedicated participant in the Black Catholic Ministry of the Archdiocese of Boston.

Rev. Pratt's leadership style celebrates in word and action the directives of Vatican II, and as a result, parishioners embrace their roles as disciples of Jesus and continue to honor the struggles of their justice-seeking ancestors. The words of the Black Bishops in the United States in their Pastoral Letter on Evangelization, What We Have Seen and Heard, continue 40 years later to remind parishioners of the gifts and core values they share: Freedom, Reconciliation, Spirituality and Family.
 
During the Spring 2023 semester, Rev. Pratt was invited to join with others in the Cardinal Sean O'Malley Center for Mission and Ministry, in Sunday night liturgies for students, community programs and events celebrating the mission of the College with Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. His dynamic presence and compelling homilies deepened and enriched the faith experience at Emmanuel and exemplified the maxim he shared, "God is good all the time, and all the time God is good!" Rev. Pratt is a beloved member of the Emmanuel Community and St. Katharine Drexel Parish continues to celebrate its long-standing collaboration with Emmanuel College.

For more information, visit Emmanuel's Commencement page.