2023 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Announcements

Nathan Howard ’25

Chief News Editor

The 177th Graduating Class of the College of the Holy Cross will be officially celebrated at commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 26, at 10:30 a.m. at the DCU Center in Worcester. As part of this commencement ceremony, U.S. Senator Peter Welch ‘69, a Democrat from the state of Vermont, will address this year’s graduating class. 

Senator Welch has served the people of Vermont for over four decades, originally being elected to the Vermont State Senate in 1980, where he eventually held various leadership positions, including Minority Leader of the Vermont Senate and President pro tempore of the Vermont Senate. Welch was the first Democrat to ever hold the position of Senate President pro tempore in Vermont. In 2006, Peter Welch was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Vermont’s at-large district. His campaign for Congress gained national attention for his refusal to air negative ads of his Republican opponent, Martha Rainville. Peter Welch served as a U.S. House member for sixteen years, where he fought for various progressive policies, including expanding access to healthcare, making college and university more affordable, as well as advocating for clean and efficient energy. In 2022, Peter Welch was elected to the U.S. Senate, replacing Patrick Leahy (D-VT) upon his retirement. Senator Leahy served the people of Vermont in the U.S. Senate for 48 years, making him the third-longest-serving U.S. Senator in American history. Upon his election, Peter Welch became only the second Democrat to serve as a U.S. Senator from Vermont. 

Senator Welch is a Holy Cross alumnus, graduating magna cum laude from the College in 1969 with a degree in history. He eventually went on to earn his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1973. Senator Welch’s time at Holy Cross greatly influenced his interest in American politics and social justice. Throughout his years at the College, Senator Welch was one of the first Robert F. Kennedy Fellows. In this position, Senator Welch advocated against racially-motivated housing policies in Chicago that prevented people who lived in Black neighborhoods from receiving mortgages. In reaction to Peter Welch’s selection as the 2023 Commencement Speaker, Holy Cross President Vincent Rougeau explained that “Senator Welch has championed many causes that are aligned with our College’s core values—making higher education accessible to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, stewarding our environment, and engaging in constructive dialogue across differences.” President Rougeau added that “We are proud to count him among our alumni.”

Senator Welch will be awarded an honorary degree at the commencement ceremony. Rosanne Haggerty, a housing and community development leader, will also be awarded an honorary degree during the ceremony. Haggerty is internationally recognized for her work at Community Solutions, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending homelessness which she founded in 2011. President Rougeau praised Haggerty’s work by stating that “I have had the privilege of working with Rosanne on the board of directors for the Commonweal Foundation. She is incredibly dedicated to ending the cycle of homelessness in our society and advancing the missions of the organizations she serves. She is highly deserving of an honorary degree from Holy Cross.”

On Thursday, May 25, the College will also host a reception and dinner for members of the Holy Cross community “to celebrate the recipients of this year’s honorary degrees.” Rosanne Haggerty is expected to give remarks at the reception.

Featured image courtesy of College of the Holy Cross Class of 2023 Logo

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