Professor Emerita Ellen Miller Casey, Ph.D., among Three to Receive Honorary Degrees at Commencement Ceremonies

April 25, 2017

At its undergraduate commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 28, The University of Scranton will bestow honorary degrees on Professor Emerita Ellen Miller Casey, Ph.D., who in 1969 became one of the first three women hired to a tenure-track University teaching position, and James Martin, S.J., New York Times best-selling author and editor-at-large of America magazine. Father Martin also will serve as principal undergraduate commencement speaker.

At its graduate commencement on Saturday, May 27, the University will bestow an honorary degree on Kathleen Curry Santora ’80, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA). Santora also will serve as the principal speaker at the graduate commencement.

Dr. Casey, who retired from the University as a full-time professor of English in 2009, served as director of the University’s Honors Program from 1977 until her retirement. She has been credited with growing the Honors Program from a small program open to students in only a handful of departments to a hallmark program of excellence available to students across all disciplines. Financial grants to assist current seniors with their honors projects, The Ellen Miller Casey Awards, now bear her name.

Dr. Casey earned her bachelor’s degree from Loyola University of Chicago, her master’s degree from the University of Iowa and her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She worked to help integrate the campus community after the University began accepting female students in 1972.

Dr. Casey has been extensively published in her specialties of Victorian literature and the English novel and has a long record of service to the University. She was chair of the Constitution Committee for the establishment of the Faculty Senate and served as the Senate president from 1992 until 1994. She was a member of the Faculty Handbook Committee from its 1984 inception through her retirement, served on the President’s Alcohol Task Force and the Student Disciplinary Board and was the Marshal of Students for many graduations. She also served on the University’s 125th Anniversary Committee.

Dr. Casey chaired the University’s’ Middle States Self-Study from 1985 through 1988 and its Periodic Review in 1992 and 1993 and was asked by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to serve as a reviewer and a panel member. She served as a Commissioner for the same body from 2005 through 2009.

Dr. Casey’s numerous awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Younger Humanist Fellowship and recognition as a Danforth Associate as part of a national program initiated by the Danforth Foundation to recognize and encourage effective teaching and to humanize teaching and learning. She also received the University’s Frank O’Hara award, a Distinguished University Fellowship award, the John L. Earl III award and the Merit Award for Service.

Dr. Casey has been married for more than 51 years to Stephen Casey, professor emeritus at Scranton. They have three children and four grandchildren.

Father Martin is a well-known Jesuit author of numerous books and a frequent commentator on religion and spirituality in the national and international media. He was recently appointed as a consultor to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications.

Father Martin’s most recent book, “Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus” was published in 2016. In addition to being named a New York Times best-seller, his book “Jesus: A Pilgrimage,” published in 2014, won a Christopher Award and Catholic Press Association Award. His other New York Times best-selling book “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life” was awarded a 2010 Christopher Award, and was also a number one best-seller in Catholic books.

Father Martin’s articles have been published in America, Catholic Digest, The Tablet (London), The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer and O, The Oprah Magazine, among many others. His numerous media appearances include being a commentator for ABC News during the 2013 papal conclave and during Pope Francis’s visit to the United States in 2015.

Father Martin has received honorary degrees from more than a dozen colleges, including Creighton University, Sacred Heart University, St. Louis University, Santa Clara University and Gonzaga University. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his master’s degree in divinity and his master’s in theology from Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was ordained a Catholic priest in June 1999.

Santora was vice president and chief operating officer of the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) prior to her work at NACUA, which began in 2001. She also served in various capacities at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and worked for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) and at the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB).

Santora earned her bachelor’s degree from Scranton and her J.D. from the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law. She is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar and serves on the board of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), the Association Mutual Health Insurance Company and the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.

The University’s graduate degree commencement ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 27, at 10:45 a.m. at the Byron Recreation Complex. Scranton’s undergraduate commencement ceremony will be held at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, on Sunday, May 28, at noon.

James Martin, S.J.

Kathleen Curry Santora, Esq.


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