Merrimack College is pleased to announce the 2021-2022 Honorary Degree recipients at the upcoming 72nd annual Commencement ceremonies. Recipients will be recognized for their significant contributions to their communities and for acting as exceptional stewards of Merrimack’s values.
Merrimack will bestow honorary degrees on seven individuals:
Judy Teehan Winston ’64 and Bob Winston – Honorary Doctors of Education
- Names grace the Winston School of Education and Social Policy in honor of their long-time generosity and support.
Stacey Ciprich – Honorary Doctor of Education
- Principal of the Abbott Lawrence Academy, an accelerated honors high school.
Joyce and Bill Cummings – Honorary Doctors of Public Service
- Champions of philanthropy in the Greater New England area.
James T. Brett – Honorary Doctor of Business and Commerce
- CEO and President of The New England Council, a regional public policy advocacy organization.
M. Lee Pelton – Honorary Doctor of Education
- CEO and president of the Boston Foundation, one of the nation’s leading philanthropic organizations, and former president of Emerson College.
Because of his long history and intimate familiarity with the College community, the Rev. Raymond Dlugos, O.S.A., Ph.D., vice president of mission and ministry at Merrimack, will serve as the speaker for both the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies. Fr. Ray is a pillar of the campus community, whose wisdom and counsel is a welcome presence in times of joy, and a source of comfort in times of sorrow. As the spiritual bedrock for the campus, who better to share words of guidance with our graduates.
The Rev. Daniel Madden, O.S.A., director of formation for the Austin Scholars Living Learning Community, will serve as celebrant and homilist for the Baccalaureate Mass on Saturday, May 21, at 4 p.m. in Duane Stadium. Join us following for a reception for all graduates and their families.
“This year’s honorary degree recipients represents champions of education, public policy and service,” said Merrimack College President Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D. “Their work has helped transform communities and provide greater opportunities for people to pursue their academic dreams. I look forward to welcoming them to campus to help celebrate our graduates.”
Judy Teehan Winston ’64 and Bob Winston
In 2020, Merrimack College named its School of Education and Social Policy in honor of Judy Teehan Winston ’64 and Bob Winston, a pinnacle of their longtime generosity and support over the past 50 years. Judy is the largest alumni donor in Merrimack’s history. The couple also created an endowment to establish the Merrimack Institute for New Teacher Support, which supports new teachers and increases their retention in this critical field, as well as a scholarship for students considering a career in education.
Judy graduated from Merrimack College in 1964 and is a former high school teacher in Massachusetts and California. Over the years she has remained close to former classmates, returning often to Merrimack and actively participating in reunions. Her husband Bob is a retired senior vice president and director of American Funds Distributor and served as a captain in the United States Army.
Stacey Ciprich is the founding principal of Abbott Lawrence Academy, an accelerated honors high school within the Lawrence High School campus. Opened in 2015, it is the district’s first exam high school. In 2020, she was named Educator of the Year Award by the Massachusetts Association for Gifted Education.
Since 2017, Merrimack and ALA have partnered on an Early College Program today known as the Pioneer Scholars Program. Upon graduation from ALA, Pioneer Scholars enroll at Merrimack with financial assistance covering tuition, room, board and books, as well as dedicated academic guidance and support from faculty and staff.
James T. Brett
James T. Brett has led The New England Council, a non-partisan alliance of businesses, academic and health institutions, and public and private organizations to promote economic growth and a high quality of life in the New England region, since 1996.
Under his leadership, the Council has made successful impacts on federal policy including energy, financial services, healthcare, education and workforce development.
Brett is also a lifelong advocate for people with disabilities. He has served on the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities for three of the past four administrations, and is vice chair of the National Council on Disability.
Joyce and Bill Cummings
Joyce and Bill Cummings are two of the most prolific philanthropists in the New England area, having awarded more than $320 million to nonprofits and organizations through the Cummings Foundation. Following successes in commercial real estate, the Cummings launched their foundation in 1986 as a way to give back.
Among the recipients of the Cummings Foundation grant program is Merrimack’s School of Health Sciences, which in 2018 received $100,000. Additionally, the College welcomed Bill Cummings to campus in 2019 to speak to students about his storied career.
M. Lee Pelton
After decades in higher education, Lee Pelton in 2021 took the reins as president and CEO of the Boston Foundation, one of the nation’s leading philanthropic organizations. He oversees one of the oldest community foundations in the country. Since its founding in 1915, the Boston Foundation has given more than $2 billion in grants.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pelton announced “Our New Pathway,” a strategy for the foundation that, among other key areas, will aim to repair the harm caused by systemic and structural economic, social, gender and racial disparities, close racial wealth gaps and establish programs that contribute to an equitable and just society for marginalized communities.
Prior to The Boston Foundation, Pelton served as president of Emerson College from 2011 to 2021. He was inducted by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce into its Academy of Distinguished Bostonians, received the Governor’s Award from MassHumanities in 2020 and the Robert Coard Distinguished Leadership Medal in 2021.