College names commencement speaker, honorary degree recipients

In honor of the 100th Anniversary of Saint Joseph’s College, the Portland chapter of the Sisters of Mercy – whose members founded the college – will receive an honorary degree at commencement on Saturday, May 12. Sisters attending the commencement will stand as a group while their representative is hooded and given the Doctor of Humane Letters.

Dr. Robert L. Caret, president of the University of Massachusetts system, will deliver the commencement address. He will also be awarded an honorary degree. Caret served as president of San José State University in California, where he was credited with raising the profile of one of the state’s largest universities and bolstering its partnerships with the surrounding community. From 2003 to 2011, he served as the president of Towson University in Maryland, where he established robust mentoring and tutoring programs.

Caret, a native of Biddeford who attended St. Mary’s Grammar School there under the tutelage of the Sisters of Mercy, began his teaching career at Towson and served there in various capacities, including provost and executive vice president. Caret received his bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and mathematics from Suffolk University and a doctorate degree in organic chemistry from the University of New Hampshire.

Caret was the first in his family to attend college. His knowledge of the challenges facing first-generation college students paired with his desire to help students reach their academic potential have inspired Caret’s decades of work in higher education.

The college is also awarding two additional honorary degrees. Sister Mary Scullion, RSM, of Philadelphia, who has advocated on behalf of homeless and mentally ill people for more than 35 years, will be honored. In 1988, she co-founded Project H.O.M.E., a nationally recognized organization in Philadelphia that provides supportive housing, employment, education and health care to enable chronically homeless and low-income people to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty. In 2009, she was named by TIME magazine as one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People.”

Mary Roche Sullivan, of Waltham, Mass., will also receive an honorary degree. Sullivan, a longtime friend of Saint Joseph’s College, served on the Board of Trustees for 12 years. A former city councilor and mayor of Bangor, she was also a Maine state representative. She taught statistics at Bentley College in Waltham, and, after her move to Maine in the 1970s, she taught at Husson College for several years. In 1981, she began her high school teaching career at John Bapst High School in Bangor, where she taught math for 16 years.

March 26, 2012
Contact: Charmaine Daniels at (207) 893-7723 or e-mail