2016 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipients Named

Saint Joseph’s College is proud to announce this year’s Commencement speaker and honorary degree recipients for the College’s spring 2016 Commencement, which will be held on Saturday, May 14, at 10 a.m. at Saint Joseph’s campus in Standish.

— Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, Doctor of Humane Letters, Commencement speaker
— Anna Gould, Doctor of Humane Letters

— Sr. Mary Kneeland ’73, Doctor of Humane Letters


Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish of Toronto, Canada, is a Palestinian physician and an internationally recognized human rights and inspirational peace activist. He is devoted to advancing health and education opportunities for women and girls in the Middle East, through both his research and his charitable organization, the Daughters for Life Foundation. Dr. Abuelaish was born and raised in the Jabalia Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip and has overcome many personal hardships, including poverty, violence, and the horrific tragedy of his three daughters’ and niece’s deaths in the 2009 Gaza War. His bestselling autobiography, I Shall Not Hate, documents the journey of his loss and transformation, serving as a testament to his commitment to forgiveness as the ultimate tool in conflict resolution. A three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Dr. Abuelaish currently lives with his five children in Canada where he teaches as an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

Anna Gould of Bedford, Massachusetts, is a distinguished philanthropist, most notably in her capacity as a founder of Camp Sunshine, the only retreat program in the world serving children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. For the past 32 years, since its 1984 inception in Casco, Maine, Gould’s leadership and vision have been vital to the program and its development. Today, she serves as chair of the Board of Directors. In addition to her dedication to Camp Sunshine, Gould has served as a trustee to Boca Raton Academy and Pine Crest School, both in Florida, was a co-owner of the successful Point Sebago Resort, and currently maintains an active role on the Lahey Hospital Women’s Leadership Council. She gives her time to support issues and programs about which she cares deeply.

Sister Mary Kneeland ’73 of Standish, Maine, has devoted more than 55 years of her life to the mission of the Sisters of Mercy, and specifically to the mission of Saint Joseph’s College. Sr. Kneeland has been with the College ever since she first entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1959. While taking classes at Saint Joseph’s College, she assisted with the Capital Fund Drive and managed the bookstore before being appointed to assistant treasurer in 1973, and subsequently was made treasurer in 1987. In addition to her work at the College, Sr. Kneeland has acted as a trustee for the Mercy Endowment Foundation and has served the Visual Education Center in Portland, holding various positions of leadership as a board member, chairman, secretary, and treasurer. Sr. Kneeland has devoted herself tirelessly to the College and its students, and still continues to volunteer in the library on a regular basis. In 2005, Saint Joseph’s unveiled the Sister Mary Kneeland Dining Room in recognition of her lasting impact on the College. 

For more information about this year's events, visit our Commencement page.