2019 Honorary Doctorate Recipients

Written by Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.
February 21, 2019

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

I am pleased to announce the individuals approved by the Board of Trustees who will be receiving honorary doctorates at our commencement ceremonies on June 16. Ordinarily, we confer two honorary degrees at our commencement. This year we will have the opportunity to honor three special recipients.

James Martin, S.J., will receive an honorary doctorate and speak at our undergraduate commencement ceremony. Father Martin is Editor-at-Large of America, the national Jesuit magazine, and the author of more than a dozen books including multiple New York Times bestsellers. He has also written articles for a number of national publications and is a frequent commentator on religion and spirituality for major national and international news outlets. Fr. Martin has worked in hospitals, housing projects and community centers and has ministered to refugees in the U.S. and other countries.

The second honorary doctorate we confer at this year’s undergraduate commencement will be given to P. José Alberto Idiaquez, S.J. Father “Chepe,” as he is known, is president of the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in Managua, Nicaragua. Seattle University shares a special, longstanding relationship with Father Chepe and UCA, which was formalized by a partnership agreement in 2014. An accomplished scholar and academic leader, Fr. Chepe has also done fieldwork with indigenous and marginalized communities in Honduras, Panama and Nicaragua. Since the Nicaraguan government’s crackdown on its own people began last spring, Fr. Chepe has stood up for those suffering persecution. He is a voice for justice, a beacon of hope and an agent for peace.

The speaker and honorary doctorate recipient at our graduate ceremony will be Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ. A world-renowned advocate for justice, Sister Prejean has been instrumental in shaping the Catholic Church’s position on capital punishment. Her ministry to death row inmates and her interactions with their families, victims and other prisoners led her to founding Survive, an organization dedicated to counseling families of victims of violence. Her book Dead Man Walking, an account of her prison ministry, became a bestseller and was adapted into an award-winning film.

In Fr. Martin, Fr. Chepe and Sr. Prejean we see representatives of the mission and values for which our university stands. We look forward to welcoming and honoring these three extraordinary leaders at our commencement ceremonies in June.


Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.