WJU announces 2014 commencement speaker

WHEELING Wheeling Jesuit University (WJU) President the Rev. James Fleming, S.J. has announced that Patti Quigley, activist and 9/11 widow will deliver this year’s commencement address on Saturday, May 17. WJU alumnus Lou Volpe, ’70 also will be awarded an honorary degree for his dedication to Catholic education, service to the marginalized in the Wheeling area and involvement at the university.

“We are honored to have Patti and Lou join us on stage as we celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates,” said Fr. Fleming. “Patti is an example of creating good out of a personal tragedy. I think the audience will really listen to what she has to say.”

Quigley is the Executive Director of Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation, an NGO, (non-governmental organization) that is educating the next generation of Afghan people so that the cycle of poverty, despair and terrorism can be stopped.

Quigley’s husband, Patrick, was killed on Sept. 11, 2001 as a passenger on United Flight 175, the second plane to hit the World Trade Center. After the tragedy, she was overwhelmed by the enormous outpouring of support. In fact, she and her two daughters, Rachel and Leah, received support and encouragement from around the world. Soon after the United States invaded Afghanistan in Oct. 2001, Quigley became aware of the vast differences between her experience as a widow and the treatment of her counterparts in Afghanistan. Struck by these disparities, Quigley teamed with Susan Retik – who was also widowed on Sept. 11. Quigley and Retik were later the subjects of Beth Murphy’s documentary film Beyond Belief.

In 2007, with Retik’s blessing, Quigley shifted her focus to the young girls in Afghanistan and joined her friend and colleague, Razia Jan, in the work of ‘Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation’.

Having enjoyed professional success as an internal auditor, vice president of financial operations and management consultant at various commercial lending organizations around the country, Quigley now applies her skills and experience to the role of executive director for the foundation.

Quigley also supports and works for other nonprofit organizations and public service groups in her local community of Wellesley, Mass. She is a member of the National Charity League where she helps other mothers and their daughters work together on philanthropic activities to help area nonprofits.

As a past co-president of the Wellesley Education Foundation, Patti gathered support and funding for innovative ideas to support teachers and students. She is also an annual participant in the Pan Mass Challenge, cycling to raise money for cancer research. In March 2013 she was elected to the Wellesley School Committee.

Also receiving an honorary degree will be Lou Volpe, WJU Class of 1970. After graduating from Wheeling Jesuit with a B.A. in English, Volpe later earned his master’s in English literature from John Carroll University. Volpe spent 37 years teaching religion at Wheeling Central Catholic High School and before that St. John Central High School in Bellaire. Volpe retired from teaching in 2013.

Volpe is a member of the WJU alumni council. He is the moderator of Guys and Girls United to Serve, and Knight to Knight, the peer ministry and leadership program at Wheeling Central.

“Lou is a proud graduate of Wheeling Jesuit. He could not be more deserving of this honorary degree. He has put in tireless hours educating our youth, as well as mentoring our students and alumni,” Fleming said.

Volpe received the Rev. Clifford Lewis, S.J. Award in 1999. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the Wheeling Jesuit University Alumni Association.

The Lewis Award honors a Wheeling Jesuit alumna/alumnus who exhibits extraordinary service, contribution and dedication to the university in the spirit of Fr. Lewis.

Volpe is known by all he meets as a person who not only promotes the ideals of Jesuit education, but embodies the concept of service to the university through student recruitment, professional career assistance and promoting WJU in the community. “We are often told that whatever we do, we should endeavor to do it for the greater glory of God,” Rev. Jim O’Brien, S.J. said in 1999 when presenting Volpe the Lewis Award. “Lou is a beautiful example of this in both his personal and professional lives. He gives selflessly of himself to his family, his students and his alma mater.”

Volpe is married to Catherine Morrison Volpe, ’69. They have four children: Gretchen, Emily, Catherine and Paul (deceased).

The 56th Commencement will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Alma Grace McDonough Center.