Saint Xavier University announced that former Mercy Housing Chief Executive Officer Sister Lillian Murphy, RSM, and Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett will speak and receive honorary degrees at the University’s 2014 Commencement on May 10.
Murphy will deliver the commencement address at the Undergraduate Ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. and Byrd-Bennett will deliver the address at the Graduate Ceremony, which begins at 3 p.m. Both ceremonies will take place in the Shannon Center at SXU’s Chicago campus, 3700 W. 103rd St.
Murphy has been CEO of Mercy Housing since 1987. Under her leadership, Mercy Housing has grown to become an award-winning, national, not-for-profit housing organization with a staff of 1,300. It serves more than 136,800 people in more than 40,000 quality, affordable homes with a presence in more than 200 cities, 43 states and the District of Columbia. She is a national spokesperson for the cause of affordable housing and the needs of people who are economically poor.
Before becoming CEO of Mercy Housing, Sr. Murphy worked in the health care field for 16 years. She received the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California’s Affordable Housing Leadership Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1999, and the 25th Annual Housing Leadership Award from the National Low Income Housing Coalition in 2006. She was inducted into the Affordable Housing Hall of Fame by Affordable Housing Finance magazine in 2009.
Murphy holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of California at Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in social science from the University of San Francisco. She also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of San Francisco in 1998.
Byrd-Bennett was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to lead the Chicago Public Schools system in 2012. CPS is the nation’s third-largest school system, serving approximately 402,000 students in more than 681 schools. She previously served as CEO of the Cleveland Municipal School District from 1998 to 2006. In 2009, she was recruited to be chief academic and accountability manager for Detroit Public Schools and served until 2011. She was hired as the Chicago Public Schools’ chief education advisor in April 2012.
Byrd-Bennett is a member of numerous boards, commissions and advisory councils, including: Common Core; the United States Department of Education National Assessment Governing Board; the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; the Education Commission of the States; the National Center for Education Accountability; and the Albert Shanker Institute.
Byrd-Bennett holds a Master of Science degree from Pace University, Master of Arts degree from New York University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Long Island University. She also holds honorary doctorate degrees from Cleveland State University, Baldwin-Wallace College, John Carroll University, and the University of Notre Dame.
— St. Xavier University