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St. Xavier unveils commencement speakers

Sister Lillian Murphy  |  Supplied photo

Sister Lillian Murphy | Supplied photo

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Updated: May 28, 2014 6:07AM



Former Mercy Housing chief executive officer Sister Lillian Murphy and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett are scheduled to speak and receive honorary degrees at St. Xavier University’s graduation ceremony May 10, according to a press release from the school.

Murphy will deliver the commencement address at the undergraduate ceremony, which is to begin at 10 a.m., and Byrd-Bennett will deliver the address at the graduate ceremony, which begins at 3 p.m., the release said.

Both ceremonies are slated to take place at the Shannon Center on SXU’s Chicago campus, 3700 W. 103rd St.

Murphy has been CEO of Mercy Housing since 1987, according to the release. Under her leadership, Mercy Housing has grown to become an award-winning, national, nonprofit 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, the release said. She is a national spokesperson for the cause of affordable housing and the needs of the poor, it said.

She received the prestigious 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, the release said.

Before becoming CEO of Mercy Housing, Murphy worked in health care for 16 years, the release said.

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.

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 about 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, according to the release.

Byrd-Bennett is a member of numerous boards, commissions and advisory councils, including: Common Core; the U.S. 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, the release said.

Byrd-Bennett holds a master of science degree from Pace University, a 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, the release said.

For more information about SXU’s 2014 commencement, visit www.sxu.edu, keyword: commencement; call (773) 298-3867; or email commencement@sxu.edu.

Staff report



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