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Catharine Murray Ryan to address Seton Hill University Graduates at In-Person Commencement Ceremonies May 22

Pittsburgh philanthropist Catharine Murray Ryan, a recipient of The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and offer remarks to the graduates of the Seton Hill University classes of 2021 and 2020 during two undergraduate Commencement ceremonies scheduled for Saturday, May 22, 2021. 

The ceremonies will be held in-person in the Salvitti Gymnasium located inside the McKenna Center on campus. and will follow all COVID-19 health and safety protocols. In-person attendance will be limited to graduates and two guests each. Activities will also be livestreamed for those unable to attend due to capacity restrictions.

“Catharine Murray Ryan’s lifetime of devotion to serving others and her commitment to Catholic higher education are truly remarkable, and she sets a tremendous example for our graduates as they enter a changed world,” said Seton Hill President Mary C. Finger. “Seton Hill University is proud to recognize her with the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, and we look forward to hearing her share inspiring words with our graduates.” 

Due to COVID-19 pandemic capacity restrictions, Seton Hill has divided its traditional in-person undergraduate Commencement into two ceremonies where both members of the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2020 will be recognized. In addition, a separate graduate Commencement ceremony will be held for students who have earned their master’s degree as part of the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2020. 

The Commencement Schedule for May 22 at Seton Hill follows:

11:00 a.m. – Graduate Degree Ceremony for the Classes of 2021 and 2020

2:30 p.m. – Undergraduate Degree Ceremony for Members of the Classes of 2021 and 2020 receiving the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Social Work degrees and the Pastoral Ministry Certificate. 

5:00 p.m. – Undergraduate Degree Ceremony for the Members of the Classes of 2021 and 2020 receiving the Bachelor of Science degree.

Catharine Murray Ryan will speak at both the 2:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. ceremonies. She will be joined by Seton Hill President Mary C. Finger; Seton Hill Board of Trustees Chair Karen Farmer White; Sister Mary Norbert Long, incoming Provincial Superior of the U.S. Province of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill; and Bishop Larry J. Kulick, Sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg. 

About Catharine Murray Ryan

Catharine Murray Ryan was born in Bronxville, New York, the second of 10 children.  A graduate of The Ursuline School in New Rochelle, she attended Newton College of the Sacred Heart and earned the Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, in Economics in 1968.  In 1993, she earned a Master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry from the Theology Department of Duquesne University.

Catharine and her husband, John, have called Pittsburgh their home since 1969.  John is the retired Chairman and CEO of MSASafety (MSA), the world’s leading manufacturer of worker safety and protective equipment. While raising their two daughters, Mary Catharine and Maureen, and one son, John, Catharine was active in various community and church organizations, in particular, the Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors and the Sacred Heart Church Parish Council. She also worked as a Chaplain for seven years at Magee-Women’s Hospital and Forbes Regional Hospital.   

She served on the Board of Trustees of UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for 13 years and on the Board of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation for seven years, the last three as Chair. In the early 1990s, Catharine co-chaired the fundraising campaign for a new campus ministry center in Oakland named for Saint John Henry Newman. Always interested in higher education, she served as Chair of the Advisory Council to the School of Philosophy at The Catholic University of America and, later, as a member of their Board of Trustees. Currently, she serves on the Duquesne University Board of Directors. In 2002, she co-founded the National Institute for Newman Studies (NINS) dedicated to fostering knowledge of the life, work and spirituality of St. John Henry Newman. 

Since its inception, NINS has launched the Newman Studies Journal, has developed the most extensive Newman library collection in North America, has hosted more than 50 Newman scholars from around the world and has compiled a comprehensive and state-of-the-art digital collection of Newman’s published works and his archives which are housed in Birmingham, England. Catharine, along with co-founder Fr. Drew Morgan, also raised funds for the new building which houses NINS named the Gailliot Center for Newman Studies.

Seton Hill University presented Catharine Murray Ryan with the University’s highest honor, The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal, in 2012. Catharine was recognized for her extraordinary church and community leadership. 

In 2018, as Seton Hill University celebrated its Centennial, Catharine and John Ryan generously renovated and named Seton Hill’s Center for Campus Ministry in honor of Rose M. O’Brien to acknowledge and celebrate the Ryan Family’s tremendous affection for Rose O’Brien and to celebrate the Family’s continuing friendship with Rose O’Brien’s daughter, Sr. Maureen O’Brien, S.C., Vice President for Mission and Identity at Seton Hill. The Rose M. O’Brien Center for Campus Ministry provides students with a gathering space where they can enrich their university experience by growing in their own faith and learning about other faith traditions through lectures and other programs. The O’Brien Center also serves as a quiet space for study and reflection. 

In addition, in 2016 Catharine and John created the Ryan Campus Ministry Endowment for Student Programming at Seton Hill University. The Endowment supports Seton Hill’s holistic vision for student development by sustaining the growing Peer Ministry Program and providing funding for students to participate in retreats, conferences and other programs benefitting their pastoral, intellectual and wellness needs. The Endowment also provides support for training opportunities and assists with equipment and other material needs for Campus Ministry.  

If you are a member of the media and would like more information, contact Director of Media Relations Jennifer Reeger at, (724) 830-1069 (office) or (724) 433-9613 (cell). If you are not a member of the media, contact us here.