Convocation Recognizes SJU Supporters

The St. John’s community took time out last Thursday to honor four people who have made a significant impact on the university through their hard work and service.
Former men’s basketball coach Lou Carnesecca (’50C, ’60Ed), Mary Tobin, director of special projects in College of Business Administration, Peter J. Tobin (’65CBA, ’96 Hon) dean of C.B.A., and His Eminence Pio Cardinal Laghi, president of the Pontifical Oratory of St. Peter, were honored at the special convocation in Bent Hall.

In conferring on Carnesseca an honorary doctor of pedagogy degree, the Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., praised him for his efforts on behalf of the St. John’s community. “Lou is far more than a basketball coach to us,” he said. “Lou, together with his wife, Mary, have been significant parts of the university community for many years.”

Fr. Harrington added that Carnesecca has helped guide all students, not only athletes, in his role as special assistant to the president. “We honor Lou tonight, but we will never be able to thank him and Mary for being such an important part of us for so long,” Harrington said.

Mary Tobin received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree, while her husband, Peter J. Tobin, was presented with the Medal of Honor. After graduating from St. John’s in ’65, Peter J. Tobin became successful in business and served as chief financial officer of Chase Manhattan Bank. He returned to work at St. John’s in 1998. Last year, the couple made an historic donation of $10.25 million to the College of Business Administration, which now bears their name.

Fr. Harrington thanked the couple for their dedication to serving the students and their generous donations. “Peter and Mary are not people who need to be honored, but we need to honor people such as them,” he said.

Laghi was conferred with the doctor of laws degree and presented with the Gold Medal. It was only the second time that the Gold Medal had ever been awarded at St. John’s. Ronald Regan was honored with the award in 1984.

Fr. Harrington talked about Laghi’s efforts in creating the doctrine for Catholic education and also of Laghi’s help in establishing the Rome Campus of St. John’s. “We do it to express so very clearly to Your Eminence of our great esteem, respect and affection,” Harrington said. “So we welcome you to your university, St. John’s.”

Laghi graciously accepted the honor. “It is really a pleasure for me to return to the campus of St. John’s University.”

The admittedly emotional Laghi then commented about the role and duties of Catholic education. “Here we recall that transcendent nature of the human person over the world and of God over the human person guide the research and study and service of the Catholic University,” he said.