In celebration of its 80th anniversary, Rivier University will recognize the
transformational service of two outstanding individuals at its Commencement
ceremony on May 10. The University will present honorary degrees to James T.
Brett, President and Chief Executive Officer of The New England Council, and
devoted Rivier administrator Sister Cecile Gamache, pm.
“In a year in
which we celebrate our 80th anniversary and reflect on the values of
‘transforming hearts and minds to serve the world’ as well as the transformative
impact of service on individuals and society, it is fitting that we honor two
individuals who have made service to others the focus of their life’s work,”
says Sister Paula Marie Buley, IHM, President.
James T. Brett will serve
as the University’s Commencement speaker and will be awarded an honorary
doctorate of humane letters in recognition of his outstanding collaborative
efforts to bring people and resources together to improve the New England
“As Rivier’s curriculum encourages students to explore questions
such as ‘Who is My Neighbor?’ we are privileged to introduce them to a leader
who values service, the dignity of the human person, and collaboration, all
hallmarks of Rivier’s academic programs,” added Sister Paula.
Established in 1925 as an alliance of schools, hospitals, corporations, and
other private organizations throughout New England, The New England Council
promotes economic growth and a high quality of life in the region. Appointed to
the organization’s chief leadership role in 1996, Mr. Brett has been a leading
voice in advocating for public policy issues such as healthcare, education,
financial services, and energy throughout New England and Washington, D.C. His
success at The New England Council follows an impressive 16 year tenure as a
member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives where he consistently
brought together constituencies to create economic opportunity for the
Commonwealth’s citizens and businesses.
The recipient of numerous awards and recognition for outstanding public
service, he was named the 2011 New Englander of the Year in recognition of his
extraordinary commitment, leadership, and contributions to the economy and
quality of life in the region.
A tireless advocate for the physically and mentally challenged, he has been
recognized for his humanitarian work and his national contributions to the field
of intellectual disability. He was appointed by former President George W. Bush
to serve as a member of the President’s Commission for People with Intellectual
Disabilities and subsequently appointed as Chairman under the leadership of
President Barack Obama.
In addition to numerous honorary degrees, Mr. Brett earned his bachelor’s
degree from American University and master’s degree in public administration
from both Suffolk University and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at
The University will also present an honorary doctorate of humane letters to
Sister Cecile Gamache, pm in recognition of her exemplary service to the Sisters
of the Presentation of Mary and to Rivier.
“We acknowledge the fundamental and longstanding service and vision of the
Sisters of the Presentation of Mary as embodied by Sister Cecile Gamache, pm,”
says Sister Paula Marie Buley. Sister Cecile retired from her role as Rivier’s
Assistant Vice President of Finance and Operations in 2011, completing forty
years of dedicated service that has contributed to Rivier’s financial vitality
and solid position within the competitive higher education marketplace.
A member of the Rivier community since 1950, she has provided exceptional
leadership through her role as a member of the Board of Trustees and as a member
of the Corporation, providing wise financial counsel while always looking
forward with a vision for Rivier’s future.
“Sister Cecile’s financial expertise guided Rivier through many decades of
growth, the conversion to computerized systems, the development of banking and
investment policies, and the construction of several campus buildings,” says
Sister Paula Marie Buley. “She leaves behind a legacy marked by transformative
service and collaboration with administration, faculty, staff, and students that
has created Rivier’s solid foundation and positioned us for future
At the heart of Sister Cecile’s wise financial counsel is a commitment to
Rivier’s mission of ‘transforming hearts and minds to serve the world’ and a
consistent effort to reach higher and better following Rivier’s motto ‘altiora
Sister Cecile earned her bachelor of arts in mathematics from Rivier in 1954
and her master of arts in mathematics from Boston College in 1970. She conducted
post-graduate studies at the University of Rhode Island and at Notre-Dame
The Commencement Ceremony will take place at the Tsongas Center in Lowell,
Mass. at 10 a.m. The University anticipates awarding degrees to graduates from
the School of Undergraduate Studies and the School of Graduate Studies,
including graduates of the University’s Doctorate of Education in Leadership and