Team motivator chosen as commencement speaker

Seton Hall University graduate,  92′, and executive director of Raise Hope Foundation Scott Chesney will be the keynote speaker for the University’s 155th undergraduate commencement ceremony at the Izod Center in East Rutherford on May 21.

The official announcement came from a broadcast email sent out by the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President on April 30.

Chesney, who suffered a spinal stroke at the age of 15, worked with the men’s basketball team this past season as a motivational speaker, as reported by The Setonian earlier this year.

“I’m really excited for this opportunity for Scott,” head coach of the men’s basketball team Kevin Willard said. “He was a huge motivating force for our team throughout the season and having him at the end of our bench certainly served as inspiration. He is a good man, a terrific speaker and has a story all young people should hear.”

According to the email, Chesney is an “active” member of the University’s Leadership Advisory Council.

Chesney said that when he found out he was going to be the commencement speaker at this year’s ceremonies, he felt honored.

“When I received the initial phone call I was completely stunned and deeply humbled,” Chesney said. “Not sure if anyone ever feels that he or she is quite worthy of such an opportunity, but I graciously accepted and am really looking forward to giving back to a University that has given me so much.”

The amount of people at commencement will not be the largest crowd Chesney has delivered a speech to, but it will be the first time he will speak at a graduation.

“While I have never given the commencement address at any other college or university, I am thrilled to have my first experience of doing so be for my alma mater,” Chesney said. “SHU has helped me make many transitions in my life, so it is only fitting that I help this year’s graduates make their transitions, whatever those transitions may be.”

This year’s honorary degree recipient is the recently retired President of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Ken Hackett.

CRS was started in 1942 by the Catholic Bishops of America to help survivors of World War II in Europe, according to

Their mission is “to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas, working in the spirit of Catholic Social Teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person.”

Hackett, who graduated from Boston College in 1968, will add Seton Hall to his long list of colleges and universities that have given him an honorary degree; he has received honorary degrees from Boston College, Cabrini College, College of Great Falls, College of Notre Dame of Maryland, Mount St. Mary’s University, New York Medical College, Siena College, University of Notre Dame, University of San Diego, University of Santa Clara, Villanova University and Walsh University, according to

Last year’s commencement speaker was N.J. Governor Chris Christie, who was greeted with mixed reactions at the ceremony.

Nicholas Parco can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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