The College of New Rochelle will bestow honorary degrees on legendary Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera and noted scholar and leader in higher education Alice Gallin, O.S.U., during its 107th Commencement on May 28, 2014, at Radio City Music Hall.
CNR alumna Shiba Russell, Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of NBC 4 New York, will interview Rivera live on stage.
The College will award approximately 1,000 baccalaureate and master's degrees to graduates from its four schools.
"We are proud to honor Mariano Rivera and Sr. Alice with degrees from The College of New Rochelle," said CNR President Judith Huntington. "These two honorees, individuals of great generosity, integrity and service to others, are reflections of our mission and the essential element of service."
Gallin, who was honored at CNR's annual Women of Leadership Gala, graduated from The College of New Rochelle in 1942. She earned her master's degree from Fordham University while teaching at The Ursuline School and New Rochelle High School.
During World War II, Gallin worked as a research analyst for the Military Intelligence Service, before deciding to become an Urusline sister. She returned to The College of New Rochelle in 1948, teaching in the history department, and also serving as acting dean and dean of students. She has held the title of Scholar-in-Residence at the College since 1993; has served as trustee at four institutions, including the University of Notre Dame; and has received 21 honorary degrees from colleges and universities across the country.
Gallin was executive director of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) from 1976 to 1992, where she became involved with the Secretariat for Higher Education as the group's only female member. In 1990, she worked with the IFCU and the Congregation of Catholic Education to prepare a document issued by Pope John Paul II called Ex Corde Ecclesiae to explain the distinctive perspective, conditions and practices of U.S. Catholic higher education and was part of the delegation to Rome to meet with the Pope.
Sr. Alice served as Visiting Research Scholar at The Catholic University of America, Visiting Scholar at St. Louis University, and published numerous books and articles on Catholic education in the United States, including: German Resistance to Hitler: Ethical and Religious Factors (1961); Midwives for National Socialism: The Weimar Professors 1925-33 (1986); American Catholic Higher Education: Essential Documents 1967-1990 (1992); Independence and a New Partnership (1996); Negotiating Identity: Catholic Higher Education Since 1960 (2000) and Ex Corde Ecclesiae: Reception and Implementation (2006).
Described as the greatest closer in the history of baseball, Mariano Rivera grew up in Panama, where he played baseball with found objects, using discarded cardboard for gloves, tree limbs and broom handles for bats, and balled-up fishing nets wrapped in electrical tape for balls. His father bought him his first real glove when he was 12.
After graduating high school at the age of 16, Rivera worked six days a week on his father's fishing boat in Puerto Caimito. He joined a local amateur team as a shortstop at 18, and started pitching at 19.
At the age of 20, he took his first plane ride to New York after signing with the Yankees for $3,000, and was sent to the minor leagues. Rivera did not speak English, had never been out of Panama before, and at the time he signed, Rivera himself noted, "I wasn't even a pitcher." Though he spent most of his first professional season as a reliever, he was given a start in a doubleheader on the final day of the season so that he could qualify for the ERA (Earned Run Average) title, threw a seven-inning no-hitter and finished that 1990 season with a 0.17 ERA.
Rivera debuted in the major leagues in 1995 at age 25. Initially a starting pitcher, he was converted to a relief pitcher late in his rookie year. After a breakthrough season in 1996 as a setup man, he became the Yankees' closer in 1997. In the following seasons, he established himself as one of baseball's top relievers and was a key contributor to the Yankees success in the late 1990s and early 2000s. An accomplished postseason performer, Rivera was named the 1999 World Series' Most Valuable Player, the 2003 AL Championship Series' MVP, and holds several postseason records, including lowest earned run average and most saves.
Off the field, Rivera is also well-known for his commitment to philanthropic causes and the Christian community through the Mariano Rivera Foundation, founded in 1998 by Rivera and his wife, Clara, with the mission to "share with the community a portion of the blessings which God has bestowed on them and their family."
The foundation sponsors youth centers and churches that implement educational programs to benefit underprivileged families in their communities. In Rivera's native Panama, the foundation has assisted in rebuilding several elementary schools in the interior of the country, and currently sponsors a program teaching children how to use computers to prepare them for our wired world. In New Rochelle, his foundation is in the process of restoring a historical church for his congregation, which is to include a community center for area residents.