April 20, 2023

brooksheadshot.jpgThe Catholic University of America announced today New York Times bestselling author, columnist at The Atlantic, Ph.D. social scientist, and "happiness expert" Arthur C. Brooks will be the keynote speaker at its 2023 Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 13, 2023. 

“Too often our society sees the glass half-empty, looking largely at the negative. But Arthur Brooks is different: while a realist, he sees the world as a place where people can find purpose, happiness, and joy throughout their lives,” said Peter K. Kilpatrick, president of The Catholic University of America. “His messages of searching for the good in all things and all people and life are words that our new graduates will surely want to hear.”

With a focus on helping people and organizations find meaning and happiness in their lives and work, Brooks - who has a Ph.D. in public policy analysis from the Rand Graduate School - has carved out a place in academia and popular culture that resonates with audiences of all stages of life. His latest book, From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life, was a number one New York Times Best Sellers and he has made numerous media appearances including Good Morning America, Oprah Daily, and The Jon Stewart Show and was featured in the film “The Pursuit.” He is also author of the book Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt, and a columnist at The Atlantic, where he writes the popular weekly “How to Build a Life” column. 

In addition to his writing, Brooks is the William Henry Bloomberg Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, and Professor of Management Practice at the Harvard Business School, where he teaches courses on leadership, happiness, and social entrepreneurship.

“The Catholic University of America is an institution dedicated to teaching the truth and encouraging its students to think deeply about the challenges facing their communities, our country, and the world,” said Brooks. “My hope is that as these newly minted graduates go on with their lives, they will use their degrees in ways that help people and society overcome the negative winds that often push against them.”

The University expects to bestow more than 1300 degrees. The Commencement ceremony will be held on the steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It will be live streamed and recorded. More information about the program can be found here.

In addition to Brooks receiving an honorary doctorate from the University, these four individuals will also receive honorary doctoral degrees:

Thaddeus F. Aubry, B.A. 1966, Founding Director, Partnership Program

Aubry has dedicated his life to service and education of at-risk youth, as well as to the study of the most effective methods of intervention. He chose this path almost immediately after graduating in 1966 from The Catholic University of America with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Language and Literature.

Aubry has taught several college courses, including: American Black History (Goucher College), American Studies (George Washington University), Survey of Black American Literature and Development of Slavery in the United States (The Catholic University of America). Mr. Aubry taught this course with Sister Thea Bowman, who is now a candidate for sainthood.

Marguerite (Peg) Harmon, Director, Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona

Harmon is the former CEO of the Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona (CCS), where she has served for over 45 years. She began her career with CCS as an intern in the Community Outreach Program for the Deaf, eventually becoming the program director in 1977. By 1980, the program had become its own agency within CCS, and Harmon was its executive director. In January 2011, Harmon received the CCUSA Keep the Dream Alive Award, which honors individuals who inspire the nation to keep the dream of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. alive through their work.

Harmon’s personal contributions to CCS have been immeasurable. Her gifts of kindness, sincerity, warmth and vision have inspired and uplifted employees, volunteers, and clients alike. Her faith and love for Jesus Christ have guided every task and project she has led. Harmon’s leadership and dedication have been recognized by many, including the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc, where she served on the national board and the Governor’s Arizona Serves Commision and is a member of the Regional Council of Arizona First Things First.

Leon A. LeBuffe, B.A. 1966, Ph.D. 1974, Co-Founder, Partnership Program


Within just a few years of graduating from The Catholic University of America in 1966 with a B.A. degree, cum laude, LeBuffe was appointed as Assistant Dean for Special Projects (Partnership). In this role, Dr. LeBuffe helped create an outreach and scholarship program aimed at local African American high school seniors who may not have been able to attend college. In fact, most, if not all, of these students were the first generation of their families to ever attend college. The Partnership Program, as it was named, has continued with various form changes for 50 years, and has accepted hundreds of scholars.

LeBuffe later served as Dean, Director and Professor of History at Gallaudet University, the national liberal arts university for the deaf and hard of hearing in Washington D.C. He initiated the first summer programs and grew them to 10,000 enrolled students. He created award-winning family education and support programs that attracted 1,100 families. 

Kathryn Jean Lopez, B.A. 1997, Journalist

Lopez is a nationally syndicated columnist and award winning opinion journalist. As a Philosophy and Politics alumna from The Catholic University of America, Ms. Lopez has used her journalistic skills to write about various topics, including bioethics, religion, feminism, education and politics.

She is currently a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, where she heads the Center for Religion, Culture and Civil Society, and is an editor-at-large of the National Review magazine. She is a media fellow at the Religious Freedom Institute and is a published author of A Year with the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living. Lopez is currently serving as the chair of Cardinal Dolan’s Pro-Life Commission in New York, where she hosts many conversations on life - including foster care and adoption. She is also a fellow at The Catholic University of America’s Institute for Human Ecology.