O’Donnells to Receive Honorary Degrees at Misericordia University

The Manhattan College president and his wife have close ties to the university.

Angela Alaimo O'Donnell and Brennan O'DonnellManhattan College president Brennan O’Donnell, Ph.D., and his wife, Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, Ph.D., will receive honorary degrees at the commencement ceremonies at Misericordia University, a Catholic university in northeast Pennsylvania, on Saturday, May 11.

A native of Kingston, Pa., President O’Donnell’s late mother, Mary Patricia (Brennan) O'Donnell, was a member of the Class of 1939 and his late aunt, Sister Miriam R. Brennan, RSM, was a member of the Class of 1950.

Dr. Alaimo O'Donnell is a native of West Wyoming, Pa. and a Wyoming Area High School graduate. An award-winning writer, a professor at Fordham University in New York City, and the associate director of Fordham's Curran Center for American Catholic Studies, she has published seven collections of poetry, a memoir, and a biography of fiction writer Flannery O'Connor. Dr. Alaimo O'Donnell also writes scholarly studies of contemporary and Catholic literature and is a former columnist and a regular contributor to America magazine. 

Misericordia University will present President O'Donnell and Dr. Alaimo O'Donnell with honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees during the ceremonies they address. President O’Donnell will deliver the keynote address to the graduates and Dr. Alaimo O’Donnell will read a poem written for the Class of 2019 during the ceremony.

President O'Donnell and Dr. Alaimo O'Donnell earned their Bachelor of Arts degrees with highest distinction and honors in English at The Pennsylvania State University. They earned their Master of Arts degrees and doctorate degrees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in English and American literature and language.

He has served as the 19th president of Manhattan College since 2009 after being the dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill for five years. President O'Donnell also spent 17 years at Loyola University Maryland as a professor of English and director of the university-wide honors program.  His scholarly and teaching interests focus mainly on poetry, especially of the British Romantic period, and on religion and literature, particularly contemporary American Catholic writers.

President O'Donnell has authored two books on the poetry of William Wordsworth and co-edited, "The Work of Andre Dubus,'' a collection of essays published as a double issue of "Religion and the Arts.'' In addition, he has published articles, essays and reviews in some of the leading journals in his field. In 2014, President O'Donnell won the prestigious Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award, which recognizes scholars whose work has "made a lasting contribution to the art and science of versification.''

A frequent contributor to national and international conversations about the current state and future prospects of Catholic higher education, President O'Donnell served as editor of the national magazine, Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education, from 1994-00, and as a member of the National Seminar on Jesuit Higher Education from 1993-00. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Lewis University and on the Board of Directors of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and chairs the Lasallian Association of Colleges and Universities.

By Pete McHugh