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Acclaimed Writer and Physician Abraham Verghese to Deliver 2022 Holy Cross Commencement Address

Verghese and Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., Holy Cross’ 32nd president, will also receive honorary degrees
March 2nd, 2022 by 
A side by side photo of Abraham Verghese and Rev. Philip Boroughs

Abraham Verghese, left, and Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J. will be given honorary degrees during the 2022 Holy Cross Commencement ceremony.

Acclaimed writer and physician Abraham Verghese will address this year’s graduates during the College of the Holy Cross Commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 27, at 10:30 a.m. at the DCU Center in Worcester. This year’s commencement marks the College’s 176th graduating class.

An infectious disease physician, best-selling author and popular speaker, Abraham Verghese, MD, MACP is the Linda R. Meier and Joan F. Lane Provostial Professor and Vice Chair for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at Stanford University. He is known for his advocacy for the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship and for the value of the discerning bedside exam as a complement to and a way of more judiciously using expensive diagnostic technology.

Verghese began his medical training in his native Ethiopia, but when his education was interrupted during the civil unrest there, he moved to the United States with his family. He worked in the U.S. as an orderly for a year before completing his medical studies at the Madras Medical College, Madras, India. He finished his infectious diseases fellowship at Boston University’s School of Medicine.

Verghese’s early years as an orderly, then as a physician caring for patients with AIDS at the dawn of that epidemic, were transformative and informed his approach to medicine and his writing of both fiction and non-fiction.

He served on the faculty of East Tennessee State University, the University of Iowa, Texas Tech University, and the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, before coming to Stanford in 2007. Verghese is the author of “My Own Country,” a 1994 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, and a Time Magazine Best Book of the Year, that was also made into a movie directed by Mira Nair “The Tennis Partner,” a New York Times Notable Book; and, most recently, the novel “Cutting for Stone,” which spent a year on the New York Times bestseller list and was picked as one of Amazon’s “A Hundred Books To Read in a Lifetime.”

He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, and in 2016, President Obama awarded him the National Humanities Medal. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Verghese’s essays and short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere.

Verghese will be given an honorary degree during Commencement. The College will also award an honorary degree to Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., the 32nd president of Holy Cross, a role he held from 2012-2021.

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Boroughs earned his B.A. from Gonzaga University, in Spokane, Washington and received a Master of Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology (Chicago). He later went on to receive a Licentiate of Sacred Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA and a Ph.D. in Christian Spirituality from the Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley, CA).

During Boroughs’ tenure as president, Holy Cross successfully completed a $420 million capital campaign, which led to a dramatic expansion to the Luth Athletic Complex and the construction of the Joyce Contemplative Center, the Joanne Luth Recreation and Wellness Center and the soon to be completed Prior Performing Arts Center. A second campaign launched under Boroughs’ leadership, the Hope and Access campaign, has raised more than $40 million for need-based financial aid.

The College also instituted new academic initiatives, including the J.D. Power Center for Liberal Arts in the World, Arts Transcending Borders, and the Scholarship in Action program, which funds faculty research in Worcester.

Boroughs also led efforts to make Holy Cross a more diverse, inclusive campus. During his tenure, the College created the Office of International Students and joined the American Talent Initiative, which seeks to expand access for low-income and first-generation students. Holy Cross also created the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and the Office of Title IX initiatives and equal opportunity during Boroughs’ time as president.

For more information on this year’s Commencement events, please visit the Commencement website.

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