Seton Hall U. commencement to feature UN secretary-general

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

SOUTH ORANGE / NEWARK, NJ — Seton Hall University will celebrate its 166th baccalaureate commencement ceremony on Tuesday, May 24, at the Prudential Center, 165 Mulberry St. in Newark, at 9 a.m. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will deliver the commencement address. The ceremony will be livestreamed on the university’s website at

“The secretary-general will receive an honorary degree for his lifelong dedication to fostering peace and social justice, which are among the ideals and aspirations to which Seton Hall is committed,” according to a press release from the school. “He epitomizes the university’s mission of servant leadership in a global society. His exemplary service at the helm of the United Nations includes investing in young people and amplifying their meaningful contributions as changemakers confronting many of the world’s crises and challenges.”

The ninth secretary-general of the United Nations, Guterres took office on Jan. 1, 2017. Prior to his appointment as secretary-general, Guterres served as United Nations high commissioner for refugees from June 2005 to December 2015, heading one of the world’s foremost humanitarian organizations during some of the most serious displacement crises in decades. Before that, Guterres spent more than 20 years in government and public service. He served as prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, during which time he was heavily involved in the international effort to resolve the crisis in East Timor. 

“Seton Hall has had a special relationship with the United Nations community since the university founded the School of Diplomacy and International Relations. We are thrilled to welcome Secretary-General António Guterres to Seton Hall, just as we have done with his predecessors Ban Ki-moon and Kofi Annan,” said Courtney B. Smith, dean of the School of Diplomacy and International Relations. 

Guterres was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1949 and graduated from the Instituto Superior Tecnico with a degree in engineering. He is fluent in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish. He is married to Catarina de Almeida Vaz Pinto, deputy mayor for culture of Lisbon, and has two children, a stepchild and three grandchildren. 

“Seton Hall is fortunate to host Secretary-General Guterres as commencement speaker at this critical moment in world history,” university President Joseph E. Nyre said. “His heroic efforts to foster peace and justice provide a powerful example for our graduates, who are preparing to take their first steps into a world that urgently needs their special gifts. 

“I am confident his excellency’s words will be rich in wisdom, insight and inspiration,” Nyre continued. “We pray for the secretary-general’s successful intercession as he works with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and leaders around the world to support Ukrainian refugees and bring an end to the war. We are proud to bestow an honorary degree on the secretary-general for everything he has done — and is continuing to accomplish — in the name of worldwide peace and harmony.”