Saint Martin's University names Gloria Purvis as 2022-2023 commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient

Gloria Purvis headshot

LACEY, Wash. – Saint Martin’s University is pleased to announce Gloria Purvis as the 2022-2023 commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient. Purvis will address the graduating Class of 2023 on Saturday, May 6, at 10 a.m. in the Hal and Inge Marcus Pavilion.

“We are honored and privileged to welcome Gloria back to campus to celebrate commencement with our graduating class of 2023 and to recognize her achievements with an honorary degree,” shared Saint Martin’s University President Jennifer Bonds-Raacke, Ph.D. “Gloria embodies the intersection of the University’s core values of faith, reason, service, and community —her passionate and insightful engagement with issues facing our students will instill Saint Martin’s mission and encourage our graduates to forever live with heart at this pivotal moment of commencement.”   

Earlier this school year, Purvis met with community members to discuss creating community and a sense of belonging at Saint Martin’s. Following her campus visit, Purvis was invited to join the campus community for the 2023-2024 academic year as a resident scholar. She will work closely with the Diversity and Equity Center (DEC) and Campus Ministry where she will lead, mentor and teach students. “I am very excited to experience Benedictine spirituality and its role in education at St. Martin’s,” she said. 

“Gloria Purvis is an ideal scholar because of her expertise on the intersection of faith and race, helping our community to advance our commitments to anti-racism, and anti-oppression, in and through our identity as a Catholic institution,” said Director of Campus Ministry Nick Coffman. “She is respected for many reasons demonstrated by her impressive resume of work on behalf of marginal populations, but also because of the insightful and honest challenges she brings to leadership—she calls for authenticity and integrity.”  

Purvis is the creator, host, and executive producer of The Gloria Purvis Podcast in collaboration with America Media. The podcast discusses current news and complex issues at the intersection of church and society and creates space for those voices and perspectives not often given a platform. “Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, urges us to go to the margins,” shared Purvis. “One way of doing that is to listen to the voices and perspectives of the marginalized.” 

Prior to her advocacy work, Purvis spent nearly two decades working in the mortgage industry then transitioned to a risk management director role at a major financial services company. She is now a consultant for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Religious Liberty.  

Her previous achievements as a scholar include creating and hosting the EWTN TV series, Authentically Free at Last, hosting an international show on EWTN Radio, Morning Glory, and being named Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic of the Year for 2020. Most recently, she served as the Inaugural Pastoral Fellow at the McGrath Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame University and received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from the University of Portland in Oregon. 

In late 2022, she participated in a groundbreaking, exclusive interview with Pope Francis with a delegation from America Media. She served on the National Black Catholic Congress' Leadership Commission on Social Justice, and as an Advisory Board Member on the Maryland Catholic Conference's Respect for Life Department as well as the Archdiocese of Washington's Pastoral Council. 

Through her media presence, she has been a strong Catholic voice for life issues, religious liberty, and racial justice. Purvis appeared in numerous media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, PBS Newshour, NPR, FOX News, Newsweek, and Catholic Answers Live.  

Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 13 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 29 majors, 11 master’s programs, one doctorate program and five certificate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,300 undergraduate students and 250 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and more students to its extended campus located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. 


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