Westminster Announces the Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J., as 2017 Commencement Speaker


Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J.

March 6, 2017

Westminster College is pleased to announce the Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J., as the college’s 2017 Commencement speaker. The Jesuit priest, author and humanitarian will address graduates during the ceremony on May 13, 2017, at 9:45 a.m., at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah.

Father Boyle is the founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, CA, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. He is the subject of Academy Award-winner Frieda Lee Mock’s 2012 documentary, “G-Dog.” Known for saying “nothing stops a bullet like a job,” Father Boyle is a charismatic visionary whose compassion transforms lives.

“We are thrilled to have Father Boyle, a true visionary leader, join us for our 2017 Commencement ceremony,” said Stephen Morgan, Westminster College president.

“At Westminster, we emphasize the importance of global consciousness, social responsibility and ethical awareness — values that Father Boyle’s work truly exemplifies.”

Father Boyle will receive an honorary degree at the May 13th ceremony along with:

  • Dr. Michael Bassis: Westminster’s 16th president from 2002 to 2012. Teacher, scholar, administrator, an authority on educational change and an active participant in the national conversation on the future of higher education.
  • Ronald W. Jibson: Retired chairman, president and CEO, Questar Corporation and Westminster MBA alumnus. Industry and community leader passionate about education and the arts.
  • Mayor Cherie Wood: Mayor and life-long resident of South Salt Lake. A dedicated community leader whose Promise South Salt Lake initiative is addressing critical resident needs and creating pathways for South Salt Lake youth to succeed in school and life.

Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J.

From 1986 to 1992, Father Boyle served as pastor of Dolores Mission Church, then the poorest Catholic parish in Los Angeles, located between two large public housing projects with the highest concentration of gang activity in the city. He witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence on his community during what he has called “the decade of death” that began in the late 1980s. In the face of law enforcement tactics and criminal justice policies of suppression and mass incarceration as the means to end gang violence, Father Boyle and parish and community members adopted what was a radical approach at the time: treat gang members as human beings.

By 1988, they started what would eventually become Homeboy Industries, now the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. Homeboy employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to 15,000 men and women who walk through its doors every year seeking a better life.

Father Boyle is the author of the 2010 New York Times-bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. He has received the California Peace Prize and been inducted into the California Hall of Fame. In 2014, the White House named Father Boyle a Champion of Change. He received the 2016 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the James Beard Foundation, the national culinary-arts organization.

In 2016, Father Boyle was a visiting Practitioner in Residence with Religions and Public Life at Duke University. Earlier this year, he was the Rawson Distinguished Visitor at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs.