commencement

2014 Honorary Degree Citation

Jonathan Edward Favreau '03
Doctor of Public Service

Extraordinary writer, powerful communicator, steadfast advocate for social justice.

You have a tremendous talent for deconstructing complex ideas into simple language that changes minds and touches hearts. Your powerful rhetoric, passion for politics and vision for change brought you from College Hill to Capitol Hill as the second-youngest presidential speechwriter in our nation’s history. Your interest in public service sparked early at the Favreau family dinner table where lively discussions of politics, values and civic responsibility were main-course topics. Your embrace of social justice as your life’s purpose found its enlightened voice in response to the intellectual challenge, respectful verbal combat and Jesuit philosophy that shaped your academic engagement at Holy Cross.

Your extensive volunteerism in the Worcester community and your Washington Semester internship infused your prose with soul and your heart with resolve. Your mastery of the narrative, deeply ingrained work ethic and impassioned take on social issues distinguished you among the many student interns. The senior senator from Massachusetts believed that you could channel the powerful vision and eloquent voice of a new senator from Illinois. Your remarkable skill for turning thoughts into words and issues into action connected with the future president and kick-started your political career as a speechwriter intent on making a difference.

From the campaign trail to the White House, President Barack Obama trusted you as a gifted collaborator in the crafting of memorable speeches that communicated substance, fine-tuned his message and connected with listeners. You took rhetorical risks to tell the compelling story behind his compassionate vision for “a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America.” You spent nearly a third of your life working behind the scenes at the pinnacle of power, politics and governance before you were 30. In the best Jesuit tradition, you listened respectfully, led by example and leveraged every opportunity to weave into the nation’s narrative the importance of building community and seeking social justice for all families.

Eleven years ago, in your valedictory speech, you encouraged your classmates to embrace “bold undertakings” in the spirit of Bishop Fenwick. You told them that the scope of their mission was not as important as its substance. That each in his or her own way could help to sustain the bright light of Holy Cross. Last year, you left the White House to become a founding partner at Fenway Strategies, a communications firm in Washington, and an incisive columnist for The Daily Beast.

That all may know of our esteem for you and our fond wishes for success in your new ventures; for your willingness to engage fully with vital social issues, and for writing with strong intention as a man for and with others, the College of the Holy Cross confers upon you this day the degree, Doctor of Public Service, honoris causa.