The University of Notre Dame Australia has conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa on Dr Carolyn Woo, President and Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Relief Services, USA, and University Governor, at a Graduation Ceremony on Wednesday 17 December 2014.
Dr Woo received her Honorary Doctorate alongside more than 900 undergraduate, postgraduate and higher degree students at the December Graduation Ceremonies on the Sydney Campus in the historic St Benedict’s Church. John Phillips AO KGSCG was also posthumously conferred an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa on Friday 19 December 2014.
Born in Hong Kong, Dr Woo migrated to the United States to study a Bachelor of Science at Purdue University. After her first year, she won a scholarship to complete her undergraduate studies – a momentous occasion for Dr Woo.
During this time at Purdue, she also completed a Master of Science in Industrial Administration and her PhD focused on strategic management; an emerging field of study at that time. Following her studies and two years working in the private sector, Dr Woo joined the Purdue University faculty as Associate Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.
From 1997 to 2011, Dr Woo served as Dean of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, Mendoza College of Business. During her tenure, the Mendoza College was regularly recognised as America’s leading business school in ethics education and research, and achieved a top ranking in 2010 and 2011 for its undergraduate business program from Bloomberg BusinessWeek Magazine.
In 2012, Dr Woo accepted the position of CEO and President of Catholic Relief Services where she now oversees around 5000 employees worldwide, providing emergency response, health, education and peace-building programs to more than 130 million people in nearly 100 countries spanning five continents.
In her message to the Sydney graduating cohort, Dr Woo asked three questions of the graduates about their future: how will they choose; what role will fear play in their choice; and how real is God to them? She said all adults had to ask themselves these questions as they went about their professional and personal life journey.
Vice Chancellor, Professor Celia Hammond, congratulated Dr Woo on her achievements.
“Dr Woo is a dedicated Catholic whose commitment to ethics, justice and service is evident in both her private and professional life. Her development perspectives are shaped by her Catholic faith, her understanding of what it takes to make organisations succeed, and the responsibility she feels to further the formation of faith for the next generation. She draws from her Catholic faith a strong commitment to being of service to the disadvantaged in our community,” Professor Hammond said in her citation.
“Her lifelong commitment to the mission of the Church and to utilising the moral energy of business as a force for good is evident in her many achievements and her continuing passion for service. She is an amazing and inspirational woman.”