SHAWNEE, OK — University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea’s talents and contributions to the world of Catholic education were recently recognized on the grandest stage of higher education.

University of Mary President James Shea receives honorary doctorate from St. Gregory's University

University of Mary President James Shea receives honorary doctorate from St. Gregory’s University

Before having the honor of giving his commencement speech to St. Gregory’s University graduates, Shea was unexpectedly presented with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from the Catholic college.

This degree is usually conferred by an institution to recognize a significant accomplishment or contribution in a specific field or to society. St. Gregory’s conferred the honorary doctorate upon Shea by stating “in recognition of his commitment and service to the Catholic community, his support for both secondary and higher education and as a tribute to all he has achieved thus far.”

Both St. Gregory’s University and the University of Mary are schools recommended by the Cardinal Newman Society as faithful Catholic universities.

University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea gives commencement speech at St. Gregory's University

University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea gives commencement speech at St. Gregory’s University

As noted in a recent edition of the National Catholic Register magazine’s Daily News, writer Joseph Pronechen stated that “in short order, Msgr. Shea has propelled his university to be among the faithful Catholic institutions in the country.”

In 2015, Thomas More College also bestowed upon Shea an honorary doctorate.

During his current tenure as the sixth president of the University of Mary, Shea has spearheaded several groundbreaking higher education initiatives to include the new Year-Round Campus program that allows students to graduate in 2.6 years and earn their master’s degree in four years. In Oct. of 2014, Shea announced a partnership with Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) that will allow incoming freshmen nursing majors at Mary to receive their senior year free. He entered the University of Mary into an unprecedented collaborative agreement with the largest public research university in America — Arizona State University — that allows ASU students to take courses from Mary in theological studies and Catholic studies.

Shea’s other popular visionary programs include a new campus in Rome, Italy; the Catholic Scholars program that provides free room and board to eligible graduates of Catholic high schools offered to first-time, full-time freshmen; in 2010 he created the Bishop Paul A. Zipfel Catholic Studies Program that has quickly become the second largest in the United States. In 2012, his alma mater, Catholic University of America, presented Shea with the prestigious Young Alumni Award. The award recognizes graduates of CUA who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and promise at an early age.

Monsignor Shea was inaugurated in 2009 as the sixth president of the university and, at the age of 34, became the youngest college or university president in the United States. He is also a Knight Commander of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and has served on the National Advisory Council to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Governor’s Commission on Education Improvement for the State of North Dakota.