June 18, 2015

United Way Worldwide President and CEO Brian A. Gallagher to Receive Honorary Doctorate

SUNY Board Chairman H. Carl McCall and Empire State College President Merodie A. Hancock to Bestow the Degree

photo of Brian Gallagher

United Way President and CEO Brian A. Gallagher to Receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters at the 2015 New York City Commencement Event. Photo/United Way

(NEW YORK CITY - June 18, 2015) SUNY Empire State College will confer an honorary doctorate of humane letters on Brian A. Gallagher, president and CEO of United Way Worldwide.

The event takes place at 6 p.m., today, June 18, Alfred Learner Hall, Columbia University, 2920 Broadway, as part of one of the eight statewide events marking the college’s 43rd annual commencement.

Gallagher also will provide this evening's commencement address to members of the graduating class of 2015.

SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman H. Carl McCall and the college’s president, Merodie A. Hancock, will bestow the degree in recognition of Gallagher's accomplishments with the largest privately funded nonprofit in the world.

Under Gallagher’s leadership, United Way shifted the focus of its mission to drive community change.  He has expanded United Way presence to nearly 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries, led efforts to increase fund raising to $5 billion annually, while engaging 2.6 million volunteers and 9.6 million donors annually to build stronger communities by improving education, income stability and health.

“I take a great deal of pride in this honor,” said Gallagher. “A doctorate of humane letters holds certain significance today. Service and the contributions of civil society have never been more important. I’m particularly proud to be recognized by an institution committed to strengthening this work and effecting change in our communities. SUNY shares our belief in the power of partnership, engaging nontraditional perspectives and advancing individual leadership.”


“Under Brian Gallagher’s guidance, the United Way, already widely respected and successful, was transformed to a much more focused and effective organization with worldwide impact,” said Hancock, who served on United Way of Isabella County (Mich.) board of directors while she was vice president at Central Michigan University Global Campus. “Brian's visionary leadership of the United Way has increased its service and aid to people all over the world. I am grateful to chairman McCall, the board of trustees and chancellor Zimpher for their support and approval in awarding Brian a well-earned and much-deserved honorary degree.”

“On behalf of chancellor Zimpher, the board of trustees and SUNY Empire State College, I am proud to bestow an honorary doctorate of humane letters upon United Way President and CEO Brian Gallagher in recognition of his vision, dedication no comma and persistence in service to the United Way and the many people and communities the organization benefits around the world,” said McCall.

About Brian A. Gallagher

Brian Gallagher became president and CEO of United Way of America in 2002 and of United Way Worldwide in 2009. In 2002, he immediately took on the challenge of leading the transformation of the organization to focus on community impact.

A career veteran of the United Way system, Gallagher said he believes that the true measure of success for United Way and other philanthropic organizations is bottom-line results: the lives that are changed and the communities that are shaped, which represents a dynamic shift from the United Way recognized for decades as the nation’s premier fund raiser and distributor.

Gallagher’s accomplishments and their relationship to the college led to his nomination and subsequent approval by the board of trustees for an honorary degree.

The genesis for his nomination occurred last year when he delivered the 2014 Boyer lecture at the college’s annual All College Conference.

Together with commencement and the college’s annual student academic conference, the Boyer lecture is one of the highlights of the academic year.

Gallagher’s lecture, “Transformational Leadership: Succeeding in a Complex World,” related to “re-emergence,” the college’s theme for the inauguration of Hancock as president, and which reflected Hancock’s career of advocacy for the re-emergence of nontraditional students.

About SUNY Empire State College

Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates more than 20,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, more than 35 locations in the state of New York, online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both, at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.

The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35 and graduate students’ average age is 40.

Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.

Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.

Students have the opportunity to enroll five times during the year.

The college’s 73,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

The college was first established in 1971 by the SUNY Board of Trustees with the encouragement of the late Ernest L. Boyer, chancellor of the SUNY system from 1970 to 1977.

Boyer also served as United States commissioner of education during the administration of President Jimmy Carter and then as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

More information about the college is available at www.esc.edu.