All Wright: Jay Wright to Speak at 2022 Commencement


Courtesy of Olivia Pasquale/Villanovan Photography

Wright makes his entrance at Hoops Mania in 2021.

Vivi Melkonian, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Jay Wright will be the 2022 Commencement Speaker after receiving University Board approval. 

Father Donohue noted that the announcement of Jay Wright as commencement speaker was not tied to student feedback.

Father Peter explained that the process of receiving board approval for the honorary degree took time and was required this information to be kept secret. The official name for the degree is Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. Father Peter wanted to go beyond asking Wright to address the class and pay respect to everything Wright has contributed to the University. 

“And the honorary degree has to be approved by the board, and I didn’t want him to just be the speaker,” Father Peter said. “I wanted to have the University honor his 20 something years of being at the University.”

Father Peter remarked that Wright was excited by this proposal. 

“And he was thrilled, and it was like, ‘I don’t have a Villanova degree, and this is great,’” Father Peter said. “ He’s always said education’s important and pushes players to get their degrees. So I thought this would be a nice way to honor [him].”

Father Peter explained that this decision had been “in the works” for a number of days, but he was not at liberty to disclose until now. When asked about the timeline on this decision, Father Peter said he asked Wright on Monday if he would be interested in addressing the 2022 graduates. 

Father Peter elaborated on the timeline of events that led to this decision. 

“I thought about it over the weekend,” Father Peter said. “I thought, ‘this could be something.’ And then it was like, ‘all right, I’ve got to get in touch with the chair of the Board [Justin G. Gmelich] first.’ Then I had to contact the Board, and then they had to vote.” 

When asked if this decision came as a response to the negative feedback from the Villanova community, including a petition specifically requesting Wright for the featured speaker, Assistant Vice President of Communication Jon Gust explained this was not the case. 

“It’s not a result of that,” Gust said. “[Father Peter] asked him several days ago, and between that and the board approval, it just takes time.”

News of Wright headlining graduation was celebrated by the Villanova community. Seniors who have followed and grown to love  Wright’s over their past four years at Villanova were excited to receive this update. 

Senior Billy Vinci shared his excitement over this announcement. 

“I’m really happy with this decision,” Vinci said. “Jay is a huge part of the University and a huge reason, directly or indirectly, that so many seniors are here in the first place.”

Vinci was upset about the original announcement that there would not be a commencement speaker. 

“This is a proper way to honor the seniors and their families,” Vinci said. “After four years of dedication and hard work, they deserve a great commencement speaker. Jay is the perfect guy for that.”

Senior Maddie Burke, a dedicated student and athlete at Villanova, expressed her delight with this decision. Burke and her friends conspired about potential speakers for commencement and Wright was their top choice. 

“I am glad that the decision was changed and that we now have a commencement speaker, especially since it’s Jay Wright who is so important to Villanova,” Burke said. “I think the class of 2022 will be very excited about this change and now I am even more excited for graduation.”

The community is excited to hear from their beloved former basketball coach. 

Senior Jack Roberge further expressed satisfaction with this decision. 

“I’m genuinely thrilled to hear that Jay Wright will be speaking at commencement,” Roberge said. “To have such an important person to the Villanova community, especially at such a pivotal time for him, to take the time to speak to us means the world to me and all of the class of 2022.”