50th Anniversary

Honorary Doctorates

The following distinguished Spaniards will receive honorary doctorates as part of the Madrid Campus anniversary celebration:

José María Merino — Spanish Writer/Member of the Royal Academic of Writers

Born in 1941, José María Merino is a highly acclaimed contemporary Spanish writer. His prolific literary career covers all narrative forms, poetry, and literary essays. He is regarded as a master of the short-story as well as children's literature; he has edited important collections of short-stories and frequently writes for the press. Likewise, José María Merino is also an experienced university professor and has given conferences in prestigious foundations and institutions both in Spain and internationally.

José María Merino served as the Director of the Ministry of Culture's Center for Literature (1987-89) and currently is the Honorary Patron of the Fundación de la Lengua Española (Foundation of the Spanish Language). He was the Honorary President of the Fundación del Libro Infantil y Juvenil "Leer León" (Leon's Foundation for Children's Literature). Elected as Member of the Spanish Royal Academy in 2008, he is also a Member of the Alexander Pushkin Foundation; the Honorary Hans Christian Anderson Ambassador to Denmark; and the Recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Asociación de Licenciados y Doctores Españoles en los Estados Unidos (ALDEEU). He was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Leon.

José María Merino studied under the Marianist brothers and, in one of his books, comments on how two of his teachers, along with a priest, sparked his imagination and inculcated his love for reading. He received a licentiate degree in law from the Complutense University of Madrid. He and his wife, María del Carmen Norverto Laborda, are parents of two daughters: María, a professor of constitutional law at Madrid's Rey Juan Carlos University; his other daughter, Ana, a senior professor at the University of Iowa, is also a creative writer, poet, and playwright. José María Merino has delivered conferences at the Madrid Campus on various occasions; he has also traveled to St. Louis, where his works were presented at Pius XII Library (November 6, 2000).

Isabel Gómez-Acebo Duque de Estrada — Theologian

Before her retirement, Isabel Gómez-Acebo Duque de Estrada taught theology for our Jesuit neighbor in Madrid, Comillas Pontifical University. She is a founding member of the Association of Spanish Women Theologians (ATE), belongs to the European Society of Women in Theological Research (ESWTR), and was part of the scientific committee of Andalusia's Feminist School of Theology (EFETA), an association that offered web-based feminist theology courses.

Mrs. Gómez-Acebo's prolific writing career ranges from her first book, Dios también es madre ("God is also a mother") to her most recent achievement, a historical novel on the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, Francisco: El Pañero de Asís. She directed, edited, and contributed to the groundbreaking series En Clave de Mujer for Desclée de Brouwer Editorial, a publishing house dedicated to promoting Christian humanism. This series featured more than 15 works focused on feminist theology, many of which were translated to other languages. She has written in many other books and continues to write also in the Spanish and international press and has been invited to speak at numerous national and international conferences and meetings focused on theological studies.

Mrs. Gómez-Acebo was born in Madrid in 1940. She holds two licentiate degrees: one in political science from Madrid's Complutense University; the second, in theology, from Madrid's Jesuit Comillas University. She is the mother of six children and the grandmother of twenty one. She is the president of the Fundación Sagrada Familia, which is dedicated to improving long-term care for the elderly (with three centers in Madrid). A great friend to the University, Mrs. Gómez-Acebo, has served as President of the Madrid Campus' Board of Regents for a decade.

Enrique Figaredo Alvargonzalez, S.J. — "Bishop of the Wheelchairs"

Fr. Enrique Figaredo – or "Father Kike" – has worked with the disabled in Cambodia since 1985, a vocation that has earned him the nickname "Bishop of the Wheelchairs." His life of service traces back to work in Thailand and later in Cambodia, initially helping people maimed by landmines. He cooperates with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. In 1991, in Phnom Penh, he founded Banteay Prieb ("The Dove House"), where maimed children receive education and people with disabilities can make Mekong-style wheelchairs (a wooden wheelchair with three wheels). In Battambang he founded the "Arrupe Center" and promoted development all over the diocese with projects in education, vocational training for adults, infrastructure and relief aid. Father Kike continues to participate in Cambodia's development by collaborating with various NGOs and at present, takes part in the "Ban Cluster Bomb" Campaign.

From "Austurian of the Month" (in 1998) to the Royal Decree that awarded him the "Gran Cruz de la Orden Civil de la Solidaridad Social" (Great Cross of the Civil Order for Social Solidarity) for extraordinary service, Father Kike has received many honors and recognitions, including recognitions by the King and the government of Cambodia, member of the Sahametrey Order and meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. Saint Louis University will be the first institution of higher education to award him an honorary degree.

Born in Gijón (Asturias) in 1959, Father Kike is a graduate of the Jesuit high school Colegio de la Inmaculada; he holds university licentiate degrees in economics, theology and philosophy. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1979 and was ordained in 1992.

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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