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Highest-Ranking Female Olympic Official to Speak at MSMU Commencement

March 14, 2008 -- Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU) celebrates Commencement 2008 on May 12 with speaker Anita L. DeFrantz, an Olympic medalist, community activist, and the first woman in the history of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to serve as its vice president.

The College also will recognize Bishop Sylvester Ryan with the Carondelet Medal, MSMU's highest honor. Ryan was appointed a bishop in 1990 by Pope John Paul II and served as Bishop of Monterey (California) from 1992 until his retirement in 2006.

Graduation ceremonies will be held at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, Calif., and will include associate, bachelor's, master's, doctorate, and certificate programs.

DeFrantz is an attorney and a member of the IOC and the 1976 and 1980 Olympic teams. She is president of the board of directors of the LA84 Foundation, which is managing Southern California's endowment from the 1984 Olympic Games.

In addition to earning a bronze medal for rowing in the 1976 Games, DeFrantz won a silver medal in the 1978 world championships, was a finalist in the world championships four times, and won six national championships. DeFrantz is chair of the IOC's Women and Sport Commission and the IOC Athletes' Commission Election Committee. She is also a member of a number of other IOC commissions, including the Coordination Commission for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

"Anita DeFrantz is an inspiring leader who has set the bar high for women around the globe," said Mount President Jacqueline Powers Doud. "She is truly a role model for our students—and shows that one person can make a difference both on the larger stage and in our own community."

Bishop Ryan earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from St. John's Seminary in Camarillo in 1953 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1957. He served in a variety of pastoral settings in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, during which time he earned a master's degree in religious education from Immaculate Heart College in L.A. in 1971. He served as rector of St. John's Seminary from 1986 to 1990. Ryan also chaired the bishop's ad hoc committee on stewardship for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He served as president of the California Catholic Conference from 1997 to 2004.

"Bishop Ryan has dedicated his life to the Church and shared his selfless and generous spirit with so many along the way," Doud said. "He has led Catholics with great energy, enthusiasm, and wisdom."

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