Page Hero - Commencement



2017 honorary degrees

Honorary Degrees

Dr. Karen Cox

Karen Cox, PhD, RN, FACHE, FAAN

Karen Cox, PhD, RN, FACHE, FAAN, is executive vice president and COO of Children's Mercy–Kansas City, an independent, academic medical center in Missouri. She also serves as assistant dean for Clinical Partnerships at the University of Missouri–Kansas City (UMKC), and in 2015 was named the inaugural endowed chair for the V. Fred Burry, MD, and Sandra Hobart Burry Chair in Nursing Advocacy and Leadership to recognize her local and national advocacy and leadership work.

Cox was elected to a two-year term as president-elect of the American Academy of Nursing, followed by a two-year term as president (2015-2019). Previously, she was elected to the American Hospital Association, Section on Maternal and Child Health Governing Council, and appointed to the Children's Hospital Association, Child Health Committee.

She was named a Fellow in the Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellowship Program, and is also a Fellow in the American College of Health Care Executives. Cox was appointed to a term on the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice, U.S. Health, and Human Services, and has served as board chair of the National Initiative for Children's Health Quality. She has also served as board member and chair of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City board of directors, a $400 million foundation dedicated to serving the underinsured and uninsured in the Kansas City area. Cox is a member of the UMKC Board of Trustees.

Cox has contributed articles to publications including Modern Healthcare, American Journal of Nursing, Nursing Economics, Seminars for Nurse Managers, Journal of Nursing Administration, Nursing Leadership Forum, Nursing Administration Quarterly, and Journal of Public Health Nursing.

Cox has an associate degree in nursing from Excelsior College, a BSN from the University of Kansas, and an MSN and PhD from UMKC. In 2006, she received the Carrie B. Lenburg Award, an award given to Excelsior alumni in recognition of their commitment and contributions to nursing education and for their academic and professional accomplishments.

Karen Cox will be delivering the Commencement address at this year's ceremony.

carolyn woo

Carolyn Y. Woo, PhD

Carolyn Y. Woo, PhD, is the former President & CEO of Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. Previous positions include dean of the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business and associate executive vice president for academic affairs at Purdue University. She was born and raised in Hong Kong and immigrated to the United States to attend Purdue University, where she received her bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees.

Woo was the first female dean to chair the accreditation body for business schools (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) and directed its Peace Through Commerce initiative. She currently sits on the boards of: Aileron Foundation; Catholic University of America; Archdiocese of Baltimore Independent Child Abuse Review Board; Migration & Refugee Services, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; and the International Policy Committee, United States of Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Woo was one of five presenters in Rome at the release of Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment in June 2015. Her faith, journey, and work at CRS are recounted in her book, "Working for a Better World," (2015). Her Catholic News Service monthly column took first place in the 2013 Catholic Press Association Awards in the category of Best Regular Column—Spiritual Life.

Representing CRS, Woo was featured in the May/June 2013 issue of Foreign Policy as one of the 500 Most Powerful people on the planet and one of only 33 in the category of "a force for good."

Carolyn Y. Woo will speak at the Awards Convocation.