Alumna, Catholic Relief Services head keynotes winter commencement

December 20, 2015  

Carolyn Yauyan Woo

Purdue alumna Carolyn Woo delivers the keynote address during Purdue's winter commencement. Woo is president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services. (Purdue University/ Mark Simons)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue alumna Carolyn Yauyan Woo, a former University of Notre Dame dean and current president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, provided the keynote address during Purdue's winter commencement ceremonies on Sunday (Dec. 20).

Woo keynoted two ceremonies in Purdue's Elliott Hall of Music, one taking place at 9:30 a.m., and the other at 2:30 p.m. She addressed a graduating class that included approximately 1,258 undergraduate degree candidates, 247 master's degree- and 146 doctoral degree-seekers, as well as one Doctor of Pharmacy degree candidate.

The morning ceremony included graduates in the colleges of Agriculture, Education, Engineering and Liberal Arts. Jeffrey A. Kendzior of Crystal Lake, Illinois, in the College of Education, was the student responder.

Graduates in the colleges of Health and Human Sciences, Science, Technology, Pharmacy and Veterinary Medicine, and School of Management participated in the 2:30 p.m. ceremony. Samantha E. Dawson of Warsaw, Indiana, graduating from the College of Science, was the student responder.

Woo earned her Bachelor of Science degree with honors and highest distinction in 1975, her MSIA in 1976, when she was named a Krannert Scholar, and her doctorate in 1979.

"I'm excited to be able to give back to Purdue, which has been so good to me both as a student and professionally, and to be a part of this unforgettable moment in these graduates' lives," Woo said before the ceremonies. "By graduating from one of the world's premier universities, they are already off to a great start on their life's work."

Graduate high-fives

Smiles are all around as a Purdue graduate receives a high-five during the university's winter commencement on Sunday, Dec. 20. (Purdue University/ Mark Simons)
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Woo has led the Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic Church, since January 2012. Her career before that was spent in academia.

She began at Purdue in 1981 as a professor and then served as director of the Krannert School of Management's professional master's programs before becoming associate executive vice president for academic affairs. In 1997, she became dean of the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. She held the position until 2011, when she joined the Catholic Relief Services organization.

Woo has received honorary doctorates from multiple universities, including the University of Notre Dame, Wake Forest University, the University of St. Thomas and Loyola University of Maryland. She was inducted into the Order of the Griffin by Purdue in 1997 for exceptional service and commitment.

Woo and husband David E. Bartkus met at St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center on Purdue's campus, and they have two sons.

Commencement videos will be available for $30 per DVD. Order forms can be obtained at the Loeb Playhouse box office, online at or by calling 765-494-3933. Forms may be submitted both before and after the ceremony within two weeks of the event. 

Related web link: Photo gallery of the winter 2015 commencement

Writer: Jim Bush, 765-494-2077, 

Contact: Christine DeHahn Pass, senior assistant registrar, 765-494-6163, 

Related Link:  Woo's commencement speech 

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