President James Dlugos said, “Ron Phillips has been committed to the principles of social and economic justice throughout his career. With pleasure, we honor his long history of serving those with the greatest need through financial investment strategies. Mr. Phillips represents the pinnacle of the type of service we aim to inculcate in our students. Also, we are grateful that he is providing invaluable leadership and vision as the College moves forward with the bold initiatives of the Mission-Aligned Business Council, initiatives that seek to promote sustainable agriculture and agritourism, the development of a 55+ wellness residential community, and a comprehensive Hospitality program, all within Maine’s Lakes Region. We are deeply grateful for his service and pleased to honor him with an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service.”
Of the College’s announcement, Phillips said, “This honorary doctorate is especially welcomed coming from Saint Joseph’s College, whose own roots reach back to Sister Catherine McCauley, the Irish nun who founded the Catholic Women’s Religious Congregation in the early part of 19th century Dublin, Ireland. McCauley inspired the development of an international network of institutions and services devoted to education, health, housing, and social justice, much like CEI’s network of over 4,000 similar entities in the U.S. active in rural neighborhoods and rural regions.”
Armed with a Master’s of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary of New York City and with completion of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program, Phillips pursued mission-driven financing. Phillips’ philosophy, rooted in the Civil Rights Movement, led to his work with international economic development and fair labor practices. These experiences exposed him to the global disparity of wealth and the challenges associated with inaccessibility of capital. When he relocated to Maine, with his wife Suzanne, he set out to address Maine’s social and economic problems with a new set of financing practices aimed at a more equitable distribution of resources.