Award-Winning Political Journalist and Executive for $2 Billion Tech Firm Named Saint Mary's 2015 Commencement Speakers
Two inspirational individuals—one, an award-winning political journalist, and the other, a successful information technology executive and a Saint Mary’s alumna—will address undergraduate and graduate students at the 2015 Commencement Ceremonies of Saint Mary's College of California.
Chris Matthews, host of the MSNBC political analysis news program “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” will deliver the commencement address for the College’s undergraduates. Monika Fahlbusch ’90, senior vice president and chief people and administrative officer for the $2 billion firm BMC Software, Inc., will offer the commencement address to Saint Mary’s graduate students.
An expected 700 students will receive their diplomas at the Undergraduate Commencement on Saturday, May 23, 2015, at 9:30 a.m. An estimated 400 students will receive diplomas the next day, Sunday, May 24, 2015, at 10 a.m. at the Graduate and Professional Programs Commencement. Both commencement ceremonies will take place at Saint Mary’s SMC Stadium, 1928 St. Mary's Road, Moraga, Calif. 94556.
“We are extremely honored to have two such accomplished individuals address our 2015 class of undergraduates and graduate students,” said Saint Mary’s President James Donahue. “Chris Matthews is a prominent national journalist, a product of a Christian Brothers education, and a keen promoter of the common good of the nation. His unwavering conviction to engaging civic issues reflects a remarkable individual who will offer an inspiring message for our graduating seniors.”
“Additionally, the achievements of Saint Mary’s alumna and technology executive Monika Fahlbusch clearly illustrate how a liberal arts education can prepare one for leadership in the world of high tech,” Donahue added. “Her personal journey and accomplishments exemplify the original thinking and creative approaches necessary for individual and organizational success. She is an innovative leader in the field of human resource management whose insights on how businesses engage with employees in a workplace increasingly dependent on digital, social media, and mobile communication will be of great interest to our graduate students and the Saint Mary’s community.”
Chris Matthews, Political Journalist
A graduate of a Christian Brothers high school in his hometown of Philadelphia, Matthews said the educational mission of the Brothers and Saint Mary’s resonates profoundly with him and he looks forward to addressing the College’s class of 2015. “As a graduate of La Salle College High School, I’ve always considered myself a Brothers’ boy,” he said. “Saint Mary’s is giving me a great honor that I hope to partially repay with a commencement address that is rousing, inspiring and memorable.”
A former Washington bureau chief, presidential speechwriter and congressional staffer, Matthews began his broadcast journalism career in 1994. Several years later, he launched “Hardball,” the MSNBC in-depth political analysis forum that features interviews and debates with prominent politicians, newsmakers, and business and government leaders.
Matthews became enthralled with politics during the historic presidential contest between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Their rivalry would eventually become the subject of one of his six best-selling books. His insight as a keen political observer was shaped by service in the Peace Corps, working in the U.S. senate, serving in the White House as a speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter and as a top aide to the legendary Speaker of the House, Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, Jr.
Matthews has authored six best-selling books on politics. His latest work, Tip and The Gipper: When Politics Worked, examines an extraordinary era when liberal Democrat and Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill and conservative Republican President Ronald Reagan served together for the benefit of the country. His other works include Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero; Hardball: How Politics is Played, Told by One Who Knows the Game; Kennedy & Nixon: The Rivalry that Shaped Postwar America; Now, Let Me Tell You What I Really Think; American: Beyond our Grandest Notions; and Life’s a Campaign.
A veteran journalist, Matthews also served as the San Francisco Examiner’s Washington bureau chief, where he covered some of the great historic events of the late 20th century, including the fall of the Berlin Wall and the first all-races election in South Africa.
Matthews earned his undergraduate degree in economics at the College of the Holy Cross, and did graduate work in economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Politics at Harvard University and is the recipient of nearly 30 honorary degrees from colleges across the nation, including his alma mater.
Monika Fahlbusch, Workplace Change Agent
An inventive industry leader in human resource management, Monika Fahlbusch has been recognized as an innovator in the utilization of technology in radically transforming work environments by improving employee engagement, collaboration, retention and the performance management experience.
Fahlbusch is the senior vice president and chief people and administrative officer at BMC Software, Inc., a $2 billion digital software solutions company that, among other things, provides cloud, mainframe and mobile IT management services for businesses. A part of the executive team of the Houston-based company, she is responsible for human resources, facilities, employee communication and community relations.
A member of Saint Mary’s class of 1990, Fahlbusch said she was honored to address this year’s graduate students. “Whether it’s at the undergraduate or graduate level, the benefits students receive from attending Saint Mary’s—a strong liberal arts education and a solid grounding in the importance of investing in your community—offer them so many opportunities in the world,” said Fahlbusch.
Additionally, she said she wants to remind graduates that their success will involve more than what they’ve learned in the classroom. “Over the course of my career, I have learned both how much the attitude with which I approach each job matters, and how rewarding giving back to others is.” She added, “As graduates enter or return to the workforce, they have enormous control over how satisfying their own career will be. A great education combined with the habit of giving to others and the right attitude can be a recipe for phenomenal success. More than two decades since I graduated from Saint Mary’s, I am sometimes surprised by how much fun I still have at work.”
Prior to joining BMC, Fahlbusch was the senior vice president of global employee success at Salesforce, where she helped the company rank seventh in Fortune's Great Place to Work list – up from a ranking of 52 at the start of her tenure in 2011. Under her leadership, the company’s HR team launched innovative employee and leadership programs, built a hiring engine to grow from $2 billion to $4 billion in three years, and used data and analytics to increase employee engagement and reduce turnover.
Her 24-year administration career includes leadership positions in human resources, communication and information technology at Old Navy, PeopleSoft and ABM Industries. Fahlbusch is also a highly rated and well regarded speaker at industry conferences including Dreamforce, ASPIRE Executive Summit, Great Place to Work Conference, ICAN Women's Leadership Conference and Milken Global Conference.
Fahlbusch holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration and economics from Saint Mary’s. She has also served as an advisory board member for the College’s School of Economics and Business Administration.