In 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed into law legislation for the creation of an institute at Stonehill College in honor of Joseph Martin Jr., a former Speaker of the House of Representatives who received an honorary degree from the College during its early years. Opened in 1990, the Joseph W. Martin Institute for Law & Society challenges students to lead with heart as active citizens driven to explore issues of public policy and social justice. 

In addition to housing its namesake’s collection of papers and artifacts (including correspondence, diaries, speeches, press releases, scrapbooks, voting records and photographs), this educational hub has welcomed many impactful guests since its founding. As Stonehill College celebrates its 75th anniversary, here’s a look back at some of the speakers who have shared their wisdom at the Martin Institute throughout the last three decades.

Former Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick (center) with students during a visit to the Martin Institute in 2014.

Being A Good Citizen

Deval Patrick, the second African American governor in the United States since Reconstruction, spoke at the Martin Institute leading up to the 2006 gubernatorial election in Massachusetts. His remarks focused on jobs, healthcare and education, among other topics. 

Patrick has returned to Stonehill multiple times since then. In 2012, he spoke at an event hosted by the Boys and Girls Nation, an American Legion run program that mirrors an American democratic system. 

“Understand that saving the American dream is not up to the government alone,” he said to the youth in attendance. “It’s not up to schools alone. It’s up to you – the citizen.”

Telling Effective Stories

Now best known as cohost of Pod Save America, a political podcast, Jon Favreau was fresh out of the White House when he visited the Martin Institute in September 2014. He served as President Barack Obama’s director of speechwriting from 2009 to early 2013. The art of messaging was one of the subjects discussed by Favreau when he left Capitol Hill to visit Stonehill. 

“The story is more important than the words,” he said. “The greatest enemy of effective story telling is caution, give it some edge, give it some grit.”

Political speechwriter and podcaster Jon Favreau (Image Source:

Former Mayor of Boston Marty Walsh

Believing in Yourself

Although most political figures who visit Stonehill come to speak about their professional work, Marty Walsh, former mayor of Boston and current executive director of the National Hockey League, got personal during a 2015 lecture. Sharing details of his journey to sobriety and his pursuit of a college degree in his early forties, Walsh inspired students, faculty, staff and others to never give up on themselves.

“There’s no such thing as a pipe dream,” he said. “You can pursue anything if you’re determined enough to try and accomplish something. Half the battle is trying to accomplish it.”

Gaining New Perspectives

FBI agents Phil Torsney and Tommy MacDonald, who helped lead the capture of notorious mobster Whitey Bulger and his girlfriend Catherine Greig, discussed their work on the infamous case during a visit to Stonehill in February 2022. While offering insight on their efforts to track down the fugitives, they discussed the importance of gaining as many different perspectives as they possibly could throughout their investigation.

“We are big believers in knocking on doors and talking to people, and when you sit in people’s living rooms doing your job, they respect you,” MacDonald said.

FBI agents Tommy MacDonald and Phil Tornsey share stories during their lecture at Stonehill College in 2022. (Photo by Kelly Lewis '22)

Assistant Director for Mentorship & Advising Teddi Nguyen Lydon (left), Assistant Director of Intercultural Affairs Selena Hernandez (center) and Professor of Criminology Kathleen Currul-Dykeman (right) pose with Justice Serge Georges.

Working Hard and Being Good to People

The Martin Institute partnered with the Office of Intercultural Affairs to welcome Serge Georges, an associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, to campus on February 1, 2023. The Randolph resident not only traced his path to the highest court in the Commonwealth, but also explored the importance of treating people well. 

“There’s always been this aspect of my life that’s been informed by my faith, that you just need to be good to people and help people if you can…In terms of how I got here, I guess you could distill it down to working hard and being good to people,” he said.

Congressman Jake Auchincloss: A Life of Service

As part of a program sponsored by the Martin Institute, Congressman Jake Auchincloss will visit the McCarthy Auditorium on Monday, October 2 at 4 p.m. to discuss his time serving in the Marines and his work as a lawmaker.