Joseph Carroll

Honorary Degrees


San Diego State University​

For 37 years, Father Joe Carroll has served as de facto representative of a constituency that wields no political power—the poor and homeless men, women and children of San Diego.

As president and CEO of St. Vincent de Paul Society, renamed St. Vincent de Paul Village in 1991, Father Carroll oversaw the opening of shelters to house and feed hundreds of thousands of people in need. He collaborated with community organizations to provide medical assistance, childcare and employment services, pioneering an innovative, comprehensive approach to caring for the homeless population in San Diego.

Father Carroll moved from New York City to Southern California, where he entered the seminary in 1963. His charisma and resourcefulness attracted the attention of Bishop Leo Maher, who appointed the young priest to lead the St. Vincent de Paul Society and establish a “preferential option” for the neediest San Diegans.

In 1987, Father Carroll dedicated his first shelter—the $12 million St. Vincent de Paul Joan Kroc Center. For the next two decades he continued to build shelters in San Diego, Indio and Las Vegas for the next two decades, including a shelter for runaway teens, and opened two Josue Homes for homeless people living with HIV/AIDS.

Father Carroll’s CREED—that all people are entitled to Compassion, Respect, Empowerment, Empathy and Dignity—became the foundation of the St. Vincent de Paul Village and Father Joe's Villages. He championed housing in which individuals are cohabitants rather than tenants, and people take pride in their living space.

The St. Vincent de Paul Village and Father Joe's Villages model of offering attractive housing combined with essential social services won recognition from the United Nations with its International Award for Building and Social Housing Excellence.

During his tenure, Father Carroll was applauded by two U.S. presidents and received the Citizen Service Before Self Award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and Foundation.

Although he retired in 2011, he continues to serve the San Diego community with energy and solicitude.

In recognition of his profound and lifelong dedication to the underserved communities of San Diego, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and San Diego State University are proud to confer upon Father Joseph Carroll the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.