Commencement: Honorary Degrees
Monsignor Tim Murphy, in many and amazing and entertaining ways the face and voice and cheerful symbol of Central Catholic High School in Portland for nearly forty years, was himself a fine student at the school in southeast Portland—president of his class, star baseball player, and excellent basketball player. But it was the priesthood that was Tim Murphy’s dream, and after seminary training he was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Portland in 1967.
For all his herculean labors at Central Catholic High, he has also been a tireless servant to the Church in Oregon, serving in 17 parishes, so far. Born in 1940, baptized and schooled at All Saints, Tim attended Santa Clara University for a year, the University of Portland for a year (1959-1960), and then Saint Thomas Seminary in Washington, where he earned his bachelor’s (in philosophy) and master’s (in divinity) degrees; after ordination, he then returned to The Bluff, while serving in St. Charles and Holy Cross parishes, to earn his master’s degree in education. A man of quiet but startling energy then as now, Tim also started a fifteen year teaching career at Central Catholic in 1968. In 1983 he went to Regis High in Stayton to be principal for seven years, but eventually returned again to Central, this time as principal (1990-1995), president (1995-2008), and now president emeritus.
For all that Tim is famous in Portland, in Oregon, and in the Pacific Northwest, as the very embodiment of the mission of his school, he has been a gracious servant to the Church he loves, helping out as pastor, assistant, or guest in nearly every parish in metro Portland: Saints Anthony, Charles, Therese, Catherine of Siena, John the Baptist, Francis, Agatha, Patrick, Mary of the Valley, and John Fischer, as well as Holy Family, Immaculate Conception, Blessed Sacrament, Our Lady of the Lake, and Sacred Heart. He also served a year as chaplain at Mount Saint Joseph’s Nursing Home in Portland. It is also probably an inarguable fact that Tim
Murphy has, in his nearly fifty years as a cheerful, witty, generous priest, baptized more children, celebrated the marriage of more couples, and celebrated the lives of more Catholics who have gone home to the Light than any other priest in Portland—a remarkable thing to say, but indicative of Tim’s conviction that a priest is a servant of the faithful, and available for any and all holy moments.
Suitably enough it is Central Catholic High that has most pithily summed up its beloved Monsignor Murphy; when Tim was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2010, his plaque was both epic and terse: Beloved Priest, Friend to All, and Spiritual Leader. The University of Portland today agrees wholeheartedly with those compliments, and awards Tim its highest honor, the Christus Magister Medal (“Christ the Teacher”) for the grace and generosity and prayer of his life and work.
The internationally renowned oncologist and cancer researcher Dr. Brian Druker, winner of the 2009 Lasker-DeBakey Award for Clinical Medical Research (an honor often called the American Nobel Prize), was born in 1955 in Minnesota and earned his bachelor’s (in chemistry) and medical degrees from the University of California at San Diego. He then did his internship and residency at Barnes Hospital in Saint Louis (part of Washington University’s School of Medicine) and was a fellow at Harvard Medical School’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute before making the momentous decision to come to Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, where he now directs the Knight Cancer Institute, is a professor of medicine, and holds the university’s Jeld-Wen Chair in Leukemia Research.
“At Harvard,” he has said, “I was researching what drives the growth of cancer cells. For probably 30 years the view in cancer work was that if we understood what drives the growth of cancer we could target it with specific therapies and shut it down. But after all those years of people saying that, we stopped believing it because it had never been done. So as I tried to set up my own laboratory at Harvard, the view was what you are doing isn’t going to work, we just don’t believe it, nobody’s been able to prove it, we don’t want to put more resources into this. So at that point in my career I had to make a decision: do I believe that this is the path forward, or do I accept what some really smart people are telling me? And I decided that I believed this was the way forward…”
Toward Portland, toward OHSU’s cancer center, and soon to a drug called imatinib (better known as Gleevec), the first targeted cancer therapy. While doctors and scientists have battled cancer in many ways—interferon, bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy—Druker’s dream is to target cancers without harming normal cells. Gleevec is aimed at leukemia, and there are “probably thousands of ways that growth is regulated in cells, so ultimately our work and the work of many other researchers now is to create drugs to target all the abnormalities in cell growth,” he says. “The future of cancer therapy is going to be to define cancer by the broken parts.”
Today Gleevec treats ten different cancers, and Druker notes that there are targeted drugs being developed for skin cancers, breast cancers, and colon cancers. “For me the future of cancer research is far more targeted therapy. The analogy I use is infectious diseases. A century ago, if you got an infection, that was fatal. But antibiotics and vaccinations and public health prevention programs were discovered—all targeted therapies. We can make cancer treatable and curable, or even eradicate it, over this next century.”
Famed distance swimmer and Down syndrome activist Karen Gaffney has spent her life showing the world that commitment, determination, and vision are the hallmarks of a well-lived life, not believing false limits imposed by other people’s expectations.
Renowned for her extraordinary exploits as a swimmer (she has swum the English Channel with teammates, swam nine miles across Lake Tahoe, and swam across Lake Champlain and San Francisco Bay, among many other feats), she is also a remarkably eloquent speaker and activist for people with developmental disabilities, and president of the Karen Gaffney Foundation in Portland.
Born in San Jose, Karen earned her high school degree at Portland’s Saint Mary’s Academy in 1997, where she was a member of the Science Club and (naturally) lettered in swimming. She then earned her teacher’s aide certificate at Portland Community College in 2001, and set off on her remarkable career as one of the best-known and revered voices in the world for people with Down syndrome. First as a swimmer, and then as an increasingly eloquent and sought-after speaker (she has given talks in France, Indonesia, and all around America), she has personally changed the way in which our culture sees men and women born with Down syndrome, a chromosomal anomaly that causes developmental disabilities of many kinds and degrees. Roughly one of every 550 babies born in America today have Down syndrome, and screening now allows parents to discover the condition at or before birth; many of the children thus identified are “terminated” before birth, as the euphemism has it, and one of Karen Gaffney’s insistent messages is that this is not merciful at all, but the killing of a being just as capable as anyone else of remarkable deeds, a rich and joyous life, and indeed a unique influence on the world—as she should know.
While she still swims two to three miles a day, and is the president of the Karen Gaffney Foundation, an umbrella for dozens of projects assisting and inspiring people with disabilities, Karen is also an advisor to Exceptional Parent magazine and a much-in-demand speaker nationally and internationally to children and families of people with disabilities.
“My major focus is to advocate for inclusion of people with disabilities in the home, schools, workplace, and community,” she says. “I want to deliver hope and inspiration to kids and their families. I want to change kids’ lives. I want to influence people who do not have Down syndrome to realize we are more like everyone else than we are different. We don’t want to be different. Treat us like you treat your own children. We are your children. Let us do what we can do. Let us lead the lives only we can lead, do the things only we can do. I have done the best I could with what gifts I have. I worked as hard as I could. I wanted to show people that the experts are wrong, and we can do anything.
Noted ethicist and scholar Kirk Hanson, who delivered the Commencement Address to the Class of 2013 at University president Father Bill Beauchamp, C.S.C.’s invitation, is one of the founders of the field of modern business ethics. Today he is executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, and is that Catholic university’s John Courtney Murray S.J. University Professor of Social Ethics. He remains a professor emeritus of business and ethics at Stanford University, where he taught for many years, and is a prolific writer, perhaps best known for his popular weekly column on workplace ethics in the San Jose Mercury News.
Hanson earned his undergraduate and MBA degrees at Stanford (where he was editor of the student newspaper), and also did graduate work at Yale Divinity School and Harvard’s Graduate School of Business, but his expertise in business ethics was not earned in the classroom as much as it was in enterprise. Fresh out of college, he worked for the National Alliance of Business (working directly with Levi Strauss chairman Walter Haas), the Southern New England Telephone Company, Chicago United (a business/minority organization coalition), and the National Affiliation of Concerned Business Students (an organization he founded in 1971), before starting three more national business ethics organizations—the Hanson Group, the Business Enterprise Trust, and Ementoring.com, an online course company founded in 1999 and sold a year later.
All this while returning to academia, first as a professor of management at Claremont Graduate School, and at Stanford University, where he directed the master’s degree program, taught in the university’s noted Executive Program, and chaired the university’s Commission on Investment Responsibility. In 2001 he accepted Santa Clara’s offer to both teach and direct the Markkula Center, which has more than fifty affiliated scholars and programs in the ethics of biology, health care, technology, government, law, education, and character development. Here on The Bluff, executive vice president Fr. Mark Poorman, C.S.C., developer of the University’s booming Character Project, has worked with Hanson and the Markkula Center. Together, they labor to shape their respective universities’ creative efforts to foment, hone, elevate, and stimulate character discernment and development.
In addition to his work as a popular journalist, Hanson is the author, co-author, or editor of many books, among them Putting Christian Values to Work in Business and The Accountable Corporation, and an articulate and blunt commentator on poor corporate performance from the Catholic Church to Enron, Exxon, and British Petroleum. “Over the many years I have been teaching business responsibility and ethics,” he says, “there’s been a new case about once every five years that defines again for us why business ethics and corporate responsibility need to be a constant concern: Lockheed, Love Canal, General Dynamic, errant savings and loan companies, Exxon, WorldCom, Countrywide, Toyota, BP. [All these] stories demonstrate how quickly corporate good will can evaporate through misbehavior…reputations are swept away by the manipulation of the truth. Only consistently thoughtful and responsible decisions about safety and the welfare of all stakeholders of the firm, and complete transparency in times of crisis, will sustain a company’s reputation…”
One of the most influential, respected, creative, and tireless tribal leaders in Oregon history, Kathryn Harrison was born in 1924 in Corvallis; her mother, Ella, was of the Eyak people of Alaska and her father, Henry, was of the Mollala people of Oregon—a tribe legendarily established near Mount Hood by Coyote the Trickster in ancient time. Orphaned by a flu epidemic at age ten, she survived a brutal foster home for four years before escaping to Salem’s Chemewa Indian School, where her father had once been valedictorian. She graduated in 1942 and “impulsively married a classmate,” as she says; over the next thirty years she had ten children and endured terrible poverty, constant moving as migrant laborers following crops throughout the West, and an alcoholic husband.
But Kathryn Harrison was and is irrepressible. By the time she was fifty, she had graduated from Lane Community College’s nursing program, and found work at Lincoln City Hospital, on the coast. There she reconnected with friends and relations among the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz, and was elected to the tribal council. It was here that Kathryn found her life’s work. The 1954 Western Oregon Indian Termination Act had ended the tribal status of the 61 recognized tribes in the state; while most First Peoples here received some small token payment in exchange for title to their ancestral lands, the loss of federal status also meant the loss of health care, educational services, and employment opportunities. In Kathryn’s family, for example, each member received $35 for the loss of land their ancestors had lived and worked on for many centuries; land never legally sold, the First Peoples considering ostensible ownership of holy creation a patently silly idea. Many among the First People in Oregon understood that a secure and bright future for their heirs and tribes lay in restoration of federal recognition, and in Oregon no leader fought as hard, as deftly, and as tirelessly as Kathryn Harrison. In 1976 she and two of her children testified before Congress, and in 1977 the Siletz were restored to federally recognized status. Kathryn then returned to her father’s tribal home at Grand Ronde and worked to restore tribal land, legal status, and health care there; working closely with Mark O. Hatfield and Les AuCoin, she saw the Reservation Restoration Act passed in 1988. In 1995 she helped establish both the Spirit Mountain Casino and the Spirit Mountain Community Fund, a charitable foundation that has distributed nearly $50 million to nonprofit agencies in Oregon since 1997—among them the University of Portland, where tribal contributions help fuel scholarships for students of the First Peoples and programs educating students and neighbors about the ancient history and proud people who have lived in the University’s home for many thousands of years.
Harrison, elected to the Grande Ronde tribal council continuously from 1984 through 2001 (she never lost an election), also served as chairman of the council and trusted and revered counselor for many years; today she still serves as ambassador-at-large for her people, and has been much lauded for her creativity, eloquence, and open spirituality. Among her many honors are awards from American Indian Business Leaders, the Oregon Commission for Women, and the League of Women Voters. She is featured in the book Standing Tall: The Lifeway of Kathryn Jones Harrison (Oregon Historical Society Press), and in the Great Tribal Leaders of Modern Times film series from Portland State University.
Born in Cuba, the American running and coaching legend Alberto Salazar first rose to prominence as a high school runner, winning the 1975 Massachusetts state cross country title and training with the famous Boston Track Club, whose members included world-class runners like Bill Rodgers. He then enrolled at the University of Oregon, beginning a life-long love affair with the Beaver State. As a Duck, running for Bill Dellinger, he was an All-American, helped win the 1977 national cross country title, was national cross country champion himself in 1978, and made the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team in the 10,000 meters, although that team never got to race in Moscow due to the American boycott. In 1981, just before he graduated, he broke the American indoor record in the 5,000 meter race by nearly 20 seconds, a stunning performance.
Salazar then moved up to the 26.1-mile marathon, winning three consecutive New York City Marathons from 1980 through 1982; he also won his hometown Boston Marathon in 1982, and finished that year ranked first in the world in the marathon and first in America in the 5,000 and 10,000 races. Over the next few years he continued to be among the finest runners on the planet, making the U.S. Olympic Team again in 1984 and winning the 56-mile Comrades Marathon in South Africa in 1994, but finally he shifted his creativity and ferocious work ethic to coaching, where he has become worldrenowned all over again.
As coach of the Nike Oregon Project, Salazar has applied all sorts of training, conditioning, diet, tactical, and psychological ideas to the task of producing world-class runners who live and train in Oregon. While the culmination of Salazar’s coaching may have come in the 2012 Olympics, when Mo Farah of England won both the 10,000 and the 5,000 and Central Catholic alumnus Galen Rupp of the USA earned a silver medal in the 10,000, he has also coached Alan Webb, Adam Goucher, Kara Goucher, and many other runners to top-caliber feats on the track.
Yet even his own running and coaching feats were not enough for Salazar; in 2012 he published his autobiography, 14 Minutes: A Running Legend’s Life and Death and Life, which explores his life from Havana to Oregon, and details the day in 2007 on which he suffered a heart attack and was clinically dead for 14 minutes. For all the glitter and gleam of his athletic and coaching accomplishments, Salazar here discusses, with remarkable eloquence and honesty, his deep Catholic faith, his conviction that grace has played a crucial and astonishing part in his life, and his belief, as he says, that there is far more for us to learn about life and death than mere biology. “Like so many young adults, I drifted away from Mass and the sacraments but finally returned with a vengeance,” he says.
“My faith is no longer just window dressing but something that pervades every part of my life. Even my regular workouts now include praying the Rosary. In my view I can do nothing without God. I put myself in God's hands. In the end, I believe, this is the only success that matters.”
Br. Donald Stabrowski, C.S.C., for sixteen years the University’s academic vice president and then the University’s first provost, also served as a dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and as a professor of political science during his 34-year tenure on The Bluff. But for all his administrative accomplishments—his tenure as chief academic officer is the longest in University history, and he oversaw remarkable growth in faculty numbers, grants, regional and national awards, and national scholarly renown—he will perhaps be missed most by his students, who found him a cheerful, avuncular, and brilliant teacher, and by the University’s alumni, who were regularly treated to his humorous and erudite commentary on American politics. When he left the University in 2012, upon being appointed assistant provincial for the Congregation of Holy Cross in America, the University lost a wonderful teacher as well as a pillar of the University’s stunning progress over the last two decades.
Born in Mishawaka, Indiana, Brother Donald earned his undergraduate degree in history from St. Edward’s University in Texas, and then not one but three master’s degrees (history and education at Indiana University, and government at the University of Notre Dame), before earning his doctoral degree, also in government, from Notre Dame. By the time he was deemed a doctor of philosophy, in 1985, he was already a veteran teacher and administrator: teacher at Cathedral High in Indianapolis (1963-1969), assistant principal at Archbishop Hoban High in Akron (1970), principal at Holy Trinity High in Chicago, and then a teacher at Holy Cross College, Purdue University, and St. Francis College.
In 1988 he came to the University of Portland as an assistant professor in history and politics, and three years later was named dean of arts and sciences; in 1996 he was named academic vice president, and in 2002 he was named the University’s first provost. He also served one semester as the University’s acting president, in 2003, only the second man ever to hold that position, between the presidencies of Father David Tyson, C.S.C., who had been elected Holy Cross provincial, and Father Bill Beauchamp, C.S.C., who took office as president in 2004.
But these facts and numbers, admirable as they prove his academic career to be, do not catch the wonderful width of his interests and scope of his curiosity. A particular scholar of ethnicity and urban politics, he is the author of South Bend Polonia, a book about the political machine that long held sway on the west side of South Bend, Indiana. He is also the author of many essays, articles, and scholarly papers, on subjects as various as the history of his beloved Holy Cross Brothers, Oregon’s state budgeting process, American trade policy, the history of brick manufacture at the University of Notre Dame in its earliest years, Catholicism in Oregon, and the history of the nuns of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Perhaps the one subject on which he has published neither article nor monograph is that which he loves best of all: gardening. It is a sure bet that no Holy Cross man in the history of the University ever spent more hard hours in his garden, which is blooming gloriously in the campus’s Holy Cross Court even as you read these words, and which Brother Donald will certainly be tending while here to receive his well-deserved doctorate.
Father Dave Tyson, who receives the University of Portland’s highest honor, the Christus Magister Medal, concludes his tenure as provincial of the Congregation of Holy Cross’s United States Province in the summer of 2012. During his tenure as provincial he has supervised the momentous reorganization of his order’s life and work in America, the most successful fundraising efforts in the order’s history, and the most successful vocational recruitment efforts of any Catholic order of priests and brothers in the nation; he has also flown endless thousands of miles visiting the Congregation’s men and hard work in schools, orphanages, and parishes in Africa, Asia, Europe, and all over the Americas, and savored the Catholic Church’s canonization of Brother Andre Bessette, C.S.C., of Montreal, the first recognized Holy Cross saint ever. His hard and visionary work as provincial at a crucial time in his beloved order’s history will long be remembered as an absolutely critical element of the Congregation’s rising prominence, influence, and confidence at the dawn of the 21st century.
Born in Gary, Indiana, Father Tyson earned his undergraduate (sociology, 1970) and master’s (theology, 1974) degrees at the University of Notre Dame, and then his doctorate in education at Indiana University (1980). Ordained in 1975, he worked in admissions and for the business college at Notre Dame before being named executive assistant to Notre Dame president Father Ted Hesburgh, C.S.C., in 1982. From 1984 to 1990 he was vice president for student affairs at Notre Dame; in 1990 he was chosen as the University of Portland’s 18th president, a job he held, and did with verve and vision and humor, until he was elected provincial of what was then the Congregation’s Indiana Province in 2003.
As the famously gregarious and ebullient president of the University of Portland, he directed the University’s first comprehensive capital campaign (the Defining Moment centennial campaign, which raised $116 million), a tremendous surge in student applications and retention, the greatest burst of new construction and renovation since the University’s founding, and the University’s meteoric rise in national renown. On his watch the University became one of the best ten regional universities in the West (according to U.S. News & World Report), was honored nationally for an excellent education at reasonable cost, won plaudits from the White House for student service to the community, earned its first NCAA national championship (women’s soccer, 2002), and saw faculty members honored as the Carnegie Foundation national and state professors of the year. It is a testament to Father Tyson’s hard work and leadership that every imaginable aspect of the University community saw improvement when he was the boss — academics, athletics, finances, physical campus, admissions, national profile, even the presidential vehicle; Father Tyson famously was given a purple motorcycle by a benefactor, riding it once before selling it and applying the money to scholarships.
Father Tyson joins a remarkable group of men and women who have received the University’s Christus Magister Medal; among previous honorees are U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon, theologians Martin Marty and Monika Hellwig, Holy Cross Fathers Hugh Cleary and Edward Malloy, Judge John Noonan of the United States Court of Appeals, journalists Peggy and Peter Steinfels, Archbishop John Vlazny of Portland, and Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., of New York.
Sister Rita Ferschweiler, one of the great figures in Providence Health history, was born into a pioneer family on a farm near Gervais, Oregon, in 1918. She grew up milking cows and picking hops and berries, and to this day returns to the family farm to pick fruit for friends. She entered the novitiate of the Sisters of Providence in 1942, and then earned a nursing diploma at Saint Elizabeth School of Nursing in Yakima (1948), her bachelor’s in nursing at Seattle University (1957), and her master’s in nursing service administration from Saint Louis University (1958).
She joined Saint Vincent Hospital in 1956 as a staff nurse, and swiftly rose to director of nursing and, in 1964, hospital administrator. Sister Rita directed Saint Vincent’s move from northwest Portland to southwest, in 1971 (a change which included the construction of a new 451-bed facility), a feat which earned her an award as one of Oregon’s Ten 1971 Women of Accomplishment, from The Oregon Journal newspaper. In 1977 the indefatigable Sister Rita was asked to take over administration of Mount Saint Vincent in Seattle, a care center for older people, which she ran with the same attention to detail and memorable personal charm and tenderness as she had Saint Vincent in Portland. She also managed somehow to find time for further theological and scriptural study at Gonzaga University, before being asked, in 1985, to serve as her order’s Sacred Heart Province councilor for ministry.
In a real sense Sister Rita has never actually relinquished or retired from this position; in the nearly thirty years since she has been essentially a minister at large for an endless series of boards, committees, commissions, and clinics in Portland and Seattle. She has also been an energetic Eucharistic minister, reader of books for the blind, and cheerful ambassador for her order, her profession, and her Church. As author Gerry Frank once wrote in The Oregonian, “Sister Rita’s faith, her love of her fellow human beings, and her consistent thoughtfulness have made her one of the most popular living saints in our community”—a sentiment echoed by countless men, woman, and children in the Pacific Northwest, and the essential reason that the University honors this whirlwind of service and compassion with an honorary doctorate of public service.
“I am grateful,” she said recently, “for the gift of faith, which has been the sustaining element for me over the years, and I am thankful for a loving and supporting immediate family and a close extended family. I am thankful to a religious community that supported and challenged me, and provided growth opportunities both spiritually and professionally. And I am so thankful for friends. If I had the chance to do it all over again, I’d do the same thing…”
John Heily ’67, president and chief executive officer of Continental Mills in his native Seattle, was the first person in his family to earn a college degree, and he has often said, with his characteristic smile, that his graduation day at the University of Portland was one of the happiest days of his life, a day he remembers “as if it happened yesterday.” Soon after that shining day he had moved to Seattle to work for Continental Mills, a flourmix company; at age 33 he was the president and CEO of what was then a company struggling to survive.
“It was a …challenge,” says John, ever polite, but the story of his remarkable leadership and creativity has become something of a legend in American business annals. Today Continental Mills offers more than 750 products sold in every major grocery store in North America and in markets worldwide; it manufactures and distributes dry bakery mix products. Consumers in the American West, especially, will recognize some of Continental Mills’ products with affection: among the company’s brands are Krusteaz, Snoqualmie Falls, Albers, Alpine, and Ghirardelli mixes.
For all his business acumen (which led to his induction into his alma mater’s Business Hall of Fame in 2010), John is also passionately devoted to the wellbeing of children and to the power of higher education to elevate the lives of the young. His Heily Foundation, which he chairs, pays for the entire education of children who otherwise could not afford one, and he has been a member of the governing boards of Georgetown University (his son Andrew is a Georgetown alumnus), Eastside Catholic High, and Zion Preparatory Academy in Seattle. He has also been a board member for Big Brothers of King County and president of the Northwest Forum in Seattle.
“Fierce pride,” John has said, is what he admires most about his alma mater, and what he has tried to instill in the company he saved from oblivion; Continental Mills is “committed to an incentivized workforce, producing quality products, using the most contemporary facilities in the world. The future of the company is focused on its customers, on research and development, on technology, and on providing top-notch incentives and training for its employees.”
“Business at its best can make human life deeper and richer and can impact communities in thousands of ways,” said University president Father Bill Beauchamp, C.S.C., on the evening that John Heily was one of the first eight leaders inducted into the University’s Pamplin School of Business Hall of Fame. “People like John are true difference makers…”
The effervescent Lou Holtz is an author, speaker, raconteur, sportscaster, and former coach in both the collegiate and professional football ranks. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Holtz is the only coach to ever lead six different programs to bowl games. His 1988 Notre Dame team won the NCAA national championship, and he also coached the professional New York Jets during the 1976 season. He is the author of ten books, including not one but two collections of his quick and merry witticisms, and today is a college football analyst for ESPN. He and his wife Beth have four children, three of whom have savored the many virtues of a Holy Cross education.
Born in Follansbee, West Virginia, in 1937, Holtz graduated from East Liverpool High in Ohio and went on to Kent State University (where he was a wraith of a linebacker), from which he graduated in 1959. He began his coaching career that next season, at the University of Iowa, where he earned his master’s degree while serving as a graduate assistant coach. He then was an assistant coach at William & Mary, Connecticut, South Carolina, and Ohio State, where the Buckeyes won the national championship during Holtz’s single season as an assistant to Woody Hayes. Holtz then was a head coach at William & Mary, North Carolina State, the New York Jets of the National Football League, Arkansas, Minnesota, and finally Notre Dame. Arriving under the Dome in 1986, Holtz led the Irish to bowl games for nine consecutive seasons, still a Notre Dame record; his 1988 team was national champion, his 1989 and 1993 teams finished second nationally, and his tenure as coach was so successful and entertaining that a statue of Coach Holtz was installed on the Notre Dame campus in 2008 — a rare honor indeed for such a storied university.
Holtz retired from coaching in 1996 and began a colorful career as a sports commentator; in 1999 he was lured back to South Carolina to resurrect the football program, which he did with such panache that he was named the national coach of the year in 2000. He retired from coaching again in 2004, and resumed a busy schedule of sports commentary, motivational speeches, and writing. Among his many books are A Teen’s Game Plan for Life and his autobiography, Wins, Losses, and Lessons. He also lends his talents to Catholic causes, is active politically, and keeps a sharp eye on his oldest son Skip, head coach of the University of South Florida football team.
Father Tom O’Hara concluded his twelve-year term as president of King’s College in Pennsylvania (a fellow Holy Cross institution) last summer, and after a year studying and teaching in Africa and India, he is today a professor of political science at King’s, his alma mater. His tenure as president is the second-longest in that college’s history, he is the first alumnus to be the school’s president, and his presidency will long be remembered as a time of tremendous progress and rise in reputation for the school.
During the O’Hara years, King’s saw a steady rise in applications for admission, the largest freshman classes in its history, national honors for student service to the community, and national attention for its commitment to welcoming first-generation and low-income students. The College also added several new buildings (among them a new health center) and green space, worked with the local community to renovate and open buildings and businesses in the community, and opened its innovative McGowan Hispanic Outreach Program to work with Latino families to get students into college. Under Father Tom’s leadership, the College doubled its endowment and conducted the most successful fundraising campaign in its history.
Born in Hazelton, Pennsylvania (a mere 30 miles from the King’s campus), the son of a coal miner and garment worker, Father Tom earned his undergraduate degree at King’s in 1971 and his master’s in theology at Notre Dame in 1977; during his seminary studies at Notre Dame, he taught at Notre Dame College in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and worked with Mother Teresa’s religious community. After his ordination in 1978 he served in a parish in Brooklyn, New York (winning New York’s Award for Dedication to Youth in 1982). He then served as a chaplain at a Holy Cross hospital and school in Washington, D.C., while earning his doctorate in political science at American University and again serving in a parish; you see the boundless energy that is admired and celebrated to this day by his King’s College community.
Father Tom returned to King’s in 1988 as a professor of political science, a job he loved, he says, nearly as much as he loved living in a student residence hall, a habit he maintained all through his presidency. From 1994 to 1996 he taught in Uganda, returning to King’s again, this time as a vice president for academic affairs; he was named the eighth president of King’s College in 1999, and immediately set about celebrating community and creative possibility as the hallmarks of his leadership. “I am at my core a Holy Cross priest who happened to be a president,” he said, as he concluded his tenure last summer, “and I have spent a lot of my time trying to motivate people in spiritual ways to believe in themselves and in their possibilities. I value my priesthood enormously. The deepest moments of my life are when, as a priest, I was privileged to enter into the lives of others.”
Kay Toran is the president and CEO of Volunteers of America Oregon, a social services organization devoted to improving the lives of Oregon’s children, families, and senior citizens. Previously she was director of Oregon’s Office for Services to Children and Families, the state’s child protective services agency, where she did a job of immense responsibility and stress with calm grace; she has also served Oregon as state administrator of purchasing, and director of affirmative action, among other creative labors. Kay has also served Portland and Oregon on a countless number of boards and committees to which she has devoted many thousands of hours of her quiet wisdom and counsel, among them the Oregon Community Foundation, Providence Health and Services, Portland State University, and University of Portland’s Board of Regents.
Similarly an account of her awards and honors would go on for a week; notable among them are the White Rose Award from the March of Dimes, Portland State University’s Alumna of the Year Award, and a City of Portland Day of Appreciation for Kay Toran, as promulgated by the Office of the Mayor of the City.
Kay earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Portland in 1964 and her master’s degree in social work from Portland State University, and then set out on a career in public service that included service as assistant to Oregon Governor Vic Atiyeh and many years of creative labor on behalf of her fellow Oregonians. In 1999 she was named president and CEO of Volunteers of America Oregon, an organization that has drawn national attention for its efficiency (88 cents of every dollar donated goes straight to serving constituents) and creative ideas and range.
“The word safety summons many meanings, both personal and universal,” she wrote recently. “A child’s feeling of security in a place where he or she is cared for and nurtured; the healing and empowerment that comes from rebuilding a life free from domestic violence or addiction; the pride and wellbeing a community feels when its streets are safe…But for many in our community, safety is not a certainty. We continue to see troubling statistics about how common domestic violence is in our community, and with the unemployment rate in Oregon hovering near ten percent, the times remain challenging to the families we serve. We are faced with greater need for our services at a time when our resources are severely stretched. But we are fortunate to be able to meet these needs by maintaining strong partnerships and collaborative relationships with other service providers in our community…”And by, as she has often said with her usual firm dignity, education.
The University celebrates Kay Toran today with an honorary doctorate not only for a lifetime of hard and creative work on behalf of the least fortunate of her fellow citizens, but for her quiet and graceful insistence on education as the best way to open endless possibilities to lives that seemed constrained and confined.
The University’s highest honor — the Christus Magister (Christ the Teacher) Medal— is awarded to the prolific and popular author, essayist, scholar, and theology professor Lawrence Cunningham of the University of Notre Dame. Author and editor of some twenty books about Catholicism and religions, literary columnist for Commonweal magazine for many years, Cunningham is that rare and lovely breed of writer once best known as "man of letters," although he is a renowned and respected teacher at Notre Dame, where he has won three awards for his craft, including the Father Ned Joyce, C.S.C., Award for Teaching in 2008. He will retire in 2012 after 24 years at Notre Dame, 21 years at Florida State University, and guest stints all over the world, and plans to “putter in the garden, watch birds desultorily, write, listen to the radio, haunt art museums, visit our daughters, and follow Notre Dame sports — particularly women’s soccer, which I hope will not offend my friends at the University of Portland.”Raised in Florida, Cunningham earned his undergraduate degree at Saint Bernard’s College Seminary in New York, and then earned an STL in theology at the Gregorian University in Rome, where he "decided I would make a better academic than a priest," he says, smiling. He then earned a master's in literature and a doctorate in humanities at Florida State, where he began his teaching and scholarly careers in 1967. His first book, Brother Francis: Writings By and About Saint Francis of Assisi, was published in 1972; among his many other books are Mother of God (1982), Catholic Prayer (1989), Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master (1992), John Henry Newman: Spiritual Texts (2004), and his newest, Things Seen & Unseen (2010), a collection of piercing and witty highlights from his journals of many years; an excerpt of this book appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of the University’s Portland Magazine.
For all his deserved acclaim as a scholar and professor of theology (and perhaps no one ever contributed more entries to more dictionaries and encyclopedias of religion than Lawrence), the wider impact of his intellect and creativity may well be the millions of readers who have read his lively and penetrating essays and articles in periodicals around the world— some 400 pieces, in a startling array of magazines including The Tablet, America, The Christian Century, U.S. Catholic, Church, Spirituality (in Ireland), The Bridge (in Asia), Notre Dame Business Magazine, The Merton Seasonal, and many more. If the primary task of a committed Catholic life is to share the genius of the Word, so that many more hearts might be opened and souls saved, then Lawrence Cunningham has served well and faithfully, despite his affection for Notre Dame women’s soccer.
Born in North Dakota, Mother Francine entered the Franciscan Sisters in 1956, helped found a new religious community (Connecticut’s Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, in 1973), and an Oregon home for the community (the Life Education Center at Bridal Veil, in 1975), taught elementary school in Oregon and Washington, started a Catholic school, studied at Georgetown University and the University of Portland, and was named associate superintendent of elementary education for the Archdiocese of Portland in 1974. But it was a visit one day to the Sisters of Providence Montessori School that changed everything, she says — she realized how much she missed teaching children, and soon she and Mother Michael, with the blessing of their community, had started the Franciscan Montessori Earth School, with 17 kindergarten and first- graders, in leased space at St. Rose of Lima parish. The School subsequently moved to All Saints Church, St. Anthony’s Church (where the children and teachers had to tiptoe whenever the church hosted a weekday wedding or funeral), the old Thompson School in Parkrose, and finally its permanent home, on S.E. Clinton Street. Until 2008 Mother Francine served as Head of School (officially) and Everything Else (unofficially). That year she finally changed hats, to working as an admissions and fundraising agent-at-large, although she still greets every child every morning — carpooling to the school with her fellow Sisters, who live in community in a lovely house in the woods in the Columbia Gorge.”
“I found a perfect marriage between the Montessori education and my spirituality,” Mother Francine has said. “Respect, reverence, wonder, confidence in the gifts God gave you — those are the virtues we seek to awaken in our students, and those are the pillars of Franciscan spirituality and Catholicism itself.”
Thousands of FMES alumni, and thousands of the men and women who admire University alumna Mother Francine Cardew for her grace and bony courage, join us today in celebrating the honorary doctorate of public service she most certainly deserves.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Diaz moved as a boy to the United States. His father worked as a waiter, his mother as a data clerk, and Miguel became the first member of the family to attend college; he studied at Saint John Vianney Seminary, earned his undergraduate degree at Saint Thomas University in Florida, and earned master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Notre Dame. He then taught at Barry University and Saint Paul Seminary in Florida (where he also served as dean), at the University of Dayton, and at Notre Dame, before becoming a professor of theology at both Saint Benedict and Saint John’s universities, both in Collegeville, Minnesota. He was in Minnesota when he was nominated to succeed Harvard Law School professor Mary Ann Glendon as the American ambassador to the Vatican, a relationship established by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. Abbot John Klassen of Saint John’s Abbey spoke for many American Catholics when he lauded the appointment “of a skilled theologian who is passionate as both a teacher and a scholar…a strong proponent of the Church to become deeply and broadly multi-cultural, to recognize and appreciate the role that culture plays in a living faith.”
Ambassador Diaz is the author of On Being Human: U.S. Hispanic and Rahnerian Perspectives, editor of From the Heart of Our People: Explorations in Catholic Systematic Theology, and a scholar active in many theological societies; he was president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States, is a board member of the Catholic Theological Society of America and the Karl Rahner Society, and is a member of Voices for a Common Good, an association of men and women interested and articulate about Catholic social teachings.
The Ambassador has said that his work in Rome will be to help move “beyond the politics of fear to the politics of hope…wherever we can, we should advance life at all stages.” In his formal address to the Holy Father, Diaz praised Pope Benedict's humanitarian efforts, his efforts at promoting “inter-religious dialogue for the sake of peace,” and the Pope’s encouragement of “authentic stewardship of God’s creation in order to combat climate change and ensure food security…my nation looks forward to working with the Holy See to ensure that the old and the young may embrace the audacity to hope, celebrate in the fruition of justice, and work together to defend fundamental human rights, economic opportunity for all, peace in our world, and respect for the dignity of all human persons. I promise to serve as a bridge-builder between the United States and the Holy See.”
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, in his formal response to the Ambassador, lauded America’s “vibrant democracy committed to the common good, shaped by a vision of equality and opportunity based on the God-given dignity and freedom of each human being... religious vision and religious imagination do not straiten but enrich political and ethical discourse…
religions are called to be a prophetic force for human liberation and development…’”
A lifelong Oregonian, Keenan graduated from Holy Family grade school and Central Catholic High before earning his degree in philosophy on The Bluff in 1969 (and serving as valedictorian); during his undergraduate years he also minored in theology and political science, and was the student coordinator for the University’s community action program at the Columbia Villa Housing Project — an early marker for his later dedication to safe, healthy, and affordable shelter for all. He then earned a master’s degree in social work at Portland State University , before starting his career as a planner and contract officer for Cascade Health Care; in 1976 he was named that organization’s executive director, a position he held until he was named family life director for the Archdiocese of Portland in 1979. Ten years later (and after a year teaching social science and running practica at the University of Portland) he was asked to direct Catholic Charities, which he has done with refreshing humility, dry humor, endless patience, and admirable creative energy. To be able to say that the organization you lead has had a direct, positive, enduring effect bettering the lives of a million of your neighbors — far too many of them children — is a remarkable statement, but it can be said of Dennis Keenan, of whom the University is most proud.
Keenan also serves on a dizzying array of boards, committees, and associations, has also assisted Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, the Multnomah County Hospital Facilities Authority, La Salle Prep, Saint Mary’s Home for Boys, Our Lady of Sorrows and Saint Ignatius Parishes, and Portland State University, among many other entities.
“I have never seen anyone better at being a true servant-leader than Dennis,” says University regent Mark Ganz, who worked with Keenan as Catholic Charities’ board chairman. “He inspires by his character, he encourages by his dedication, he leads by being a genuine, direct, and substantive soul. He’s a remarkable example of a man who leads by being the most assiduous and selfless servant.”
Much of Keenan’s effect and impact, the quietly superb way in which he has served his state and faith, is reflected in his remarks to The Portland Business Journal in 2009. “Treat everyone with respect. Do all things with love and compassion. We succeed when our clients no longer need us. Don’t mistake being uninformative for being humble; if you are doing remarkable work, with remarkable people, tell the world. The work we do makes a difference. Be direct. Be hopeful. Remember what Jesus said: Whatever you do for the least of mine, you do for me.” Today the University, celebrating an alumnus who took those words to heart every day of his life, honors Dennis Keenan with a doctorate of public service.
Born in New York City of Irish immigrant parents (his father, Sean, was from Sligo, and his mother, Moira Hegarty, was from Derry), Judge O’Scannlain grew up speaking Gaelic as his first language, but learned English well enough to earn degrees with honors from Saint John’s University (1957) and Harvard Law School (1963); he later earned the LL.M. degree (judicial process) from the University of Virginia Law School, in 1992. He also enlisted in the United States Army in 1955, serving 23 years in the National Guard and Reserve until his retirement, as a major, in 1978. After graduating from Harvard, where he had the great good fortune to fall in love with and soon marry Miss Maura Nolan, of Tacoma, Washington, he entered private practice, first in New York, but soon in Portland. He quickly became a remarkable civic resource in Oregon, serving the state as deputy attorney general, public utility commissioner, and director of the Department of Environmental Quality before returning to private practice after a run for Congress in 1974. He was also chairman of the Oregon Republican Party from 1983 to 1986.
On the morning of August 8, 1986, as O’Scannlain was showering, as he has reported with a smile, President Reagan telephoned with news of his nomination to the bench. “In light of the current confirmation environment,” he says, “I feel I am the luckiest member of the entire federal appellate judiciary.” His Senate hearing lasted 20 minutes, Oregon’s Senator Mark Hatfield called him two weeks later to report his confirmation, and 25 years later he has become one of the most respected and honored judges in America. In those years he has been engaged in some 6,000 cases, written hundreds of opinions, served as chairman of the U.S. Judicial Conference’s International Judicial Relations Committee (appointed by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts) and the American Bar Association’s Judicial Division, taught a course on the Supreme Court at Lewis & Clark College, and been at the nexus of riveting legal matters like cyber law and assisted suicide, among many other activities, particularly in service to the Catholic Church and his family — he and Maura have been graced by eight children and many grandchildren.
Judge O’Scannlain today joins a fascinating array of Commencement speakers over the years on The Bluff: among the many interesting souls who have delivered a final word to the University’s graduates are environmental visionary Paul Hawken, Costco founder Jim Sinegal, Catholic journalists Peggy Noonan and Peggy Steinfels, Oregon entrepreneur Al Corrado ’55, authors Jean Auel ’84 and Harrison Salisbury, and the fine Oregon writer Ben Hur Lampman.
The story of his deep commitment to the University may last, in fact, as long as the lovely story of his romance with the beaming freshman girl he met on campus in 1955; her name was Agnes Stoffel, and soon enough they were married, and they enjoyed nearly fifty years together, raising their children and pouring their energies into the University they loved, before Agnes returned to the Creator in 2008.
Born and raised in Portland, Don Romanaggi graduated from the University in 1956, earned his medical degree at Loyola University in Chicago, and returned to Portland to practice, specializing in immunology and the treatment of allergies and asthma. He also taught at Oregon Health Sciences University for many years. But even in the midst of a very busy practice he found time to help the University in many areas — creating scholarships for students (notably the Romanaggi Endowed Scholarship in Science and the Father Gregory Lombardo, C.S.C., Endowed Scholarship in Theology, as well as fueling scholarships named for the late Father Fred Barr, C.S.C., and for University president Father Bill Beauchamp, C.S.C.), contributing early and often to Pilot athletics as the University’s sports programs began their rise to national prominence, contributing generously to engineering efforts, and most notably to the stunning growth among the sciences at the University. Don and Agnes were key donors to Swindells Hall, and were among the first donors to the Father John Molter, C.S.C., Chair in Science, honoring the professor from whom Don famously once earned the dollar the legendary priest-professor promised the rare student who got an A in his science class.
“Don and Agnes were absolutely instrumental in jump-starting the University’s rise to preeminence in the West,” says Father David Tyson, superior of the Congregation of Holy Cross in the United States and the University’s 18th president. “Their dedication, their willingness to lead, their unwavering support, their dedication to the University were crucial to the University’s rise.” University president Father Bill Beauchamp is even more direct: “Don and Agnes’ love for the University where they met has led us to a whole new vision of what this institution can be.”
The Romanaggi name will be celebrated for many years now, with the naming of Old Science Hall for the man who ranged its corridors as a shy student; Don and Agnes’ major gift for Romanaggi Hall allowed a thorough renovation, construction of handicapped access venues and an elevator; the gift also foresightedly provides for continued maintenance of the building for many years.
To celebrate a brilliant man who never forgot the University he loved, who served it in many creative capacities and with wonderful generosity, and to celebrate also his late wife whose wit and humor will never be forgotten on The Bluff, the University today presents an honorary doctorate of public service to Don Romanaggi, with prayers and regards.
Williams earned her undergraduate degree in nursing from the Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas, and then earned both her master’s (in nursing and public health) and doctorate (in epidemiology) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; she would later be named that University’s nursing alumna of the year, to no one’s surprise.
Williams served as associate professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health and associate professor of nursing in the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina, and professor and director of the graduate program and research at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University, before arriving in Lexington to teach and lead the College of Nursing at the University of Kentucky for more than two decades. Despite a busy academic life, she has been actively involved in research and scholarship in nursing education and practice; she has been particularly interested in public health nursing, community-focused health programs, and the use of epidemiological strategies in health services management and evaluation, and has published widely on nursing, primary care, and public health.
For all her skills as nurse, teacher, scholar, and administrator, however, it is her much-respected leadership in the profession that the University of Portland particularly wishes to laud and celebrate today, with the conferral of a doctorate of public service; the University as a whole, and especially the faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the University’s School of Nursing, expresses gratitude and a quiet awe at the creative energy Dr. Williams has lent a profession dedicated to healing and hope — values at the very heart of the University’s life and work. No one can count the thousands of hours, miles, meetings, conversations, debates, ideas, and moments of ferocious attention Dr. Williams has given to the American Academy of Nursing, the American Nurses Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Appalachian Regional Healthcare, the National Research Study Sections at the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute for Nursing Research, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Pan American Health Organization, Sigma Theta Tau International, the universities she has served with grace, the thousands of colleagues she has taught, mentored, befriended, and inspired. Suffice it to say that in American nursing there has been one Carolyn Williams, and what a brilliant, generous energy she has been to her profession and her nation.
The Blanchet House of Hospitality in downtown Portland is a service entity that for nearly half a century now has served millions of meals and helped poor and homeless men, women, and children. Blanchet House’s founders, nearly all alumni of the University of Portland and/or Columbia Preparatory School (the high school that flourished on The Bluff with the University for fifty years), trace the House roots to the Blanchet Club founded on campus in 1938, which later, at the suggestion of Most Reverend Edward Howard, then Archbishop of Portland, dedicated itself to “to feed, clothe, and offer shelter and aid to those in need.” Inspired by the legendary Portland priest Father Francis Kennard, the men of the House were blunt about their work: to act more like Christ and say less, as Bernie Harrington ’42 once noted. The impulse didn’t stop with graduation, nor was it dimmed by the war; today’s Blanchet House was formed in 1952, and since then it has served more than 14 million meals to the hungry, provided temporary housing for the homeless, and drawn more than 5,000 annual volunteers from the community to its work, among them many hundreds of University students and alumni.
“There may be no more enduring, direct, and selfless example of the University’s mission in action over many years than in the lives and works of the alumni who founded, and still work with, Blanchet House,” said University president Father Bill Beauchamp, C.S.C. “The essence of the University’s life is to see and celebrate the Christ in every heart, and these men have done that with wonderful creativity and diligence. Their alma mater is immensely proud of them.”
The founders of Blanchet House include Jim O’Hanlon ’51, Gene Feltz ’50, Joe Moore ’39, John Moore ’50, Tom Moore ’49, Dan Harrington ’50, John Little ’50, Hugh McGinnis ’48, and the late alumni Pat Carr, Dan Christianson, Kev Collins, and Bernie Harrington.
Fred Fields, who receives honorary doctorates celebrating the quiet, thorough, remarkable, and boundless generosity that he and his late wife Suzanne offered the Portland community over half a century, served in the U.S. Army Air Force during the Second World War (as a flight and navigation instructor), and then studied at Ball State, Indiana, and Purdue universities before beginning a long career with Coe Manufacturing Company, where he began as a junior engineer and retired, half a century later, as chief executive officer. Coe has been a leading manufacturer of machinery in the United States since before the Civil War. Fred’s service to the community in Oregon includes years as a trustee (and finally chairman of the board) at Lewis & Clark College; that College’s Fred W. Fields Center for the Visual Arts is named in his honor.
Sue Schoenfeldt Fields, the sister of the University’s late and beloved Father Arthur Schoenfeldt, C.S.C., was born in Portland and educated at The Madeleine School, Saint Mary’s Academy, and the University of Oregon. For many years she was co-owner of Thorpe Draperies in Portland, and the blizzard of her philanthropic efforts include board memberships for the Portland Art Museum, the Oregon Humane Society, the Boys and Girls Aid Society, and the University, where she served as a regent for fifteen years; additionally she played a key role in the remarkable restoration of Portland’s famous Saint Mary’s Cathedral, her parish church, which today, thanks partly to Sue, features the beautifully restored murals of Emil Jacques, a world-renowned artist who taught on The Bluff in the 1920s.
Fred and Sue’s relationship to the University may be said to hail from the University’s birth in 1901; Sue’s grandfather, Colonel David Dunne, was one of the University’s first benefactors, and personally helped break ground for the University’s first residence hall, Christie, in 1911. (There is a lovely photograph of that event in which the Colonel is readily identified by his enormous mustache and boutonniere.) Completing a circle, as it were, many years later, Sue and Fred made the generous gift that created Fields and Schoenfeldt Halls, the University’s newest student residences, which opened last summer; one memorable feature of the dedication ceremony was Sue telling the residents cheerfully that University president Father Bill Beauchamp, C.S.C., lived across the quad, and they could knock on his door any time, day or night, for advice.
Fred and Sue also made the generous gift, in 1988, that established the University’s renowned Schoenfeldt Writers Series, in memory of her parents, Arthur M. and Dorothy Dunne Schoenfeldt. Directed by her brother, Father Art Schoenfeldt, C.S.C., until his death, the Series has brought some of the finest writers in the world to campus to meet with students, faculty, and friends; among the renowned guests have been National Book Award winners Barry Lopez ’94 hon., Peter Matthiessen, and Tim Egan, Sallie Tisdale ’83, David James Duncan ’04 hon., Ursula Le Guin, Paul Theroux, Kathleen Norris, Pico Iyer, and Ivan Doig.
Mike McCabe, the first University alumnus to achieve the rank of admiral in the United States Navy, is fond of quoting a fellow naval officer: “Any man who may be asked what he did to make his life worthwhile can respond, with a great deal of pride and satisfaction, I served in the United States Navy,” as President John Kennedy said.
McCabe graced this nation’s Navy with a rare diligence and creativity for more than three decades. Eighteen months after leaving The Bluff (where he ran track, majored in history, and became dear friends with the Uni ver sity’s legendary Father Chester Prusynski, C.S.C.), McCabe was flying combat missions in the Vietnam War; during his more than 150 missions from the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk, he shot down a MiG-21 in 1972. After Vietnam, he was selected to be the junior aviator in the first F-14 Tomcat squadron. Eventually he rose to executive officer of the Navy Fighter Weapons School — the Navy pilot graduate school better known today as Topgun. “The most amazing organization I have ever seen, in or out of the Navy,” says McCabe. “Topgun standards for excellence, professional performance, and competence represent the highest level of achievement you can find in any field, I think. Looking back on my career, my time directing Topgun was my most noteworthy and memorable assignment.”
McCabe subsequently commanded two fighter squadrons, worked with the National War College and the Chief of Naval Operations (in which capacity he was in the Pentagon when the airplane hijacked by terrorists struck the building directly below his office), received some 25 medals and awards (among them the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Air Medal), commanded Navy Aviation in the first Gulf war, traveled the world meeting diplomats and military leaders from many countries, and finally retired from the Navy in 2005, after a final tour of duty commanding the Navy’s Third Fleet in the Pacific—the Fleet once commanded by Admiral Bull Halsey in the Second World War, and the same fleet Mike’s father flew with during that titanic struggle. Mike then becamepresident and CEO of Ryan International Airlines, a position he holds today.
“My father died flying in the first swept-wing squadron of Navy jet fighters,” says McCabe. “So I think a lot about the price of freedom. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of the friends I’ve lost…It was a privilege commanding the wonderful men and women of the Navy. They are national treasures. But the people who perform the greatest service to their country are their families, who sacrifice tremendously for our country…
“I think a lot about America’s incredible chance to affect how history will unfold. Engagement with friends and potential adversaries is the right way. I think it is crucial, as the strongest country in the world, that we help the world...this is not the time to retreat to our shores and turn a cold shoulder, but to engage, to show our character and creativity and generosity…”
“The most powerful and staggeringly complex electro-biochemical machine ever created is in your head. You’re wearing it. It’s perched on your neck. You’re carting around ten billion neurons in a small calcium shell, laced with organic pumps and channels and switches, with wiring and plumbing so dense and complicated that even this astounding organ can barely imagine itself….” So began an article in the University’s Portland Magazine about the alumnus who became one of the world’s foremost scientists of the brain, of learning, and of human possibility: a quiet smiling man named Mike Merzenich, whose work has changed the lives of many thousands of families, revolutionized brain science, and led to more riveting questions about creativity than anyone can count.
Born to a German Catholic family in Lebanon, Oregon, Mike arrived on the Bluff in 1960 planning to be a physician, but his meeting the eccentric, brilliant, and kindly science professor Blondel Carlton changed everything. “Blondel and others woke me up to the joy of pursuing scientific knowledge in its purest sense. They saw something in me I hadn’t seen—perhaps a classic University of Portland story. I became absorbed in neuroscience. But I never left behind a fascination with religion and ethics and the greater issues of humankind, which are directly linked to the workings of the brain. That’s been my work, in the largest sense, and I awoke to it on The Bluff. I will always, always be grateful to the University for that.”
After graduation, Mike worked with the celebrated neuroscientist John Brookhart, earned a doctoral degree at Johns Hopkins University, and finally found a home for years of discovery at the University of California at San Francisco. In short, Merzenich (described by one colleague as “a lovely combination of Santa Claus and a mad scientist”) leapt into a stunning science career. He helped invent a cochlear implant that helped thousands of deaf people ‘hear’ and learn much faster. He helped language exercises and computer games that revolutionized learning for students with language problems. He founded the Scientific Learning Corporation to “dramatically alter the lives of children with learning problems because of physical ailments.” He started other companies to help people and families enduring Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, strokes, schizophrenia, and autism; “when a person is ill the whole family is ill,” as he says. He earned one international prize after another for his work. He watched with pleasure as one of his three children became a scientist. He somehow found time to deliver talks on the brain and learning on The Bluff. He developed a vineyard in Napa Valley. He dreams of new companies to start and new experiments to try. He follows his beloved San Francisco Giants. And he remains fascinated not by what he knows, which is considerable, but by what he doesn’t, yet, which is incomprehensibly vast—but not out of reach.
“My point of view as a brain scientist will always be provoked by issues of philosophy and questions about the origins of spirit and consciousness,” he says, cheerful as always. “We understand a lot at this point about the workings of the brain on a physiological level—and yet there are still great mysteries. How do the spiritual aspects of who we are rise out of this extraordinary machine? What might we do to heal and elevate lives with even more creative use of our brains?”
“What happens when your mind is opened, and the flame in your soul is lit up and tended by a parent, a teacher, a mentor, a friend?” asks Genny Nelson. “And then what happens when you get a chance to test your newfound beliefs, and your mettle? I suggest that this is how we become the change we seek. It happened to me…”
Born in Lewiston, Idaho, in 1952, a graduate of Saint Mary’s Academy in Portland, Genny Nelson was a junior at Portland State University when she started a work-study project on Skid Row. “I was shy, excited, silent, and totally clueless,” she says. By the end of that term she had found her calling: to share and witness the grace and courage of men and women and children who have no place to live amid the wealthiest society on earth, and to stand up for their freedom.
In 1979 Genny and her friend Sandy Gooch founded Sisters of the Road Café, in Portland’s Old Town district. “We didn’t assume we knew best what our community in Skid Row wanted and needed,” she says. “We asked and they told us: create a safe public place for everyone, especially women and children. They knew that every form of violence would walk through our door, and their request was simple and clear. Never pretend indifference to violence. Always try to interrupt it. Be a place where we can build community across class lines. Offer nourishing meals affordable to those with low or no income. Let us exchange labor for meals. Provide job training and a chance to work. Help us to not get stuck in a lifetime of charity…”
So was born Sisters of the Road, in Portland’s Old Town, in 1979, and it became something of a legend, serving more than 300 meals a day, providing an inviolate shelter for its patrons, and growing into, as the years passed, a nerve center for nonviolent social justice activity, information about the facts of homelessness and lack of affordable housing in Portland, and a rallying point for the dignity of every human being. “The bedrock for Sisters of the Road is a resounding no! to any kind of violence, including humiliation, racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism,” says Nelson. “Second is a commitment to love, to be compassionate, responsible, and accountable. Third is our belief that change is a creative process that depends on relationships.
“It’s not politicians by themselves who are going to wake up one morning and say, Oh, let’s end homelessness today! It’s people who are dealing with homelessness, and their housed allies, who have identified the root causes of this national problem. It is by building authentic relationships across class and political lines that homelessness will be eradicated. ‘It is when we treat strangers specially that the world is transformed,’ said Dorothy Day….”
There are more great storiesabout Sisters of the Road than we can tell here—how Genny and her colleagues fought to make food stamps legal tender for a meal (now a federal law); how someone can earn their $1.25 lunch with 15 minutes of work in the kitchen; how that $1.25 lunch tag hasn’t risen in thirty years; how lots of University students and alumni have found their way into the Café kitchen, and washed countless dishes; and how Genny, exactly thirty years after her excellent idea opened, retired from the daily ramble of it last fall. “I am a faithful and hope-filled woman,” says Genny, with a smile, “who believes that Gandhi was right when he said ‘you must be the change you wish to see in the world…’” Her cheerful, honest, direct, unflagging spirit will always infuse this city; and the University today salutes an extraordinary teammate in the work of healing and hope.
Lillian Pitt, one of the finest artists in the long story of the Pacific Northwest, was born in 1943 on the Warm Springs Reservation in the high sage desert of central Oregon. Of Warm Springs, Wasco, and Yakama ancestry, she moved to Portland after high school and conducted a business career until the 1980s, when she took a ceramics class that changed her life. Since then she has become an artist of international stature, with work featured in North America, Russia, Japan, Korea, Europe, and New Zealand, countless awards and honors (among them the Oregon Governor’s Award for the Arts, and the Oregon High Desert Museum’s Earle Chiles Award for accomplished Oregonians), and riveting artistic partners (among them celebrated architect Maya Lin, who has used Lillian’s work in her Columbia River Confluence Project).
Primarily a sculptor and mixedmedia artist, Pitt is also renowned for her extraordinary masks in various media (including astounding ones made of glass); perhaps her best-known works are a dizzying series of portraits of She Who Watches, a famous pictograph in the Columbia Gorge. Tsagagalal, as the image is called by First Peoples, has long been a symbol of conscience, of death, and of endurance among the people of the Mighty River, and Lillian has done many works in which She features, as well as a host of figures from the legends and spiritual traditions of her people: Spider Woman, honoring mothers; Feather Woman, honoring teachers; Hawk Woman, Coyote Woman, Wolf Woman, many more.
“Everything I do,” Pitt has said, “regardless of medium, honors my ancestors, and tries to give voice to the people, the land, the animals of this place. It is all, for me, about maintaining a link with tradition, about honoring the contributions my ancestors made to this world.
“I feel that making art is a sacred act. Itis sacred to me—when I am working I grow very calm and peaceful and meditative. There is an intimacy, a closeness with what is here and now, in your hands, that feels like a great blessing.”
There is great magic and miracle in art and story, says Pitt, and art and story is where the future lives, where the future is possible, where the future can be born, if we witness it with humility, and lure it forth with respect and hard work.
The University is particularly honored today to have Lillian Pitt among us, not only for the grace and integrity of her own life and work, but as a representative of the peoples who lived along the Mighty River for many thousands of years. At this University, poised at the confluence of Oregon’s two great rivers for more than a century, utterly convinced of the holiness of water as God’s gift, the chance to bow, as a community, in gratitude and prayer for the people who were here long before the University was is an honor—a great blessing, as Lillian Pitt would say.
Jim Sinegal, co-founder (with Seattle retailer Jeff Brotman) and chief executive officer of Costco, the warehouse retail company based in Issaquah, Washington, was born to a Catholic family in 1936 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After studying at San Diego Junior College and San Diego State University he entered the world of sales, which would never be the same. At eighteen years old he was a bagger for FedMart, the discount department stores started by Sol Price in San Diego (originally in an airport hangar). Within a few years he was married (to Janet, with whom he has three children) and later became executive vice president of merchandising and operations for that company; he then worked as executive vice president for Builders Emporium, for the Price Company, and for Sinegal/Cham ber lain before he and Brotman founded Costco in 1983.
The original strategy for Costco, as Sinegal has told many a reporter over the years, was to offer lower prices and better value to members by stripping away every orthodox aspect of sales that Sinegal and Brotman considered unnecessary, like fancy store fixtures, troops of salespeople, delivery systems, well-appointed executive offices, advertising, even backup inventory. In a sense the revolutionary aspect of Costco was to make retail the simplest and least complicated transaction imaginable, and to insist that lowest price was indeed lowest price; Sinegal, for example, mandated a 14% ceiling on store markup of national brands, a policy that never wavered, even when Costco could easily have sold inventory for far more.
Jim also became internationally renowned for simply being an honest and hardworking man; he walks the floors of his stores (sometimes 12 stores a day), he pays high wages to his employees so they can support their families, he cares more for Costco members than he does for shareholders (he famously dismisses Wall Street analysts who wish he would do the reverse), he answers his own phone (tersely: “Sinegal!”), and he says the philosophy of the company is essentially to be on a first-name basis with everyone. His own name tag reads simply JIM, he reads thousands of customer comments a week, and more than once he has been mistaken for a stock clerk, perhaps because he does stock shelves when the mood is upon him.
The results of such values and blunt honesty? Costco is the nation’s fourth-largest retailer, with sales of more than $70 billion from some 500 stores in 40 statesand 9 countries —but it has the lowest employee turnover rate in all of American retailing, partly because Jim insists on a thorough health plan for employees, and it had zero layoffs through the recession. “We have some 150,000 members, which means we have 150,000 ambassadors out there saying good things about Costco,” says Sinegal, blunt and amused, as usual. “What do I care about Wall Street? We’re in the business of building an organization that we hope will be here fifty years from now. Paying good wages to keep good people working for you is good business. We owe that to communities where we do business.”
Sinegal is amused by his legendary status in the business world, and defuses it with a salty honesty and a cheerful attention to detail—he loves to note that Costco sells some 50 million rotisserie chickens a year, for example. But he is adamant that a moral compass and an attentiveness to humane and ethical behavior are paramount in his company and conduct; which is one reason Univer sity president Father Bill Beauchamp, C.S.C., has asked Jim to deliver the Commencement Address to the University’s Class of 2010.
May 2009 (Special Convocation)
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Ordained at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome in 1961, the young Father Vlazny served his native Archdiocese of Chicago as priest in five parishes between 1962 and 1979, as a teacher and dean of studies at Quigley Prep from 1963 to 1979, as president of the Presbyteral Senate for the Archdiocese, as pastor of St. Aloysius Parish, and finally rector of Niles College Seminary until His Holiness John Paul II named him bishop. As auxiliary bishop he served as episcopal vicar for northern Illinois until the Pope appointed him bishop of Winona, Minnesota in 1987. Ten years later he was appointed the tenth Archbishop of Portland in Oregon — following in the footsteps of the University's founder, the fourth archbishop of Portland, the Most Reverend Alexander Christie.
Renowned among Oregonians of all faiths for his humor, honesty, and blunt candor, Archbishop Vlazny is especially beloved among the state's Catholics for having steered the community through tumultuous times with irreproachable integrity and unswerving commitment to serve the Christ in every soul. The very antithesis of a cold and forbidding authority figure, he has been a remarkably creative and forthright leader of the Archdiocese, and been a passionate and articulate voice for service and teaching as the hallmarks of his tenure. He has also served the Church Eternal with the same diligence and wit that have graced his work in Oregon: He has chaired or been a member of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops committees on faith formation and sacramental practice, vocations, evangelization, women, migration and refugee services, Hispanic affairs (Spanish is one of his four languages), conciliation, and arbitration, and he is a writer and speaker of skill and strength, noted not only for his lyrical weekly essays in The Catholic Sentinel newspaper, but for his primary role in writing the first pastoral letter ever issued by the bishops of northwest Canada and the United States, on the holiness of the Columbia River and its vast watershed.
"The darkness at the beginning of our Easter vigil service is all darkness," he wrote recently, "everything hidden and secret, deceitful and dishonest, divisive and abusive, immoral and sinful. It is the darkness in our world and the darkness in our hearts. But when the light of Christ broke into the dark history of humankind, everything was changed. The Easter candle is the light of Christ, bringing new life, new hope, new joy. We were children of darkness but we became children of the light. As that light of Christ grows brighter in each and every one of us, we will become much more effective witnesses to a world that desperately needs to be reminded once again that He is alive!"
Archbishop Vlazny is the fifteenth recipient of the Christus Magister Medal, the University's highest honor. It is awarded annually to men and women of international distinction in the fields of art, science, and government.
Paul Hawken is a renowned American entrepreneur (he founded the natural food company Erewhon, the software company Datafusion, and the retail company Smith & Hawken, among other entities), eloquent and passionate environmentalist, and best-selling author of several books, most recently Blessed Unrest, about "the worldwide movement for social and environmental change, about humanity's collective genius, about the unstoppable movement to reimagine our relationship to the environment and one another." He is widely considered one of the world's leading architects and proponents of corporate reform with respect to ecological practices, and is a remarkably influential voice as businesses both in America and abroad reinvent themselves in the face of ecological crisis and entrepreneurial opportunity.
Hawken has been passionately engaged in American possibility for more than forty years; in his teens he worked on Martin Luther King's staff in Selma, Alabama (shepherding Leonard Bernstein and Ella Fitzgerald to the final march) and was later kidnapped by the Ku Klux Klan; in his twenties he founded America's first natural foods company, in Boston; in his thirties he started the horticultural company Smith & Hawken; in his forties he led the advancement of the Natural Step organization to the United States, to the principles of which the University of Portland aspires; and since then he has created various companies dealing with fluid and thermodynamics, water policy and management, investments, information delivery, and sustainable practices in many fields of endeavor.
Renowned as an articulate and energetic speaker — he has addressed audiences in Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, France, and England, as well as countless cities in America — he is an even finer writer, both vastly informed and graceful in delivery. His first bestseller, The Next Economy (1983), predicted the rise of environmental entrepreneurism; his next, Growing a Business (1987), was turned into a PBS series and distributed to 115 countries by the U.S. Information Agency, to encourage and inform emerging businesses in lesser-developed countries. These books were followed by Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability (1993) and Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (1999), also best-sellers around the world, but it is Blessed Unrest (2007) that may be his most visionary contribution to modern life. Hawken spent more than ten years researching organizations dedicated to restoring the environment and fostering social justice. From billion-dollar nonprofits to single-person dot.causes, these groups —more than a million —collectively comprise the largest movement on earth, a movement with no name, leader, or location, a movement largely ignored by politicians and the media, a movement emerging, writes Hawken, as an extraordinary and creative expression of human needs and gifts worldwide. "The movers and shakers on our planet," says author Bill McKibben, "are the incredible numbers of people around the world filled with love for neighbor and for the earth who are resisting, remaking, restoring, renewing, revitalizing. This book is their story, our story, and nothing you read will fill you with more hope."
Mary Kathleen Johnson, who rose to be chief nursing officer for one of the largest and most extensive health systems in America, the Providence Health System she served with creativity and distinction, will long be remembered on The Bluff for her prime role in creating the Providence Scholars program, by which 30 to 75 junior students a year at the University of Portland are given full tuition scholarships by Providence for their final five semesters, in exchange for a three-year commitment to work as nurses for Providence. The program, an immense success at the University (which has seen its nursing enrollment triple), has now been imitated nationally, and has made substantive inroads in the critical shortage of nurses in Oregon and in the United States. More than 500 University students and alumni are or were Providence Scholars on The Bluff.
A Portland native, and the daughter of the elegant and urbane Mary and Ray Mills '42, Johnson was schooled at Saint Cecelia and Saint Mary's Academy before earning her undergraduate degree in nursing on The Bluff in 1966. (She also later earned a master's in business administration from City University, in Bellevue, Washington, in 1986). As a student here, she worked as a nursing assistant in both a hospital and a nursing home; after graduation, she worked as a staff nurse in emergency rooms, orthopedics, medical respiratory, medical renal, cardiology, and as "medical surgical float" nurse. In 1970 she was named nurse manager of a 60-bed orthopedic unit; in 1981 she was named associate director of nursing in surgical and obstetric service; and in 1987 she became director of nursing at St. Vincent. From 1992 to 2002 she was assistant administrator for nursing and patient care at Providence St. Vincent, until her elevation to chief nursing officer for Providence's operations in Oregon. During many of those years she also served the University as an adjunct professor in both nursing and business.
"Even as I was promoted into management," she says, "I kept at least one patient assignment each month until just five years ago, so as to maintain contact with nurses and patients. I tried my best to create an environment where nursing care gave patients the respect, compassion, and dignity they deserve. I wanted funding to get to the bedside. I worked for an improved nurse-to-patient ratio.
"I worked to change the management structure from the traditional top-down model to more self-directed teams and decentralized decision making. I worked to involve nurses and caregivers directly in the daily planning and decision-making processes. We started nursing ethics classes and a support team. We started a research program to increase the data available to nurses for making patient-care decisions. And our work culminated in Providence St. Vincent earning a 'magnet' designation, in 2000, from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, which honors facilities that provide the best nursing care and foster an environment where nurses can do quality work. That's the ultimate benchmark for quality care, and we were the first hospital in Oregon to earn that."
In recent years, faced with crisis-level shortage of nurses and recognizing that the only solution was to educate more of them, Johnson worked with the University's late nursing dean Terry Misener to not only create the Providence Scholars program, but to have Providence nurses with master's and doctoral degrees teach as adjunct professors in the University's School of Nursing. The results, as Johnson says, "mean that now there are graduating classes with hundreds of nurses, compared to the twelve that graduated with me!"
Ralph Miller, a much-admired and respected international businessman and community activist, and an integral member of the University's Board of Regents since 1993, was born in Essen, Germany, in 1938. He earned his academic degrees from the University of Oregon, from Harvard University's Graduate School of Business Executive Education Program, and from the University of Portland, from which he has a master's in business administration (1973). His love and appreciation for the value of education was instilled in him very early by his immigrant parents, as he says, and today he and his wife Sandi have not only supported countless students on and off The Bluff, but are the very definition of lifelong learners, eager and curious in many fields of inquiry.
Miller began his business career in 1962 as a certified public accountant with Erickson, Eisenman, and Company, before becoming a group president at Columbia Corporation from 1971 to 1976, but it was the company he founded in 1976 and then ran for twenty years for which he is perhaps best known in the business world: the MMI Group, which he finally sold in 1995.
But it is Miller's remarkable community service, especially to the University of Portland and to the Jewish community of Oregon, that is the true measure of the man. He has been director, treasurer and president of the Jewish Community Center of Portland, director and president of the American Jewish Committee of Portland, and a director of the Jewish Welfare Federation of Portland. Additionally he served as advisor both to Multnomah County and to the State of Oregon, representing Oregon's Third Congressional District on state commissions.
While Ralph Miller has for 16 years given the University community an endless supply of his energy, insight, humor, and support as a regent and frequent guest on campus, the University wishes to particularly honor him today for his central and crucial role in a project of historic dimensions in the long story of Oregon's Catholic university. This is the acquisition, in late 2008, after many years of negotiations and planning, of the 35 acres of riverfront property below the bluff to the north, what was for years called the Triangle Park property and is already being referred to, even among students, as the riverfront campus. It cannot be emphasized enough how the purchase of this new land, adjacent to the upper campus and open to one of the great rivers of the West, will create stunning new educational opportunities for University students over the course of the 21st century.
What University president Father Bill Beauchamp has called a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was engineered, in very large part, by the diligence, will, intelligence, and calm creativity of Ralph Miller, over many years and many meetings, and the University honors him publicly this afternoon for remarkable labors that will yield incalculable results on The Bluff in the years to come. Green trails, salmon recovery laboratories, playing fields, water resource projects, a boathouse — these are only a few of the dreams and plans beginning to take shape for the river campus, and that they are dreamt at all is greatly due to the quiet and cheerful Ralph Miller. Well done, faithful friend.
Dan O'Neill is the co-founder of Mercy Corps, an organization which has raised nearly $2 billion to help some 17 million children and families in more than one hundred countries since it began, as the Save the Refugees Fund, in 1979. Today Mercy Corps, with offices in North America, Europe, and Asia, has more than 3,000 staffers working in nearly forty countries, and the organization adheres, more than ever before, to the three goals O'Neill and co-founder Ellsworth Culver set thirty years ago: to provide emergency relief, offer long-term economic opportunities, and foment civil society, all of which promote democratization; to observe and respect laws and human rights; and to create conditions for peaceful change.
O'Neill, a devout Catholic, is articulate about the spiritual nature of the work. "We're not a religious organization," he has said, "but there is a powerful sense of the spiritual in what we do. I was raised in an evangelical Protestant family, but eventually I became very interested in Catholicism's very strong emphasis on the poor, on paying attention and assisting the poor. And I was inspired by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a tiny nun who without large resources had made such a difference. If someone so seemingly obscure and without stature can put this sort of faith to work, I thought, maybe I can do something."
Born and raised in Washington state, O'Neill was finishing his undergraduate degree at the University of Washington when he "sort of abandoned myself to divine providence," as he says. He sold what little he owned, moved overseas to join the volunteer organization Youth With a Mission, and "lived day to day, on what you could call a faith pilgrimage."
Working in East Africa, Europe and the Middle East, he saw poverty, famine and war — terrorism at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, the Middle East war of October 1973, Idi Amin's murderous war on his fellow Ugandans. O'Neill also worked in the orchards on a kibbutz in Israel. Returning home, he fell in love (he and his wife Cherry have four daughters and a son) and began to dream "about doing more global-oriented things," he says. Shocked by the murders of millions of Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge and the refugee crisis of the late 1970s, O'Neill co-founded the Save the Refugees Fund in 1979, in part with the help of O'Neill¹s father-in-law, singer Pat Boone, who opened his home to host the Fund's first meeting, and of then-First Lady Rosalynn Carter, whom O'Neill cold-called at the White House. "Against all odds, she promptly called me back, and she was a tremendous help," says O'Neill.
Two years later, in 1981, the Fund became Mercy Corps, and it has grown, says O'Neill, to be an organization wholly dependent on the creativity, self-motivation, and social entrepreneurship of its staff and supporters. "Thinking very creatively, employing very bright and innovative and educated people, and being able to say that we reach, in some way, some 10 million people a year — that's significant to me. Mercy Corps' future, I think, will include ever more entrepreneurial creativity, avoiding bureaucracy as far as possible, and trying ever harder to make a difference in the world when tensions seem so high. As for me, I continue to be inspired by Mother Teresa. Such a frail, diminutive woman — but she was strong and resolute in making a difference for those in extreme poverty. She's a model of faith in action, of a faith that matters.
The cheerful Bishop Skylstad — bishop of the Diocese of Spokane, Washington, since 1990, and previously bishop of the Diocese of Yakima from 1977 until his appointment to Spokane by His Holiness Pope John Paul II — is a renowned pastor, eloquent environmental defender, and able servant of the Church Eternal; from 2001 through 2007 he served as vice president and then president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Church's premier administrative body in America. Long a good friend to and welcome guest at the University of Portland, he is renowned on The Bluff not only for his personable and passionate talks here about the stewardship of God's creation, but especially as co-author of the famous Bishops' Pastoral Letter on the Columbia River, which was publicly announced for the first time here at the University.
Born in 1934 in Omak, Washington, Skylstad grew up on the banks of the Methow River, which feeds the mighty Columbia. "I remember the constant roaring of the river as the waters made their way to the sea," he has written, "a sound that calls to my mind a line from St. Francis of Assisi, praised be my Lord by our sister the water...We used the Methow's water not only for drinking but for irrigating our apple orchard and alfalfa field, and for swimming and rafting, and for catching the immense salmon. I remain today filled with awe and appreciation of this wonderful gift and treasure in our midst, the flowing waters of life."
At age fourteen Skylstad headed to the seminary, and then to the Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Spokane in 1960, and then studied at Washington State University while serving in a parish in Pullman. He then was principal of a high school seminary school in Colbert, Washington, where he was also pastor of Saint Joseph Parish. In 1974 he was named pastor of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish, in Spokane. Two years later he was named chancellor of the diocese, and in 1977 he was elevated to the bishopric by His Holiness Pope Paul VI. His more than three decades as a bishop have given him a fluency in Spanish and far more expertise in tumultuous times for Catholics and financial turmoil than he ever expected; as USCCB president he also became nationally known for his passionate opposition to abortion and devotion to the Madonna.
In his native Pacific Northwest, however, Skylstad will perhaps be best remembered for his gentle and personable character, and for his crucial role in the writing and promulgation of the Columbia River Pastoral Letter, the first to ever be issued collectively by the bishops of Portland, Seattle, Baker, Boise, Helena, Spokane, Yakima, and Nelson (Canada). "We are responsible for the land on which we live," Skylstad wrote. "We have a sacramental view of the universe, which means human accountability for the fate of all. We have a consistent respect for life, which means all life. We are devoted to the common good. We understand the requirement of equitable use of the earth's resources. We insist on the option for the poor, which gives passion to our quest for a sustainable world. We believe in authentic development, which means progress that respects human dignity and the limits of material growth. We are mindful that the earth is the Lord's. So the question for us is always: how can we live in harmony with God's creation? Our work is to promote justice in our land and reverence for God"s creation; thus we can contribute to the holiness of our time."
Chen Yi, one of the world's most renowned classical composers, now teaches at the University of Missouri's Conservatory of Music in Kansas City. Born in Guangzhou, China, in 1953, she spent two of her teenage years in forced labor during China's Cultural Revolution — "we climbed up and down a mountain carrying rocks," she has said, "I carried more than 100 pounds on my back, and would go up and down sometimes 20 times a day." But she had her violin with her, and while assigned to play revolutionary songs for local farmers she practiced and improvised — her first compositions. She was then suddenly named concertmaster of Guangzhou's opera company. In 1986 she left China for New York, and has since become internationally famous for, among other works, her Piano Concerto, Chinese Myths Cantata, and a cello concerto written specifically for the great cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Chen Yi (Chen is her family name and Yi is what Westerners would call her first name) and her two siblings were born to parents who were both doctors, both Christians, and both interested in Western music and culture. She started music lessons at age three, and by age 13 was already an accomplished violinist. But China's "Cultural Revolution" in 1966 changed everything. Mao Tse-Tung's Red Guards ransacked the family home, seized all Western music, and sent Chen to a labor camp. She practiced the violin silently when she could, she learned to riff on the "acceptable" songs she was assigned to play, and even now, years later, evinces no bitterness, saying that those years taught her a great deal about rural China and its folk music.
When Mao's wife Jiang Qing decreed that Western instruments should be added to the orchestras of China's traditional opera troupes, Chen was pulled from the camp and made concertmaster of Guangzhou's opera company. She then studied at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, became the first woman in China to receive a master's degree in composition, and finally left China for New York to study at Columbia University, where she received her doctoral degree in 1993.
Since then she has been resident composer with many entities — the Women's Philharmonic Orchestra in San Francisco and the a cappella chorus Chanticleer among them — and a teacher of composition at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and the University of Missouri at Kansas City. As a composer she is especially admired for the creative ways she has merged Asian and Western musical structures, working with Hungarian folk music, American jazz, and Celtic music, among many other styles.
Chen became a United States citizen in 1999, and in 2001 she was honored with the American Academy of Arts and Letters Charles Ives Award, an honor that allowed her to compose full-time. She has twice graced the University of Portland as a guest of the performing and fine arts department, and the University community is delighted to add her name as a distinguished member of the Class of 2009.
Dr. Peter Tannock – Christus Magister Medal
His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick
Eugene Wizer '60
The Honorable Edward Leavy ' 50
Roy Heynderickx '83 MBA
April 2008 (Special Convocation)
Rev. Tom Streit, C.S.C. – Christus Magister Medal
Archbishop John P. Foley
Marty Haugen – Doctor of Humane Letters
Col. Susan Helms, U.S.A.F. – Doctor of Humane Letters
Sr. Helen Prejean, C.S.J. – Doctor of Humane Letters
Donald Shiley '51 – Doctor of Humane Letters
Sr. Kathleen Ross, S.N.J.M. – Christus Magister Medal
Tim Roemer – Doctor of Laws (Commencement Speaker)
Sr. Karin Dufault, S.P. – Doctor of Public Service
Kevin Fuller – Doctor of Public Service
Vivian A. Bull – Doctor of Humane Letters
Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C. – Christus Magister Medal
David James Duncan – Doctor of Humane Letters
Karl-Henrik Robert, M.D. – Doctor of Public Service
Fedele R. Bauccio – Doctor of Public Service
Rachel Bristol – Doctor of Public Service
Susan Sokol Blosser – Doctor of Public Service
Joe Etzel – Doctor of Public Service
Rev. William J. Bryon, S.J. – Christus Magister Medal
Jean Vollum – Doctor of Fine Arts
Dr. Peter Kohler – Doctor of Public Service
Rev. Thomas Chambers, C.S.C. – Doctor of Humane Letters
Millard Fuller – Christus Magister Medal
Clive Charles – Doctor of Public Service
Rev. Walter Burghardt, S. J. – Doctor of Humane Letters
Dorothy Coughlin – Doctor of Public Service
Ray Siegfried II – Doctor of Public Service
Rev. David T. Tyson, C.S.C. – Doctor of Public Service
Anthony Dispigno – Doctor of Public Service
Rev. Hugh Cleary, C.S.C – Christus Magister Medal
Patrick Becker – Doctor of Public Service (at Campaign Gala)
Jo Becker – Doctor of Public Service (at Campaign Gala)
Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. – Christus Magister Medal
Joseph Allegretti – Doctor of Public Service
Albert D. Corrado – Doctor of Public Service
Tony Hillerman – Doctor of Humane Letters
Julie Mancini – Doctor of Humane Letters
Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo – Doctor of Public Service
Gertrude Fleming Rempfer – Doctor of Public Service
Monika K. Hellwig – Christus Magister
Douglas Kmiec – Doctor of Humane Letters
Edwin A. Sweo – Doctor of Public Service
Mary Jo Tully – Doctor of Humane Letters
Noel Don Wycliff – Doctor of Humane Letters
Edmund D. Pellegrino – Doctor of Public Service
Most Rev. John G. Vlazny – Doctor of Laws
Jeanne L. Narum – Doctor of Public Service
Margaret O’Brien Steinfels & Peter Steinfels – Christus Magister
Martin E. Marty – Christus Magister Medal
Mark Gearan – Doctor of Public Service
Patricia Hayes – Doctor of Humane Letters
John A. Teske – Doctor of Public Service
Sr. Jean Lenz, O.S.F. – Doctor of Humane Letters
The Hon. James Larocco – Doctor of Public Service
Edward O. Wilson – Doctor of Humane Letters
Most Rev. Francis George, O.M.I. – Doctor of Laws
Mark Shields – Doctor of Public Service
Judith Ramaly – Doctor of Humane Letters
Jerry Hudson – Doctor of Humane Letters
Gert Boyle – Doctor of Public Service
Judge John Noonan, Jr. – Christus Magister Medal
Dennis Barrett – Doctor of Public Service
Rev. James R. Lackenmier, C.S.C. – Doctor of Humane Letters
Cpt. Scott O’Grady – Doctor of Public Service
Sr. Lourdes Sheehan R.S.M. – Doctor of Humane Letters
David Grove – Doctor of Public Service
Rev. J Bryan Hehir – Christus Magister Medal
John R. Emerick – Doctor of Public Service
Silvio Garaventa, Senior – Doctor of Public Service
James E. Muller – Doctor of Public Service
Antonia Coello Novello – Doctor of Public Service
Mark O. Hatfield – Christus Magister Medal
Mrs. Kathleen W. Andrews, D.H.L.
Dr. Norman C. Francis, LL.D.
Mrs. Elsie Franz Finley, D.P.S.
Mr. Silvio Garaventa, Sr., D.P.S.
Barry Lopez, D.H.L.
Ann C. Williams – Doctor of Public Service
Rev. Carl F. Ebey, C.S.C. – Doctor of Humane Letters
Sister Jane Hibbard, S.N.J.M. – Doctor of Public Service
Marla E. Salmon, R.N., Sc.D. – Doctor of Public Service
Frances FitzGerald – Doctor of Human Letters
Ernest Boyer – Doctor of Laws
Eugene Feltz – Doctor of Public Service
The Most Reverend Agostino Cacciavillan, J.C.D. – Doctor of Laws
Philip J. Robinson – Doctor of Public Service
Dr. Arthur A. Schulte, Jr. – Doctor of Laws
Bishop Paul E. Waldshmist, D.D., C.S.C. – Doctor of Laws
Miss Mary McCravey – Doctor of Public Service
Rev. Edward A. Malloy C.S.C. – Doctor of Laws
John J. Fitzgerald, C.S.C. – Doctor of Humane Letters
George Lyman Dum, C.S.C. – Doctor of Humane Letters
John J. Hooyboer, C.S.C. – Doctor of Human Letters
Afaf Ibrahim Meleis – Doctor of Public Service
David B. Frohnmayer – Doctor of Public Service
Mark O. Hatfield – Doctor of Public Service
Roger Michael Mahony, Archbishop of
Richard V. Warner C.S.C. – Doctor of Laws
Robert Franz – Doctor of Public Service
Jaime Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of
Martin M. McLaughlin – Doctor of Public Service
Earl M. Chiles – Doctor of Public Service
The Most Reverend William J. Levada – Doctor of Letters
The Most Reverend Richard C. Hanifen, D.Lit
Stephen P. Newton, D.P.S.
Most Reverend Sylvester W. Treinen – Doctor of Laws, L.L.D.
Jean Auel – Doctor of Letters, D.Lit
James DePreist, D.F.A.
Most Rev. Thomas J.. Murphy, D.L.
Most Reverend Lawrence H. Welsh, L.H.D.
Most Rev. John S. Cummins, L.H.D.
Mercedes McCambridge, D.F.A.
Rev. Joseph Leo Powers, C.S.C.
Thomas Patrick Melady, D.P.S.
The Most Reverend Raymond Gerhardt Hunthausen, L.L.D.
Brother David Martin, C.S.C., L.H.D.
Harold Taylor, L.L.D.
Pauline Frederick, L.H.D.
Rev. Paul C. Reinert, S.J., D.P.S.
Bishop Felixberto Flores, D.D., L.L.D.
Sister Sally Furay, R.S.C.J., L.H.D.
Bernard Eugene Niedermeyer, Sr., D.P.S.
Pietro Belluschi, D.F.A.
William L. McCoy. L.L.D.
Anthony J. Weber, H.D.
William H. Hunt, L.H.D.
John F. Kilkenny, LL.D.
Most Reverend Francis T Hurley, LL.D.
Joseph R. Bianco, L.H.D.
Patricia Roberts Harris, LL.D.
Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., L.H.D.
Most Reverend Cornelius M. Power, D.D., J.C.D, L.H.D.
Aaron Copland, D.F.A.
Most Reverend Joseph Kelanthara, LL.D.
Loren D. McKinley, Sc. D.
Dr. Rheba de Tornyay, L.H.D.
La, Un-Yung, L.H.D.
Most Rev. Joseph L. Howze, D.D., LL.D.
Dr. J. H. Hexter, LL. D.
Mr. Martin Gang, LL.D.
John Doucette, A.E.D.
Warren H. Phillips, LL.D.
Most Reverend Edward L. Heston, LL.D. (posthumously)
Roger L. Conkling
Most Reverend Thomas J. Connolly, L.H.D.
The Honorable Helen Delich Bentley, L.H.D.
The Honorable Terry D. Schrunk, LL.D.
Robert Boisseau Pamplin, Sr., LL.D.
Robert Biosseau Pamplin, Jr. LL.D.
The Most Rev. Mark J. Hurley, LL.D.
Sylvia Porter (Mrs. G. Sumner Collins), LL.D.
Mr. George A. Lamb, LL.D.
Colonel Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., Sc.D.
Charles Stark Draper, Sc.D.
Reverend Colman J. Barry, L.H.D.
Special Convocation 1969 — Dedication of Buckley Center
Mr. James L. Buckley, LL.D.
The Honorable Edith Green (in absentia), L.H.D.
Ann Blyth (Mrs. James V. McNulty), A.E.D.
Dudley Dowell, LL.D.
Monsignor John Tracy Ellis, L.H.D.
George Edward Mulgrue, LL.D.
Dr. Howard A. Rusk, Sc.D.
Dr. Edward Staunton West, Sc.D.
Dr. Harry L. Dillin, L.H.D.
Dr. Maria G. Mayer, Sc. D.
Harding L. Lawrence, LL. D.
The Most Rev. James V. Casey, D.D., LL.D.
Dr. Howard H. Hanson, A.E.D.
John T. Cunniff, L.H.D.
The Most Reverend Victor J. Reed, LL.D.
John J. Snyder, Jr. (Posthumously)
Fredrick D. Rossini, Sc. D.
John T. Hayward, Sc. D.
Arthur Sherwood Flemming, L.H.D.
Right Rev. Monsignor C. O’Neil D’Amour, LL.D.
Rosalind Russell (Mrs. Frederick Brisson), A.E.D.
Patrick Michael McGrady, Sc.D.
Eva Adams, LL.D.
The Most Rev. John J. Scanlan, D.D., LL.D.
Paul D. Woodring, LL.D.
Jacob Avshalomov, A.E.D.
M. Jack Murdock, L.H.D.
The Most Reverend Victor J. Reed, LL.D.
John J. Snyder, Jr. (Posthum ously)
Frederick D. Rossini, Sc.D
John T. Hayward, Sc.D
His Excellency Sergio Gutierrez-Olivos
Owen Robertson Cheatham, LL.D.
The Most Reverend Hugh A. Donohoe, D.D., LL.D.
Walter F. Sheehan, LL.D.
Angus L. Bowmer, A.E.D.
Dorothy Buffum Chandler, A.E.D.
Rev. Charles C. Miltner, C.S.C, L.H.D.
Special Convocation, December 1963
Brother Godfrey Vassallo, C.S.C, Sc.D.
The Most Rev. Robert J. Dwyer, D.D., LL.D.
Frank Marion Folsom, LL.D.
Mother Mary Philothea, F.C.S.P., LL.D.
Edwin Harold Shipstad, A.E.D.
Special Convocation, January 1963
The Very Rev. Howard J. Kenna, C.S.C., LL.D.
Mortimer J. Alder, LL.D.
The Most Reverend Thomas E. Gill, D.D., LL.D.
The Honorable Arthur J. Goldberg, LL.D.
The Reverend William H. McDougall, LL.D.
F. Leo Smith, LL.D.
The Rt. Rev. Msgr. Edmund G. Van der Zanden, LL. D.
The Rt. Rev. Msgr. Philip Hughes, LL.D.
The Reverend Willis Whalen, LL.D.
The Most Reverend James J. Byrne, D.D., LL.D.
Anthony Brandenthaler, LL.D.
The Most Reverend Leonard P. Cowley, D.D., LL.D.
Reverend Louis J. Putz, C.S.C., LL.D.
Henry J. Kaiser, Jr., LL.D.
Theodore Bloomfield, LL.D.
The Most Reverend Joseph Lennox Federal, D.D., LL.D.
Gardiner Howland Shaw, LL.D.
Thomas Cardinal Tien, S.V.D., LL.D.
The Most Rev. Thomas A. Connolly, D.D., LL.D.
Eugene E. Trefethen, LL.D.
Harry W. Morrison, LL.D.
The Most Rev. Bernard J. Topal, LL.D.
The Honorable Paul K. T. Sih, LL.D.
Louis P. Artau, Mus. D.
The Most Rev. William Mark Duke, D.D., LL.D.
John Lawrence Sullivan, LL.D.
Edgar Fosburg Kaiser, LL.D.
Owen Patrick McNulty (Dennis Day), LL.D.
General Carlos P. Romulo, LL.D.
Rt. Rev. Abbott Peter Damian Jentges, O.S.B., LL.D.
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Charles Marcus Smith, LL.D.
The Very Rev. Joseph Fulton, O.P., LL.D.
The Honorable John C. H. Wu, LL.D.
The Honorable Dorothy McCullough Lee, LL.D.
Arthur Russell Moore, Sc.D.
Special Convocation, September 1952
His Eminence Richard Cardinal Cushing, D.D., LL.D.
The Very Rev. Albert A. Lemieux, S.J., LL.D.
The Rev. Martin Thielen, LL.D.
Major General William E. Hall, USAF, LL.D.
Walter Houser Brattain, LL.D.
Howard Vollum, Sc. D.
John A Zehntbauer, LL.D.
Very Rev. Christopher J. O’Toole, C.S.C., LL.D.
Aaron M. Frank, LL.D.
The Most Rev. Edward D. Howard, D.D., LL.D.
Rev. Theodore J. Mehling, C.S.C., LL.D.
The Most Rev. Joseph P. Dougherty, LL.D.
E. C. Sammons, LL.D.
The Most Rev. Leo F. Fahey, D.D.
Rex Putnam, LL.D.
Mme. Lotte Lehmann, Mus. D.
The Most Rev. William J. Condon, D.D., LL.D.
Edgar W. Smith, LL.D.
Rt. Rev. J. G. Stafford
Ben Hur Lampman
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Murnane, LL.D.
David W. E. Baird, M.D., LL.D.
The Rev. Robert H. Sweeney, C.S.C., LL.D.
Joaquin Felix dos Reis, LL.D.
Theodore R. Gamble, LL.D.
Carlos Alberto Alvarado, M.D., LL.D.
The Rt. Rev. Raphael Heider, O.S.B., LL.D.
Frank R. Menne, M.D., LL.D.
The Most Rev. Francis P. Leipzig, D.D., LL.D.
The Honorable Donald E. Long, LL.D
Rt. Rev. Msgr. George J. Campbell, LL.D.
(Major) Joseph K. Carson, Jr.
The Rt. Rev. John F. Gallagher
The Honorable Hall S. Lusk, LL.D.
The Most Rev. Charles D. White, D.D.
Brother Arator Justin, F.S.C.
Charles A. Howard, LL.D.
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Thomas J. Tobin, LL.D.
The Honorable John P. Kavanaugh
Sister Miriam Theresa, S.H.N., LL.D.
Eva Emery Dye
Special Convocation, May 1938
His Eminence Amleto Cardinal Giovanni Cicognani, D.D., LL.D.
The Rt. Rev. Lambert Burton, O.S.B.
The Honorable John I. O’Phelan
David W. Hazen
Jane V. Doyle, LL.D.
The Most Rev. Gerald Shaughnessy, S.M.
Thomas Martin Joyce, M.D.
The Most Rev. Edward J. Kelly
The Most Rev. Duane G. Hunt, LL.D.
The Honorable (Gen.) Charles H. Martin