COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER AND HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
Patricia R. & Daniel M. Rooney
Doctor of Social Justice
In his writings on friendship, Aristotle noted a paradox at the heart of human intimacy: that the private bond between individuals finds perfection only through an outward movement that embraces community. True friends encourage each other in virtue and take pleasure in a shared commitment to the common good. Church teaching affirms that this same movement from intimacy to community is the way of perfection for marriage and family. In the words of the theologian Karl Rahner, marriage is not simply a union of two but “the act in which a ‘we’ is constituted which opens itself lovingly precisely to all…” Thus, in the fullness of marital friendship, spouses see their love as the beginning of love for others—which brings us to you, Patricia Reagan and Daniel Milton Rooney.
Today we celebrate your more than sixty-year partnership—christened in that moment when Dan Rooney set eyes on Patricia Regan across the counter at the Arch Pharmacy in North Side. We hold you up—as a couple—to our graduates as a model of virtuous friendship and of love animated by concern for others. Your affinity for others found its first expression, naturally, in the care of your nine children. In the formation of family, you cultivated those habits of the heart: mutual service; dignity of person; care for the little ones; the sick; the aged; the sharing of goods, of joys and of sorrows that make the family the first school of social life and of deeper humanity.
But more—you understand that family is the beginning of solidarity and not the end. You live the Church tradition that sees families as communities of love with a social mission; and so you continue to expand, in compassionate and sacrificial outreach, the generous relations of the family to ever larger circles of society—from the football team to the local schools, and from there to the fields of music, history, poetry and other cultural and community endeavors.
In your efforts to promote the common good, you have always focused on the defining values of what Pope John Paul II described as “authentic family humanism”: equality, justice, well-being and dignity of person. You have promoted these values in your professional lives as well. In particular, your stewardship of the Pittsburgh Steelers has made it the envy of the professional sports world—precisely because you applied these same first principles of equality and the dignity of the person to that enterprise.
Your outreach to community has been remarkable both for its breadth and for the diversity of causes supported. Your promotion of the common good extends from local and regional efforts to national and international initiatives. You have cooperated in the mission of the Church as generous supporters of the Catholic Charities, the Bishop’s Education Fund, and the Catholic Youth Association. You have aided the vulnerable among us through support for the Salvation Army, the Holy Family Institute, the Mentoring Partnership of Southwest Pennsylvania, and Presbyterian University Hospital and its Rehabilitation Institute. You have been dedicated advocates for education and the arts: serving on the faculty and board of Robert Morris University; creating the Rooney Visiting Fellowships for scholars and the Rooney Prize for Literature; and supporting the International Poetry Forum, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Heinz History Center and the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.
We also honor your efforts to promote peace, reconciliation and economic development in Ireland, home of your ancestors and spiritual home of the Religious Sisters of Mercy. Through the Ireland Fund, which you co-founded, millions of dollars have been raised to promote peace and support culture, education and community development. Your founding of the Newry/Pittsburgh Partnership, your service on the board of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, and the establishment of the Rooney Fellowships for education and career development have all provided additional avenues of economic opportunity in Ireland and new pathways for reconciliation between the Catholic and Protestant communities. Finally, we take delight in welcoming you both back from your just-completed duties as United States Ambassador to Ireland, and we thank you for your stellar service to our country.
Patricia and Daniel Rooney, in gratitude for your virtuous friendship, for your inspiring journey of witness to the ideals of solidarity and social justice, and for the beautiful example you give us of a love expanding to embrace the human family, Mount Aloysius College proudly confers upon you both now the degree of Doctor of Social Justice, honoris causa, this Eleventh day of May Two Thousand and Thirteen.
HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
Shirley Abel Pechter
Doctor of Social Justice
Shirley Abel Pechter’s picture appears in the dictionary after the words “ageless,” indefatigable,” “irrepressible,” “courageous,” and “self-effacing.” She has been described in print as: “generous,” “delightful,” and “dedicated”; as a person “with a unique ability to bring people together”; and as “a true renaissance person.” Shirley’s life is indeed a rich tableau of faith, community, young people and, most of all, family.
Her faith—Shirley has been active her entire life in her synagogue, sitting in the same seat since the age of eight. She is now the oldest member of Temple Beth Israel, a distinction she enjoys as much as she enjoys her ninety-two years of life. Shirley was the first female president in the Temple’s 125-year history. She founded and led its youth mentoring program and is often described as its “surrogate mother.”
Her community—Shirley trained as a classical pianist and has remained devoted to the arts her entire life—in Altoona, where she has served nearly every cultural organization in this region; or in New York City, where she keeps an apartment so that she can participate in the lively arts there, and where, just last year, Shirley won the prestigious Tony award for her role as a producer of Arthur Miller’s seminal play, Death of a Salesman.
Her perpetual youth—Shirley has an uncanny capacity to get young people to open up to her, whether with young artists at the Mishler or with any of the dozens of long-term, one-on-one mentoring relationships she has cultivated over the last five decades through her work with fabulous programs like The Healing Patch. Shirley also has nine grandchildren and numerous “great-grands” and she still talks to three or four of them every day.
As remarkable as Shirley’s attention is to her faith, to her community and to today’s youth, we honor her today for a different set of traits: her indefatigable determination to turn unbearable tragedy into a personal and positive legacy, her capacity to absorb deep personal loss in her own life, and her ability to create a path forward for others who suffer in the same way. Shirley has done this not once but twice in her life.
Shirley and her beloved, late husband Fred lost their courageous ten-year old daughter Melissa to brain cancer. That loss led Shirley to her almost fifty year association with the American Cancer Society. She has chaired the organization and its galas, introduced the Relay for Life to our community, and shepherded the Jail-a-Thon, Rubber Duckie Derby, Daffodil Days and a host of other fun, fundraising events onto the local ACS platform. Whatever and whenever asked, Shirley’s response to their requests is always affirmative—her personal demonstration to all that this is the way to celebrate Melissa’s life.
When Shirley’s daughter Donna and her husband Phil Satow lost their precious son Jed to suicide, they looked to their mother’s example. With Shirley’s help, they created the Jed Foundation. It was while trying to learn more about suicide and make sense of their own unspeakable loss that the Satows discovered an urgent and unmet need for programming and resources that helped colleges, students and parents recognize and address emotional health issues that might lead to suicide.
The Jed Foundation has become, in little over a decade, the leading nonprofit organization addressing issues related to mental health and suicide in the college population. It has received a Peabody Award for its Half of Us Campaign on the MTV College network, and its more recent Love is Louder Campaign partnered with over 750 campuses, touching thousands of young people who suffer the effects of bullying, negative self-image, discrimination, loneliness and depression.
What Donna and Phil and Shirley are doing to honor Jed is so very similar to what Shirley did fifty years ago to honor Melissa—turning the personal grief of one family into a powerful legacy of action and transformation for thousands.
Shirley Pechter’s remarkable energy is born of her joyous passion for life and for others. She has spent her years on this planet giving generously, planning creatively, and believing deeply in God’s goodness and ours. Shirley’s long, steady and often anonymous commitment to the service of others exemplifies well the very mission of Mount Aloysius College: “to put talents and gifts at the service of others, and to assume leadership in the world community.” Therefore, the Board of Trustees of Mount Aloysius College is pleased to present to Shirley Abel Pechter the degree of Doctor of Social Justice, honoris causa, this Eleventh day of May Two Thousand Thirteen.
HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
James J. Walsh
Doctor of Humane Letters
James J. Walsh started his education in the same place as so many Mount Aloysius students—he was the first in his family to attend college. Jim didn’t just attend, he won a scholarship to Brown University. From there, he graduated to a life in the community, spending most of the next decade as a community organizer—not a bad job title, given that it is the same one once held by our nation’s current President. Jim then re-entered higher education as a mature student—another point he has in common with many here at Mount Aloysius College—and received his doctorate from MIT, where he now teaches. He also served as Executive Director of the Managing the Atom project at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and as a visiting scholar at the Center for Global Security Research at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Jim Walsh has become an internationally recognized expert on nuclear weapons, terrorism, negotiation, and media—and is one of only a handful of Americans who has traveled to both North Korea and Iran for discussions on nuclear issues. He has been described as, “one of the world’s top military thinkers.” His analysis of Iranian nuclear activity was cited by the British newspaper The Independent in its yearly list of the world’s “ten best and original ideas.” He regularly provides analysis to senior officers at the Department of Defense and has testified before the United States Senate on Iran and on the issue of nuclear terrorism. Jim is a trusted adviser to decision makers at the highest levels of the United States government.
Jim’s expertise in international relations is highly sought by both the print and broadcast media. He has made nearly one thousand radio and television appearances on outlets as diverse as CBS, CNN, Fox, MSNBC and National Public Radio. His comments and analysis have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Economist, Time, Newsweek, and the Times of London, as well as other international media outlets in more than 30 countries. Dr. Walsh’s recent publications include, “Sanctions Can’t be the Centerpiece,” in the New York Times and “What to do About Iran” with Ambassador Thomas Pickering and General Anthony Zinni in the Chicago Tribune. Jim’s new book, Dangerous Myths: North Korea, the United States, and the Future of Asia, will be published by Yale University Press early next year.
Jim’s scholarship has earned him the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency’s prestigious Hubert Humphrey Fellowship for arms control research. He was named a Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar by the United States Institute for Peace—an annual award given to only ten scholars selected from around the globe. Both awards support those working to save lives by reducing international conflict and the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Without doubt, Jim Walsh has become an expert in his field. But in his soul, Jim is a teacher, someone who believes deeply that ideas, knowledge and understanding can change the world. This explains why Jim travels the country and the globe to speak to audiences on the issues of war and peace—believing that greater understanding of the issues and of one’s adversaries is the way to avoid conflict and nurture peace. Jim’s commitment to educating his fellow citizens has brought him before a wide range of audiences: high school and college students, local clubs and organizations, religious groups, veterans groups, and both military and civilian leaders. Jim Walsh has also lectured here at Mount Aloysius College—delivering this year’s Moral Choices Lecture. We saw, first hand, his impressive skills as a teacher, his interactive style, his flair for storytelling and humor, and his ability to break down complex issues and explain them in terms that all can understand.
Finally, we honor Jim Walsh for being a devoted practitioner of the art of civil discourse—defined as conversation intended to enhance understanding. We prize this art greatly at this College, and see it as essential to the work of higher education and to the success of our democracy. Whether debating ideas in the public square or negotiating with our adversaries, Jim, in the best tradition of diplomacy, first listens and then speaks. He engages his intellectual and diplomatic counterparts with respect, which he describes as the sincere effort to understand how they see the world. Jim has demonstrated that the proper regard for the humanity of one’s opponents promotes the civil discourse that makes possible productive dialogue.
In recognition of his scholarly and real world contributions to promoting peace and improving international relations, for his commitment to strengthening democracy through the education of his fellow citizens, and for his example of the practice and benefit of civil discourse, the Board of Trustees of Mount Aloysius College is pleased to present to James J. Walsh the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, this Eleventh day of May Two Thousand Thirteen.
COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER AND HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
D. Brooks Smith
Doctor of Humane Letters
D. Brooks Smith, this year marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of your career in public service. We are delighted to honor you on this occasion and to celebrate your remarkable record of achievement in service to the law and to your fellow citizens.
Your public service began in 1977—shortly after you earned your Juris Doctor from the Dickinson School of Law—when you were appointed Assistant District Attorney for Blair County, Pennsylvania. Later, while maintaining a private practice, you served the Commonwealth as Special Assistant Attorney General and continued to serve Blair County as Special Prosecutor for the Investigating Grand Jury on Organized Crime and subsequently, as the county’s elected District Attorney. In 1984, Governor Richard Thornburgh called you to the bench to fill a vacancy on the Blair County Court of Common Pleas, thus launching your long and distinguished career as a jurist.
Your rapid rise in the legal profession continued when President Ronald Reagan appointed you to the United States District Court for Western Pennsylvania, making you, at age thirty-six, one of the youngestjudges ever appointed to the federal bench. In 2002, President George W. Bush nominated you and the United States Senate confirmed you to serve on the second-highest court in the land, the United States Court of Appeals, where you serve today. Your rapid ascent to the appellate court stems from your personal and professional qualities, qualities often cited for a model jurist. You have been an exemplar of fair-mindedness and ethical devotion to the law, collegiality, and personal integrity of the highest order. For this, you are well liked and well regarded by your peers. In the words of your colleague on the court, Judge Marjorie Rendell, “Brooks Smith is the consummate judge. To say he is fair- minded would be an understatement. He considers every aspect of an issue in a thoughtful manner, striving always to 'get it right.' As a colleague, no one is thought of more highly on our court than Brooks--he is considerate, humble of spirit and a true friend.”
Judge Smith, your professional contributions extend beyond your work from the bench. You have served on more than fifteen oversight commissions, boards, and committees dealing with the rules and practices of the judiciary and the legal profession in general. You have written frequently for law reviews and legal journals on topics that include the separation of powers, federalism, and the rule of law; and you speak frequently at legal conferences across the country. Perhaps the most extraordinary of all your efforts off the bench has been your role as a judicial ambassador. You have traveled to fourteen countries including Turkey, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Bulgaria, and the Philippines as part of democracy building programs sponsored by the U.S. departments of Justice and State, the European Community, United States Agency for International Development, and the American Bar Association. Through your presentations on judicial ethics and human rights and your work on judicial training and assessment, you have been a champion of democratic ideals and the rule of law.
Finally, Judge Smith, no recitation of your achievements would be complete without citing the personal dimension of your public service, that is to say, your outstanding record of community service—especially to higher education. In spite of the duties and demands of your professional life you have served a remarkable twenty-two years as a trustee to three area institutions: as a member of the Board of Counselors for the Penn State University Dickinson School of Law, on the Board of Trustees of Saint Francis University, and most recently on the Mount Aloysius College Board of Trustees. Other important cultural and non-profit organizations, including the Altoona Area Public Library, the Blair County Historical Society, the Altoona Symphony, the YMCA of Pennsylvania, and Salvation Army, have also benefited from your generous commitment to the culture and commonweal of your hometown.
D. Brooks Smith, dedicated trustee, model jurist, devoted public servant, and global advocate for democracy and the rule of law, Mount Aloysius College now proudly confers upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, this fifth day of May two thousand and twelve.
HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
Patricia A. McGuire
Doctor of Humane Letters
Patricia Ann McGuire, on a May commencement day in 1974 you sat among your sister graduates of Trinity College little suspecting that just fifteen years later your alma mater would ask you to return to the campus, assume the presidency, and save the institution.
Like many historic women’s colleges, Trinity’s prospects declined as the co-educational movement of the second half of the last century advanced. As all-male universities opened their doors to women, the competition for students increased and Trinity’s enrollment steadily declined. At its nadir in the late 1980’s, with only three hundred students enrolled, the future of Trinity College was in serious doubt.
That was the daunting reality you faced as you began your presidency at just thirty-six. You saw immediately that only revolutionary change would save the school, and so you led that revolution. You proposed that the old, untenable model of a regional college serving middle- and upper-class women be replaced. The Trinity College you once described as “remote from the city behind gates and fences,” would open itself in mission to its neighbors, the minority women of the District of Columbia. For all the revolutionary feel of that decision, it was a return to Trinity’s founding principle and historic roots. Trinity was founded in 1897 by the Sisters of Notre Dame to provide education to an underserved group—women barred from Catholic higher education. You restored this mission, ministering to a new underserved population, the low-income black and Hispanic women of urban Washington, D.C
Twenty-three years into your presidency, the story of the transformation of Trinity College is legendary. Today, the student population is the largest in the school’s history, ninety percent of whom are minority women. Extensive partnerships with local groups and the D.C. public schools have made Trinity an important agent for change in the local community. The twenty million dollar Trinity Center for Women and Girls in Sports is the nation’s largest athletic complex dedicated to women and girls. The expansion and improvement of academic programs led to a reorganization of the college into four schools: the historic Women’s College of Arts and Sciences, and the schools of Education, Professional Studies, and Nursing and Health Professions. In 2004, these changes culminated in the transformation of the college into Trinity Washington University. You not only turned a failing college into a thriving university, you created a new national model of a private, urban university in service to its local community.
President McGuire, your influence extends well beyond the Trinity campus. As a recognized leader among your fellow college presidents, you have served on many of the major governing bodies of higher education, including the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the American Council on Education, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. Such is the regard for your leadership, that the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities awarded you their 2012 Paley Award for service to higher education, a rare instance of the award being given to a sitting college president. You have also maintained a robust engagement as a public intellectual. Through frequent testimony before the Congress, countless speeches, opinion pieces in leading print journals, service on numerous corporate, governmental, and non-profit boards, and your popular Washington Post blog on leadership, your ideas and influence have spread beyond the world of education and earned you a spot on the list of Washington’s 150 Most Powerful People.
Great leadership requires vision, and vision is founded on principle. The power of your leadership comes from your deep commitment to the gospel principle of social justice, as reflected in the causes that you have championed: educational access for all, economic justice, civil rights, human dignity, and our responsibility to one another and to the common good. In this, you have been faithful to the American educator John Gardner’s dictum that: “the first and last task of a leader is to keep hope alive…the hope that we can find our way through to a better world.”
Patricia McGuire for your inspiring leadership in higher education, your outstanding contributions to American life, and your gift of hope, Mount Aloysius College now proudly confers upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, this fifth day of May two thousand and twelve.
HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
John M. & Genevieve M. Calandra
Doctors of Social Justice
John and Genevieve Calandra, as part of each commencement, Mount Aloysius College honors an individual who has demonstrated a life-long commitment to our local community consistent with the values of Catherine McAuley and the Religious Sisters of Mercy. In so doing, the College presents a model to our graduates of service informed and inspired by faith. It is with great pleasure this year that we honor you together, a couple presenting a compelling example of a partnership in faith--an active faith lived generously in service to others.
Your partnership dates back to your time as high school sweethearts. As you fulfilled your Christian vocation to “increase in wisdomand… and in favor with God and man,” you did so together. In your married life, you have truly “rowed the boat together” and you have navigated that boat by certain fixed stars. For you Jack, there were the examples of your immigrant father who had the faith to brave the unknown in hope of a better life; and his friend and your mentor, Bob Seese, a Navy man whose personal and professional qualities you so admired. For you, Genevieve, there was the example of your mother, Marie Hart, a life-long teacher and educator—as successful as she was beloved—a pioneering professional woman who rose to become a principal in the Cresson schools.
Pulling together has made your journey easier and brought blessings to your family life and professional pursuits. Jack, after attending the University of Pennsylvania on scholarship—where you succeeded in academics, athletics, and as president of your fraternity— you returned to run the family business. You built on your father’s legacy and, over time, grew the business exponentially. Always an economic and employment engine for the region, under your guidance the business has expanded beyond steel and machining into trucking, civil construction, and support industries for mining that include tunneling and the manufacture of fasteners and roof support systems. Today the family business has a global reach with operations as far away as Australia and China. It is a story of extraordinary business success. Your partnership of faith and shared sacrifice has meant blessings for your family as well. Together you have nurtured and raised six children and seen them through to successful careers in the fields of health, business, psychology, and military service.
In his encyclical Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II, spoke of the four dimensions of marriage. The first two, serving life and the forming of a community of persons, refer to the personal realm. The Church in its understanding of the sacramental nature of marriage sees it as integrally bound to community and so calls for a movement beyond the personal to a participation in the development of society and to a sharing in the life and mission of the Church. It is these last two aspects that we especially wish to honor today.
As a couple, you are known throughout central Pennsylvania for your philanthropic support of non-profit groups dedicated to enhancing life, protecting lives and promoting wellbeing. A hallmark of your generosity is the quiet, often anonymous, way in which you carried it out. A sample of local groups and projects you have supported includes the fire company, the ambulance service, food pantry, canine unit, Veteran’s and Children’s Parks, and even the local golf course. Jack, you have also devoted three decades of service to the Naval Academy Foundation and its mission to enhance the Academy’s programs in academics, athletics and leadership and to advance the admission of highly qualified candidates. In this last regard, you have personally guided dozens of young aspirants on their way to the Academy and to careers in the United States Navy.
Your commitment to community has been matched by your devotion to the life and mission of the Church. Genevieve you have served the church selflessly through your leadership in the Legion of Mary and your charism of visiting the sick as a Eucharistic minister. Like the good wife of Proverbs, you have reached out your hand to the needy…and the teaching of kindness has been upon your tongue. As a couple, your quiet generosity has meant much to the local church in general and to its educational mission in particular. You have been faithful benefactors to all our local Catholic high schools and colleges.
John and Genevieve Calandra inspired by your witness of faith, humbled by your generosity of spirit, and grateful for your life-long commitment to our local community, Mount Aloysius College proudly confers upon you now the degree Doctor of Social Justice, honoris causa, this fifth day of May two thousand and twelve.
COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER AND HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
Rev. William J. Byron, S.J.
Former President of Loyola University, University of Scranton, and The Catholic University of America
Fr. Byron, you were ordained a Jesuit priest in 1961 at Woodstock College in Maryland. Today, fifty years later, we are honored and delighted to join with you in the celebration of the Golden Jubilee year of your priesthood. Looking back, and simply stated, Fr. Byron, it’s been a busy half-century. Those years are a chronicle of great acts of service and notable achievements—such, perhaps, as you could have scarcely imagined when you stepped out into the world a newly minted priest.
In the years immediately after your ordination, you continued your studies and received your Doctorate in Economics from the University of Maryland. You soon began your career in academia which saw you rise to serve as president of three of our nation’s premier Catholic universities and be honored by both the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and by the Council of Independent Colleges with their top awards for outstanding leadership in higher education. You also served as a pastor and professor, as a trustee on countless boards, as a frequent keynote speaker at national and international conferences, and as presidential appointee on governmental commissions deciding important national policy. And somehow you also managed to be a prolific writer—writing fifteen books, scores of magazine, newspaper, and journal articles, as well as penning a nationally syndicated column for the Catholic News Service. Fr. Byron, your achievements are indeed many and varied but they have a single source which we also honor today, which is your passionate and unflagging commitment to social justice. You heard the great modern Jesuit leader Pedro Arrupe’s stark challenge: “love of God that does not issue in justice for men is a farce,” and his words found a home in your heart. You responded with a lifelong commitment to the service of faith through the pursuit of justice and of solidarity with those in need. This commitment often required you to enter the public arena in defense of human dignity and the common good.
As President of Loyola University of New Orleans, the University of Scranton, and The Catholic University of America, you championed the conception of higher education as “the pursuit of knowledge in service to the world,” and you challenged students to take responsibility for the life of society by releasing their unique human potential for the benefit of others.
As the Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Ethics at the Georgetown University and as University Professor of Business and Society at St. Joseph’s University you have been dedicated to educating students to become ethical executives and have urged the creation of a new corporate culture that enhances human life and advances the interests of all.
As a founder and past chair of the advocacy group Bread for the World, you fought to end hunger at home and abroad.
As a founding board member of the Corporation for National and Community Service you helped create the federal agency that today engages over five million Americans in volunteer service.
As an economist you aided efforts to revitalize economically distressed areas, shone a spotlight on the unemployed and marginalized, helped to fund community projects in the developing world, and worked to improve national standards for healthcare providers.
As an author you are an evangelist for the rich tradition of Catholic teaching on social justice. You write in defense of the poor, the ill, and the elderly. You argue against violence and torture, and against economic injustice. In your spiritual writings you offered encouragement to those on the journey of faith, and consolation to those in spiritual need.
Fr. Byron, you once told an international gathering that, “Life is only lived well when it is lived generously in the service of others.” That is a principle you not only taught, but one you modeled over a lifetime. And so, in tribute to a life well lived, it is with great pride that Mt. Aloysius College confers upon the Reverend William J. Byron of the Society of Jesus, the degree Doctor of Social Justice, honoris causa, this seventh day of May two thousand and eleven.
HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
Mrs. Phyllis O. Bonanno
Public Servant, Former President of Columbia College
Phyllis Bonanno, Class of ’62, the first time you received a Mount Aloysius degree, then President Sr. Mary DeSales, RSM, expressed the following hope for you and your fellow graduates: “Mount Aloysius looks upon her alumnae as women who will put out their hands to strong things, who will grasp the opportunities offered daily to lead, to point the way, to inspire, and to do.”
We honor you today for realizing the highest hopes of your alma mater—for a lifetime of grasping opportunities, inspiring, and leading. You once described the keys to a meaningful life as: flexibility, risk taking, and courage. These surely were traits needed for your own career as a trailblazing woman succeeding in arenas formerly the domain of men.
At age 22, you walked into the offices of McCall’s magazine unannounced but confident—looking for the opportunity that would launch your dream of editing a women’s magazine. You were hired on the spot because a position had suddenly become available, and, in just six months, you became assistant to the editor-in-chief.
It was at McCall’s that you made a friendship that changed your life. You became friends with a young co-worker Lynda Johnson, daughter of then President Lyndon Baines Johnson, and with her family. One day, out of the blue, your phone rang. It was the President of the United States, calling to offer you a job as one of his personal assistants in the Oval Office. Your initial response was to say “…but I want to be the editor of a women’s magazine.” To which the president replied, “No you don’t. Get on a plane.” And you did. Despite your tender years and lack of a background in politics, you went to work for the most powerful person in the world during one of the most politically turbulent times in our nation’s history. You looked the risks and fears square in the eye and grasped the opportunity that transformed your life.
After your White House years, you worked briefly in the State Department before moving to Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies. There you managed the non-academic staff while pursuing your own studies in international economics. This background in international economics and public policy led you back to the executive branch, where you served under both Presidents Carter and Reagan in the Office of U.S. Trade Representative—the agency responsible for developing U.S. trade strategy and negotiating trade agreements around the globe. You were then chosen to serve as the first director of the newly formed Office of Private Sector Liaison—responsible for creating government partnerships with Fortune 100 corporations, trade groups, and academics to improve national trade policy. Finally, your public policy career was capped by your appointment to serve as the Executive Director of the President’s Advisory Council on Trade Negotiations.
Your contact with corporate leaders led to a new opportunity in the private sector when the CEO of Warnaco, a major American apparel manufacturer, invited you to become that company’s Vice President for International Trade. You applied your expertise in the areas of global trade strategy, import and export policy, bilateral textile agreements, and supply chain logistics to help transform Warnaco from a strictly domestic concern into a global operation. Later, you would found your own consulting firm offering trade strategies to corporations, the U.S. and foreign governments, multilateral agencies, and trade associations.
Between these private-sector ventures, you met another unexpected challenge. Based on your administrative and business skills, you were asked to lead Columbia College, a women’s college in South Carolina—the first woman president in its 138-year history. You responded with characteristic flexibility and courage. You embraced this new opportunity because you believed you could make a difference in the lives of young women. Your experience offered an inspiring model of achievement for the young women and informed your vision for creating a more diverse campus and academic programs that better prepare young women for roles in an increasingly global society. You designed a ten-year strategic plan to foster greater leadership, diversity, and use of technology on campus. You also increased opportunities for international study and travel, expanded distance learning programs, introduced co-educational degree programs for working adults, and boosted international student enrollment in graduate programs. Your commitment to the development of women leaders has continued to the present day through your role in mentoring young women professionals.
Phyllis Bonanno, for your service at the highest levels of government, your promotion of international cooperation and education, your role as a pioneering woman professional, and for so beautifully fulfilling those dreams held out for you at your own graduation, your alma mater embraces you once more with affection and proudly proclaims you Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, this seventh day of May two thousand and eleven.
HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
Dr. Donato B. Zucco
Educator, Executive, Public Servant, Philanthropist, and Engaged Citizen
Donato Zucco, as we gather today to honor you for a life of remarkable service, we marvel at your parents’ prescience in christening you Donato, a name which derives from the Latin Donatus, meaning gift. What an inspired choice—for you have been a true gift indeed to the people of Johnstown, the people of Cambria County, and the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
We are proud to present you to our graduates today as a model of engaged citizenship, an inspiring example of the transforming power of a single life given in service to others. Your record is exemplary, both for your lifelong commitment to service and for the variety of ways you found to share your talents with your community: as an educator, an executive in the non-profit and private sectors, an elected official, and a trustee on numerous corporate, cultural and community boards.
Like many of our graduates today, you were the first in your family to receive a college degree. And like many of our graduates, that achievement was won through hard work and sacrifice. As the son of a steelworker you imagined that college was economically beyond your reach and so you enrolled in the vocational program at Johnstown High School. After graduating, you worked at a neighborhood dry cleaner until the owner, recognizing your abilities, encouraged you to consider college and helped you secure a scholarship. You applied to the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown only to discover that you lacked the sufficient academic credits for admission. Undaunted, you returned to Johnstown High’s night school for the needed courses. Once enrolled, you had to struggle to develop the new skills necessary for collegiate success while also holding down two jobs. Again you persevered, and by your sophomore year you were on the dean’s list. From that point on there was no stopping you. You completed your undergraduate degree and went on to earn a Master’s in Mathematics. Then, for seven years, while working as a teacher you continued your studies—driving to Pittsburgh to attend evening classes until you received your doctorate.
With doctorate in hand you quickly rose from the teaching ranks to become Superintendant of the Greater Johnstown School District, serving with distinction for a decade. During that time, and perhaps because of your own story, you agreed to take on extra duties and serve simultaneously as the Chief Administrator of the Johnstown Regional Vo-Tech School. After more than twenty years in education, you sought new avenues for service and spent twenty years as an executive in the field of non-profit health and rehabilitation, serving first as Chairman and CEO of the Medical Center Hospital Corporation, then as Chairman and CEO of the Johnstown Regional MRI Center, and finally as Director of the Commonwealth’s Hiram G. Andrews Center for Vocational Rehabilitation for persons with disabilities. At this point, you decided to accept a position in the private sector and, ironically, entered into the most public phase of your career. As you became Chief Administrative Officer of Crown American Realty, one of the region’s largest publically traded corporations, you also found time to run for elected office. For the next 16 years you served on the Johnstown City Council, including two terms as Mayor of Johnstown.
During your tenure as mayor, you set a new standard of leadership for the city. When you entered office, the city was in a financial crisis. You quickly launched a recovery plan that became a blueprint for other cities: You eliminated debt, rebuilt infrastructure and increased the city’s stock of capital equipment. At the same time you oversaw multimillion dollar projects that helped to develop and expand medical and healthcare centers, refurbish downtown office buildings, and give birth to important new cultural institutions. Among the signature revitalization projects you spearheaded were the construction of the Pasquerilla Conference Center, renovation of the War Memorial Arena and Point Stadium, and establishment of the Heritage Discovery Center and the Art Works Center.
As your recovery plan provided an economic model for revitalization, your approach to leadership provided a political model for effective governance. You worked in a bipartisanship fashion that you once described as, “putting labels aside and working with a common purpose.” As a result, you helped area leaders develop a regional approach to strategic planning that led to unprecedented success in securing state and federal support for the region. In short, your vision and leadership gave the city hope and a promise for the future.
Finally, you offer us one more example of dynamic citizenship with your long service as a trustee on some twenty boards that touch almost every aspect of community life—business, philanthropy, education, economic development, government, and arts and culture. From the Johnstown Symphony to the Pennsylvania State Planning Board, from the Community Foundation of the Alleghenies to Penn State Public Broadcasting, and from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown to the United Way, you have given your time selflessly for the benefit of others.
Donato Zucco—educator, executive, public servant, philanthropist, and engaged citizen—awed by your generosity of spirit and inspired by the example of your life, truly a gift in service to others, Mt. Aloysius College proudly confers upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, this seventh day of May two thousand and eleven.