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SMC gives honorary diplomas

Kelly Meehan | Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Longtime philanthropist MaryAnn Mathile and renowned judges Denise Cote and Ann Claire Williams comprise the 2006 recipient pool of Saint Mary’s honorary degrees, which will be awarded during the College’s May 20 commencement ceremony.

Executive Assistant to the President Susan Dampeer said the recipients are a “great group of amazing women” who serve as examples for what she hopes Saint Mary’s students can become.

“Not only have each of these women reached a pinnacle of perfecting their careers, they are really committed to serve and understand the needs of our population,” Dampeer said.

Mathile, a generous philanthropist from Dayton, Ohio, has focused her efforts on the Mathile Family Foundation, which was established in 1989 to give hope and change in the lives of needy children and families. Today the Foundation benefits Mercy Manor, Womanline and Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley.

Dampeer said Mathile – who specializes in hands-on volunteer work offered up to God – is an “extraordinarily generous woman who has a deep love for the College.” Mathile’s admiration for the College grew from her daughter’s positive experiences while attending Saint Mary’s, Dampeer said.

Cote, a 1968 Saint Mary’s alumna, is a United States District Judge who presided over the WorldCom Trial – one of the largest securities class action settlements in history. She has also served as a judge in cases involving sex discrimination suits, Wall Street, police brutality and immigrant smuggling.

Dampeer said Cote’s successful law career has gained her national attention, which ultimately draws positive attention to the high caliber of undergraduate education offered Saint Mary’s.

Before embarking upon her law career, Cote taught American history, black history and world history at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Manhattan.

Williams, who will also address graduates at the May 20 ceremony, serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals. She was the first black woman to sit on the bench for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the first black woman to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

All three recipients were chosen through the College’s selection process, in which candidates are nominated by the Board of Trustees, advisory boards of the College, faculty, staff and students.

According to the selection process guidelines, nominees must exhibit significant achievements marked by “recognized intellectual and personal attainment,” “significant contribution to the enhancement of Saint Mary’s College” and “contribution to other recognized organizations in the city, state or world.”

Nominations must be supported by significant information and then pass several reviews by College committees before the final decision is made by the College president.

Dampeer said it is a “great honor” to have all three recipients present at the 2006 commencement ceremony.

Each of these women show a sincere love for the College and have “done great work throughout the country,” she said.