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SMC honors alumnae at Commencement Day

Bridget Feeney | Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Commencement Day at Saint Mary’s is more than just a day to celebrate the Class of 2012. It is also a day when the school honors former Saint Mary’s women and people who have made significant contributions to the College. 

At this year’s Commencement address, Kathleen Flynn Fox, a 1974 alumna, will be presented with an honorary doctor of humanities degree. Susan Fitzgerald Rice, a 1961 alumna, will receive the President’s Medal. 

College President Carol Ann Mooney said she looks forward to welcoming these alumnae to campus, as well as Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments, LLC, who will deliver the Commencement Address. 

“All three are outstanding examples of women whose lives and accomplishments will inspire our graduates and their families,” Mooney said. 

Fox said she is honored to be in the presence of this year’s graduates.

“These graduates and their classmates embody what I find so important about the special education that all of the students receive here,” Fox said. “They have an unbelievable enthusiasm for life, they are kind, and their sense of charity and justice will motivate others to create a more compassionate and just society.” 

Fox is a successful businesswoman and avid volunteer who dedicated more than 30 years of her life to serving those in need. She comes from a large family with a long history of graduates from Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame. 

“My parents instilled in us a sense of responsibility for not just each other, but our community as a whole,” Fox said. “We are privileged. Privilege is not an entitlement, but rather a mandate to live a life that matters.” 

Because there were times when she was unsure if she could return each semester due to finances, Fox took advantage of her time as a student and now gives back to others who do not have the same opportunities. Fox has promoted children’s literacy and supported programs that assist those in poverty, as well as families who do not speak English. 

Susan Fitzgerald Rice, a 1961 alumna, will receive the President’s Medal, which is rarely presented and is exclusive to those who have exceptionally contributed to the College and society. 

“The award thrills and touches me greatly,” Rice said. “It was unexpected and a great surprise to be recognized by Carol Mooney, whose leadership is visionary and inspirational.” 

Rice said the medal is a rarely-bestowed formal recognition by the president of the College. When Mooney informed Rice she wanted to present her with this honor, Rice said she was surprised and awestruck.  

As a member of the Saint Mary’s College Board of Trustees for nine years, Rice has continued to influence the College after graduation. 

In 2006, she and her husband, Donald B. Rice, a 1961 alumnus of Notre Dame, re-established the annual Christian Culture Lecture, which had not occurred for 25 years. 

“By re-instituting the Lecture, Don and I were able to assist with the continuation of the tradition of faith and learning provided to Saint Mary’s women,” Rice said. 

Saint Mary’s professor Bruno Schlesinger founded the lecture series in 1957, one year after introducing the Christian Culture major, now called Humanistic Studies. 

Rice said the Humanistic Studies program and Christian Culture Lecture embody the College’s liberal arts tradition.

In addition to the President’s Medal, Rice also received the Distinguished Alumna Award in 1986 from the Alumnae Association and was named a Shannon Executive Scholar in 1998.