The University of Portland has announced the speaker and honorees to be recognized during the 2019 Commencement ceremonies, to be held in the Chiles Center on Sunday, May 5. Commencement I begins at 10 a.m. and is for all graduates of the Pamplin School of Business, Shiley School of Engineering, and School of Nursing. Commencement II starts at 3 p.m. and is held for undergraduate and graduate students of the College of Arts and Sciences and School of Education.
Receiving the University’s highest honor, the Christus Magister Medal, is Sr. Alberta Dieker, O.S.B. As one of the Benedictine Sisters of Mount Angel, Sr. Dieker has devoted her life to faith, scholarship, and service. She spent more than 45 years teaching history and other subjects, first as an elementary school teacher in Silverton and Mount Angel and then as a faculty member for Mount Angel College, Mount Angel Seminary, and Eastern Oregon University. She is also the author of A Tree Rooted in Faith: A History of Queen of Angels Monastery, published in 2007. Sr. Dieker is renowned for her leadership skills, having served as president of Mount Angel College, president and founding member of the Oregon Catholic Historical Society, and executive secretary of the American Benedictine Academy. Sr. Dieker will receive her Medal in absentia at Commencement II.
Honorary doctorate recipients will be:
- Mary Carlin Yates, Commencement I and II.Retired Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates, the speaker for both ceremonies and an honorary doctorate recipient, is a North Portland native who served for 31 years as a career member of the United States Foreign Service. Her distinguished career, which began in 1980, included serving twice as U.S. Ambassador, to the Republic of Ghana from 2002 to 2005 and to the Republic of Burundi from 1999 to 2002. In Burundi, she worked extensively to bring stability and an end to hostility through a peace process led by the former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela. She also served as a political officer and public affairs counselor in Rwanda during the genocide crisis of the early 1990s. After her retirement, she served as the Charge d’Affaires in Sudan for the Department of State until 2012. Today, Ambassador Yates is director of the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., and a member of the Oregon State University Honors College Board of Regents.
- Amy Dundon-Berchtold, Commencement I. Amy Dundon-Berchtold’s first real estate transaction was selling her own house. Her second was an apartment building, and the third was an industrial warehouse–an illustrious beginning to what would become a 40-year career as a real estate investor in Southern California. Dundon-Berchtold, a member of the University of Portland’s Board of Regents, and her husband, Jim Berchtold ’63, wanted to create a place where all UP students could engage in discussions around personal values and beliefs. In 2011, this vision was realized with the creation of the Dundon-Berchtold Institute for Moral Formation and Applied Ethics, offering classes, public events, and student-faculty research support. From the success of that endeavor, Jim and Amy provided the lead gift for the University’s first academic building in 25 years, which was named Dundon-Berchtold Hall in their honor and will open in summer 2019.
- Susan Sygall, Commencement II. As CEO of Mobility International USA (MIUSA), Susan Sygall has spent more than 38 years advancing the rights of people with disabilities around the world. Sygall, who became disabled after a car accident, went to Australia as a Rotary Scholar and a wheelchair rider. The experience made her realize that people with disabilities were not only excluded from leadership programs, but were also unable to access services that could improve their health and education. Upon returning to the University of Oregon, she and another graduate student co-founded MIUSA in 1981 to promote international exchange for students with disabilities. In 1995, Sygall was the driving force behind Congress funding the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange, and that same year she led a delegation of 350 women with disabilities to the International Women’s Conference in Beijing, which is now seen as the start of the disabled women’s movement.
- Mucki (Pei Ling) Tan ’80, Commencement I. After graduating with a degree in business in 1980 from the University of Portland, Mucki (Pei Ling) Tan returned to Jakarta, Indonesia, to become a manager with the Rodamas Group, a company his father founded in 1951. Together, Tan and his father expanded into a diverse portfolio of joint ventures worldwide, including the food industry, construction materials manufacturing, consumer goods, and real estate. Tan devotes particular attention to educational initiatives in Indonesia but has also supported his alma mater, with gifts toward such endeavors as Dundon-Berchtold Hall and the Beauchamp Recreation and Wellness Center.
- Robert Watzke, M.D., Commencement II. Dr. Watzke is renowned for his dedication as a retina researcher and specialist¾ a career that has spanned six decades. He developed new and innovative examination techniques, pioneered the use of lasers to conduct complex retinal surgery, and mentored more than 350 retinal specialists. Dr. Watzke was also instrumental in the development of the Casey Eye Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, where he focused on retina and vitreous disease. He is heralded for both his surgical skill and his commitment to national randomized trials, especially related to diabetic retinopathy and macular photocoagulation. In 2016, the Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences department at that university created the Robert C. Watzke Endowment in his honor.
For more information contact the president’s office at x7107 or email@example.com.