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February 24, 2017, Miami Shores, Florida – Two Adrian Dominican Sisters – Peg Albert, OP, PhD, and Nancy Murray, OP – were among 10 to be honored as Distinguished Alumni of Barry University. The February 9 award luncheon, held at the Coral Gables Country Club, launched Barry’s Reunion Weekend. 

“There are lots of graduates of Barry, so it was an honor to be chosen,” said Sister Peg in an interview. “It’s affirming that some of the things you’ve done in your life, you’ve done well or you’ve made a difference in our world somehow.” 

In her brief acceptance remarks, Sister Peg expressed deep gratitude to her family and friends, to Barry University, and to all who supported her and the institutions where she served. She urged the Barry community to “stay on the path of mission. If you’re true to your mission, everything else good will happen to you.” She added, “When you graduate, you don’t lose the mission. It just becomes more deeply a part of you.”

Sister Peg, President for the past 10 years of Siena Heights University in Adrian, studied for two years at Barry before entering the Adrian Dominican Congregation, then completed her bachelor’s degree in sociology at Wayne State University in Detroit. She earned both her master’s degree and her doctorate in social work at Barry, and completed post-doctoral work at the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Sister Peg ministered for 23 years at Barry: as an associate professor of social work and a therapist for 12 years and as associate vice president for student services from 1988 to 1994, when she was named executive vice president. In 2001, she led Barry’s School of Law, helping it to earn accreditation with the American Bar Association. Sister Peg was named President of Siena Heights in 2006.

Both Barry and Siena Heights Universities were founded and are sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters.

In an interview in Adrian, Sister Peg said her years as a student at Barry gave her the opportunity to meet people from different cultures, religions, and ethnic groups. In her work at Barry, she found “a real vibrant community – a community that cared for one another … and reached out beyond itself to care for others.” She has found a similar community at Siena Heights.

She added her time at Barry influenced her sense of ministry. “Hopefully it helped me to develop a generous heart,” Sister Peg said. “I learned at Barry and I learn here to stand back and do all that I can, but ultimately everything is in the hands of God, that sense of trust that it’s God’s mission, not my mission. But I try to make God’s mission my own.”

Born in Wilmette, Illinois, Sister Nancy Murray graduated from Regina Dominican High School, also sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She graduated from Barry with a bachelor’s degree in theatre and a minor in education, and went on to earn a master’s degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University, Chicago. 

Sister Nancy has taught at all grade levels, from elementary to university, and has served as campus minister and as the pastoral associate of an inner-city parish. Most recently, she has traveled throughout the world, on five continents, in her one-woman show portraying the life of the great Dominican mystic and Doctor of the Church, St. Catherine of Siena. Barry recognized Sister Nancy especially for work in spreading awareness of St. Catherine of Siena

In an interview, Sister Nancy recalled her time at Barry University, 1971-72, when she had the opportunity not only to study theatre, but to be involved in Barry’s productions. Shortly after she arrived, she said, she was chosen to play Fruma Sarah and as a member of the chorus in Fiddler on the Roof. She also directed Arsenic and Old Lace, in which one of her theatre teachers played a role. “She was just as pliable and docile as the others in the cast,” Sister Nancy recalled. “She let me know it was my job to be her director.” 

Speaking of Barry’s influence on her life, Sister Nancy said, “The image of giving roots and wings is often used in parenting, but I use it in education. Education gave me roots, grounding me in knowledge, family, classmates and gave me the wings to take off and share the script of Catherine that has brought me around the world.”

Feature photo (above): Sister Linda Bevilacqua, OP, center, President of Barry University, with two of Barry’s Distinguished Alumni: Sister Nancy Murray, OP, left, and Sister Peg Albert, OP. Dan Bock/Barry University

LEFT: Sister Nancy Murray gives her acceptance talk. RIGHT: Sister Peg Albert, OP, left, receives the Distinguished Alumni Award from Sister Linda Bevilacqua, OP. Dan Bock/Barry University


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October 21, 2015, Adrian, Michigan – Adrian Dominican Associate Deborah J. Carter received the Honorary Alumni Award October 16 in recognition of her 33-year career at Siena Heights University and her “unwavering commitment to meeting the educational needs of returning adult students.” She was one of four to receive an award at a special awards ceremony in St. Dominic Chapel on the first day of the University’s Homecoming weekend.

Associate Deb Carter, right, and Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD, President of Siena Heights University, listen while Mary Poore, President of the Alumni Association, reads Deb’s formal award.

The Honorary Alumni Award recognizes “non-alumni who demonstrate exceptional commitment to and support for the mission and spirit of the University” and those who are “inspirational role models who have made a significant difference for Siena Heights by sharing themselves through generous and sustained gifts of time, talent, and/or treasure,” according to the program.

Deb began her career at Siena Heights in 1982 as an academic advisor at the college’s center at Lake Michigan College. As director of the center, she established the first partnership with community colleges. Deb was named Dean of Off-Campus Academic Affairs and, in 2000, became Dean of the College for Professional Studies (CPS). Her work as CPS Dean involved the coordination of seven degree-completion centers in Michigan, as well as the theological studies program offered in partnership with the Diocese of Lansing and the University’s distance learning program. She retired in September 2015.

In her humorous but affectionate introduction, Mary Weeber, Class of 1983, described Deb as the “head cheerleader of Siena Heights University. …She inhales school spirit and exhales CPS pride.” Mary – former professor at Siena Heights University and assistant for Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation – also spoke of Deb’s enthusiasm, eagerness to help students to find “their best life path,” and ability to organize events such as book signings and retirement parties to bring faculty and staff together. She further described Deb as a woman who “took her job very seriously … participated fully in the life of the University” and truly believes in the mission of Siena Heights University. 

Deb celebrates the occasion with her daughter Sarah and grandchildren Caroline and Patrick.

In accepting the Honorary Alumni Award, Deb spoke of the joy that she has found in her service at Siena Heights. “It has been my absolute pleasure to meet and work with some of the most creative, funny, dedicated, caring, and talented people – faculty, staff and students – I’ve ever met,” she said. 

Deb also spoke of the benefits of the off-campus programs at Siena Heights. “The degree completion programs have made a huge difference in the lives of thousands of students in communities across Michigan and now, thanks to our nationally ranked online program, in communities across the United States as well.”

Deb shared two stories to illustrate the impact that Siena Heights students have on the world: an adult student who was able to complete her degree in community service through a grant – and who went on to become a candidate for a PhD in Psychology and the community reintegration coordinator for a local branch of Goodwill Industries, and a criminal justice student who used the skills that he learned in class to diffuse a potentially violent situation. 

“These are just two of the graduates of Siena Heights University who can and do make a difference,” Deb concluded. “They live purpose-filled lives of meaning…one kind act at a time…moment by moment…one person at a time…choosing to be in service as much as in charge.”

Sister Nadine Foley, OP, former Prioress of the Congregation, attends the awards ceremony. She was marking her 70th year as a Siena Heights alumna.

The other award recipients were:

- Lois Hueneman Chazaus ’49, of Portland, Maine, recipient of the Saint Dominic Award for her dedication as an artist; developer of an art therapy program for mentally ill patients; and arts and crafts and art teacher in various places. After moving to Maine, she served for 20 years as docent at the Portland Museum of Art and has been active in her parish as an RCIA team leader; discussion leader; and theology teacher. 

- Jacqueline M. Battalora ’88, of Evanston, Illinois, received the Sister Ann Joachim Award for her commitment to social justice, from her arrival at Siena Heights to the present. She has maintained this commitment through her career, which has included stints as a lawyer, coffee house owner, police officer in Chicago, and sociologist. She has written Birth of a White Nation: The Invention of White People and its Relevance Today and conducts workshops on white privilege and how to overcome it. 

- Michael T. Donovan ’75, of Oak Park, Illinois, received the Outstanding Alumni Award for his full-time volunteer work with the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation on Chicago’s South side. His work includes ministry at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, mentoring of those released from prison, and ministry to prisoners who were tried as adults when they were teen-agers. He began this work after taking early retirement in 2004 from 29 years of service with the IRS. 

Mr. Donovan spoke about his current volunteer ministry during the Sunday Brunch, which closed a full weekend of Homecoming activities.



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