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Associate Named Honorary Alumni of Siena Heights 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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