Willamette University Bids Adieu to the Class of 2006

Professor S. Allen Counter, director of The Harvard Foundation of Harvard University and a neurophysiologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, will deliver the College of Liberal Arts commencement address at Willamette University Sunday, May 14.

An honorary Doctor of Science degree will be awarded to Counter and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree will be awarded to philanthropist Catherine B. Reynolds, Los Angeles schoolteacher Rafe Esquith, and Columbia Sportswear Company chairwoman Gert Boyle.

Willamette University College of Law alumnus, the Honorable Wallace P. Carson Jr., will deliver the law commencement address.

Honorary degree recipient Catherine B. Reynolds will give the commencement address for the Atkinson Graduate School of Management.

The College of Liberal Arts will award 334 degrees, the College of Law 146, Atkinson Graduate School of Management 60 and the School of Education 94 degrees.

The College of Liberal Arts and the School of Education will hold commencement at 3 p.m. on the Quad; Atkinson commencement is 9 a.m. in Hudson Hall, and the College of Law commencement is at 11:30 a.m. on the Quad.

CLA Commencement
For more than 20 years, commencement speaker Counter has engaged students at Harvard University and Harvard Medical School. As a neurophysiologist, he conducts both clinical and basic research studies on nerve and muscle physiology, auditory physiology, and neurophysiological diagnosis of brain-injured children and adults. His latest research focuses on toxic lead and mercury exposure in Ecuadorian children.

He is the first and only director of the Harvard Foundation for intercultural and race relations. The Foundation programs and mission have been replicated at universities across the country. His work through the Foundation earned him the distinguished NAACP Image Award in 1989. In 1994, the National Medical Association awarded Counter the Hall of Fame Award honoring his achievements in medicine.

He has published extensively in both cultural and scientific journals, including National Geographic and Scientific American. He has appeared on local and national television promoting scientific literacy of young people. He continues to work in the areas of ethics in science and technology, nature conservation, and human rights at the international level. He is presently co-host of EcoForum, a nationally televised program on earth conservation.

Law Commencement
Carson joined the Oregon Supreme Court in 1982 and was Chief Justice from 1991-05. Prior to joining the Supreme Court, he served as a judge for Marion County Circuit Court from 1977-82. He graduated from Stanford University in 1956 and Willamette University College of Law in 1962.

Atkinson Commencement
Reynolds created a new and affordable way for Americans to finance a college education. She developed a privately funded alternative to government student loan programs that has enabled hundreds of thousands of Americans to attend college. In only 10 years, this approach to private educational financing revolutionized student lending and spawned a multibillion-dollar industry of 65 lenders offering more than 200 financial products.

She is the creator and chairman of the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation, one of the largest foundations in the nation. In 2004, Reynolds was selected by Business Week as one of the 50 most philanthropic living Americans and the first self-made woman ever to make their list. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University.

Honorary Degree Recipients
Rafe Esquith introduces Shakespeare's masterpieces to inner city fifth graders at Hobart Boulevard Elementary School in central Los Angeles. He molds his students into latter-day Renaissance scholars and shows them a world outside their neglected neighborhoods. His students spend an entire year studying and rehearsing one play and then perform it at Shakespeare festivals across the county. By any measure, these student actors, many of whom speak English as their second language, have been wildly successful including opening for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

As a result of his commitment to his students both inside and outside the classroom, Esquith's students consistently score in the top 5 to 10 percent nationally in standardized tests and many of his students have moved onto college and law school.

Esquith has received several accolades for this dedication including the Walt Disney American Teacher Award for National Teacher of the Year and Oprah Winfrey's $100,000 Use Your Life Award. He used his award money to create a charitable fund at his school. He is currently working with the NEA to help put Shakespeare in 10,000 American classrooms.

Gertrude Boyle is the matriarch and chairwoman of the board of the international outdoor apparel and footwear manufacturer Columbia Sportswear Company. Hailed by Working Woman magazine as one of America's Top 50 Women Business Owners - and named one of 1994's "Best Managers" by Business Week - Boyle is the center of Columbia's irreverent, award-winning advertising campaign. She portrays cantankerous "Mother Boyle," the stern taskmaster who enforces Columbia's demanding quality standards.

Since Boyle and her son Tim began managing the company, Columbia Sportswear has gone from near bankruptcy to become one of the world's largest outerwear manufacturers and the leading seller of skiwear in the United States. Columbia's sales have soared from $12.9 million in 1984 to $1.1 billion in 2004, and the company continues to forge ahead with product diversification and innovation.

Throughout her career, Boyle has been a leader in the Portland community. She has received many honors recognizing her business savvy and philanthropic endeavors. Most recently she received Oregon's prestigious First Citizen Award in 2005.