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Honorary Degree Recipients

by Eric Mankin, Paula Korn, Christine E. Shade, and Melissa Payton

Left: Jean-Pierre Changeux

Jean-Pierre Changeux

Doctor of Science

Honoris Causa

More than a century ago, biologists and biochemists began to understand that living things are chemical factories, efficiently producing a vast array of substances. The very efficiency of the process, though, raised a question: How is the production controlled? How does the body know when enough is enough?

The career of Jean-Pierre Changeux, 1997 USC honorary degree recipient, has been associated with one word – “allosteric” – describing an ingenious strategy used by biological systems over and over to accomplish this end. Since first proposing the mechanism in the early ’60s and describing how it worked in a bacterial system, Changeux, now director of the Molecular Neurobiology Unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, has steadily extended the concept to elucidate the way the same mechanism regulates crucial brain functions, including the transmission of messages between brain cells.

His work has had direct medical significance in the understanding of diseases, such as the paralyzing illness myasthenia gravis. It may even inform policy debates: one important recent line of study traced the brain sites acted upon by nicotine.

Changeux is also an author and popularizer, taking his ideas directly to the public in a series of books, including Neuronal Man, and Conversations on Mind, Matter, and Mathematics. His own interests include music and painting of the baroque era, and he has written a book on art and neuroscience entitled Reason and Pleasure.

The allosteric mechanism explored by Changeux is subtle in its operation. The concept is that the structure and function of large macromolecules performing the synthesis of small molecules are controlled by a variety of small molecules, including products themselves.

In allosteric systems, large macromolecules are poked or pulled by smaller molecules into alternate forms, which then have quite different qualities. In some cases these alternate forms can turn production of the original substance off; in others they can actually increase it.

In Changeux’s hands, this idea has turned into a paradigm that has been fruitfully used to explore numerous complex biological systems, and in particular the communications between neurons

Moreover, as the faculty nomination of the scientist noted, the approach he pioneered was particularly influential here at USC:

“The scientific strategy that … Changeux has succeeded in developing – i.e., a strong experimental basis in neurbiology coupled with interactions with computer scientists and cognitive scientists – is exemplary of precisely the … principles on which the NIBS program at USC is founded. Changeux has been a strong and consistent international supporter of [USC’s] NIBS program.”

Changeux has won numerous honors and awards, including membership in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, as well as parallel organizations in other countries. He has been awarded honorary degrees from the universities of Dundee, Scotland; Geneva, Switzerland; Stockholm, Sweden; Liege, Belgium; and Bath, England, along with the Lausanne (Switzerland) Federal Polytechnic Institute.

Katherine Bogdanovich Loker

Doctor of Humane Letters

Honoris Causa

Katherine Bogdanovich Loker has excelled as a philanthropist and nurturer of talent – and humanity has gained.

Since 1977, Loker has supported in every way – with her time, her money, her energy, her enthusiasm, her influence and even her good taste – the Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute, named after her and her late husband. She chairs its board of directors and has played an active role over the years in bringing about its successes, epitomized by the award of the 1994 Nobel Prize to its scientific director, George A. Olah, for his work in organic chemistry. It was not only a personal recognition for Olah, but recognition for the groundbreaking work of the institute.

When the gold medal symbolizing the achievement was presented to Olah in Stockholm Dec. 10, 1994, by the king of Sweden in the name of the Swedish Academy of Science, Katherine Loker was there.

Olah acknowledges the crucial role played by Loker and her husband. “They strengthened my faith in humanity,” the scientist said. “Here were two private citizens who supported something, completely unselfishly, in an area in which they had no vested interest,” solely for the ad-vancement of human knowledge.

The institute is one of the world’s major centers devoted exclusively to the study of hydrocarbons, the compounds of hydrogen and carbon that are in many ways the backbone of modern industrial society. Hydrocarbons, composing gas and oil, are used as fuel; they are raw materials for fiber, building material, packaging and many other products.

The scientists of the institute, including Olah, have produced more than 1,500 papers on hydrocarbons, research that has helped clean the atmosphere of toxic lead and point the way to the development of new, improved hydrocarbon energy resources. The research directions express the view that science has a significant role to play in finding solutions to problems of diminishing resources and environmental degradation.

One recent innovation is a new fuel cell, developed by the institute and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, that produces electricity from liquid methanol at relatively low temperature, without combustion and without producing toxic byproducts. The new device is now being developed for practical use in a variety of applications, including vehicles.

The institute has sponsored over the years 25 symposia bringing together the top researchers in the world. In early 1995, an expansion project, which Loker funded and helped to plan, more than doubled the institute’s size. She also made sure its scientists had the best facilities and tools available.

“The Loker Institute is a living, breathing being: It’s not just a building that carries their name,” Olah said.

Loker, a 1940 graduate of USC, has been a devoted supporter of other causes as well. She has given generously to Harvard, her late husband’s alma mater, for a student center named after her; to the Donald P. Loker Cancer treatment Center at the California Hospital Medical Center; to the California Museum of Science; and other causes.

The Loker Institute, however, occupies a special place for her. Its record reflects not only the experimental skill and conceptual prowess of its scientific staff, but the loving leadership and unbending loyalty of its patron-chair, who has stressed the importance of making it a comfortable place for faculty and students working there.

“She has, by her passionate attention and caring, brought philanthropy to another level,” said Olah. “In the Loker Institute, she has made a gift not just of her generosity, but of her very self. Our accomplishments are her achievement. The institute will for years to come reflect the very best that USC stands for in education and research, while her name will remind future generations what a dedicated alumna can do for her alma mater.”

Michael Greene

Doctor of Music

Honoris Causa

The work of Michael Greene, unlike the celebrities he represents, “is not particularly glamorous,” noted Larry Livingston, dean of the School of Music. “But his impact in the entertainment business community and general populace is significant and far-reaching. The glamour of Michael Greene is best measured by the goodness and nobility with which he leads.”

Greene, president and chief executive officer of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), will be honored at the 114th commencement ceremony for his “creative and courageous” leadership in music and arts education.

“I am truly humbled that a great research university like USC would honor me with the doctorate of music degree,” Greene said. “It is of great personal satisfaction that the passion and love I have for music and its makers has been acknowledged in this very meaningful way. No words can express my appreciation.”

Under Greene’s tenure, NARAS has emerged as a leading voice for the creative and technical music community on such issues as music and arts education, intellectual property protection, censorship and announcing. He has led the development of many of NARAS’ acclaimed music education programs, including Grammy in the Schools, the Grammy All-American High School Jazz Band and Choir, the National Grammy Concert Series for Children, the Grammy University Education Network and the Grammy Festival and Community Outreach.

Greene assumed an active role with the recording academy in the 1980s, becoming its first full-time president and CEO in 1988. He also serves as president of the NARAS Foundation and MusiCares Foundation. During his tenure the Grammy Awards has grown as an international media event now viewed in more than 160 countries with an estimated audience of 1.5 billion people. In addition, the academy has launched an Archive and Preservation Initiative to preserve America’s recorded musical legacy.

With degrees in business and marketing, Greene became a recording artist for CBS in 1970. From that start, he thrust himself into the entertainment and communications industries as an artist and producer; president of recording studios; music publisher; chief executive officer of one of the nation’s first cable-television advertising companies; president of one of the world’s first cable video music channels; senior vice president and general manager of a major-market television station; founder of the first nationally distributed video music channel launched on direct broadcast television; satellite and interactive communications executive; film and video producer; and executive vice president of one of the world’s largest post-production corporations.

Greene is recognized as a prominent industry leader and community outreach activist. In 1995, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce gave him the Medici Award for outstanding leadership in fostering the community’s cultural resources.

William Wrigley

Doctor of Humane Letters

Honoris Causa

Back in 1919, William Wrigley’s grandfather envisioned that Los Angeles would grow to be one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas. “With the development of the metropolitan area, he knew that much of the natural charm of the Southern California mainland of the early 1900s would be lost. With this in mind, and with Catalina Island just 26 miles off shore, he wished to preserve and protect a part of California’s natural beauty for future generations,” said William Wrigley of his namesake, William Wrigley Jr.

“My father, Philip K. Wrigley, carried that idea forward and assured the ongoing preservation of most of Catalina when the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy was officially formed in 1972,” Wrigley said.

Today, William Wrigley is following his grandfather’s and his father’s lead by serving as a founding benefactor and voting life member of the Conservancy. The Conservancy has stewardship of 86 percent of Catalina and works with the scientific community and environmentalists to protect the island’s integrity.

On Friday, May 9, William Wrigley will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

Many people mistakenly presume that the Catalina Island Conservancy exists solely because of the work of William Wrigley’s father. “Indeed, this is not the case,” said USC trustee Kenneth Leventhal, chairman of the university’s Building on Excellence campaign to raise $1 billion by the year 2000.

“Since his father’s death in 1977,” Leventhal said, “Bill has attempted to see that his father’s and grandfather’s vision for Catalina Island and its environment was carried forward. With his support, the Catalina Island Conservancy has developed programs to study the island’s habitat, works to undo damage done by imported species, and is working toward restoring the island to a more pristine state. At the same time, the island has become a recreational and educational resource for all Los Angeles citizens. In particular, the Conservancy has made a concerted effort to educate children on environmental issues.”

During Wrigley’s 35-year tenure as chief executive officer of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company founded by his grandfather, the firm has acquired a nearly 50-percent share of the domestic retail market and has expanded operations to over 140 countries. Wrigley serves as chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the Santa Catalina Island Co., which for almost 70 years has administered the Wrigley family’s interests on Catalina Island.

Decades after his grandfather’s first interest in conservation, William Wrigley continues his family’s tradition of environmental leadership. He recently contributed major funding to the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies on Santa Catalina Island, which had its official opening on April 17. Together with his wife, Julie Wrigley, former chairman of the Peregrine Fund and a noted environmentalist in her own right, he endowed the institute’s directorship, endowed a professorial chair and provided the start-up capital for this multidisciplinary research and teaching program.

“The capstone to Bill’s commitment to the environment,” Leventhal said, “is his dedication to the establishment of a partnership between USC and the Catalina Conservancy to make Catalina Island a model for environmental studies.”

Wrigley was elected to the USC board of trustees in 1981 and currently serves on the board’s development committee. He also has served on the CEO advisory board of USC’s Gordon S. Marshall School of Business. In his home community of Chicago, Wrigley has been a benefactor of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, has served on the hospital’s board and is a life trustee. He has also served as a member of the advisory board of the Center for Sports Medicine at Northwestern Medical School. And he’s a strong advocate for USC in Chicago and the Midwest.

The honorary degree – Wrigley’s first, he said – came as a surprise to him. “It is most appreciated. It is something very special, but more importantly, I’m so gratified to see that USC is getting off the ground running with the Institute for Environmental Studies.

“We’re going to have something going into the next century that will make a difference.”

Kathleen Leavey McCarthy

Doctor of Humane Letters

Honoris Causa

Receiving an honorary degree from USC has become a mother-daughter act in the case of trustee and philanthropist Kathleen Leavey McCarthy, whose mother, Dorothy, received one in 1991.

“I’m very honored. It’s particularly thrilling to be recognized by your own school,” McCarthy said. “If I had known as an undergraduate that this would happen, I wouldn’t have believed it.”

As chairperson of the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation created by her father, McCarthy leads one of the largest and most influential philanthropic institutions in the state. The foundation has donated more than $100 million to educational, medical and Catholic institutions in Southern California.

McCarthy was instrumental in obtaining the foundation’s $9- million support for construction of the $27.5-million Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Library at USC. Opened in August 1994, it was the nation’s first major library designed to accommodate state-of-the-art electronic information resources.

Trustee Kenneth Leventhal said McCarthy’s role in creating the library cannot be overestimated.

“Kathleen McCarthy’s extraordinary benefaction … has fundamentally reshaped undergraduate education at USC and made our university the national leader with a library for the future,” he said.

McCarthy’s relationship with USC began in her students days, where she was 1954 homecoming queen and graduated in 1957 with a B.A. degree in English. She met her future husband, J. Thomas McCarthy, at USC when he was a law student, graduating in 1956. Thomas McCarthy, who headed the Leavey Foundation after his father-in-law’s death in 1980, was a partner in the law firm of Bodkin, McCarthy, Sargeant & Smith until his death in February, 1996.

Kathleen McCarthy was elected to the USC board of trustees in 1986. Currently vice chairman of the executive committee, she is a member of the board’s business affairs and personnel committees and has served on the committees for academic affairs and student affairs, in addition to acting as secretary and vice chairman of the board.

McCarthy also has been a strong advocate for the department of nursing, where she is a member of the advisory board. Other USC affiliations include membership in the Friends of the USC Libraries, USC Associates, the Women’s Trojan Club, Women of Troy and the Trojan League of Los Angeles.

Active in the Catholic church, she has also led efforts to replace quake-damaged St. Vibiana’s Cathedral, donating $10 million to the project through the Leavey Foundation.

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