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Diane Rosenberg Honorary Degree
Presented by Lawrence B. Breitborde, Dean of the College and Professor of Anthropology


Mr. President, I have the special honor of presenting Diane Smatlak Rosenberg, Knox '63 and outgoing chair of the Knox College Board of Trustees, for the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters.

Mr. President, we do not have a full record of the staff at Amundson High School in the late 1950s, but we do know that we have a guidance counselor, Mrs. Heflin, to thank for being a significant influence on young Diane Smatlak, an honor society member, winner of a poetry award, winner of an athletics letter, and secretary of her English and Civics classes. With Mrs. Heflin's influence, as well as with the recommendations of several Knox students among her family members, Diane Smatlak looked to study at a small liberal arts college and in the fall 1959, enrolled at Knox.

Here at Knox, Diane Smatlak majored in biology, with her senior research focusing on birds. She was a member of Phi Mu Fraternity, and was its president her senior year. She was an active member of various residence hall councils and the German club. After her graduation, she earned a master's degree in Biology from Loyola University of Chicago, taught both at Loyola and, for 18 years, at Leyden High School. She raised a family, co-authored several articles on management applications to agricultural ecosystems and resource management, and eventually became the owner and chief executive officer of Olson Rug.

In a sense, however, she never really left Knox. Since her graduation she served as an admission volunteer, a host for Knox events in Chicago, and was a member of the Annual Fund Steering Committee. In 1989 she joined the Board of Trustees of the College and for the past five years has served as its chair.

Mr. President, it is not a pro forma gesture for Knox College to recognize one of its trustees with an honorary degree. To the contrary, it is the extraordinary loyalty, support and leadership that Diane Rosenberg has provided for Knox College that leads us to honor her today. She has helped guide the Board and supported the College during a period of significant institutional reflection and re-examination; in the past five years she has supported the faculty and staff in their efforts to discover the very best parts of a Knox education and to push these to the forefront of the College's mission. Convinced through her own experience of the transformative value of a Knox education, for four decades she has embraced without question the students, faculty and staff who have helped shape and been shaped by this College. And in all this time, through all her activities and involvements, she has approached Knox College with a personal warmth, an enthusiasm, and full appreciation of its mission, its values, its needs and potentials, and its humanity.

If our institutional mission is 'to foster a lifelong love of learning and a sense of competence, confidence and proportion that will enable us to live with purpose and to contribute to the well-being of others,' there is no better model for the Knox College graduate than Diane Rosenberg.

Mr. President, for her loyalty, support, leadership, and confidence in her alma mater, it is a great personal privilege for me to present for the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, Ms. Diane S. Rosenberg.