Spring Commencement Exercises at DeSales, Sat., May 21, to Feature Address by Lee A. Butz, CEO of Alvin H. Butz, Inc.
The 37th Commencement exercises will be held at DeSales University at 11 a.m., Saturday, May 21, on the mall between Trexler Library and DeChantal Hall on the Center Valley Campus. Lee A. Butz, CEO of Alvin H. Butz, Inc., the second largest construction firm headquartered in Pennsylvania, will deliver the Commencement address.
During the ceremony, Father Bernard O'Connor, OSFS, president of DeSales, will confer degrees upon 375 graduating students, including 325 bachelor's and 50 master's. Also, honorary doctor of humane letters degrees will be awarded to Butz, Rev. Bernard F. Donohue, OSFS, distinguished retired faculty member, and Sister Virginia Longcope, founder of Stephen's Place Inc. Senior class president, Donald L. Whitmore, theatre major from Stroudsburg, Pa., will give welcoming remarks. (Note: Of the 375 graduating students, 312 are from Pennsylvania, 35 from New Jersey, 9 from New York, 6 from Maryland, with the rest from several other states.)
Butz, a native of Allentown, began his career working in his father's general contracting firm while in high school. Construction has been a Butz family tradition for five generations, beginning with his great-grandfather who designed and built many of the area's covered bridges. Through the years, Butz has served the firm as a field superintendent, project manager, and in financial and marketing roles, before becoming president in 1973. In 1995, he assumed the position of chief executive officer, after naming his son Greg president of the company.
A graduate of Lehigh University, Butz earned a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering in 1955. He served in the U.S. Army until 1957, trained with the 101st Airborne Division and was later stationed at Fr. Knox, Kentucky.
Butz introduced the construction management concept to the Lehigh Valley in 1973. His construction management firm is consistently ranked among the nation's largest 100 CM firms, according to ENR, McGraw-Hill's construction industry weekly magazine. The company is currently managing over $750 million projects in commercial, industrial and municipal areas.
He is active in numerous community organizations, including the Lehigh Valley Board of Directors of the Wachovia National Bank and the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation. He serves as chairman of the Lehigh Valley Partnership's Arts Committee and co-chair of Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital's multi-million dollar capital campaign. He was a trustee of DeSales University for 24 years.
His honors and awards include the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Sales and Marketing Executives of Lehigh Valley Inc. and Sertoma's American Heritage Award, both in 1990. In 1993, his company was named the Outstanding Philanthropic Corporation by the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives. In 1996, he received the DeSales Medal from DeSales (then Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales).
A registered professional engineer, he is a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers and the Construction Management Association of America. He also is widely recognized for the professional-level quality of his photography that documents every major theater performance at DeSales University and the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival.
Butz and his wife, Dolly, reside in Allentown.
Father Donahue, a native of Philadelphia, was a member of the planning committee for the founding of Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales (now DeSales University) in 1963. He drafted the mission statement that adopted the Christian humanism of the Oblates' patron, St. Francis de Sales, as the College's guiding philosophy, one that has guided the school ever since.
A member of the DeSales faculty since 1966, Father has had a profound impact on the lives of students through the years. He founded the school's Politics (not Political Science) program and taught that man's search for good, and man's efforts "to get from here to there," can best be illuminated through the study of the great political philosophers, informed by trenchant analysis of economics, geography, psychology and history. His enormous popularity is evidenced by the compliments paid him by alumni, many of whom have provided testimony on how he helped prepare them for careers and also inspired them to live a more rewarding, fulfilling life.
Father earned an A.B. in classical studies from Niagara University. He completed his theological studies at the DeSales School of Theology in Washington, D.C., and earned an M.A. in politics from the Catholic University of America and a Ph.D. in international Relations from the University of Pennsylvania. He entered the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in 1948, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1958. Prior to joining the faculty at Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales, Father taught social studies at The Salesianum School in Wilmington.
During his years at DeSales, he served as department chairperson and professor of politics. He was the founding religious superior of Father Louis Brisson Seminary in Center Valley, Pa., the Oblate seminary for college and graduate students attending schools in the area.
His honors and awards include Teacher of the Year at Allentown College, both in 1974 and 1988. He also served as a visiting professor at St. Mary's College of California and Visiting Scholar at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities at Princeton. He is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honor Society and the DeSales chapter, Alpha Beta Sigma. Presently, he serves as a part-time faculty member at DeSales.
Father Donahue resides in Wills Hall, the Oblate residence at DeSales.
Sister Virginia, a Missionary Sister of the Sacred Heart, established Stephen's Place Inc., of Bethlehem, in October 1994. The inspiration for Stephen's Place came to her from an experience involving a 20-year old young man who was eligible for parole but needed a place to live. The young man had dreams for a future, but without family support, furniture, transportation, and only a minimum-wage job, his hopes for a bright future soon faded. He became more depressed and unable to cope with the stress and pressures of daily living. Sister Virginia helped find him an apartment and started him on his transition back into society.
The young man's struggle prompted her to pursue the founding of a house to help adult males with their recovery from substance abuse addiction and reintegration from prison back into society. Sister Virginia recalled that the first Christian in prison was St. Stephen, who was endowed with virtues of courage and wisdom. She saw Stephen's Place as a place where courage and wisdom could live freely and responsibly. It would be for all the "Stephens" who have dreams and a desire to succeed, but lack the necessary resources to make the dreams a reality.
Prior to the founding of Stephen's Place, Sister Virginia taught elementary school for 18 years. In 1985, she volunteered to work with parolees with the Lehigh County Adult Probation / Parole Department. Her volunteer supervisor at the time encouraged her to pursue this work on a fulltime basis. She considered a new career in prison ministry. Her religious congregation was exploring ways to reach out to the poor and disenfranchised of society. She had a master's degree in religious studies, so she decided to find a program and train as a prison chaplain. She enrolled in a one-year training program for chaplains in a maximum security prison in Columbia, South Carolina.
As part of her clinical work, Sister Virginia co-lead a therapy group with a social worker. She wanted to work with the correctional system, so she pursued a master's degree in social work. The following year, she was a social worker in a work release center in the South Carolina Department of Corrections, where she worked for three and a half years. In 1992, she returned to the Lehigh Valley, with a dream of starting a home for non-violent adult male offenders with a history of substance abuse.
Presently, Sister Virginia serves as director and overseer of Stephen's Place.
Press Release: Spring Commencement Exercises at DeSales, Sat., May 21, to Feature Address by Lee A. Butz, CEO of Alvin H. Butz, Inc. | Posted on: 5/18/2005
For more info:
Tom McNamara, Executive Director of Communications
DeSales University | 2255 Station Avenue | Center Valley, PA 18034
610.282.1100 x1219 | Tom.McNamara@desales.edu