April 12, 2018

Historian David McCullough to present address at Commencement Exercises

David McCullough, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, will receive one of six honorary degrees to be awarded by Providence College.
David McCullough, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, will receive one of six honorary degrees to be awarded by Providence College.

By Vicki-Ann Downing

Historian and author David McCullough, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, will present the Commencement Address at Providence College’s One Hundredth Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 20, 2018.

The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence.

McCullough is one of six honorary degree recipients. The others are Joseph P. Brum ’68, retired special assistant to the president for development projects at PC; Brian M. Maher ’68, retired director of the Long Island Educational Opportunity Center at Farmingdale State College; U.S. Army Col. (Ret.) Lisa M. (Thibault) Schenck ’83, associate dean for academic affairs at The George Washington University Law School; Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College and author of the landmark book ‘Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria’ and Other Conversations About Race; and Larry Rachleff, retired music director for the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and a professor at Rice University.

David McCullough

In 2013, McCullough, who will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree, was the keynote speaker at the opening of the Ruane Center for the Humanities, a building dedicated to the College’s commitment to the liberal arts.

“I feel to the depths of my being that this emblematic new building is not only a step in the right direction for Providence College, but for our country,” McCullough said. “We need to be reminded about who we are and how we got to be here.”

McCullough’s most recent book, The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For, a collection of his speeches, was a New York Times bestseller praised by critics as a work “every citizen of the Republic ought to read.”

His previous books, which never have been out of print, include The Wright Brothers, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, 1776, John Adams, Truman, Brave Companions, Mornings on Horseback, The Path Between the Seas, The Great Bridge, and The Johnstown Flood. He is the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes and two National Book Awards, and has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

McCullough has been an editor, teacher, lecturer, and voice on public television as host of Smithsonian World and The American Experience, and on documentaries, including Ken Burns’s The Civil War. A gifted speaker, he has lectured in all parts of the country and abroad, as well as at the White House. He is one of the few private citizens to speak before a joint session of Congress.

McCullough is an avid reader and traveler with a lifelong interest in art and architecture. He also is a devoted painter. A native of Pittsburgh, he earned a degree in English literature from Yale University. He lives in Hingham, Mass., with his wife, Rosalee. They have five children and 19 grandchildren.

Joseph P. Brum ’68

Joseph P. Brum '68
Joseph P. Brum ’68

College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80 has called Brum, who will receive an honorary doctor of public service degree, “the greatest friend-maker in the history of Providence College.” As the “founding father” of the College’s alumni relations program, Brum has been building relationships and raising funds for PC for five decades.

Brum was 2 when his parents emigrated from the Azores to the United States. He grew up in Fall River, Mass., and attended PC on a scholarship, studying political science, writing for The Cowl, and serving on Student Congress.

In 1971, he returned to PC to become the first full-time director for alumni affairs. He took on development duties in 1979 and was appointed vice president for alumni and development in 1988. In that role, he led the Providence 2000 campaign, which raised a record $70.4 million, surpassing its goal of $50 million.

From 2003 until his retirement in 2014, Brum was special assistant to the president for development projects. Since retiring, he has served as a part-time consultant to the advancement team. It’s estimated that Brum has helped to raise more than $300 million for the College, including the initial gifts to establish more than 250 of the 478 named funds currently in the PC endowment.

Brum and his wife, Carolyn, reside in Tiverton, R.I. Their three sons — Jason Brum ’93, Evan Brum ’99, and Aaron Brum ’00 — all graduated from PC, as did Jason’s wife, Maura (Green) Brum ’94. They have four grandchildren.

Brian M. Maher ’68

Brian M. Maher '68
Brian M. Maher ’68

Maher, who will receive an honorary doctor of education degree, retired in 2016 after 37 years at Farmingdale State College, the State University of New York’s largest college of applied science and technology. He began his career there in 1979 as accountant for the college and later accepted a position with the Long Island Educational Opportunity Center, which offers tuition-free education to adults. He served as adjunct business education instructor and business affairs coordinator before becoming the center’s director in 2009.

Maher was often called upon to serve as master of ceremonies at campus events and continues to offer the invocation each year at commencement. He has received two of the college’s highest honors, the Farmingdale Foundation Award for Excellence in Professional Service in 2003 and the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service in 2002.

Since his retirement, Maher volunteers weekly with Opening Word, a literacy program for women run by the Dominican Sisters of Amityville, N.Y. He also assists the director of community affairs for Dominican Village, a senior and assisted-living facility run by the sisters.

Maher has written more than 1,000 weekly columns for his parish bulletin at St. Joseph Church in Babylon, N.Y. He presents some of the columns on the Neighbor2Neighbor program of Telecare, the television station of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, which is rebroadcast in 40 states and on EWTN.

Maher is a past president of PC’s National Alumni Association. In 2009, in an effort to keep his classmates connected, he developed a weekly prayer request email that now is sent to 200 alumni.

Maher and his wife, Barbara, have three children, Daniel Corrigan Maher, Timothy Providence Maher ’97, and Kara Grace Darrell ’06, and four grandchildren.

U.S. Army Col. (Ret.) Lisa M. (Thibault) Schenck ’83

U.S. Army Col. (Ret.) Lisa M. (Thibault) Schenck ’83
U.S. Army Col. (Ret.) Lisa M. (Thibault) Schenck ’83

Schenck, who will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree, is the associate dean for academic affairs at The George Washington University Law School. She also is director of the university’s National Security & U.S. Foreign Relations Law LL.M. Program, director of the National Security & Cybersecurity Law LL.M. Program, and a professorial lecturer in law.

Schenck joined the law school in 2009 following a more than 25-year military career, first as an Army Signal Corps officer and then as a judge, lawyer, and educator in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

An ROTC student and political science major at PC, Schenck was commissioned in the Army Signal Corps following graduation. She earned a master of public administration degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a J.D. degree from Notre Dame Law School.

She later received a master of laws degree in military criminal law from the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School and a second master of laws degree and a doctor of the science of law degree, both with concentrations in environmental law, from Yale Law School.

In 2002, Schenck was appointed as a military judge on the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, and in 2005, she became the first woman appointed senior judge. Upon her retirement as colonel, in 2008 she became senior adviser to the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services.

Schenck and her husband, James Schenck, live in McLean, Va., and are the parents of a son, James.

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum
Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum

Tatum, who will receive an honorary doctor of public service degree, is an authority on the psychology of racism. Her landmark book, ‘Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria’ and Other Conversations About Race, was published in 1997 and revised in 2017. A national bestseller, it has become a classic in college and high school classrooms, used to educate and prompt discussion among young people about racial identity.

In 2015, Tatum retired as president emerita of Spelman College, a historically black college for women in Atlanta, where she had served since 2002. Prior to that, she spent 13 years at Mount Holyoke College, serving as professor of psychology, department chair, dean, and acting president. She was as an assistant professor of psychology at Westfield State University and a lecturer in black studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Tatum grew up in Bridgewater, Mass. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan. In 2004, she received a master’s degree in religious studies from Hartford Seminary.

Tatum has presented lectures, workshops, and panels across the country in the areas of racial identity, development, the impact of race in the classroom, and strategies for inclusive campus environments. She was a practicing clinical psychologist from 1988-1998.

In 2014, the American Psychological Association gave her its highest honor, the Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contributions to Psychology. In 2010, President Barack Obama appointed her to the Advisory Board for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Tatum and her husband, Dr. Travis Tatum, have two sons, David and Travis.

Larry Rachleff

Larry Rachleff
Larry Rachleff

Rachleff, who will receive an honorary doctor of music degree, retired in 2017 after 21 seasons as music director with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra. Since 1991, he has been at Rice University in Houston, where is the Walter Kris Hubert Professor of Orchestral Conducting and music director of the Shepherd School Symphony and Chamber Orchestras.

During his tenure with the Rhode Island Philharmonic, Rachleff shaped it into one of the finest regional orchestras in the United States. He established the Philharmonic Music School, now among the largest community music schools in the country. He also supported educational programs that continue to reach more than 25,000 students across the region each year.

In October 2017, Rachleff was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame. Known for his rapport with orchestra musicians, he is in constant demand as a guest conductor and has conducted with state and major metropolitan orchestras, as well as at the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Sarasota Music Festival, Tanglewood, Interlochen, and the Opera Theatre of Lucca, Italy.

He is a former faculty member of Oberlin Conservatory, where he was music director of orchestras and conductor of the Contemporary Ensemble. He has conducted and presented master classes all over the world, including Warsaw, Zurich, Sydney, Queensland, and the United Kingdom, as well as the New England Conservatory and the Juilliard School.

Rachleff is an advocate of public school music education. He has conducted all-state orchestras and festivals in every state in the country and in Europe and Canada.

Rachleff grew up in New London, Conn. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in music from the University of Michigan. Rachleff and his wife, soprano Susan Lorette Dunn, reside in Houston with their son, Sammy.