2012 President's Medal Recipient

Award Citation for Susan Fitzgerald Rice ’61

Susan Fitzgerald Rice '61 offers a few words of reflection after receiving the President's Medal from her alma mater at Commencment.
Susan Fitzgerald Rice '61 offers a few words of
reflection after receiving the President's Medal
from her alma mater at Commencment.
The President’s Medal is awarded to honor exceptional contributions to the life of Saint Mary’s College or society. This year, I present this medal to the outgoing Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, Susan Fitzgerald Rice.

Susan’s love of learning continued long after she left Saint Mary’s. A Christian Culture major, she went on to earn a master’s degree in public administration from UCLA and a doctor of education degree from Pepperdine University. She is both a Certified Fund Raising Executive and an Advanced Certified Fund Raising Executive.

Her professional experience includes leading her company SFR Consulting, serving as the president/chief executive officer of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, and working as Director of Development at the John E. Anderson Graduate School of Management, UCLA. She has been a member of various boards, including the UCLA Foundation, the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles Education Fund, and the Pepperdine University Board of Regents.

When she and her husband Don lived in Washington, DC, she joined and later became the Vice President of the alumnae club there. When they settled in Los Angeles she went on to hold other leadership positions in that club. She served on the Alumnae Association Board of Directors and her Reunion Gift campaigns. When a group of our most successful alumnae was formed to advise the President, Susan was at the top of the list. She was honored with the Distinguished alumna award in 1986 and the Shannon Executive Scholar in residence in 1998. Among her many contributions to the College is the re-establishment of the annual Christian Culture Lecture which had been dormant for 25 years.

Rice has served for the past nine years on the Saint Mary's College Board of Trustees. Her ability to explain and encourage philanthropy has been clearly demonstrated by her leadership on the Campaign Steering Committee, serving as one of its tri-chairs. Her advice is valued by friends and colleagues, and her joyful spirit is evident to all who know her.

In recognition of her dedicated service to Saint Mary's College, I am privileged to honor Susan Fitzgerald Rice by presenting her with the President’s Medal.

Address by Recipient Susan Fitzgerald Rice ’61

Thank you, Carol (President Mooney). I am humbled to be recognized for giving back. We can all do this in our own unique way. Just say YES when the College calls.

The College has asked me for assistance many times in 50 years. It has always been a joy to say YES. When the College asked me to serve on an Alumnae Advisory Council I said yes. When the College asked us to honor Bruno Schlesinger, my husband and I said yes. When the College asked me to serve or chair a reunion Gift Campaign for my class for its 25th Reunion, its 30th, its 35th, its 40th, 45th, and 50th I said yes. And many other YESES!

In the 80’s, when I returned to campus to work on the Sesquicentennial Campaign I made many new friends, one – Sarah Earley, now a trustee, has captured what Saint Mary’s means to us. She says,  

“Saint Mary’s feeds my soul.”

That is why I say Yes. Saint Mary’s uniqueness nurtures us forever. Starting with

--The sisters of the Holy Cross. In 1841 just-professed 18 year old women came from France to the wilds of Indiana --without even knowing how to speak English – because they believed women should be educated. They were unique.

--AND the leadership. Sister Madeleva, Carol Mooney have implemented that vision—with what we call, “ faith always, action now “.

--AND the trustees of Saint Mary’s College. Led by our fabulous board chair, Mary Burke, they are committed to our President’s vision, her management style, her strengths and to the College.

--AND our extraordinary faculty. Thanks to their ability to teach and inspire, we are committed to learning forever.

--AND our devoted and talented staff, Carol’s cabinet, my sister alumnae, our parents and most especially

--RECENT GRADUATES who have just become alumnae.

May you join me in a lifelong commitment to give talent, time and TREASURE back to this wonderful institution.

Thanks to my husband of 50 years and my terrific sons---- they have watched me engage in one volunteer and philanthropic activity after another for Saint Mary’s. And thanks to my daughters in law who I love more every day.

Thank you, Carol for this endowment from you and from Saint Mary’s—I cherish this place in my mind and heart.