NDNU Awards Two Outstanding Humanitarians with Honorary Doctorates

Belmont, CA, May 14, 2008 — Notre Dame de Namur University awarded two outstanding humanitarians, Gordon Loughlin and Lorry Lokey, with honorary degrees in recognition of their worldwide achievements at last Saturday’s commencement ceremony.


Nearly 500 students were awarded bachelor’s, or master’s degrees or teaching credentials during the ceremony held at Koret Athletic Field on the NDNU campus, May 10. Loughlin, a pioneer in the field of art therapy, and Lokey, a noted philanthropist, each received a Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Gordon Loughlin was celebrated by NDNU for his pioneering work with autistic and developmentally disabled children. As a special education instructor in the South Bay in the 1960s, the New York native discerned that drawing and painting were having a significant favorable impact on the learning activities of his students who were autistic, schizophrenic or otherwise developmentally disabled. The young instructor with help from his wife, the former Carol Simsarian, developed what would become the first informal program in Art Therapy in a Northern California classroom.

Later, Gordon enrolled in the fledgling Art Therapy Psychology program at the former College of Notre Dame. He became a Charter Graduate of Art Therapy Psychology, Class of 1981, adding another credential to his earlier degrees from Bellarmine College Preparatory and San Jose State University.

Complementing his caring within the classroom, Gordon’s personal activities included volunteerism at Santa Clara Juvenile Hall, the Catholic Social Skill Center, and the Veterans Hospital in Palo Alto. He and his wife also volunteered in Mexico with Jesuit relief efforts following the earthquake in Mexico City. During the 1990s, he and Carol spent time with the Missionaries of Charity Sisters in Calcutta, working with neglected and orphaned children and became acquainted with Mother Theresa.

“For these humanitarian efforts, and particularly for his prescience in recognizing that the imagination, expressiveness, and techniques of art can bring further accomplishment to the most challenged of students, NDNU was proud to honor Loughlin with an honorary degree,” said Dr. Greig.

Lokey, the founder of Business Wire, and the featured speaker at the NDNU commencement ceremonies made a surprise announcement during his remarks, that he would honor the NDNU Class of 2008 by making a gift to the University of $1 million.

Lokey told the graduates that they would have to rely on their own resources toovercome adversity and used an example from his own recent life. Noting his health had been poor lately, Lokey said, “I’ve fallen three times in the past few weeks; each time someone came over to help me and each time I refused their help and got up on my own as you will have to do.”

He also told them that giving away the money he earned from selling Business Wire was even more gratifying than earning it in the first place because of the good that it can do for people.

Lokey’s tremendous success began in 1961 when the former Stanford University journalism student founded Business Wire, an international media relations company in San Francisco with one part-time employee, seven clients and 16 Bay Area media outlets. Today, Business Wire employs more than 500 employees, has more than 25,000 clients, and operates out of 25 domestic and six foreign offices. Lokey sold the company in 2006 to Berkshire Hathaway.

His commitment to furthering the partnership between science and philanthropy  has fueled magnanimous gifts in hopes of empowering and improving lives through scientific education. Since 1990, Lokey’s philanthropic gestures include gifts totaling more than $425 million. Almost all of his gifts have been bestowed to universities and high schools to fund science research and education.

“Lorry Lokey exemplifies and brings to our students a living example of the success, of every sort, which can come from creativity and traditional ‘good hard work,’” said Dr. Judith Maxwell Greig, NDNU Acting President. “We are delighted that he made such a tremendous gift to the University, particularly during this exciting time in NDNU’s history.”