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COMMENCEMENT: 2004 Speaker is Michael Leavitt; Buys, Molen and Leavitt Honorary Degree Recipients

May 04, 2004
Category: Commencement


The 2004 Commencement Exercises for Southern Utah University will take place on Saturday, May 8, at which 1,064associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees will be conferred upon undergraduate and graduate students, and honorary degrees will be given to three individuals who have made valuable, and invaluable, contributions to the Institution.

The three 2004 honorary degree recipients are:
Saundra Buys, MD—reputable oncologist from Salt Lake City
Gerald Molen—accomplished Hollywood film producer
Michael Leavitt—Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The Commencement ceremonies will begin at 9 a.m. in the Centrum Arena, SUU campus, Cedar City.

Saundra Buys, MD, is the co-director of the Family Cancer Assessment Clinic at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, as well as the Medical Director of the High Risk Breast Cancer Clinic. She also is a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Utah’s School of Medicine. She has been caring for patients with all types of cancer since 1982, however, she specializes in treating breast cancer. Buys is the principal investigator on two large studies funded by the National Cancer Institute. The first--the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, Ovarian (PLCO) Screening Trial--is a nationwide study to determine the effectiveness of screening for these types of cancer. The second study--the Cooperative Family Registry for Breast Cancer Studies—is based in six international sites and is studying some of the genetic causes of breast cancer. Buys received her MD from Tufts University in Boston. She completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at the University of Utah. Prior to joining the faculty of the University of Utah in 1984, she completed a clinical and research fellowship in hematology and oncology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Beyond her many scientific achievements, Dr. Buys is a wonderful medical role model who blends the latest knowledge and treatments with a caring and compassionate heart. Her patients readily salute her for the extraordinary care they receive from this gifted physician. Buys is a native of Cedar City where she spent the first 12 years of her life. The blood of SUU runs strong through her veins; she is a granddaughter of D.L. Sargent, longtime and beloved professor emeritus of biology at SUU. And, her other grandfather, J. Howard Maughn, served as the director (president) of SUU (then-called B ranch Agricultural College) from 1922-29. Buys and her husband, Joseph, reside with their two children in Salt Lake City.

Gerald R. Molen is an Academy Award-winning producer who has distinguished himself in the motion picture industry during a career spanning nearly half a century. His Academy Award was for the highly-acclaimed Schindler’s List in 1993, when he partnered with Steven Spielberg and Banko Lustig. In addition to Schindler’s List, his credits as producer include Hook (1991), Jurassic Park (1993), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), The Other Side of Heaven (2001), Minority Report and The Legend of Johnny Lingo (2002). His work as Executive Producer is even more extensive and includes: Twister, The Trigger Effect, Casper, Little Giants, The Little Rascals, The Flintstones, A Far Off Place, Days of Thunder, Bright Lights-Big City. He was also Co-Producer on Rain Man and Associate Producer on Batteries Not Included. Mr. Molen was the Unit Production Manager on The Postman Always Rings Twice, Let’s Spend the Night Together, Tootsie, A Soldier’s Story and The Color Purple. Molen’s accomplishments in Hollywood are well recognized by both his peers and the media. Some of his other accolades include: a Golden Globe Award, British Academy Award, Crystal Heart Award, Peoples Choice Award, Lifetime Achievement from Chapman University, Darryl F. Zanuck Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award, and the Best Picture of the Year award from the New York Film Critics. He serves organizations like Utah Shakespearean Festival’s Board of Governors, McLaughlin Research Institute, the Directors Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild and the Producers Guild of America to name a few. Mr. Molen is a regular lecturer on the topic of the Holocaust and is very proud to be involved with the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, an organization dedicated to the documentation and preservation of the testimonies of survivors of the Holocaust and implemented, in part, as a result of Schindler’s List. He also devotes a great deal of time to organizations specializing in educational and humanitarian causes. A native of Montana, Molen and his wife, Pat, now reside in Las Vegas.

Michael Leavitt--Born and raised in Cedar City, Michael O. Leavitt is indeed a son of southern Utah, and just as much, a son of SUU, as he earned his bachelor’s degree from then-Southern Utah State College (SUSC) in economics and business in 1978. Nineteen years later, SUU was happy to bestow upon Leavitt, an honorary doctorate degree of Humanities during the 1997 Commencement ceremony. And although his residential address has changed dramatically in the last few months—from Salt Lake City to Washington, D.C.--Leavitt remains an ongoing and enthusiastic supporter of SUU and its programs, making frequent visits to campus to endorse and participate in events like the Utah Summer Games, the Utah Shakespearean Festival and the Utah Rural Economic Summit. Last November, Leavitt was sworn in as the 10th Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Prior to leading the Agency, he served as Utah’s 14th governor for nearly 11 years. SUU appreciated and benefited from Leavitt’s causes as a state leader, including his drive to create better schools and empower states. Armored with foresight in planning for future development, Leavitt took advantage of the tools of advanced technology in programs like, “21st Century Communities,” “Envision Utah,” and “Utah: Where Ideas Connect.” As governor, he proved to be a national leader on homeland security, welfare reform and environmental management. Six times during his gubernatorial administration, independent public policy analysts ranked Utah among the best-managed states in the nation. Leavitt led Utah through the preparation for and days of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City which were recognized as the most environmentally-sensitive Games ever. Now, as a thoughtful leader on national environmental management, Leavitt implements his Enlibra philosophy. Enlibra, derived from Latin roots meaning to move toward balance, operates on the basis of eight principles which form the prism through which Leavitt conducts his management of the EPA. Leavitt has maintained three goals throughout his public service: to leave things better than he found them; to plant seeds for the next generation; and to give it all he has. Michael and his wife, Jackie, (also an alum of SUU), are the parents of five children.

Contact Information:
Renee Ballenger
435-586-1997
ballenger@suu.edu