SMWC Honors Distinguished Alums

April 22nd, 2015 | SMWC

During the 177th commencement ceremony on May 2, 2015, the Distinguished Alumni award will be given to two alums. The Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 2003 to recognize SMWC alumni for their professional achievements and dedication to their communities. This award honors individuals who have a love for The Woods, have a vision, which perpetuates our case, and are actively involved in helping the College achieve its mission.

Sister Barbara Doherty

Sister Barbara Doherty

Sister Barbara Doherty – author, leader, lecturer, scholar, servant, teacher, theologian. She was the 13th president of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College from 1984 to 1998. Other positions have been as director of the Institute of Religious Formation at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, president of the Indiana Conference of Higher Education, served in Congregation Provincial leadership and national boards of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the Women's College Coalition.

Doherty attended Providence High School in Chicago, where she met the Sisters of Providence. After graduation, she entered the Sisters of Providence novitiate in 1951.

She holds a bachelor's degree in Latin, English and history from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, a Master's degree in Sacred Doctrine from Saint Mary's College and a doctorate in Theology from Fordham University. She also received honorary doctor of letters degrees from Indiana State University and Dominican University. Doherty has studied and lectured in Europe, Asia, Central America, South America and Polynesia and has lectured on various non-Christian religions including Hinduism and Buddhism.

Her passion to help people has always been her central motivation. During the 1950s, Doherty worked with the Friendship House and on Chicago's Skid Row. These experiences of such selfless work honed her character with the polish of reflection and prayer. She worked with the formation of new sisters in her congregation, and in 1964 she was named Mistress of Postulants. In this role, she helped guide the congregation through the transition required for women religious by the Second Vatican Council. In 1982, she was on the steering committee that founded the Women of Providence in Collaboration, an association of religious congregations related to Providence.

Her many accomplishments as president of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College include:

  • A student mothers program
  • An exchange program with Providence University in Taiwan
  • A Women’s Small Business Development Center
  • Founding of the Mari Hulman George School of Equine Studies and
  • The successful completion of a $15M campaign.

She retired as president of the College in 1998. Doherty served as coordinator of the Office of the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin from August 2007 until January 2011 and continues as co-chancellor of the College.

Her own words provide an insight to the strength and grace of this accomplished woman. 

“Please let yourself know as you view your life in retrospect – with whatever distance of years lies behind you – that the reason you are here today, in the place you are in your head and heart – the reason you have not be swallowed up in your own pain and struggle – is because the purposes of God are riding on your existence, the power and the providence of God are riding on your existence. With this knowledge, you cannot fail.”

Dr. Melanie Waller

Dr. Melanie Waller

From east central Illinois, Mary Melanie Waller is the third of four children of the late Mary Nate Martin Ousley class of 1944 and Frank Ousley.

She received her Bachelor of Science, manga cum laude in 1978 from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. In 1982, she received the Doctor of Medicine degree from Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.  While a medical student, she earned her Air Assault wings at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.  Upon graduation, Waller was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.

She completed a surgery internship at Naval Hospital San Diego.  After flight surgery training in Pensacola, Florida she served with the Marine Corps Air Station in Okinawa, Japan as a flight surgeon before returning to San Diego to complete a residency in urology.

After residency, she remained as teaching staff at Naval Hospital San Diego with academic appointments as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at University of California, San Diego and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.  In 1995, she was transferred to the East Coast spending two years at DeWitt Army Community Hospital in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.  In 1998, she was selected as Urologic Consultant to the U.S. Navy Surgeon General a post she held until retiring from the Navy in 2002. Her next duty station was National Naval Medical Center Bethesda, Maryland where she was Chief of Urology and Urologic Consultant to the White House and Congressional Medical office.  Her last duty station in the Navy was Senior Healthcare Policy Analyst at the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in Washington, D.C.

After retirement from the Navy as a Captain, Waller took a year off before returning to private practice in Dallas, Texas.  In 2008, she returned home to practice urology in Illinois. She is also a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. She served on the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Board of Trustees from 2002-2011. 

Waller was elected president of the Illinois Urologic Society in 2014 and serves on the board of directors.  She participated on the crisis in Illinois Rural Healthcare Workforce identifying and addressing the healthcare needs in the medically underserved rural and urban regions in the state. Currently, she is the vice chief of the medical staff at Richland Memorial Hospital in Olney, Ill.  She is the only urologist in a nine county area.

She and her husband, Chris have established a scholarship in memory of their mothers allowing a child in the Holy Cross parish to attend the St. Thomas Catholic school in Newton, Illinois. On their farm north of Noble, Ill., they have established a prairie restoration and a wetland, which they share with their four dogs, several chickens, guineas and honeybees.

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