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Musician, Rabbi, Former SLU Board Leader to be Honored

An up-and-coming rock star, one of the nation’s first female ordained rabbis, and chair emeritus of the St. Lawrence University Board of Trustees will be among those honored at the University’s 2014 Commencement. 

Students, faculty, staff and guests will hear remarks from honorary degree recipients Grace Potter ’06n of the musical act Grace Potter and the Nocturnals; Susan A. Talve ’75, founding rabbi of the Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis; and Donald K. Rose ’64, who chaired the Board of Trustees from 2008 to 2013, at the ceremony on Sunday, May 18, at 10 a.m. on Creasy Commencement Commons.

Grace Potter ’06n

Grace Potter attended St. Lawrence for two years, arriving on campus already having made a demo record and knowing she wanted a career in music. She performed regularly at the Java Barn and formed her band at the University. Her faculty advisor, she says, told her after her second year that she had “gotten everything you can from this music department for now and from this area.” Discussions with her parents (both St. Lawrence alumni, as are five of her aunts and uncles) and others led to her decision to suspend her education, with every intention of returning to complete her degree.

Despite their popularity, she and her band mates have always remembered St. Lawrence, with Potter often promoting St. Lawrence in national media interviews. They have returned to campus several times to perform, directing management to discount fees for St. Lawrence performances. She and fellow band member Matt Burr ’03, who founded the Nocturnals with Potter and recently married her, have advised the students in the Java House and contributed to the renovation of that space. No other Laurentian has achieved such national visibility at such a young age.

Potter has also shown a commitment to the region in many laudable ways. She works with Green Mountain Coffee, Cabot Cheese and Lake Champlain Chocolates – all promoting responsible local food sourcing. She also works with Sharpie on breast cancer awareness and with Kind snack bars on a project that benefits the Alzheimer's Association. She performed on a VH1 Divas special that raised money and support for returning members of the armed forces. And, just before her most recent St. Lawrence performance, she performed at a benefit for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Potter will be presented with an honorary bachelor of arts degree at Commencement.

Susan Talve ’75

From its beginnings, when its Theological School graduated the first woman to be ordained by a denomination in America, St. Lawrence has sent many alumnae into positions of religious leadership. Susan Talve ’75, a religious studies major, carries forward that tradition as one of the first women in the nation to be ordained a rabbi.

As founding rabbi of the Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis, Talve leads worship services for the several hundred households that comprise her urban congregation and is actively involved in the teaching of young and adult members. She also teaches courses on Jewish life and thought in both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities.

A strong proponent of the principle of tikkun olam (“healing the world”), Talve has led her congregation in promoting inclusivity by developing ongoing relationships with African-American and Muslim congregations and by fostering civil liberties for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered community. She serves on the steering committee of Children of Abraham, a group committed to keeping dialog open between American Jews and Palestinians. Acting upon her passionate beliefs, she has given her time and energy to religious and civic organizations dedicated to reproductive choice, justice, childcare and health care for the inadequately insured. In conjunction with St. Lawrence’s sesquicentennial observances, Talve prepared remarks on her experience at the University as an invited co-presenter of the Siegel Lecture in 2006. She said, “I don't think I would ever have found myself on the path to becoming a rabbi had it not been for St. Lawrence.”

Proud that she chose the path she did, St. Lawrence honored Talve with a 2008 Alumni Citation. In 1992, the Jewish Federation of St. Louis awarded her its first Woman of Valor award. In May 1993, she was given the Trumpet of Justice Award by the Institute of Peace and Justice. Rabbi Talve received the Brotherhood and Sisterhood Award of the National Conference of Community and Justice for the year 2000 and was a 2003 Woman of Achievement.

Talve will be presented with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at Commencement.

Donald K. Rose ’64

After graduating from St. Lawrence with a degree in physics in 1964, “with a few honors here and there,” as Rose modestly says, he earned a doctorate at Stanford University with his thesis focused on microchip superconductivity. This cutting-edge topic propelled him into a career in science research and the management of Intel during an extensive facilities expansion. He holds six patents and is credited with more than 75 publications and presentations to technology, management, industry and government forums.

Rose is perhaps better known on campus for his dedication to students. After retirement, he returned to St. Lawrence as a volunteer faculty member in physics and mathematics and also established four University Fellowships so that science students from his native North Country would have the same opportunities of discovery.

Rose’s tenure as chair of the Board of Trustees focused on his partnership with President William L. Fox ’75 and the University staff for effective and efficient management practices and for improving student experiences. The Board established the Donald K. Rose ’64 Physics Endowment, a fund whose income will be used at the discretion of the Physics Department chair to support research and travel for students and faculty members as well as the purchase of laboratory equipment.

Rose will be presented with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at Commencement.