Mary Kaye Waldron

Award Winner

Dr. John Cawthorne, Lynch School dean wins Waldron award

HeightsIssue date: 4/30/02

More than 100 people gathered to celebrate both the life of a former Boston College student and the accomplishments of a BC faculty member at a banquet held last Monday in the Heights room. Attendees laughed and cried as Dr. John Cawthorne, a dean of the Lynch School of Education, became the seventh recipient of the Mary Kaye Waldron Award. The Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) sponsored the annual ceremony.

The evening began with a reception where punch and hors d’ourves greeted guests. Archana Patel, LSOE ’03, and Orville Thomas, A&S ’03, 2001-02 co-directors of the UGBC’s faculty, administration and student relations department, welcomed everyone to the dinner. They expressed their thanks on behalf of the UGBC to the many people who made the evening possible, including the ODSD, the student selection committee, and the audience.
Following dinner, Mary Kaye Waldron’s father, Jim Waldron, made a few remarks. He asked Thomas and Patel’s committee, his wife Bonnie, and his family to stand and be recognized. Then he acknowledged Dean Cawthorne and his family.

“This evening is truly for the Cawthorne family,” said Waldron.

To give people who had never met his daughter a better sense of who she was, Waldron presented a video slide show produced by 1997’s winner, Dr. Peter Oliveri, which consisted of pictures of Mary Kaye as an infant up to the end of her life.

Mary Kaye Waldron attended BC from September of 1992 until her death just one month before her graduation, in April of 1995. She had been battling cancer since she was 15 years old. While at BC, Waldron was active in the Jenks Leadership Program, the Salt and Light Company, and was manager of the men’s varsity basketball team.

After the video, Patel introduced BC’s Dance Ensemble. Having learned that Mary Kaye’s favorite song was Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer,” the committee asked the ensemble to perform to it.

Dr. David J. McMenamin, director of P.U.L.S.E. and last year’s winner, then gave a speech. He jokingly supposed the reason the previous winner was asked to speak, “was to remind us that we are replaceable.” He noted that Cawthorne’s “caring and concern for other people” was what made him such an excellent choice for this year’s winner.
More of Cawthorne’s personality was revealed in a video that was presented. In it, students and colleagues gave testimonials about Cawthorne. Some mentioned how he goes outside and smokes in order to “get to know the students better.” Many spoke of his affinity for crossword puzzles and almost everyone interviewed praised Cawthorne for attributes like his “genuine concern for students”, “embodiment of the qualities of friendship, service, and compassion,” and “seeing people as people.”

Upon receiving the award, Cawthorne addressed the Waldrons.

“For giving us Mary Kaye, thank you so much,” he said. A beat later he added, “and I really do go outside so I can meet students.”

Cawthorne’s brief acceptance speech was devoted to thanking the BC community for the award and celebrating Mary Kaye Waldron’s joyful, youthful spirit.

“We’re very good at what we do,” said Cawthorne of himself and his co-workers, “but we don’t take ourselves so damn seriously.”

“Learning is a social activity,” he said, “I think that’s what Mary Kaye also understood.” When people understand this process, said Cawthorne, “that makes us all so much better.”

The UGBC established the Mary Kaye Waldron award in 1996. Any BC student may submit a nomination for a member of BC’s faculty. A student selection committee reads the submissions and selects the winner.

Patel was pleased with this year’s winner. “Ask anyone who’s ever met John, and they’ll tell you he’s incredible,” she said.

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