The 2013 Sanctae Crucis Awards

Portrait photography by Brian Smith

One of the hallmarks of the Holy Cross experience is connection: connection to learning and scholarship, to fellow students and faculty and to the world around us. On May 3, the College had a chance to connect with five alumni who embody the best Holy Cross has to offer. In receiving the Sanctae Crucis Award, these men and women accepted the highest non-degree honor that alma mater bestows. They were selected for their outstanding professional accomplishments or extraordinary community service-and for demonstrating devotion to the Holy Cross mission.

Before the evening's dinner was served to the gathered guests, which included Trustees, Advisory Board members, families and friends, College President Rev. Philip Boroughs, S.J., introduced the honorees: Richard Connolly '61, Kara Dallman '87, Peter Deckers, M.D. '62, Mary Cahoon McGinnity '77 and Katherine Volk '00. Fr. Boroughs then acknowledged the 40th anniversary of coeducation at Holy Cross, a milestone that was celebrated throughout the academic year and will wrap up with more events in the fall. "I would like to take this opportunity to recognize women who have served Holy Cross at the very highest levels of leadership," he said, "our devoted alumnae and other leaders who serve on our Board of Trustees and our Advisory Board.

"Our accomplishments over the past four decades-and our dreams and goals for tomorrow-owe so much to these leaders who maintain a deep devotion to our mission," Fr. Boroughs continued. "We are forever in debt to these 'women for others.' "

After a prayer of grace offered by Vice President for Mission Rev. Paul Harman, S.J., Senior Vice President Frank Vellaccio, who chairs the Sanctae Crucis selection committee, gave an etched glass book-shaped award to each of the honorees. Vice President for Academics and Dean of the College Timothy Austin read the citations that celebrated the achievements of the honorees in their various vocations of medicine, public health, military service, philanthropy and education. Connolly, Dallman, Deckers, McGinnity and Volk each took a turn at the podium, sharing words of gratitude and humor.

In this special feature, HCM presents the citations that were read at the dinner, as well as the award winner's responses to a special question posed to them by HCM.  ■

To watch video interviews with the honorees and see photos from the Sanctae Crucis Dinner, please visit


Mary Cahoon McGinnity Class of 1977

HOME   Rockville, Maryland

DEGREES   BA Philosophy, College of the Holy Cross  • MS Pastoral Counseling, Iona College Graduate School

CURRENT POSITION  Executive Director, Ignatian Volunteer Corps • Baltimore, Maryland

FAMILY    Husband, Peter, and children, Matt and Katie

HCM ASKED: Please tell us about a transformative experience you had at Holy Cross.

"For spring break my senior year, about 1o of us drove to Vanceburg, Ky., one of the poorest areas in our country. We worked with migrant farmers there, and truly, I had my eyes opened to what real poverty is. I'd grown up blessed, as many of the students here did. The experience was very moving and motivated me to look into how i could give back. Rev. Bob Manning, S.J., mentioned JVC to me, and that started me on the path of my whole life of service."


Like many Holy Cross graduates before and after her, Mary Cahoon McGinnity entered the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. So began a three-decades long career devoted to the service of faith and the promotion of justice, and to setting new standards for lay leadership in the Catholic Church.

The young philosophy major stayed on after her JVC assignment in Newark, N.J., teaching at Essex Catholic High School and St. Vincent's Academy. Then followed her work as a mental health clinician for underserved populations, She developed and served as Executive Director of a parish-based nonprofit community counseling and mental health center in N.J. She continued her vocation by providing leadership in furthering the social justice outreach of the Catholic Church in faith formation, Catholic social teaching, direct service and advocacy.

As director of the Department for Service and Justice for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., McGinnity developed and oversaw the Leadership Institute for Applied Catholic Social Teaching, a collaboration between the Archdiocese and the Washington Theological Union. She forged a diocese-to-diocese partnership with the Jeremie Diocese of Haiti; was responsible for diocesan advocacy on social policy issues; and directed activities related to Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

Today, she has returned to where her commitment to social justice began, and is leading the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC), a national organization headquartered in Baltimore with 16 regional chapters across the United States. As executive director, she helps provide women and men over the age of 50 with opportunities to serve the needs of people who are poor, to work for a more just society and to grow deeper in Christian faith by reflecting and praying in the Ignatian tradition. She has said that her work allows her to "bring all that I have learned since JVC and to give back so that others might experience the blessings that come from faith in action and in service to people in need."

McGinnity is also co-founder of Rosaria Communities, Inc., providing housing to people with intellectual disabilities, and co-founder and president of Prison Outreach Ministry Inc. We join her husband Peter and their two children in thanking God for McGinnity's gifts, and for allowing all of us to benefit from her exceptional leadership and extraordinary faith life.

Holy Cross presented Mary Cahoon McGinnity '77 the Sanctae Crucis Award for patterning her life to that of Ignatius Loyola, for proceeding in both a pilgrimage and a labor in Christ, for her ceaseless desire to bring men and women to God's reconciliation and the Spirit's love and for her committed care for the poor, the marginalized and the abandoned.   ■



Peter J. Deckers, M.D. Class of 1962

HOME    Avon, Connecticut

DEGREES   BA Mathematics, College of the Holy Cross  •  MD, Boston University School of Medicine   •   DSC, Assumption College

CURRENT POSITION   Dean emeritus of the University of Connecticut's School of Medicine

FAMILY    Wife, Barbara Ann, and children Elizabeth '87, John, Eileen, Charles '91, Peter, Michael and Susan

HCM ASKED  What is the most important lesson for students hoping to become physicians?

"Beyond the knowledge and skills, they need to learn how to communicate. When I was a teenager, I had an opportunity to be a medical assistant at St. Vincent's Hospital. The most important thing I learned was how to talk to patients and their families, and I enjoyed it. Medical students have to be comfortable dealing with people who are hurting. Sometimes we can make patients completely better, sometimes we can't, but we can always make them mentally more secure even if we can't accomplish some physical gain."

As Ignatius Loyola devoted himself to the magis-to seek always the greater-so has Dr. Peter J. Deckers shaped his life as a superb surgeon, an excellent teacher, an accomplished scholarly investigator and an acclaimed academic leader.

Highly respected for his work in breast and gastrointestinal tumor surgery, Deckers is dean emeritus of the University of Connecticut's School of Medicine and former executive vice president of the university's Health Center. During his 15-year tenure as dean, he was responsible for a major transformation at the medical school by supporting the development of a new educational curriculum; by overseeing a dramatic increase in patient care provided by John Dempsey Hospital and the UConn Medical Group; and by spearheading strong growth in public and private research awards to biomedical scientists and clinicians.

Joining the university's Health Center in 1987, he assumed the top administrative position on an interim basis in 1999 and, then, permanently in 2000. At the time, the Health Center was in a period marked by low reimbursement rates from Medicare, Medicaid and health insurers looking to rein in skyrocketing costs. Deckers was instrumental in the lobbying effort that won for the Health Center special financial assistance of $20 million from the state legislature. He then helped engineer the turnaround that achieved $74 million in cost reductions and revenue enhancements; focused resources on areas of excellence; stepped up recruitment of nationally prominent physicians and researchers; and brought more patients to the Health Center.

During his tenure, Deckers was adamant that the Health Center's special strength came from its combined mission of research, education and clinical care-helping propel the School of Dental Medicine to a No. 1 ranking, building new facilities, developing signature programs and nearly doubling research expenditures.

Deckers has published more than 150 scholarly contributions and served as president of the New England Cancer and New England Surgical societies.
A Boston University School of Medicine graduate, he garnered top awards as a student and resident and completed his fellowship training in the surgical branch of the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

Deckers and his wife, Barbara, are parents of seven children, two of whom-Elizabeth '87, a Connecticut physician like her father, and Charles '91-are also Holy Cross graduates. After stepping down from the dean's position in 2008, he has continued to be involved with the University's Health Center, sees patients, teaches and assists with philanthropic and outreach efforts.

Holy Cross presented the Sanctae Crucis Award to Peter J. Deckers '62 for his farsighted leadership, for his contributions to surgical oncology and to the advancement of medical education that will shape the learning and development of new generations of physicians and healers."   ■


Kara C. Dallman  Class of  1987

HOME    Fairfax, Virginia

DEGREES    BA English, College of the Holy Cross  •  MBA, San Diego State University 

CURRENT POSITION    Senior Director for Operations, United Through Reading in San Diego

FAMILY    Husband, Peter, and children Hannah and Drew

HCM ASKED   What advice would you give to a student just starting on the Hill?

"Really take advantage of every opportunity that you can while you're here at Holy Cross. I was fortunate to be able to be an athlete, I was in ROTC, I was an English major, I was a residence assistant-and all of those different interests and experiences really came together in the end to make me a better person upon graduation. There are so many opportunities here."


At Holy Cross, Kara C. Dallman '87 was a scholar (English major in the premed program) and an athlete (varsity volleyball). And she had two other career-shaping experiences as an undergraduate: Dallman received a Navy ROTC scholarship, and she was a resident assistant (RA), first in Beaven, then in Mulledy as head RA. Her experience as a student leader in residence halls, she has said, prepared her to mentor, support and positively influence hundreds of military spouses and families. That, in turn, inspired her current work helping to unite military families through a unique nonprofit called United Through Reading.

After graduation, where she was the recipient of the Rev. Joseph T. O'Callahan, S.J., Award and honored as the Distinguished Military Graduate, Dallman served as an officer and a reservist, distinguishing herself as a leader with every assignment-from undersea surveillance in Bermuda and Hawaii, to teaching in San Diego, to a posting at the NATO base in Naples, as well as Reserve assignments to Bahrain and Singapore-until her retirement as a Commander in 2008.

Juggling assignments, responsibilities and a growing family, Dallman and her husband, Peter, knew firsthand the pressures that dual-career military families face when one parent is deployed. Dallman's work with spouses and families on base increased, and she became more involved with United Through Reading, a nonprofit organization giving deployed service members the opportunity to stay connected to their children through the simple but profound act of reading a storybook aloud on DVD. After volunteering while in Yokosuka, Japan, and co-chairing the organization's Washington, D.C., advisory committee, she became a part-time liaison to the USO in 2006.

With Dallman's involvement, the number of USO host recording sites grew from 40 to 70, and participation resulted in more than 250,000 recordings. Promoted the next year to director of the military program, her team increased the total number of families benefiting by 70 percent; ushered in the largest single donation; forged a cataloging partnership with novelist James Patterson; and created a model for conducting virtual book drives and employee giving campaigns with major donors. Today, United Through Reading benefits more than 325,000 individuals annually.

Now, as the Senior Director for Operations, Dallman leads a team working directly with the Department of Defense service branches, military medical facilities serving Wounded Warriors and program partners like the USO. She also directs volunteers who provide training and support.

Holy Cross presented Kara Dallman '87 with the Sanctae Crucis Award for championing the best quality of life for United States military personnel and their families and for her distinguished service and leadership in building an innovative nonprofit organization.   ■


Next page: Dick Connolly '61 and Katherine Volk '00