exceptional graduates honored at Reunion
President of Bolivia Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, AB'52, and Boston
volunteer extraordinaire Thelma Gruenbaum, AB'52, AM'56, received
the Alumni Association's highest awards.
Alumni Medal is the Alumni Association's highest honor, recognizing
exceptional achievement over an entire career. For Gonzalo
Sanchez de Lozada, AB'52, receiving the Alumni Medal
during a June 2 assembly in Rockefeller Chapel held special meaning.
"I'm delighted to be in Rockefeller Chapel," he confessed,
"because I wasn't here to receive my diploma." After
leaving the College and working in the petroleum industry, Sanchez
de Lozada was elected to Bolivia's Congress in 1979; as president
of the senate and minister of planning, he developed the 1985
economic "shock therapy" program that brought Bolivia's
hyperinflation under control. Elected president in 1993, he implemented
economic, social, and political reforms to promote ecologically
sustainable development. Privatizing the largest state-owned enterprises,
Sanchez de Lozada ensured that each adult citizen received shares
in the new companies, which now distribute a yearly lifetime bonus
to people over age 65.
the ceremony, Paul Boeker, former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia,
praised Sanchez de Lozada. "Brilliantly successful in his
own country, he is universally admired by the leaders of economic
and social reform throughout Latin America and the Caribbean,"
Boeker said. "If there were a free-agency market in presidents,
he would be at least president of Argentina, if not Brazil and
Mexico." Modest about his own accomplishments, Sanchez de
Lozada was quick to praise Chicago, remembering his discovery
of the College: "I was amazed to find at last true freedom-where
there was no pressure to conform and no pressure to be rebellious."
2001 Alumni Service Medal, honoring a lifetime of service to Chicago,
was awarded to Thelma
Gruenbaum, AB'52, AM'56, known to generations of students
and alumni volunteers in Boston through her work with the Alumni
Schools Committee. For nearly 25 years, she has attended countless
college fairs, interviewed prospective students, and taught many
alumni how to be effective volunteers. Her December parties for
students, prospects, and their families are the stuff of local
legend. She also was president of the Alumni Club of Boston, an
Alumni Cabinet officer, and a longtime phonathon volunteer.
Sanchez de Lozada, Gruenbaum was happy to be in Rockefeller, recalling
Robert Hutchins's farewell speech, receiving her degrees, and
witnessing the graduations of her sister and two of her sons.
"And there is one more special memory," she continued,
"meeting my husband, Michael, at a performance of Handel's
Messiah." Gruenbaum ended by encouraging those in
the audience to volunteer for Chicago. "I urge you to follow
in the footsteps of all alumni volunteers who have found their
work helpful to the University and extremely gratifying."