Distinguished Community Service Award

The Distinguished Community Service Award is presented to a member of the Saint Mary's University Alumni Association who has made an outstanding contribution to their community.

All University employees and members of the Saint Mary's University Alumni Association may submit a one-page letter of recommendation for a candidate, illustrating their suitability for this award. A completed Alumni Awards Nomination Form must accompany the letter.   

Selection Candidates are considered annually by the Saint Mary's University Alumni Association's Awards & Nomination Committee.

TimelineNominations close on June 28, 2019. The award for 2019 is presented during the One World Alumni Gala at Homecoming.

Past Recipients 

2018 Distinguished Community Service Award – James “Skip” Oliver BA'67 LLD'02



Dr. James “Skip” Oliver came to Saint Mary’s University from Philadelphia in 1963 to play for the football team and to get the experience of a Jesuit education. He spent an active four years on campus as a writer for the school newspaper, an editor of the yearbook, Campus Police Chief, Vice-President of the Athletic Association, and Basketball player. He graduated Vice President of the Class in 1967 with a Bachelor of Arts, having earned the Gold, Literary, and Athletic M’s. He was voted Outstanding Student of the Year by the student body.

After graduation, Skip went on to study law at Dalhousie University and furthered his education at the University of San Francisco and Harvard School of Law. He retired as Senior Partner in the civil practice law firm of Oliver & Caiola LLC in Norristown, PA. In 2002, he returned to campus for the University’s 200th anniversary celebration, where he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Skip’s passion for community service has spanned decades, and he has given time and energy to many organizations including the American Cancer Society of Norristown (President, 1971-1985), Board of Commissioners of East Norriton Township (Vice Chairman, 1974-1979), American Red Cross of Central Montgomery County (Disaster Chairman, 1979), Montgomery County Board of Higher Education and Health Authority (1994-2004), Little League Board of Directors, and Grace and Cecil Bean’s Soup Kitchen.

Skip was one of the founding members of the Child Development Center in Montgomery County. The Center began as a place where children with intellectual and physical disabilities could receive hands-on services, care, and support. When state-funded programs began offering these services, the Center became the Child Development Foundation which has donated more than eight million dollars in grants to regional organizations that support children with intellectual and physical disabilities. Skip served as President of the Foundation for 35 years until 2010, when his daughter, Christine Oliver-Weigand, succeeded him as President.

Locally, Skip has been a generous supporter of Hope Cottage and, of course, his beloved Huskies. He doesn’t just cheer from the sidelines. He contributes generously to the football program each year as an Old Dog and to the University.

His honours include the Harry P. Mirabile, Sr. Award from Penn Liberty Bank for Outstanding Community Service, the Dr. Thomas J. Natoli Annual Founder’s Award for service to special needs children, and awards from the American Red Cross of Central Montgomery County, Chapel of Four Chaplains, American Cancer Society, and accolades in the law community.

In his retirement, Skip enjoys travelling, golfing, literature, spending time with grandkids and spending summers at his cottage in Nova Scotia with his wife Judy, who he met at Saint Mary’s. He keeps in touch with many of his lifelong Santamarian friends and often returns to campus for Homecoming celebrations and football games.

  • 2018: James "Skip" Oliver BA'67 LLD'02
  • 2017: Dr. Michael Durland BComm'87 DComm'15 and Catherine Durland BComm'87
  • 2016: Richard Butler BA'69 and Marsha Sobey BEd'82
  • 2015: Cassandra Dorrington and Gerald Walsh
  • 2014: Tom Lee and Claire Miller
  • 2013: Jane Roy
  • 2012: Scott Norton, Fred George and Alex Handyside
  • 2011: David McKeage, Dr. Gerald P. Reardon
  • 2010: Dr. John A. P. Sullivan and Fr. George Leach
  • 2009: Judith Richardson and Wendy Brookhouse
  • 2008: Paul J. Dyer
  • 2005: Carol MacLean & Richard H. “Dick” MacLean
  • 2004: George C. Moffatt
  • 2003: Hector P. Muise and Dr. John C. Young
  • 2002: Angela Vecchio-Ozmon and Kevin Cleary
  • 2001: Allister Byrne
  • 2000 Elizabeth Ozmon & Dr. Kenneth L. Ozmon
  • 1999: Burris Devanney and Terence Donahoe
  • 1998: Paul Goodman
  • 1997: Joseph Bishara
  • 1995-96: Terry Kelly
  • 1993-94: Fred MacGillivray
  • 1992: Karen Henderson
  • 1991: J. Philip Vaughan
  • 1990: Ronald Downie
  • 1989: Paul Gouett
  • 1988: Elizabeth Chard
  • 1986: Harold Beazley
  • 1985: Edmund Morris
  • 1984: Senator Richard Donahoe