Pastor of L.A.’s First AME Church is Keynote Commencement Speaker at Whittier College

Whittier College News Release

Whittier College
Office of Public Relations
13406 Philadelphia St.
P.O. Box 634
Whittier, CA 90608-0634

May 14, 2004
Reference: 03/04: 53
Contact: Judy Browning at (562) 907-4216

Pastor of L.A.’s First AME Church is Keynote Commencement Speaker at Whittier College

          Dr. Cecil L. “Chip” Murray, distinguished pastor of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles, will be the speaker at Whittier College’s 101st commencement on Friday, May 21, in Memorial Stadium on campus. Ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. Bachelor’s degrees will be awarded to 270 students, and the college will present master’s degrees to 46 candidates.

          Murray will also be awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree, along with Simon A. Levin, the George M. Moffett Professor of Biology at Princeton University; Martin Ortiz ’48, director emeritus of the Center of Mexican American Affairs at Whittier College; and B. LaRae Orullian, corporate leader and past national president and former chair of the Girl Scouts of the USA.

          Murray is the dynamic spiritual leader of the oldest black church in Los Angeles. His ministry reaches beyond the walls of the church with initiatives to address the community’s most pressing needs, including health, substance abuse, homelessness, emergency food and clothing, housing, tutoring, entrepreneurial training, and employment services.

          With an undergraduate degree from Florida A&M University and a doctorate in religion from the School of Theology at Claremont, Murray was assigned to his church in 1977 when it had 300 members. The First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles now has over 17,300 active members.

          Levin is the founding director of the Princeton Environmental Institute. He is a leader in environmental research, and his paper in the journal Ecology, “The problem of pattern and scale of ecology,” was the most cited publication in the field in the 1990s. Recently awarded the prestigious Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Levin is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, as well as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

          The impact of his work has been acknowledged with a MacArthur Award and Distinguished Service Citation, and the Society of Mathematical Biology’s first Okubo Lifetime Achievement Award.

          Ortiz, a 1948 graduate of Whittier, has served the college for more than 40 years. Upon his retirement in 2003, he was honored with the title director emeritus of the Center of Mexican American Affairs. In his role as director, he guided the college careers of thousands of students, many of whom were the first in their families to attend college. The college’s Hispanic alumni association, Alianza de los Amigos, was founded under his leadership, and he helped raise thousands of dollars for scholarships. His commitment contributed significantly to Whittier’s distinction as one of the country’s most diverse national liberal arts colleges.

          Ortiz has been involved with numerous other community organizations, including the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, the LA County Human Relations Committee, and the National Hispanic Task Force of the Social Security Administration.
Orullian is a pioneering banker and volunteer. She served as president and chief executive officer of the Women’s Bank (now Colorado Business Bank), whose mission was to provide women a way to get involved in banking, both as consumers and employees.

          Currently the vice chair of the board of Guaranty Bank, Orullian lends her expertise to several publicly and non-publicly traded companies. Her passion for improving opportunities available to women and girls extended to the top volunteer position with the Girl Scouts in America. She is first vice chair of the World Board of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, based in England.

          Located 18 miles east of Los Angeles, Whittier College is an independent, four-year college offering traditional liberal arts majors and strong pre-professional programs taught in the context of the liberal arts. Whittier Law School, which is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools, is located on a separate campus in Costa Mesa.

Whittier College Office of Communications
13406 Philadelphia » P.O. Box 634 » Whittier, CA 90608-0634
Tel: (562) 907-4213 » Fax: (562) 907-4927