USD Magazine, Winter 2004

"Some people might not like chat kind of life," she says, "but I loved meeting new people and learning about new places. I believe chat experience helped me become a quick study, which is a good ching for a university president to be." Lyons returned home for her education, earning a bachelor's degree from Sonoma Scace and a master's from San Jose State before receiving a doctorate in rhetoric from che University of California, Berkeley. She followed her facher into che service, enlisting in the Navy. In 1996, afrer 25 years chat included teach– ing language arts to officers in training and six years as president of che California Maritime Academy, she retired as a captain in che Naval Reserve. Because teaching has been the heart of her career - which has included stints as a college professor, naval officer and university president - Lyons sees educating people about che role USD

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E L plays in the community's For Mary . yons, VSD's Presidency is a Call to Action day-to-day life as the foun-

dation of her agenda. Her

The key to understanding Mary E. Lyons is understanding what it means to work. If there was a silver spoon in her household growing up, it got washed along wich all the ocher dishes. The work ethic of USD's new president - who got her first job at age 9, fixing flat tires in a bike shop, and who earned money in high school by ironing classmates' blouses for a nickel apiece - is che driving force behind che vision chat will shape che future of che university. "My parents taught me that work is more chan a way to make a living, it is che way to make a life," says Lyons, who rook che USD job afrer seven years as chief executive of che College of Sc. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn. "I can barely remember not having a job. Noching good, and certainly nothing great, ever happened because someone was just sitting around." Not surprisingly, it was USD's own work ethic chat most attracted Lyons ro campus. "The ways che Church's social teachings are manifest on chis campus is truly a special ching," she says. "The many ways chis university is involved in direct service co che community - through the college and every professional school, service learn– ing groups, che student and staff organizations - are at che heart of what being a Cacholic university is all about. I want very much co find new ways co encourage and bring chat forward." Lyons has wasted little time on chat mission. Since moving into che president's office in che Hughes Administracion Center in July, Lyons has been on che mocher of all fact-finding rours, immersing herself in USD culture and meeting che students, alumni, faculty and staffwho make up che community. It's a process she knows well. Though a fifrh-generacion Californian, Lyons, tl1e daughter of an Army career man, grew up on milita1y bases chroughout che United Scates and in che African nation of Eritrea. The frequent moves required her co learn quickly about her new surroundings.

eyes fire when asked why someone witl1 no ties co che w1iversity should even care chat it exists. "The biggest misconception I'd like co clarify is chat USD is merely che private school on che hill," she says. "The person who says he has no connection co USD may not realize our educa– tion students are turoring his children in cheir schools, or our nursing students are performing Alzheimer's research chat may help his parent, or chat our entrepreneur- ship clinic is available co give him che informa– tion he needs co grow his business. "Those are just a few

of many examples, and it all goes back co tl1is university's dedication to community service and the original intent of Bishop Buddy and Mocher Hill co put che Church's social teachings into action," Lyons says. ''A lot of good work has been accomplished in tl1at area, and a lot of hard work remains. I'm chrilled tO

have been chosen co lead chis university, and the promise I make co myself is co work as hard as I can co see chat mission is accomplished."


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