May 3, 2011
For more information, contact Bob Luder at 816.501.2434.
KANSAS CITY, Mo - - Jeanne Hamilton Olofson, whose gifts of philanthropy have helped extend the university's mission from endowing student scholarships to beautification of the campus, will be presented a Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL) degree during Avila's 2011 graduation ceremony May 14 at the Independence Events Center in Independence, Mo.
For Olofson, this will complete a "hat trick" of degrees she has received from Avila. She earned a bachelor of arts with a major in communication and a concentration in business in 1992. She completed her master of business administration two years later. This will mark her third degree from the same university, harkening to the analogy of a player in hockey scoring three goals in the same game … the hat trick.
"Jeanne has been a cherished member of the Avila family for nearly two decades," said Ron Slepitza, Ph.D., president, Avila University. "It's because of contributions from alumni like her that we are able to improve the environment, both academically and structurally, for our students here at Avila. We have benefited greatly over the years from Jeanne's generosity, and it's my honor to play a part in giving back to her with this Doctorate of Humane Letters."
Olofson's association with Avila actually began many years before she first attended classes. She used to bring her older son to campus for piano lessons and use the lesson time to go exploring with her younger son, playing ball in the campus quad, coloring in the student lounge and sledding down the hills in winter. Having first experienced Avila as a visitor, Jeanne turned her attention in later years to new opportunities for engagement with the university. When her older son went off to college, Jeanne began working on her bachelor's degree at Avila. By the time her younger son was ready for college, she began her master's degree.
Olofson has made excellent use of her degrees and has lived the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet by serving "the dear neighbor" through community volunteerism. She serves as president of the Tom W. and Jeanne H. Olofson Foundation. And she has been a tremendous asset to Avila, serving on the university's Board of Trustees and formerly participating in the Alumni Association Board and the steering committee for the capital campaign. Her generous gift a few years ago led to construction of the Jeanne Hamilton Olofson Plaza – the J-HOP – which greatly enhances the beauty of Blasco Hall, adding fountains, a brick walkway and modern archway to the building's front. The J-HOP was formally dedicated in November of 2008.
Olofson also has served as a member of the Campaign Steering Committee for Shawnee Mission Medical Center.
"Emerson once said that nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm," said Lou Gehring, executive director, Shawnee Mission Medical Center Foundation. "Jeanne Olofson lives a life full of enthusiasm. She brings an extraordinary level of energy, expertise, caring, compassion and expression to every effort that she is a part of."
Olofson has been part of the Barstow School Board of Trustees, Parent's Association president and annual giving program chairperson. She has served as Board president and director for the Ronald McDonald House, has volunteered for the Board of Trustees at the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago and served as the president and director of the Alameda Towers Condominium Association.
"Once Jeanne is a part of a project or an organization, they become a part of her family in the way of caring, devoting time, energy and guidance," said Bob Hartsook, president of the Hartsook Institutes, chairman of Hartsook Companies Inc. and Avila board of trustee member. "Jeanne's imprint is not just in KC or with Avila, but across the country."
Jeanne and Tom have two sons, Chris and Scott. Married to Zuzana, Scott and his wife have two children, Preston and Ella. The Olofson's split their time among homes in Kansas City, Chicago and Miami. Tom is chairman and chief executive officer of EPIQ Systems Inc., a Kansas City-based technology company that provides services to the legal profession.
Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.