A C I F I C L U T H E R A N U N I V E R S
I T Y
U M M E R 2 0 0 2
Commencement speaker M. Roy
Schwarz '59 shares experience and success with friends
By Noreen Hobson '99
M. Roy Schwarz
During his first week at PLU, away
from his 800-person Idaho hometown, M. Roy Schwarz '59 saw a professor
writing free-form on the chalkboard and speaking enthusiastically
about zoology, a subject Schwarz didn't even know existed. He
found another professor teaching history without notes, personally
engaging his students.
"PLU really changed my life," said Schwarz, this year's
While at PLU, he wasn't sure that his grades were good enough,
or that he would be able to excel in medical school, but Schwarz
was compelled by medicine. He wanted to practice and teach it,
and a professor told him he could achieve anything. So he did.
After earning his degree at PLU, Schwarz went on to earn his M.D.
from the University of Washington School of Medicine. He is now
president of the China Medical Board of New York, a private foundation
established to promote high quality, Western medicine in China
and elsewhere in the world. The board has programs in China, Thailand,
Myanmar, Vietnam, Mongolia and Nepal. Schwarz holds professorships
at the universities of Washington, California/San Diego, and Illinois.
Dr. Schwarz initiated and is founding director the WAMI (Washington,
Alaska, Montana and Idaho) Program at the University of Washington,
which provides medical education to three states that have no
During his May 26 commencement address, "China: The Dragon
Awakes," Schwarz referred to Chinese proverbs and spoke about
his knowledge as a scholar, his commitment as a physician and
his caring as a person. It was a lesson for the 575 graduates
about the relationship between China and the U.S. and how much
there is to be learned. "China today is not the China of
tomorrow or next week. China is going through monumental change,"
Schwarz was named an outstanding alumnus in 1969, a distinguished
alumnus in 1979 and received an honorary doctorate of humane letters
at commencement for his contributions to global health. He returns
to PLU frequently, and the university remains an important part
of his life. He describes his experiences and longstanding PLU
relationships as "precious memories and precious people."
He has stayed involved with many alumni activities and served
on the Board of Regents. "The values and things that PLU
stands for are the values that I've decided to stand for."
Schwarz says it's important to give credit to the people who have
shaped his life, and he never forgets people he has seen give
of themselves. In that vein, Schwarz dedicated his address to
close friends from PLU who passed away this year: Phyllis Babcock
'56, Ellen Garrity '56 and Eugene Strandness '50 -people he says
"enriched my life immensely."