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Philanthropy: Exploration the art of giving in America

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Lisa D. Hansen : Honrary Degree

When deciding, who, within my academic field, is the most desirable candidate for a 2007 honorary degree from the University of Southern California many considerations must be observed. Due to the caliber of this award, only the most promising of applicants should be nominated, because the University defines itself through whom they recognize for greatness. As James O. Freedman says, “honorary degrees are, of course, one of the ways in which universities advertise themselves. Most announce the names of their honorands well in advance of commencement, and thereby often generate favorable publicity” (125). In short, the winner of this honorary degree will embody the university through their chosen lifestyle and will be expected to continue success and greatness within their field. As the University's website states, this is "the highest award that the University of Southern California confers" and their objective is to "honor individuals who have distinguished themselves through extraordinary achievements." When the University publicly celebrates an identified member within the community, the two entities become connected, and may be used to define one another. With this in mind, the importance of properly choosing a worthy individual is emphasized.

In Mike W. Martin’s Meaningful Work, he claims personal ideals contribute to choosing a professional career. Because these private ideals motivate professional careers it may be said, if one has a very noble profession, focused upon bettering society through philanthropic giving, they will also possess noble personal ideals. For ideals are the foundations to personality and character, so they will not shift between personal and professional lives. Instead they are a constant determinate in all decision-making, conflicts and conclusions. While understanding the sources of meaning that come from an orthodox career, one may come to appreciate why Lisa D. Hansen has assumed a career as chairmin to a large and prominent southern California based foundation. For, Lisa D. Hansen constitutes all factors required morally and fundamentally to execute her role as the Chair to The Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation. This position within a foundation requires the most output and responsibility. Hansen surely meets the University standards, "to honor alumni who have made outstanding contributions to the welfare and development of USC or the communities in which they are a part of." Hansen's philanthropic work has not only contributed directly to the University, but has had an extended impacted throughout the southern California region. Since The Norris Foundation was established in 1963, it has primarily funded southern California. The Foundation’s community roots, allow for local charities and organizations to benefit primarily. Grants are annually approved for hundreds of local non-profits categorized into five different sections: community, cultural (the arts), youth, medicine and science/education. As Martin explains, "expertise is acquired through higher education and developed throughout a career.
From a young age Hansen was interested in helping her community. She remembers, “in our house volunteering was a common practice. It was the culture and family I grew up with, I ultimately began attending board meetings as a guest in the mid-80’s and my interest and involvement grew from there.” In 1993, Hansen assumed role on the Board of Trustees. This new position allowed her to gain first-hand experience in the form of site-visits, workshops, conferences and quarterly budget proposals and reviews. This activity exposed her to the fundamentals of a foundation; she maintained Trustee status for over a decade. In doing so, she was able to prepare herself for a future profession in philanthropy. Her current role as Chairman, allows for her to oversee all aspects of the Foundation, including overall business practices and keeping the Board informed of all the business on a timely basis.

Even though this foundation has a multi-million dollar annual distribution, it receives more grants than it may fund. This is a difficult moral dilemma to be faced with; one must decide who should receive funding and who should not. Hansen provides insight into this debatable situation, “my role as Chairman did not come with a rulebook, but more with an educated transition as I was a Trustee prior. My role is to implement the mission of our Foundation in all that I do.” Hansen also explained her strive to continually educate herself by attending seminars, conferences and visiting institutions we grant or potential grantees. The board of trustees and chair must review all grant applicants, then research and debate which organizations would be able to use their money most to benefit society. In the end, money is given to hundreds of charities and organizations which delivers a grand sense of accomplishment. However, one may never feel totally satisfied, always remembering those who could not be helped this year. Usually, the chair, who is most responsible for the improvements in society, may also be stuck with a feeling of incompleteness for all those who did not receive funds.

Most established professionals morally benefit from their career, as a nominee for an honorary degree at USC most definitely should. Compensation motives may generally be looked at as self-interest motives, usually incorporating some kind of social rewards. Not to be considered a negative motivation, but more a driving determinate resulting in rewards of recognition, establishment and dominance. However, in the subject of my concentration, laws and humane letters, Martin makes an exception “Compensation motives are not exclusively self-interest. They may be linked to philanthropic desires to obtain resources to help others.” Motives begin to overlap, because Hansen’s has such an admirable position she not only feels jobs satisfaction but also able to enjoy community recognition for accomplishments within the foundation. The social rewards are above average.

Moral concern is associated with how someone lives his or her life. It determines right from wrong and varies among individuals. Morality is a doctrine to life. Moral concern within a profession “involves relationships of trust, confidentiality and caring about clients” (Martin 25). Since, Hansen has been an active member within her community for over a decade, she has formed crucial relationships with organizations and charities. This personal level of interaction gives a greater opportunity to improve. On the Foundation's website, Hansen states, “I am reminded of what has sustained us over these five decades: a fundamental commitment to freedom, compassion, respect and responsibility. We not only believe in these timeless ideals as an entity, but look for them in our grantees.” Philanthropic giving is one of the most rewarding professional careers one may have the opportunity to experience.

As Hansen's admirable reputation proceeds her, Freedman expresses "there are of course risks to colleges in the granting of honorary degrees. Perhaps the greatest risk is that a recipient will turn out, in retrospect, to have been ill-chosen (130)." This condition is unlikely to occur with this candidate because her life has been built around her current position; with experience comes knowledge and reliability. However, concern may arise in one particular area. The honorary degree committee of USC explains the University's desire to "elevate USC in the eyes of the world by honoring those widely known and highly regarded." As I fear, Hansen's reputation is not world renowned and she could not be highly publicized into attracting mass crowds, but her experience and devotion could provide a grand sense of direction for graduating students. If nominated, Hansen could pass forth the need and knowledge for other community leaders, infusing her experience and moral gain. In the end, it is about helping others help themselves, taking the time to develop a humane society. Hansen's rich knowledge and personal demeanor would provide graduating students with a very insightful and inspiring message.

In relationship to the University of Southern California, Hansen’s role must be relevant when qualifying for an honorary degree. Proximity is a key factor. Both institutions grew from southern California soil, and were able to establish a central framework in which to expand. The University of Southern California and The Norris Foundation have paralleling motives. The foundation’s web site defines itself as, “family founded through economic freedom, the Norris Foundation supports programs that advance better health and intellectual enlightenment through education, cultivation of the arts, individual responsibility, freedom and dignity.” The Trojan family also supports programs dealing with social advancement through education, intellect, arts and individual responsibility. One may observe the connecting values in morality shared between the two. After local funding is allocated its progression is able to be monitored to ensure efficiency, contributing to a more productive southern California. USC also maintains a similar stigma written into their mission statement, “the central mission of the University of Southern California is the development of human beings and society… The principal means by which our mission is accomplished are teaching, research, artistic creation, professional practice and selected form of public service.” The university and foundation are aligned upon similar values.

After understanding that personal characteristics contribute significantly to chosen professions, one may conclude that professional careers may distinguish personal morals. As learned through the readings, sources of meaning obtained through career objectives may give an individual a sense of satisfaction. Hansen has made outstanding contributions to the welfare and development of the University of Southern California, and the larger southern California community in which she is an active member. In 2007, the university should rocognize Lisa D. Hansen with an honorary degree, and make a statement to the students and the world about the qualities of character of this extraordinary individual. The nonprofit service organizations form a vital and creative part of our economy in which moral ideals play a prominent role. Hansen has earned and obtained a career that not only brings her job satisfaction, but more importantly she is able to utilize her resources to enrich others within her community. Her outstanding, proficient and selfless work deserves recognition from a University that shares her morals and ideals to enrich through education and knowledge.


At 2:59 PM, Blogger CHIC-HANDSOME said...

good picture


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