2001 Distinguished Alumni Awards

On May 18, 2001, we celebrated our 2014 Arts & Sciences Distinguished Alumni Awards recipients.

Meet The 2001 Recipients

Margaret Bush Wilson

Margaret Bush Wilson’s quest for racial justice and equal opportunity spans nearly 60 years. Her leadership as an attorney and civil rights leader has shaped public policy in institutions across the country. She has been a leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at the local, state and national levels, serving nine terms as chair of its national board of directors, from 1975 to 1984. She was the first woman of color elected to the position.

Ms. Wilson’s commitment to social change is associated with many of the advances in race relations in the 20th century. Her father, with Mrs. Wilson’s aid, was a driving force behind the Shelley vs. Kraemer case, which ultimately led to the 1948 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States outlawing racially-restrictive housing covenants. In the 1960s, the Wilson firm, which she and her late husband Robert established in St. Louis, was in the forefront of lawyers representing civil rights activists Charles and Marian Oldham and others arrested during the demonstrations at Jefferson Bank & Trust Co. Her work also led to the creation of the City’s Land Reutilization Authority in the 1970s, which resolved a long-standing problem regarding titles to tax-delinquent properties.

Ms. Wilson received her bachelor’s degree in economics from Talladega College and her law degree from Lincoln University in Missouri. Washington University conferred an honorary degree on Mrs. Wilson in 1978. After serving on the Washington University Board of Trustees from 1978 to 1987, she is now an emeritus member. She is a charter member of the National Council for Arts & Sciences on which she continues as an active member. Wilson is also a member of the advisory committee for the American Culture Studies Program in Arts & Sciences.

John Michael Clear, AB ’71

As leader of the class and derivative actions client service group for Bryan Cave LLP, John Michael Clear has become a nationally respected attorney handling complex commercial cases. He joined the firm in 1980. In addition to the landmark Interco, Inc., case involving professional malpractice in investment banking, he has served as lead counsel for Edward Jones & Co., Emerson, McDonnell Douglas Corporation, and Stifel Nicolaus & Co., among others. Mr. Clear is admitted to practice in Missouri and the District of Columbia, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States and many federal appeals courts.

Mr. Clear graduated summa cum laude from Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. As a junior, he was asked to sit on a campus judicial panel addressing student expulsions during the Vietnam War protests, a process that led to a reform of the student judicial code. That experience, which involved him with attorneys for the first time, sparked his interest in a law career. He earned his law degree from the University of Chicago in 1974, again graduating with honors.

Mr. Clear has remained actively involved in Washington University since the early 1980s. As a founding member of the National Council for Arts & Sciences, he has served on the council since 1986. Currently he chairs the Dean's Advisory Board, sits on the advisory committee for American Culture Studies, and serves as executive co-chair of his 30th Reunion Committee. In 1990 he and his wife, Marie Bone, established the Clear Family Scholarships to recognize the undergraduate education he and his four younger brothers received from the University.

Doris Graber AB ’41, MA ’42

An internationally respected expert on the role that media play in shaping public perceptions and politics, Dr. Doris Graber remains actively involved in research, public service, editing, and writing. Her early work focused on international law while her most recent published research deals with information processing and the effects of mass media on public opinion and public policy. She has taught at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The author of nearly two dozen books and numerous articles, in just the last year Dr. Graber has published two new books and completed lengthy encyclopedia entries on political psychology and U.S. foreign policy

She has received the 1999 Frank J. Goodnow Award of the American Political Science Association for distinguished service to the profession. In 1996 she was named as the Lombard Distinguished Visiting Professor at Harvard University. She has served as president or vice president of several professional associations, including the International Society of Political Psychology, the Midwest Political Science Association, and the American Political Science Association.

Dr. Graber earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science, with a minor in economics, from Washington University. She holds a doctorate in international law and relations from Columbia University. Dr. Graber and her husband, Tom, support a scholarship and a poetry prize in Arts & Sciences. They also have supported the William Greenleaf Eliot Society since 1987.

Maurice A. Harris, AB ’51

In addition to being the president, CEO and sole share holder of the Dub Harris Corporation, Maurice “Dub” Harris is a decorated United States veteran of two wars. As a volunteer in World War II, he fought in the European theater. Following his service there, he came to Washington University to complete his undergraduate studies, where he also taught in the ROTC program and met his wife, Geraldine. Shortly thereafter, he was enlisted to serve in Korea. On the last day of his tour of duty, he was seriously injured, injuries that required several months of intense rehabilitation.

Following his recovery, Harris began working for a local packaging manufacturer in Los Angeles. As he rose to become president, the company became one of the most successful packaging companies in the world. Current clients include Home Depot, Albertsons and Target.

His pastime passion is boxing. An amateur boxer, Mr. Harris won the Golden Boxing Glove in 1945. He founded the World Boxing Hall of Fame and serves as chairman of the board of the organization. His business successes have allowed him to co-found the Los Angeles Youth Athletic Club, a boxing gym that get kids off the street and teaches them to learn about the importance of fitness.

Throughout the years, Harris has maintained close ties with Washington University. When he lived in Pittsburgh, he was actively involved with the alumni club and promoted the University’s athletics programs. When he moved to Los Angeles, he remained involved with the alumni club by volunteering for University activities there. In addition, he has been a part of the Alumni Board of Governors, regularly contributes to Arts & Sciences, and supports the Department of Athletics.

Marie Prange Oetting, AB ’49

A native St. Louisan, Marie Prange Oetting has enjoyed an active life of volunteerism, contributing to people and institutions of St. Louis. She has worked to benefit the families and elderly of St. Louis and to promote the city’s history and education. She is a member of Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church, having assisted the church on the Adult Education Committee and having served as a Deacon. Oetting also served 12 years on the board of the Charless Home, an organization that provides the elderly with affordable retirement and nursing care. Today, she is actively involved on the boards of trustees of Eden Seminary and the Care and Counseling Center. Oetting is also serving as vice president of the Friends Board of the Missouri Historical Society.

Mrs. Oetting earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from Washington University. While an undergraduate, she was president of the Panhellenic Society, as well as president of the Mortarboard Society, and Homecoming Queen.

Since her graduation, Washington University has benefited from more than 50 years of Oetting’s time and energies. She has chaired each of her class reunions since 1949. For over a decade, she has been overall chair of the undergraduate reunion program. In addition to her work with alumni, she’s been a presence on campus. She served on the Task Force for Student Life Issues, a one- year appointment dedicated to the comprehensive review of student activities, which resulted in the development of the Athletic Complex. A past chair of the Arts & Sciences Eliot Society, Mrs. Oetting currently, serves as vice chair of the Alumni Board of Governors. Oetting also supports an annual scholarship in Arts & Sciences.

Harold Ramis, AB ’66

Noted director, writer, and actor Harold Ramis has been influencing America’s popular culture since co-writing the 1978 script for National Lampoon’s Animal House, much of which he based on his own fraternity days in Zeta Beta Tau. He has since written, produced and directed international blockbusters, including Ghostbusters, Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, and Analyze This. As an actor, he has also appeared in Stripes, Ghostbusters, Baby Boom, Stealing Home, and As Good As It Gets, among others.

After graduating from Washington University with a bachelor’s in English literature, Mr. Ramis got his start in comedy with Chicago’s famed improvisational troupe, The Second City, in 1969. In 1974, he moved to New York to work with fellow Second City alumni John Belushi, Gilda Radner, and Bill Murray. Two years later, he became the head writer and a regular performer on SCTV, Second City’s television series.

Mr. Ramis continues to make time for his alma mater, despite the demands of his career and family. He serves as a member of the Washington University Board of Trustees and chairs the 2001 35th Reunion Committee. In thanks to Washington University for his own full scholarship, Mr. Ramis supports an annual scholarship in Arts & Sciences. He also frequently returns to campus for talks, seminars and special screenings of his films. Mr. Ramis received an honorary degree of Washington University in 1993.

Barbara Schaps Thomas, AB ’76

As the senior vice president and chief financial officer of HBO, Sports Division, Barbara Schaps Thomas has found the opportunity to combine her love of theater with her aptitude for numbers. She credits the confidence, self-esteem and teamwork capabilities she cultivated in her performing arts classes as a factor in her corporate successes. In addition, Mrs. Schaps Thomas constantly relies upon the critical thinking and problem-solving skills she learned in the mathematics, English and foreign language classes she took as an undergraduate at Washington University.

After graduation from the University, followed by a year of graduate studies in acting, Mrs. Schaps Thomas decided she would return to her native Chicago to earn her master’s degree in business administration from Northwestern University. She joined HBO in 1983, and moved to their sports division in 1991.

An active member of the Washington University community, Mrs. Schaps Thomas serves on the Washington University Board of Trustees, the National Council for Arts & Sciences, the Arts & Sciences Campaign Leadership Committee, and as chair of the University’s Public Relations Council, which she chairs. In 1999, she and her husband, David Thomas, established an endowed professorship for the humanities. They also support three endowed and one annual scholarship in Arts & Sciences. The Thomases live with their children Jeremy, 15 and Isabelle, 10, in Manhattan, where they are active supporters of the arts.