Orthopedic Surgeon and Humanitarian Dr. Robert D. Loeffler '70 to Deliver 2018 Muhlenberg College Commencement Address

Dr. Robert D. Loeffler '70 will serve as Commencement speaker and will receive an honorary doctorate. Additional honorary degree recipients include composer Morten Lauridsen, public policy advocate Heather C. McGhee, humanitarian Elissa Montanti and human rights activist, former mayor of Atlanta, GA and United Nations ambassador Andrew Young.

 Thursday, March 22, 2018 00:05 PM

News Image

Muhlenberg's 170th Commencement Ceremony will be held on campus at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, May 18, 2018.

The Honorees

Dr. Robert D. Loeffler ’70

A 1970 graduate of Muhlenberg College with a bachelor of science degree in biology, Dr. Robert D. Loeffler is is an orthopedic surgeon with Doctors Without Borders. He attended Temple Medical School, where he graduated with honors, and completed his residence at The University of Colorado Medical Center.

Loeffler has contributed to humanitarian efforts in natural disaster responses in Haiti and El Salvador and has provided medical care to refugees encamped at the Syrian/Jordanian border.

Prior to his Doctors Without Borders service, Loeffler specialized in sports medicine in both private practice and as head team physician for the University of Denver and professional athletic teams and elite professional athletes across the nation.

For more than 20 years, Loeffler taught in the University of Colorado's orthopedic department, where he served as director of sports medicine. This role included supervision of residents, fellows, students and their research, as well as leading surgical service in his role as team doctor for over 50 University of Colorado sports. He later served as an orthopedic surgeon at Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West, Florida and as surgeon and chief of staff at Fisherman’s Hospital in Marathon, Florida.

Loeffler is a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons, the American Orthopedic Society of Sports Medicine and the Arthroscopy Association of North America.

His surgical expertise has earned national recognition, including four inclusions in U.S. News & World Report’s “The Best Doctors in America Award: Sports Medicine” and two in Denver Magazine’s “Top Sports Medicine Doctor in Denver” lists.

Mr. Morten Lauridsen

Morten Lauridsen is an acclaimed classical composer and professor of composition at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. He graduated from Whitman College before studying composition at USC, where he later founded the school's advanced studies program in film scoring. He performed as composer in residence of the Los Angeles Master Chorale from 1994 to 2001.

Lauridsen is a five-time Grammy nominated musician whose work has been featured on more than 200 CDs. He has held residencies as a guest composer or lecturer at over 100 colleges & universities. His vocal and instrumental works are performed around the world.

In 2006 the National Endowment for the Arts named Lauridsen an "American Chorale Master," and in 2007 he was named a recipient of the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed upon artists and arts patrons by the United States government. In a White House ceremony, President George W. Bush lauded him "for his composition of radiant choral works combining musical beauty, power and spiritual depth that have thrilled audiences worldwide." In 2016, The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers named him a recipient of the "Life in Music" award.

Ms. Heather C. McGhee

Heather C. McGhee is president of Demos, a public policy organization that works to reduce political & economic inequality through original research, advocacy, litigation and strategic communications. She graduated with a bachelor degree in American Studies from Yale University and a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.

McGhee is considered a national thought leader and is a frequent guest on “Meet the Press,” “Real Time with Bill Maher” and “Hardball with Chris Matthews.” She has published opinion columns in The New York Times, The Nation and The Hill.

In 2009, McGhee co-chaired a task force for progressive nonprofit organization Americans for Financial Reform that helped shape key provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. In 2008, she served as Democratic presidential nominee John Edwards’ deputy policy director in charge of domestic and economic policy. She currently serves on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Civic Participation and is a board member for both the Center for Working Families and Consumer Reports.

McGhee has been named one of The Root’s "23 Black Political Pundits You Should Know" and one of Grist’s "50 People You’ll Be Talking about in 2016." She has received New York University’s “McSilver Award for Leaders in the Fight Against Poverty” and Citizen Action of New York’s “Progressive Leadership Award.

Ms. Elissa Montanti

Elissa Montanti is the founder of the nonprofit and nonpartisan Global Medical Relief Fund, whose mission is to aid children who are missing or have lost the use of limbs or eyes, have been severely burned or have been injured through war, natural disaster or illness.

Montanti was first called to action after a meeting with the United Nations Ambassador from Bosnia and reading a letter from a child pleading for help after losing both arms and a leg to a land mine in the Bosnian Civil War. She quickly realized the urgent medical needs of refugee children and began recruiting airlines, hospitals, physicians and prosthetic companies to donate their services.

Her mission became more personal when the letter's author, a young boy named Kenan Malkic, and his mother arrived in the United States and were welcomed into Montanti's home. Their four-month stay and Montanti's advocacy provided Kenan with new prosthetics arms and a prosthetic leg, along with a safer life.

Since its founding in 1997, Global Medical Relief Fund has helped children domestically and from nearly 50 nations and is entirely supported by private donations and grants. Montanti and the organization’s work have been featured in international media, including “People,” “National Geographic,” “Reader's Digest,” “60 Minutes,” “BBC World News,” The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

The Honorable Andrew Young

Andrew Young is a human rights activist, politician, businessman and a professor at Georgia State University's Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.

Young graduated from Howard University with a bachelor's degree in biology and earned his divinity degree from Hartford Theological Seminary. He became pastor of Bethany Congregational Church in Thomasville, Georgia, in 1955, where he became immersed in civil rights and civic engagement.

Young served as a trusted aide to Martin Luther King, Jr. and served as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the church-centered Atlanta-based civil rights organization led by King. Young taught nonviolent protest and organized voter registration and desegregation campaigns across the nation and was with King when he was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968.

Following King's assassination, Young ran for and was elected (and twice re-elected) to Georgia's Fifth District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming one of the first black southerners in Congress in the twentieth century. During his terms he focused on the causes of poor and working-class Americans.

In 1977 President Carter recognized Young’s talents by naming him ambassador to the United Nations. Young made human rights a central focus of American foreign policy, pushing for economic support in developing nations and providing early support for sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa.

In 1981 Young was elected the mayor of Atlanta, succeeding Maynard Jackson, and for the first time a major U.S. city saw transition between African American mayors. In 1985, Young entered a primary bid for Democratic governor of Georgia, and he later served as co-chair of the Atlanta Committee for the 1996 Olympic Games.

Young has been honored by Morehouse College through the naming of the Andrew Young Center for International Studies in March 1998, and he has continued his advocacy work as chair of the Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund, which provides financial services to indigenous small and medium businesses in the Southern African region.


For additional information on Muhlenberg’s 170th Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremonies, visit muhlenberg.edu/commencement.