Inside USD

Sister Sally Furay Exemplifies University’s ‘Spirit’

Friday, February 27, 2009

img_5810Sister Sally Furay spoke at the annual Faculty/Staff Prayer Breakfast about “The Spirit of USD.” Furay, who is deeply connected to the university through her faith and roles as a former student, professor, dean, vice president and provost, exemplifies what she speaks.

“People make it happen,” Furay said yesterday, answering her own question about what shapes a university. “The mission and values are the heart of USD, but it’s not without the students who study here and the people who work here.”

The university, celebrating the 60th anniversary of its 1949 founding this year, was built through the vision of its original architects, Mother Rosalie Hill and Bishop Charles Francis Buddy. Furay, who arrived on campus in 1952, said the university’s culture is “distinctive” and that was “intentional” on the part of Hill.

“She wanted the Spanish architecture. She was criticized for not building in a modern style,” Furay said of Hill. “But it was the 1950s. If we had built it modern it would be outdated,” Furay said. Hill’s vision of continuity remains a staple of all new buildings on campus.

Hill’s philosophy on several components of the university, including its educational focus, truth, goodness and beauty, were all reflections of God, according to Furay. People who attend classes, teach, administrate and the many more who work in various roles on campus “deepen the impact of the organization,” she said. “We all influence the lives of others.”

Furay, who earned a J.D. in 1972 from USD’s School of Law and taught law and English courses at USD, has been an inspiration for many people. She entered the Society of the Sacred Heart in June 1944. Furay earned a master’s degree from the San Francisco College for Women (known now as Lone Mountain College) in 1952 and a doctorate degree in English literature from Stanford University in 1955.

Furay is credited for her work to facilitate the 1972 merging of the San Diego College for Women with the University of San Diego College for Men and School of Law into the collective University of San Diego. She served as USD’s Academic Vice President and Provost for 25 years, coming after administration stints as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and as a department chair. She taught a law course, “Sexual Harassment and the Law,” from 1974 to 1992. She has been active in numerous legal and community service pursuits and has received numerous awards and accolades. In 1994, Furay helped lead the effort for the development of USD’s Trans-Border Institute. The Sister Sally Furay Lecture is an annual event for TBI, which brings greater attention to issues related to the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I’m a big fan of the multiplier effect,” Furay said. “You don’t know if something you do might affect someone else 10 or 20 years later.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

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