University Presents Frank J. O’Hara Alumni Awards


The University of Scranton honored eight individuals with the Frank J. O’Hara Award at the University’s Reunion 2012 O’Hara Award Ceremony.  This year’s recipients are James M. Basta of Tampa, Fla., class of 1961, posthumously received the award for government service; Lee A. DeHihns, III, Esq., of Marietta, Ga., class of 1967, received an award for law; Judith C. Dunn, Esq., of Arlington, Va., class of 1977, received an award for law; Mary Beth Hamorski, V.M.D., of Lebanon, N.J., class of 1982, received an award for medicine; James M. Kane, M.D., of South Barrington, Ill., class of 1946, received an award for medicine; Ellen Duggan Pappert of Plymouth Meeting, class of 1987, received the award for community service; Richard H. Passon, Ph.D., of Waverly, received the award for university service; and Francis G. Tracy of College Park, Md., class of 1952, received the award for education.


      Following his graduation from Scranton, Basta entered the U.S. Army through the ROTC program, in which he was a distinguished military graduate and commissioned as a second lieutenant. After 24 years of active military service, which included tours of duty in Germany and Taiwan and three years in Vietnam, where he flew fixed-wing and helicopter aircraft, he retired as a lieutenant colonel.

      During his career, he was awarded a number of medals, including the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal and Army Commendation Medal.

      Basta settled in Tampa, Fla., where he was part of what eventually would become the Joint Communications Support Element at MacDill Air Force Base. He later worked as a civilian contractor until his retirement in 1999.

      A Tampa resident for more than three decades, Basta was a member of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association of Florida, educating the public, especially children, on aviation and the Vietnam War. He was instrumental in erecting the Vietnam War Memorial at Tampa’s Veterans Memorial Park.

      Basta passed away on April 24, 2012, shortly after accepting the O’Hara Award.


      DeHihns is senior counsel at Alston & Bird, LLP, the largest law firm in Atlanta and the 43rd largest in the nation. He is a member of the firm’s Environmental & Land Development Group and co-chair of the group’s Climate & Sustainability Team. He concentrates on regulatory and defensive litigation matters, including climate change, white-collar criminal defense, air quality and hazardous waste.

      DeHihns was chair of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Section of Environment, Energy and Resources (SEER) and is a SEER delegate to the ABA House of Delegates. For the past six years, he has been recognized as a leading environmental lawyer in “Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business.”

      In 1990, DeHihns joined Alston & Bird after serving four years as the deputy regional administrator of United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Region 4, the agency’s senior career position in the Southeast. His career began with USEPA in 1974, where he rose to the position of associate general counsel. DeHihns received a Senior Executive Service Meritorious Rank Award from President Bush in 1989. He is also on the board of trustees for Marywood University.

      DeHihns received his J.D. from The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law.


      Dunn is the senior vice president and principal deputy general counsel at Fannie Mae, a financial services company that provides working families with access to mortgage credit. She is responsible for the day-to-day management of all aspects of Fannie Mae’s legal department with oversight over all legal matters, including the single-family and multi-family legal groups, litigation, SEC disclosure, mortgage-backed securitization and corporate governance.

      Prior to joining Fannie Mae, Dunn served as deputy chief counsel, operations, for the Internal Revenue Service, where she supervised field attorneys, litigation and a variety of regulatory matters. Dunn also served as deputy tax legislative counsel for regulatory affairs at the U.S. Department of Treasury and was a partner at Ropes & Gray where she practiced tax law.

      An active supporter of Catholic education, Dunn currently serves as vice chair of the board of governors for Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Va. For several years, she was a member of the board of regents for Arlington’s St. Charles School.

      After graduating summa cum laude from Scranton, Dunn received her J.D. from Harvard Law School.

      A native of Scranton, Dunn lives in Arlington.


      Hamorski is co-owner of Califon Animal Hospital, a companion/equine/small ruminant practice in northwest New Jersey. After receiving her undergraduate degree cum laude in biology from Scranton, she attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, graduating in 1986. Dr. Hamorski spends the majority of her time as an ambulatory clinician, offering wellness care, field surgery, digital radiography and ultrasound, endoscopy, and reproduction and neonatal care to her patients.

      Recently honored at the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ annual meeting, she received the Good Works Equitarian award for her 17-year commitment and contributions to Mylestone Equine Rescue, which cares for abused and neglected horses. She has served on its board since its inception.

      Hamorski recently served eight years on the executive board of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association and is president of the New Jersey Association of Equine Practitioners. She enjoys volunteering her time to the Somerset Hills Pony Club and mentoring pre-vet and vet students.

      Hamorski and her family recently opened a 67-acre equestrian facility, Pinnacle Farm of Califon, where they breed and show ponies.


      After graduating from Scranton, Kane obtained his medical degree from Loyola University Medical School of Chicago. He subsequently received a master’s degree in pathology from Northwestern University two years later.

      Following the Korean War, Kane served in the U.S. Navy as a flight surgeon. He later returned to Chicago, completing his residency in general surgery at Cook County Hospital.

      During his 45 years as a surgeon at four Chicago-area hospitals, Kane held several leadership positions, serving as chief of surgery at three hospitals. He is a board-certified surgeon, a fellow of the American College of Surgery, and a founding member of the Bariatric Surgical Association.

      Always an innovator, he embraced practices long before their time, such as early post-operative ambulation and primary colonic reanastomosis for diverticulitis. He learned techniques of laparoscopic surgery at age 65, and continued to practice until age 80.

      Kane is considered a pioneer in bariatric medicine, assisting in the development of various procedures in bariatric surgery that culminated in the current standard laparoscopic gastric bypass. He also developed the Kane Center for bariatric and metabolic surgery.

      A native of Wilkes-Barre, Kane is an avid equestrian, having bred, raised and shown horses.


      While attending Scranton, Pappert majored in business management and served as senior class president. After graduation, she worked in fundraising for Saint Joseph’s University, followed by several years in the municipal bond business in Philadelphia.

      Following her wedding in 1997, Pappert and her husband, Jerry, welcomed a daughter, Mary, in 1999 and a son, George, in 2003. In the summer of 2006, George was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He died 18 months later, just eight days before his fifth birthday.

      During his illness, George received in-home care from a local hospice. After his death, the Papperts learned that pediatric hospice care, which is often three times more expensive than adult hospice care, is sometimes unavailable to families for financial and other reasons. The family also came to understand that fundraising and charitable contributions are primarily directed to finding a cure for terminal illnesses, leaving hospice care often overlooked and underfunded.

      Determined to address what they saw to be a crucial need, the Papperts established The George Fund in 2008 to help families of terminally ill children obtain quality hospice care, including clinical services, medication, creative arts therapies and equipment. To date, The George Fund has raised nearly $600,000, providing care and support for families throughout southeastern Pennsylvania.


      During his more than four decades in Catholic and Jesuit higher education, Passon earned a reputation for promoting excellence both in the classroom and the community.

      Named Scranton’s provost and vice president of academic affairs in 1984, the first provost in the institution’s history, Passon served in that capacity for 15 years, retiring in 2000, though continuing to teach English. His scholarly area of expertise is British literature of the Restoration and 18th century.

      Passon’s tenure was a homecoming for the Hazleton native, having started his academic career as an instructor in English at Scranton in 1964. In 1973, after having attained the rank of professor and chairman of the University’s English Department, Passon was named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. After four years at Creighton, Passon was appointed vice president for academic affairs at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, a post he held for seven years before returning to Scranton.

      Passon received his bachelor’s degree from King’s College, and his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Notre Dame.

      In 2001, Scranton named its chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta, the national honor society for freshmen, in his honor.


      During a four-decade career in education, Tracy rose from a junior high school English and history teacher to a high-ranking administrative position in the 10th largest school system in the country.

      Before his retirement, Tracy served as associate superintendent for supporting services at Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland, where he was responsible for key operational elements for a school system that educated more than 100,000 students each year. In addition, Tracy oversaw the system’s $100 million annual budget and managed several support functions, including transportation, purchasing, property maintenance and food services.

      From 1973-1988, Tracy served as principal at High Point High School in Beltsville, Md., providing leadership for the largest high school in Prince George’s County. He successfully guided the school’s 2,400 students, as well as 130 faculty members. During Tracy’s 15-year tenure, High Point yielded significant annual improvements in Maryland’s functional test scores.

      Earlier in his career, Tracy spent 11 years as a junior high school principal in Bowie, Md., and Hyattsville, Md. His professional achievements included instituting a tutorial program with the University of Maryland and a counseling program for disruptive and emotionally disruptive students.

      Tracy began his teaching career in 1954 as a junior high teacher in Glen Ridge, Md., and later served as the school’s assistant principal.

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