Austin, who is a member of Linfields Board of Trustees, is only the second person to be awarded an honorary bachelors degree in Linfields history. Although Austin did not have the opportunity to attend college, "her life has embodied the principles and spirit of the liberal arts," according to Linfield President Vivian A. Bull, who presented the degree.
Forty years ago, Austin and her husband, Ken, founded A-dec, now the largest private dental equipment manufacturer in the U.S. From the beginning, Austin managed the administrative, personnel, financial and legal areas.
"Her personal approach to these tasks has brought A-dec fame as one of the best places in Oregon to work," Bull said. "The company not only compensates its people well and shares its profits with them, but it encourages them to pursue lifelong learning by providing in-house seminars and paying full tuition for college courses and certification programs."
Mrs. Austin is a philanthropic force in her hometown of Newberg, at Linfield and at Oregon State University. For example, each year A-dec pays for the entire kindergarten through eighth grade classes of Newberg, Dundee and St. Paul public schools to attend a cultural function in Portland and it funds a free local concert by the Oregon Symphony.
She is also active in civic and community affairs beyond the Willamette Valley. She was the first woman appointed to the Oregon Economic Development Commission, served on the advisory council of the Federal Reserve Bank Board in San Francisco and currently serves on The Kennedy Center Presidents Advisory Committee on the Arts.
Opening convocation marks the traditional opening of the school year. Bull, who is beginning her 13th year and final year at Linfield before retiring next June, spoke on "A Case for the Liberal Arts" before nearly 500 students, faculty and staff.