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The O'Keefe Outstanding Volunteer Achievement Award, named for Ruth McGrath O’Keefe ’35, is presented to a dedicated alumna/us for her/his life-long advocacy of Dominican University. The award is presented at Reunion.

Hugh Toner III
2023 O'Keefe Outstanding Volunteer Achievement Award Recipient: Hugh Toner III

Born the oldest of eleven children, Hugh Toner III, grew up in Chicago and was a member of St. Angela’s Parish. Hugh was first introduced to Rosary College as his mother, Maureen Buckley Toner ’54, attended Rosary and would bring Hugh to visit campus as a child. Additionally, two of Hugh’s great aunts were Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters. Hugh was rooted in the Dominican spirit from an early age.

After graduating a year early from Campion High School, Hugh believes it to be an “act of Providence” that brought him to Rosary College in 1975. Hugh often says that he owes all he has accomplished in his life to Rosary College and the Dominican community. After graduating from Rosary in 1979, Hugh went on to law school at Loyola University, graduating in 1983. He later returned to Dominican University to earn his Masters of Business Administration in 1987 and his Masters of Conflict Resolution in 2019. As a triple alumnus of Dominican, Hugh deeply believes that “Caritas Veritas is real”. 

After completing his law degree, Hugh moved to Peoria, Illinois and began working as an Assistant State’s Attorney and became the first Assistant State’s Attorney in Fulton County. Hugh then began a private practice in 1992 and has spent over thirty years involved in the defense of serious crimes where the majority of his clientele are indigent. 

Hugh stills live in Peoria with his wife, Nancy Higgins, a retired speech-language pathologist, and their children: Brigid, a supervising engineer; Caroline, a speech-language pathologist; and Hugh IV ’17 (a Dominican University alumnus) an Assistant Public Defender in Tazewell County.

Previous Recipients of the O'Keefe Outstanding Volunteer Achievement Award

2023: Rosary College Class of 1968
2022: Kathryn Klem Large '71
2021: Class of 1970 Reunion Planning Committee: Karen Hausing Brown, Diane Miller Daly, Brigitte Hillier DePue, Maryalice Maloney Dewbray, Mary Hayes, Margaret Enright Molenda, Mimi Gorak Murray, Jean Rasmussen
2019: Susan Kreuz McCoyd ’69
2018: Carol Anderson Kunze ’68, Marilyn Freehill Jancewicz ’68
2017: Mary Boyle Callow ’67
2015: Cheryl Skender ’80
2013: Susan Flynn ’63
2012: Dorothy Ann Shields De Spain ’52
2011: Anna Marie Garippo Sciaraffa ’49
2010: Sr. Kaye Ashe, OP ’52
2009: Anne and Hugh McElwain
2008: Sherry S. Treston ’72
2007: Kathleen Prunty ’94, MBA ’97
2006: M. Catherine Crowley Ryan ’61
2005: Ann Therese Gorman ’50
2004: Henry W. Wiggins, Jr., MD 
2003: Jean Burke Foran ’47
2002: Carolyn Haddad Lang
2001: Victor Romano, MD, Allan Santos, MBA ’91
2000: Ruth McGrath O’Keefe ’35, Eileen Gomolinski Priest ’68
1998: Mary Swanson Koch ’42
1997: Laura M. Nozicka ’92
1996: Maureen Hayes Philips ’88, Karen Rezabek ’75

To nominate an alumna/us for the O'Keefe Outstanding Volunteer Achievement Award, click the following Nomination form and select “O'Keefe Outstanding Volunteer Achievement Award” in the drop-down menu.

Supplemental materials that cannot be uploaded may be mailed to Office of Alumnae/i Relations, Dominican University, 7900 W. Division Street, River Forest, IL 60305. You can also fax supplemental materials to (708) 366-4197.

Please email the Office of Alumnae/i Relations or call (708) 524-6286 with any questions regarding award nominations.