Steve Dustrude '73 at Pacific University for Homecoming 2018.

Alumni Awards | Steve Dustrude ’73

From his first steps away from the farm in little Marcola, Ore., Steve Dustrude ’73 has followed opportunities that became a career and, ultimately, a calling.

Dustrude, who’s being honored with Pacific University’s 2018 Outstanding Alumni Service Award, said his first inclination as a high-schooler was to get away from his home in unincorporated Lane County. That led him to Pacific, which he entered as a freshman in 1969.

“Pacific was a perfect fit for me,” he said. “It was a small school, with small class sizes and excellent professors. That meant you could get a lot of individual attention.”

He started with the idea of being a teacher, but came to recognize that his job prospects would improve if he specialized. So he switched in junior year to the speech pathology program.

A newspaper photo shows Dustrude working with fourth-graders when he was named Springfield's Teacher of the Year in 1996.
A newspaper photo shows Dustrude working with fourth-graders when he was named Springfield’s Teacher of the Year in 1996.

While at Pacific, he was able to compete in baseball and track, and he and a friend ran ticket and concession stands at sports events for a couple of years. But, he said, “I was a student who needed to study hard,” so he devoted most of his undergraduate years to academics.

After graduation, one thing led to another, years became decades, and Dustrude ended up going full circle, spending most of his working career as a teacher and speech-language specialist in the Springfield (Ore.) School District, where he was named Teacher of the Year in 1996.

As a speech and language specialist, he typically worked one-on-one or with small groups of students. That invested him in his students’ success.

“One of my best memories was working with an elementary-age boy who was a stutterer. He was just a great kid,” Dustrude said.

The two worked together from about second grade through fifth, when the boy was promoted to middle school. Dustrude had spent years helping him develop coping strategies, such as loosening his speech muscles for certain words, and anticipate situations when he might lock up when trying to pronounce a word. When the boy finished working with Dustrude, the job was unfinished. He still stuttered at times, and Dustrude felt “I didn’t do enough.”

Dustrude kept up with the boy through his parents, and one day attended an event in which his former student and others came back to the elementary school to tell the students what high school was like.

“He stood in front of two or three hundred kids and delivered a perfectly fluent speech,” Dustrude said. “I was so proud of him.”

He said that that “things finally kicked in” for the boy, who went on to become a coach and athletic director at a Portland-area high school. The two are still friends today.

Along the way, because of Dustrude’s interest and his classification as a special needs teacher, he was increasingly called upon as a teachers’ union representative.

He served as president of the Springfield Education Association from 2000 until he retired in 2006, and was active in the Oregon Education Association, the state’s leading organization for educators. He also was active in the Oregon Speech and Hearing Association, an industry group that shares information and helps train professional speech and hearing specialists.

Steve Dustrude, right, poses with, from left, son-in-law Ryan, daughter Amy, wife Cyndy holding grandson Jackson, daughter Erin and son-in-law Joel, who is holding daughter Amaya.
Steve Dustrude, right,
poses with, from left,
son-in-law Ryan,
daughter Amy, wife Cyndy holding grandson Jackson, daughter Erin and
son-in-law Joel, who is
holding daughter Amaya.

Now he and his wife Cyndy, a 1974 Pacific graduate, live in Springfield, not far from where he grew up. He remains active as a volunteer, giving time to Habitat for Humanity, the Ford Foundation and to Pacific, especially when the university conducts events in the Eugene-Springfield area. He also has served as president of the university’s alumni board and has consistently advocated for the Alumni Legacy Scholarship.

The Alumni Legacy Scholarship, which is given to students who are children or grandchildren of Pacific alumni, is very important to Dustrude. As an alumni board member, he worked to involve other members in the selection process and to offer more scholarships to more students.

During his time as an active leader in the Alumni Association, “Steve has been an incredible supporter in multiple ways, and served as a wonderful model for others,” said Martha Calus-McLain ’03, Pacific’s associate vice president of engagement & operations. “We are truly lucky to count Steve among our alumni.”

Dustrude admits to feeling annoyed when Pacific dropped his speech pathology program. But the program has since been reinstated, and he is enthusiastic. He said the field needs young speech pathology professionals to serve in schools, as he did, and also in hospitals and other settings. And Pacific is producing them again.

Pacific, Dustrude said, has “enriched my life.” It’s done so in personal ways. It’s where he met Cyndy and it’s where his daughter, Erin Dustrude-Lampert ’05, PT ’08, her husband, Joel Lampert ’05, MS ’07, PsyD ’10, and his brother-in-law attended school.

And now it is doing so in a very public way, by honoring him with the 2018 Alumni Service Award.

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