Dr. Lance Marr ‘93, this year’s Alumni Award of Excellence recipient, sees the benefits of his collegiate experience at Western Oregon University on a daily basis. “When I look back at any personal, professional, or family success that I’ve had, I can trace a portion of that success to my time at Western,” he said. “It blessed me with lifelong friends, stimulated my intellectual curiosity, and it also gave me the idea to pursue a career in medicine.”
Marr is a urologist at The Oregon Clinic and his areas of focus include kidney stone disease, several types of cancer, and robotic surgery and minimally invasive surgery. After earning his bachelor’s in biology from WOU he received his medical degree from Oregon Health and Science University.
Looking back on his time at WOU, he found it laid the groundwork for his future. “I almost didn’t apply to medical school for fear that I didn’t belong,” he said. “I found out my Western Oregon education prepared me very well for the rigors of post-graduate life.” Marr added that he wishes he had been more confident as a student. “I think I wasted a lot of time evaluating whether I was good enough. If you have a passion mixed with a minor amount of aptitude, you are going to be successful.”
Marr has advice for current and future WOU students. He has found that the most important thing about his career, and many other life choices, is having an honest self-awareness of what one really enjoys. He believes that is just as important as identifying what one doesn’t enjoy. He also advises students to stay involved with WOU after graduation. “I have had so much enjoyment meeting my friends at a university function or athletic event. I have had further enjoyment by staying in contact with my professors and coaches about current students. Watching these students grow during their years at Western is extremely rewarding,” he said.
A native of Monmouth whose parents are also WOU Alumni, Marr was destined to be involved with campus. He was even WOU’s commencement speaker in 2010. “I obviously never get tired of it,” he said, when talking of his campus involvement. Marr said there are many ways to stay involved and it is just a matter of picking a few areas of interest while a student and maintaining them as an alum. One of those interests for Marr is basketball. While a student at WOU he played on the men’s basketball team. As a child, he was even ball boy for the team. He has continued supporting the team, and WOU athletics, over the years.
A highly involved alumnus, Marr has kept an eye on the major changes on campus–from new buildings like the DeVolder Family Science Center to the new Board of Trustees. He strongly believes the upcoming governance changes provide a tremendous opportunity for the university to grow – be it with more students, increased fundraising, or a more diverse curriculum. “I think the Western community is a great incubator for young people to grow up and mature into the people they want and can be.”