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John Orr

John Orr was one of the first retired faculty to win a Douglas Basil Award for a special research project. He used the Douglas Basil award funds to support his photographic work with the Pasadena Village – a network of retired persons in the Pasadena area who are committed to helping each other stay in their own homes and enjoy a rich cultural/educational/social life together. Orr interviewed and photographed Village members either in their homes or in venues that dramatized aspects of their lives. He believes that viewing the images that illustrate the uniqueness of their own lives affirms the beauty of those lives. 

John Orr, was Professor Emeritus of Religion and Co-founder and Senior Research Fellow at the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture in Dornsife College. He has served as president of the Retired Faculty Association (RFA) and served on the RFA board for several years. Orr received a PhD in Religion from Yale University in 1965 and joined the faculty of USC’s School of Religion in 1967. He served multiple terms as director of the School of Religion. Between 1981 and 1988, he served as dean of the USC Rossier School of Education. After his retirement in 1998, Orr led a sequence of research studies at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture in the area of religion and public life. He received training as an urban documentary photographer and has exhibited his work at a number of Los Angeles area galleries. He was also active as an advocate for people who are experiencing hearing loss. As a member of the Hearing Loss Association of Los Angeles, he collaborated with movie theater chains and large LA performance venues in improving their assistive listening systems. Through USC’s Emeriti Center and Retired Faculty Association, he encouraged USC to expand its support systems for hearing impaired faculty, staff, students, retirees, and visitors. He also served as a member of Pasadena’s Accessibility and Disability Commission.

John Orr was a huge advocate for the university regarding hearing accessibility. In 2013 John was instrumental in bringing the hearing health issue to the attention of the USC Emeriti Center.  He was a great advocate for those dealing with hearing impairment. His research brought many resources together on Friday, April 19, 2013 for the first Healthy Hearing Symposium presented by the USC Emeriti Center, partnering with the House Research Institute, and the USC Davis School of Gerontology. Over 170 attendees heard three panels discuss, each with separate moderators: “Exploring Your Hearing Health,” “Latest Research, Communication and Effective Self-Advocacy”, and “What’s New – Assistive Devices, Technologies, Community Resources”. John Orr was one of several speakers and planners for the event.

John served as the Retired Faculty Association President 2010-2011and was a member of the board for several years.

Photos, left to right:

Marilee Potthoff, House Research Institute, John Orr, RFA Board, and Janette Brown, USC Emeriti Center

Bob Church and John Orr

Emeriti Center Encore Event – Paul Irving, Sue Cook, Marci Alboher, Kate Wilber, John Orr, Helen Dennis, Janette Brown 2013

Natalie Cohen and John Orr