One hundred seventy-four of the 236 eligible students participated in the 30th Commencement to be held by the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg on Saturday, April 28, in Chambers Hall Gymnasium. The ceremony archived live stream of the ceremony is available at www.greensburg.pitt.edu/graduation/live.
Franklin D. Wilson, PhD, assistant professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice received the President’s Medal for Distinguished Service. Wilson also serves as director of the Academic Village and is completing his third term as president of the Senate of the University of Pittsburgh. He is the first regional professor to be elected to the president’s office of the University Senate. He also has served five terms as president of Pitt-Greensburg’s Faculty Senate, helping to facilitate the campus’ progress through changing times. In his 20 years at Pitt-Greensburg, Wilson has been a tireless advocate for students and a passionate supporter of the interests and rights of faculty and staff. He is recognized for his visionary work with the Academic Village, both at its inception and to reconceive it for a changing world. He also is noted for his interdisciplinary teaching that set high standards for collaboration and pedagogical experimentation. His career is highlighted by an ability to bring parties with differing perspectives together for a common purpose and for his enduring impact on the entire university that has been marked by decisive leadership and transformational change.
Jack Ford, award-winning journalist, lawyer, and novelist, was the Commencement speaker. The winner of two Emmy Awards and a George Foster Peabody Award, Ford is currently a host of Metro Focus on PBS (WNET-NY) and most recently a CBS News correspondent for 60 Minutes Sports. He also is the co-founder and chief anchor of the digital network American Ed TV and is a consultant for the NCAA. His work in television journalism earned four National Cable Television Awards, an MCCJ National Headliner Award, and the March of Dimes FDR Award. In addition to his work as a journalist, Ford is a documentary producer, prominent trial attorney, author, and professor.
Also participating in the ceremony were the following dignitaries:
- Sharon P. Smith, PhD, president of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg;
- A. David Tilstone, Pitt-Greensburg Advisory Board chairman of Export, PA;
- Danielle R. McLay ’18, from Greensburg, PA, who is this year’s student speaker;
- Marissa Shaffer ’18, from Clarksburg PA, recipient of the PGAA Student Community Service Award;
- Lawrence J. (Larry) Helkowski ’74 of Irwin, PA, recipient of the PGAA Alumnus of Distinction award;
- Scott Szypulski ’14, of Irwin, PA, recipient of the PGAA Volunteer Excellence Award;
- Matthew Luderer, PhD, associate professor of Chemistry, of Greensburg, PA, recipient of the PGAA Outstanding Faculty Award;
- James Smith, of Greensburg, PA, is president of the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA).
Seventeen students received their diplomas from members of their families who also hold degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt-Greensburg is the only campus in the Pitt system to offer this opportunity to graduates and their families. It was initiated by Dr. Sharon P. Smith, president of Pitt-Greensburg, and is a visual illustration that Pitt-Greensburg graduates join a large “family” of graduates from the many schools and campuses that comprise the University of Pittsburgh. The Legacy Diploma presentations will include:
- Mona Badran, a Management major from Pittsburgh, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by her mother Gail Tucker ’84 (A&S) and her brother Ahmed Badran ’01 (A&S);
- Nicholas Bartus, a Management major from Pittsburgh, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by his father Mark Bartus ’88 (ENG);
- Sairah Chowdhry, a Psychology major from Monroeville, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by her sister Sana Chowdhry ’17 (A&S);
- Alison Dames, a Chemistry major from Oakdale, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by her sisters Amanda Dames ’13 (UPB) and Kayla Dames ’15;
- Rowan (Fiorilli) Davies, a Management Information Systems major from Greensburg, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by her husband John T. Davies III ’81 (ENG);
- Emily Frye, a Management major from Munhall, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by her mother Stephanie Frye ’91 (EDU).
- Amanda Jepsen, a Management major from Irwin, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by her father John Jepsen ’83;
- Courtney Krupa, a Psychology major from Altoona, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by her father John Krupa ’92 (UPJ);
- Breann Moore, a Criminal Justice major from Hunker, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by her brother William Moore ’14.
- Anthony Pacelli, a Management major from Jeannette, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by his father William G. Pacelli ’82 (ENG);
- Alyssa Panza, a Natural Sciences Area major from Cranberry Township, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by her sister Angela Panza ’14 (CBA);
- Michael Parlak, a Criminal Justice major from Connellsville, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by his sister Jennifer Keller-Lott ’98 (UPJ) and his brother Nicholas Keller ’01;
- Amber Schlosnagle, a Management-Accounting major from Somerset, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by her sister Amanda Schlosnagle ’16;
- Marina Shenouda, a Biological Sciences major from Greensburg, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by her mother Heba Shenouda ’93 (UPJ);
- Garret Titus, a Criminal Justice major from Weatherly, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by her brother Joshua Titus, PhD (PHARM) ’13;
- Sylvia Stuart, a Communication major from Harrisburg, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by her father Dr. Charles Stuart;
- Ashleigh Welshons, a Biological Sciences major from Manor, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by her grandfather Domenic Petrarca ’72 (CGS).
Three Green Scholars graduated this year. Green Scholars are students who advance in their understanding of their majors while being paid as research assistants and partnering with faculty members on specific scholarly projects. They include:
Brandin Adams, a biochemistry major from Pittsburgh, PA, partnered with Mark Stauffer, PhD, associate professor of Chemistry, on research analyzing the metal (iron and aluminum) ions in environmental and biological samples of water to determine their effect on both nature and human life.
Brooke Stewart, an English Literature major from Saltsburg, PA, partnered with Elisa Beshero-Bondar, PhD, associate professor of English, on a special project investigating the year 1823 in the Digital Mitford archive by coordinating efforts to revise the text encoding of Mary Russell Mitford’s manuscript letters and working to refine the system used for representing postal marks and identifying hands at work on manuscript pages.
- Jeremy Voich, a Chemistry major from Greensburg, PA, partnered with Matthew Luderer, PhD, associate professor of chemistry, on research showing Trace Metal Concentrations in Twin Lakes (Westmoreland County).
Two DaVinci Scholars graduated this year. These are students who have met the highest standards of scholarship, leadership, community service, and global awareness. They are:
Alyssa Fry, a double major in Secondary Education and English Literature from Irwin, PA;
- Amanda Sepp, a double major in Secondary Education and History from Johnstown, PA.
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) will present the following awards during the breakfast held Saturday morning, prior to Commencement, in the Wagner Dining Hall.
Maggie Kelly is the winner of the most “Pitt Degrees Contest.” Each year, we ask our graduates to tell us how many members of their family have a Pitt degree from any Pitt campus. Kelly had the most this year with three. Her degree will make it a total of four in the family.
Matthew Luderer PhD, of Greensburg, PA, is the recipient of the PGAA Outstanding Faculty Award. An associate professor of Chemistry, he teaches General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry & Laboratory, Chemistry Senior Research, and Techniques of Organic Research. A member of the faculty since 2004, he also has taught Spectroscopy and contributed to the development of the campus’ Chemistry major and minor. Chair of the Chemical Safety and Hygiene Committee, he oversees all safety matters. Students nominating Dr. Luderer for this award consistently mentioned his willingness to help students conquer the course materials by taking them through the concepts step-by-step. His engaging teaching style makes learning fun, and he makes even the most complicated topics easy to understand while further developing the analytical skills of his students. Students also noted how he sees students as individuals who have lives outside of the classroom. A recipient of the Pitt-Greensburg Distinguished Teaching award (2010), Dr. Luderer also received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award (2011). He is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania (BS and MS in Chemistry) and The University of Connecticut (PhD in Chemistry). His current research interests include developing environmentally friendly organic transformations specifically using water as solvent as well as trace metal concentration determination in venison and various fish species.
- Marissa Shaffer ’18 is the recipient of the PGAA Student Community Service Award. The award is presented to Shaffer, a Chemistry major, in recognition of her strong commitment to serving the campus and the community. A Community Assistant (CA) for three years, she received the Programmer of the Year award and the CA of the Year award for her ongoing efforts to help resident students find their niches on campus as well as building community and creatively relieving stress. She also is active in the campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity (HFH) and the Outdoor Adventure & Community Service (OACS) living community. As a participant in HFH Alternative Spring Break, she has logged more than 150 service hours over the past four years serving those less fortunate in other states, while also helping to plan and lead the trips for her fellow students. This past year, she served as the chapter’s president and continued her commitment to local build projects and volunteering at the HFH ReStore on Saturday afternoons. Over the past four years, she also has regularly volunteered at more than 10 service projects, including Pitt-Greensburg Relay for Life, JDRF Walk for a Cure, Pitt-Greensburg Into the Streets, Pitt Make a Difference Day, Feeding the Spirit Soup Kitchen, Westmoreland County Food Bank, and the Westmoreland Humane Society.
The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg was assigned degree-granting status in 1988, making this the 30th year that the campus has held Commencement.
Prior to 1988, students would attend Pitt-Greensburg for two years and then transfer to the Oakland campus (or another degree-granting institution) to complete their degrees. Students who have completed three or more semesters of course work at Pitt-Greensburg are considered alumni of the campus.
Founded in 1963, the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg is a publicly assisted, four-year, liberal arts college in southwestern Pennsylvania. Pitt-Greensburg offers 29 baccalaureate degree programs, including new majors in Nursing, Healthcare Management, Public Policy, and Education, as well as 24 minors and five certificate programs. With nearly 1,500 students, more than 10,000 alumni, and faculty and staff numbering 260, Pitt-Greensburg provides a vibrant, diverse community that is a dynamic model of a 21st century liberal arts education. As part of the University of Pittsburgh system, Pitt-Greensburg offers the resources of a world-renowned university combined with the individualized and immersive experiences of a small liberal arts college. Creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit permeate the campus and extend into its many collaborative projects with the Westmoreland County community. Nestled in Pennsylvania’s beautiful Laurel Highlands, the campus is a five-minute drive from uptown Greensburg’s coffee shops, restaurants, art museums, theatres and boutiques and less than an hour’s drive from Pittsburgh.