Pitt-Greensburg Commencement held

The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg held its 29th annual Commencement ceremony on Saturday, April 29. Of the 275 students eligible to graduate, 199 participated in the event held in the Chambers Hall Gymnasium.

Sharon P. Smith, PhD, president of the campus, presided over the festivities that featured Greensburg attorney and Pitt-Greensburg Alumnus of Distinction Barbara J. Christner as the Commencement speaker. Christner ’85 is president and shareholder at Ward & Christner, PC. Roger L. Turocy, from Baden, PA, was the student speaker representative.

J. Wesley Jamison, PhD, past vice president for Academic Affairs and faculty member, received the President’s Medal for Distinguished Service in recognition of his role in shaping the campus over the past 10 years. The award acknowledges Jamison’s leadership and collaboration with faculty that led to the development of 9 new majors over the past 10 years. In addition to the newly announced Nursing major, Pitt-Greensburg has added majors in Biochemistry, Chemistry, Early Childhood Education, Secondary Education, Information Technology, Public Policy, Spanish, and Spanish Education. Under his direction, the total number of majors offered increased to 28.

As part of Pitt-Greensburg’s Legacy Diploma Co-Presentations, 18 students received their diplomas from Dr. Smith and 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. Smith 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 included:

  • Belle Vernon, PA
    • Gabrielle Kohr, a Psychology major from Belle Vernon, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by Taylor Kohr, EDU ’16, ’15.
  • Bethel Park, PA
    • Laura Stefanyak, a Biological Sciences major with a Psychology minor from Bethel Park, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by John Stefanyak, ENGR ’88.
  • Connellsville, PA
    • Michael Jacobyansky, a Chemistry major with a Music minor from Connellsville, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by Frank Jacobyansky, DMD, DEN ’82, and Nancy Bailey Jacobyansky, DMD, DEN ’78.
  • Fayette City, PA
    • Jacob Hartman, a Management-Accounting major from Fayette City, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by Tom Hartman, A&S ’90.
  • Greensburg, PA
    • Matthew Contino, a Management major from Greensburg, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by Bruce Contino, ’12.
    • Gina DelTinto, a Psychology major with a Philosophy minor from Greensburg, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by Lisa DelTinto Gordon, ’92.
    • Jaclyn Johnston, a Management major with an Actuarial Sciences minor from Greensburg, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by Wayne Johnston, ’83.
    • Benjamin Marnell, a History major with an Education minor from Greensburg, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by Marilyn Jane (Rudolph) Marnell, ’84.
    • Sarah SeNay, a Psychology major with minors in Education and Theatre from Greensburg, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by Michelle SeNay, CGS ’88 and Christine Pavone, CGS ’97.
  • Harrison City, PA
    • Tara McLean, a Psychology major from Harrison City, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by Ruth Evelyn Shaner McClean, SOC WK ’95, ’92.
  • Irwin, PA
    • Deisja Hudson-Wallace, a Psychology major with a History minor from Irwin, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by Venatta Wallace, CGS ’08.
  • North Huntingdon, PA
    • Elizabeth Bittner, a Psychology major from North Huntingdon, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by Alex Bittner ’16.
    • Taylor Holmes, a Biological Sciences major from North Huntingdon, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by W. Scott King II, ENGR ’60.
  • Pittsburgh, PA
    • Harry Edmonds, a History major with a Political Science minor from Pittsburgh, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by James N. Edmonds Jr., DMD, DEN ’77, GSPH ’73 and Harriet Edmonds, PhD, EDUC ’93, NURS ’79, ’72.
    • Stephanie Jenkins, an Anthropology major with a Psychology minor from Pittsburgh PA, whose degree will be co-presented by Pastor Cliff Jenkins ’91.
    • Matthew Mudar, a Psychology major from Pittsburgh, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by Dawn R. Landman, PhD, NURS ’08, ’06, and PJ Mudar III, ENGR ’13.
  • Ruffsdale, PA
    • Kendal Fike, a Biological Sciences major with a Chemistry minor from Ruffsdale, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by Catherine Fike, PhD, EDUC ’83.
  • Somerset, PA
    • Sydney Geary, a Biological Sciences major from Somerset, PA, whose degree will be co-presented by Pamela Johnson Geary, ’10, NURS ’96.

Four 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:

  • Adam Balliet, a Natural Sciences Area major from Murrysville, PA, partnered with Olivia Long, PhD, to study the connection between Amyloid-Beta Protein and Alzheimer’s.
  • Stephanie Costabile, an American Studies major from New Kensington, PA, partnered with Jessica Ghilani, PhD, to study J. Walter Thompson Wartime Advertising. They are developing an article length manuscript that examines the history of the US Marine Corps advertisements created by pioneering advertising firm, J. Walter Thompson.
  • Lauren McGuigan, a Communication major from Jeannette, PA, partnered with John Prellwitz, PhD, study the impact of genre, production, and marketing on audience responses to film.
  • Samantha McGuigan, a Communication major from Jeannette, PA, partnered with Anne Czerwinkski, PhD, to study contemporary environmental rhetoric.

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:

  • Katie Byers, a double major in Spanish and Psychology from Pittsburgh, PA;
  • Nichole Johnson, a double major in Psychology and Criminal Justice, from Saltsburg, PA.

The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) will present two awards during the breakfast held in the Wagner Dining Hall prior to Commencement Saturday morning.

Christopher Bartley was the PGAA Outstanding Faculty Award recipient. An instructor of Music, he teaches both Western classical and contemporary popular music and has developed cross-disciplinary curricula for Pitt-Greensburg, including Music and Film, Music and Society, and Music, Culture, and Technology. As the campus’ music director, he directs the Pitt-Greensburg Chorale and Chamber Singers and serves as the music director for campus musical productions, including “Man of La Mancha,” “Urinetown! The Musical,” and “Eleanor—An American Love Story.” Students nominating him for this award described him as passionate about music and willing to help students, both in and out of the classroom. One student noted, “Professor Bartley throws himself into his teaching methods. He is passionate about what he does. When he teaches, he engages his students in the best ways possible. He is inspiring.” A baritone/bass, Bartley actively participates in the wide range of music performances on campus and in the community. His doctoral studies in choral conducting and historical musicology at the University of Arizona have focused on the music of Handel's Messiah and its relationship to the cultural context of its composition. He expects to receive a doctor in musical arts degree in spring 2017.

The PGAA Student Community Service Award was presented to Biological Sciences major Jessica Jaszcar ’17 in recognition of her multi-faceted community service to the campus and community. In addition to serving as a Peer Leader, she served as president of the campus’ Circle K Club and expanded the club’s reach into the community by working with Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Welcome Home Shelter, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (local chapter), and Clelian Heights School for Exceptional Children. The Student Government Association (SGA) presented its “Outstanding Service Project” award to her after she organized the campus’ first-ever Circle K Community Easter Egg Hunt, now in its second year. This spring, she played an instrumental role on the committee implementing Pitt-Greensburg’s own American Cancer Society Relay for Life event, which raised more than $11,000. The recipient of the Kiwanis Club of Greensburg’s 2016 Circle K Award, she also received the SGA Ridilla Leadership Scholarship and the 2016 Dean’s Award for Outstanding Leadership. Her service extends to other campus projects, including the last year’s SPSEA revitalization project at a Jeannette elementary school, as well as being a regular participant in the campus’ “Into the Streets” community service activities.

The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg was assigned degree-granting status in 1988, making this the 29th 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 28 baccalaureate degree programs, including new majors in Biochemistry, Education, Nursing, Public Policy, Spanish, and Spanish Education, as well as 19 minors, and numerous pre-professional options. Sixteen members of the Pitt-Greensburg faculty have received the prestigious University-wide Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award while teaching at Pitt-Greensburg.

Publication Date

Saturday, April 29, 2017 - 3:45pm