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COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER AND HONORARY DEGREE
David Shribman & Cindy Skrzycki
Journalists and Educators in the Jeffersonian Tradition
Thomas Jefferson argued that two important cornerstones of full citizenship in a democratic society are education and a free press. In a letter to James Madison in 1787, Jefferson wrote, “Above all things I hope the education of the common people will be attended to; convinced that on their good sense we may rely with the most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty.” An educated citizen also requires a free press that man has “open to him all the avenues to truth.” It is for their practice of, and dedication to these Jeffersonian ideals of citizenship that today we recognize David Shribman and Cindy Skrzycki for their many contributions in the fields of journalism and education.
In his letter inviting you both to deliver the Fall 2012 Honors Lecture on “The Hospitality of Writing,” Mount Aloysius President Foley wrote that, “good writing can open up new worlds of ideas, of geography, of feelings.” David Shribman, throughout your journalistic career, you have opened up new worlds for your readers. That career has been marked by a rapid rise to ever more prestigious posts beginning at the city desk at the Buffalo Evening News where you met your wife Cindy, and then moving to cover national politics for The Washington Star, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, and since 2003, as Executive Editor of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. You are a nationally syndicated columnist, a regular panelist on the PBS show, Washington Week in Review, and a frequent analyst on the BBC.
Early in your career, when you were assigned to accompany Pope John Paul II on his first tour of the United States, you were struck by his words to you and your fellow assembled journalists. He said, “You are indeed servants of truth; you are its tireless transmitters, diffusers, defenders. You are dedicated communicators, promoting unity among all nations by sharing truth among all peoples.” This service to the truth became your guiding principle, and for your commitment to the truth, you were awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism in 1995 for your insightful coverage of Washington DC and American politics. Your thoughtful and fair writing stands out today in political and news cultures that too often celebrate stridency and sensationalism—cultures more interested in scoring points than serving the public good. Your writing is analytical and fair, but also explores the human spirit as seen in the celebration of great teachers who touched the lives of many as portrayed in your 2002 book, “I Remember My Teacher,” and your eulogistic remembrance of your father who barely missed seeing his beloved Red Sox win the World Series.
Cindy Skrzycki, in your Honors Lecture at Mount Aloysius, you defined good writing as “so beautiful that students can’t help but fall over the threshold into a subject they never considered reading about.” This characterization describes your writing. The subjects of business and regulation are topics that many find inaccessible, but you take what many find opaque, and explain the importance of these subjects to American life. As was noted in a review by Julian Sanchez of your 2003 book, “The Regulators: Anonymous Power Brokers in American Politics” and your weekly Washington Post column on regulation, you are “a modern day Virgil who has since 1993 guided readers through the dark underworld of Washington’s regulatory process” thus helping readers understand a complex world that you note, “affects every facet of life—from the size of holes in Swiss cheese to how a nutritional supplement is labeled.” Your career has been one of explaining difficult subjects and opening minds throughout your years at The Buffalo Evening News, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, US News & World Report, The Washington Post and The GlobalPost. You also described one of the qualities you look for in a writer as the ability to use words so inviting that they open up worlds long passed or worlds so filled with pain that few dare to visit. Your moving reflection on the shooting at Sandy Hook invited readers to connect with their shared humanity as they mourned the lost innocence of childhood.
In true Jeffersonian fashion, David and Cindy, you aim to offer your readers what you eloquently describe as, “the ultimate kind of freedom: the freedom to think about words, the freedom to let words change our minds.” While the hallmark of your journalistic careers has been educating the public through your written words, you have also both given your time and talents directly to the promotion of higher education in America. David, you have served your alma mater, Dartmouth College, as a trustee, and you currently serve on the selection committee for the Profile in Courage Award for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation. You are also a frequent speaker at numerous colleges and universities across the nation, engaging students to think about national issues and citizenship. Cindy, you too have served your alma mater, Canisius College, as a board member, and are now an award-winning senior lecturer in the English Department at the University of Pittsburgh, passing on your expertise to a new generation of writers in classes such as “Statistics in Journalism,” an eye-opening experience for students on the use and misuse of statistics in science-based news. You insist on the “importance of accuracy, precision, and word choice in writing” while helping students “understand the difficulties of arriving at an accurate version of the truth.”
David Shribman and Cindy Skrzycki, for your outstanding contributions to the fields of journalism and education, your elevation of the national discourse of politics and business, your opening up worlds of thought, feeling and humanity, and your commitment to the Jeffersonian ideals of citizenship, the Board of Mount Aloysius College proudly confers upon you now the degree Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, this Tenth day of May Two Thousand Fourteen.
HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
James Anthony Sharkey
Ambassador Plenipotentiary of Ireland
Ambassador James Sharkey, Ambassador Plenipotentiary of Ireland for 20 of your 40 years of diplomatic service to Ireland, your career spanned four continents and more than a dozen countries, and afforded you a unique opportunity to practice all four Mercy core values—Mercy, Service, Justice and Hospitality.
Mercy — Ambassador Sharkey, you were born in Derry in Northern Ireland, in the tough “Bogside” community. Your mother came from a fishing community in North Donegal where the Irish language and Irish traditions were still strong right into the twentieth century. Your father was a radio officer in the Merchant Navy who was involved during the Second World War in the relief convoys to Soviet Murmansk, part of the allied campaign against Nazi Germany. When you were five, your family moved to a new suburb in Derry where, unusual for the divided cities of Northern Ireland, Catholics and Protestants lived side by side. This helped you better understand the preoccupations of your Protestant neighbors. As a child, you had a well-known penchant for asking difficult questions and that precociousness earned you a place among a “new generation” of the minority Catholic population in Northern Ireland, a generation which benefitted from radical reform of the British education system. That critical reform assured universal access to high school and university for young people of talent.
Your close friends from that “new generation” — Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume, Nobel Prize for Literature winner Seamus Heaney, novelist Seamus Deane, Bishop Edward Daly, musicians Paul Brady and Phil Coulter and many others—joined the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland in the late nineteen sixties. Your active role in that Movement and participation with your brothers in the infamous “Bloody Sunday” march in January 1972—when 13 innocent Catholics were shot dead—made you a lifelong advocate for mercy, for tolerance and for reconciliation between the two communities in Northern Ireland and between Britain and Ireland. You understand the importance of mercy and you have displayed it often in your life since that dreadful day.
Service — Ambassador Sharkey, your first diplomatic service to Ireland was in East-West relations with the famous “Helsinki Process.” You became Ireland’s first official emissary to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics—the USSR—when you opened the first-ever Irish Embassy in Moscow in 1974. You returned to Russia as Ambassador 30 years later and witnessed the extraordinary changes which followed the collapse of the communist system. Your experience in Northern Ireland was an advantage when you were appointed Counselor to the Irish Embassy in Washington during the 1980’s. You worked closely with both President Ronald Reagan and Speaker Tip O’Neill to create the Friends of Ireland, a coalition that promoted peace. This bipartisan coalition joined Democrats Tip O’Neill, Ted Kennedy, and Joe Biden, with Republicans Howard Baker and Bob Michel—all of whom identified with Irish leader John Hume and sought to map a non-violent way forward from Ireland’s “Troubles.” Recognizing your seminal role in harnessing bipartisan goodwill in Washington, Ted Kennedy once referred to you in my presence as “the unofficial 101st member of the United States Senate.” The results were dramatic—first, the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 signed by the British and Irish Prime Ministers, Margaret Thatcher and Garrett Fitzgerald; and later, the landmark Good Friday Agreement of 1998 which forged all of the competing interests in Northern Ireland into a single power-sharing government. You also led major initiatives at each of your other ambassadorial stops including your innovative “Irish dimension” during Australia’s bicentennial year in 1988, your creative work with wife, Sattie and the Emerald Isle Foundation in Japan in the late 1990s, and your ambitious Scandinavian project that launched a Viking longship in 2007—modeled on its Dublin-built ancient ancestor. You clearly understand the importance of service and you embody the concept of the servant-leader.
Justice — One of your last postings—your most personally rewarding—was as Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the 47-country Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Europe’s most important human rights body. As Chairman of the Human Rights Committee, you mobilized member states to undertake needed reform so that the European Court could cope with the explosion of human rights cases following the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Today, the European Court, serving 800 million citizens with the right of individual petition within its jurisdiction, is restructured to better serve as Europe’s human rights watchdog. You understood the need—and you acted when you had the power—to protect the principle and safeguard the possibility of justice.
Hospitality — You championed a personalized style of diplomacy with the minimum of pomp. Your Irish hospitality followed directly in the tradition of Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy and of Mount Aloysius College. Because you harnessed the energy, hospitality and goodwill of Ireland’s overseas communities, John Hume—a member of the Irish, English and European Parliaments—referred to you as “Ireland’s Ambassador ‘Extraordinary’ to the Irish Diaspora.” Perhaps your dear friend Seamus Heaney understood your service best when he wrote this poem about you, titled Alumnus Illustrissimus, on the occasion of your induction as Distinguished Alum of St. Colomb’s, the outstanding secondary school which you attended together.
The words of Ireland’s national poet, about you—
From Washington to far Japan / They honour noble Sharkey-san. / To Muscovites he is the Czar, / The vodka and the caviar. / Ned Kelly to the crowd down under, / To Danes the Thor of strength and thunder. / From Inishowen to Dublin 4, / From Strasbourg to the Sicily shore. / His hospitality and gumption, / His ability to judge and function, / And hold his own in all encounters / With poets, politicians, punters, / Is legendary. We’re proud of him. / He does us proud. / Here’s to you, Jim.
Ambassador James Sharkey, for your “hospitality and gumption” and your “ability to function,” for your pursuit of justice in Strasbourg and Northern Ireland, for your service in Ireland and Washington to the cause of peace, and for your example of core Mount Aloysius values of Mercy, Service, Justice and Hospitality, the Board of Mount Aloysius College proudly confers upon you now the degree Doctor of Social Justice, honoris causa, this Tenth day of May Two Thousand Fourteen.
HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
Artist, Actor, Alumnae, Generous Spirit
If, as Shakespeare tells us, action is eloquence then Michelle McGowan’s life is indeed a most eloquent story. The record of Michelle’s service to the arts and to her community beggars imagination and has left its mark on the lives of tens of thousands. Michelle’s story is the story of a woman so awake to the God of possibilities and to the divine presence found in creative expression and love of neighbor that she is driven to act.
Michelle has devoted her life to the theater, participating in 2,061 stage shows—the equivalent of one show every day over six and a half years. Michelle began in theater over 40 years ago in the inaugural season of the Cresson Lake Playhouse, where she has appeared in 68 productions and worked another 40 as costumer—her other great talent. Michelle also has a 30-year association with the Altoona Community Theater, where she has acted in 120 shows, costumed 176, and directed another 48. To that body of work can be added a dozen productions with the Tyrone Community Theater and three dozen more, over eight years, with the Jennerstown Professional Theater.
In her theater life, Michelle has played nearly as many roles behind the curtain as in front. Not only is she an accomplished director, and one of the region’s top costumers, but Michelle has also served as writer, choreographer, make-up artist, as well as lighting, prop, and set designer. In all these ways Michelle has employed her creative gifts to the joy and wonder of her audiences. And those who know Michelle’s great-spirited generosity will know that there is no theater large enough to contain her passion for sharing life’s possibilities. It is that passion that has made her an important actor outside the theater, in the lives of her neighbors and in the life of the community.
Michelle takes her creative gifts to the community for the benefit of her neighbors by singing with the Altoona and the Johnstown Symphony Choruses and working with area choirs, by running summer theater workshops for children, by offering costuming workshops for local and regional groups, and by visiting area senior centers. For 14 years she has run the children’s performance venue at the Blair County Arts Festival, and conducted fundraising efforts in support of the Children’s Museum of Altoona, the Southern Allegheny Arts Museum, the Hollidaysburg YMCA, local veterans’ organizations, community theaters, and food pantries. For all these community efforts Michelle was honored with the Wise Women of Blair County’s 2007 Arts and Letters award.
Michelle’s passionate faith in possibilities inspires her belief that lives can be transformed not just through the magic of theater but through a loving commitment to neighbors. Michelle was involved in the first Headstart program in Cambria County, taught kindergarten at St. Francis Xavier elementary school in Cresson for 16 years, was a Girl Scout leader, worked with the area’s first Upward Bound program, and served seven years on our Mount Aloysius Alumni Executive Board. Michelle’s work as a volunteer for the non-profit American Rescue Workers led to her present position as the group’s Public Relations Director, promoting their efforts to provide food, clothing, furniture and emergency energy assistance to those in need.
This commitment to the service of others has truly been a hallmark of Michelle’s life and goes back to early days in her family. Michelle’s father died when she was young, leaving her mother to take a job as a second-shift factory worker. This was possible because she trusted Michelle to take care of her siblings. When Michelle graduated from high school, new horizons opened for her when the FBI selected her and two other women to train to be the first female agents in agency history. At the end of an exciting year living and working in Washington, Michelle’s mother died. Michelle gave up her new life, returned home and assumed the role of surrogate mother to her five siblings for the next nine years.
Of course, no telling of Michelle’s life would be complete without mention of the Mount Aloysius Madrigal Christmas Feaste and the 40-year reign of Michelle’s inspired creation, Ladye Misrule; it is appropriately a story about the giving of gifts, a story of one door opening after another has closed. Sister Eric Marie Setlock, RSM the founder of Madrigal and Director of the Music program at the College, heard Michelle singing in the very first production at Cresson Lake Playhouse. She offered Michelle vocal training and music classes; she also arranged for her to enter the College and inspired her to reach beyond her situation. Thus began Michelle’s life-changing collaboration with the woman she considers not simply her mentor but a second mother. And for four decades Michelle has given gifts of her own in return. She has been the heart of the Madrigal since taking the reins from Sister Eric Marie, performing as a singer, a fool, and Ladye Misrule, the mistress of mirth. Behind the scenes she writes and directs the shows and serves as costumer-in-chief. Under Michelle’s leadership the Madrigal has become a signature cultural event in the region.
Let us close with another quote from Shakespeare, one that captures Michelle’s faith in life’s possibilities and describes so well the gift she gives others through her art and service: “Let the coming hour overflow with joy, and let pleasure drown the brim.” Michelle McGowan, for that gift so generously shared, Mount Aloysius College proudly confers upon you now the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, this Tenth day of May Two Thousand and Fourteen.
COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER AND HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
Patricia R. & Daniel M. Rooney
Doctor of Social Justice
In his writings on friendship, Aristotle noted a paradox at the heart of human intimacy: that the private bond between individuals finds perfection only through an outward movement that embraces community. True friends encourage each other in virtue and take pleasure in a shared commitment to the common good. Church teaching affirms that this same movement from intimacy to community is the way of perfection for marriage and family. In the words of the theologian Karl Rahner, marriage is not simply a union of two but “the act in which a ‘we’ is constituted which opens itself lovingly precisely to all…” Thus, in the fullness of marital friendship, spouses see their love as the beginning of love for others—which brings us to you, Patricia Reagan and Daniel Milton Rooney.
Today we celebrate your more than sixty-year partnership—christened in that moment when Dan Rooney set eyes on Patricia Regan across the counter at the Arch Pharmacy in North Side. We hold you up—as a couple—to our graduates as a model of virtuous friendship and of love animated by concern for others. Your affinity for others found its first expression, naturally, in the care of your nine children. In the formation of family, you cultivated those habits of the heart: mutual service; dignity of person; care for the little ones; the sick; the aged; the sharing of goods, of joys and of sorrows that make the family the first school of social life and of deeper humanity.
But more—you understand that family is the beginning of solidarity and not the end. You live the Church tradition that sees families as communities of love with a social mission; and so you continue to expand, in compassionate and sacrificial outreach, the generous relations of the family to ever larger circles of society—from the football team to the local schools, and from there to the fields of music, history, poetry and other cultural and community endeavors.
In your efforts to promote the common good, you have always focused on the defining values of what Pope John Paul II described as “authentic family humanism”: equality, justice, well-being and dignity of person. You have promoted these values in your professional lives as well. In particular, your stewardship of the Pittsburgh Steelers has made it the envy of the professional sports world—precisely because you applied these same first principles of equality and the dignity of the person to that enterprise.
Your outreach to community has been remarkable both for its breadth and for the diversity of causes supported. Your promotion of the common good extends from local and regional efforts to national and international initiatives. You have cooperated in the mission of the Church as generous supporters of the Catholic Charities, the Bishop’s Education Fund, and the Catholic Youth Association. You have aided the vulnerable among us through support for the Salvation Army, the Holy Family Institute, the Mentoring Partnership of Southwest Pennsylvania, and Presbyterian University Hospital and its Rehabilitation Institute. You have been dedicated advocates for education and the arts: serving on the faculty and board of Robert Morris University; creating the Rooney Visiting Fellowships for scholars and the Rooney Prize for Literature; and supporting the International Poetry Forum, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Heinz History Center and the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.
We also honor your efforts to promote peace, reconciliation and economic development in Ireland, home of your ancestors and spiritual home of the Religious Sisters of Mercy. Through the Ireland Fund, which you co-founded, millions of dollars have been raised to promote peace and support culture, education and community development. Your founding of the Newry/Pittsburgh Partnership, your service on the board of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, and the establishment of the Rooney Fellowships for education and career development have all provided additional avenues of economic opportunity in Ireland and new pathways for reconciliation between the Catholic and Protestant communities. Finally, we take delight in welcoming you both back from your just-completed duties as United States Ambassador to Ireland, and we thank you for your stellar service to our country.
Patricia and Daniel Rooney, in gratitude for your virtuous friendship, for your inspiring journey of witness to the ideals of solidarity and social justice, and for the beautiful example you give us of a love expanding to embrace the human family, Mount Aloysius College proudly confers upon you both now the degree of Doctor of Social Justice, honoris causa, this Eleventh day of May Two Thousand and Thirteen.
HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
Shirley Abel Pechter
Doctor of Social Justice
Shirley Abel Pechter’s picture appears in the dictionary after the words “ageless,” indefatigable,” “irrepressible,” “courageous,” and “self-effacing.” She has been described in print as: “generous,” “delightful,” and “dedicated”; as a person “with a unique ability to bring people together”; and as “a true renaissance person.” Shirley’s life is indeed a rich tableau of faith, community, young people and, most of all, family.
Her faith—Shirley has been active her entire life in her synagogue, sitting in the same seat since the age of eight. She is now the oldest member of Temple Beth Israel, a distinction she enjoys as much as she enjoys her ninety-two years of life. Shirley was the first female president in the Temple’s 125-year history. She founded and led its youth mentoring program and is often described as its “surrogate mother.”
Her community—Shirley trained as a classical pianist and has remained devoted to the arts her entire life—in Altoona, where she has served nearly every cultural organization in this region; or in New York City, where she keeps an apartment so that she can participate in the lively arts there, and where, just last year, Shirley won the prestigious Tony award for her role as a producer of Arthur Miller’s seminal play, Death of a Salesman.
Her perpetual youth—Shirley has an uncanny capacity to get young people to open up to her, whether with young artists at the Mishler or with any of the dozens of long-term, one-on-one mentoring relationships she has cultivated over the last five decades through her work with fabulous programs like The Healing Patch. Shirley also has nine grandchildren and numerous “great-grands” and she still talks to three or four of them every day.
As remarkable as Shirley’s attention is to her faith, to her community and to today’s youth, we honor her today for a different set of traits: her indefatigable determination to turn unbearable tragedy into a personal and positive legacy, her capacity to absorb deep personal loss in her own life, and her ability to create a path forward for others who suffer in the same way. Shirley has done this not once but twice in her life.
Shirley and her beloved, late husband Fred lost their courageous ten-year old daughter Melissa to brain cancer. That loss led Shirley to her almost fifty year association with the American Cancer Society. She has chaired the organization and its galas, introduced the Relay for Life to our community, and shepherded the Jail-a-Thon, Rubber Duckie Derby, Daffodil Days and a host of other fun, fundraising events onto the local ACS platform. Whatever and whenever asked, Shirley’s response to their requests is always affirmative—her personal demonstration to all that this is the way to celebrate Melissa’s life.
When Shirley’s daughter Donna and her husband Phil Satow lost their precious son Jed to suicide, they looked to their mother’s example. With Shirley’s help, they created the Jed Foundation. It was while trying to learn more about suicide and make sense of their own unspeakable loss that the Satows discovered an urgent and unmet need for programming and resources that helped colleges, students and parents recognize and address emotional health issues that might lead to suicide.
The Jed Foundation has become, in little over a decade, the leading nonprofit organization addressing issues related to mental health and suicide in the college population. It has received a Peabody Award for its Half of Us Campaign on the MTV College network, and its more recent Love is Louder Campaign partnered with over 750 campuses, touching thousands of young people who suffer the effects of bullying, negative self-image, discrimination, loneliness and depression.
What Donna and Phil and Shirley are doing to honor Jed is so very similar to what Shirley did fifty years ago to honor Melissa—turning the personal grief of one family into a powerful legacy of action and transformation for thousands.
Shirley Pechter’s remarkable energy is born of her joyous passion for life and for others. She has spent her years on this planet giving generously, planning creatively, and believing deeply in God’s goodness and ours. Shirley’s long, steady and often anonymous commitment to the service of others exemplifies well the very mission of Mount Aloysius College: “to put talents and gifts at the service of others, and to assume leadership in the world community.” Therefore, the Board of Trustees of Mount Aloysius College is pleased to present to Shirley Abel Pechter the degree of Doctor of Social Justice, honoris causa, this Eleventh day of May Two Thousand Thirteen.
HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
James J. Walsh
Doctor of Humane Letters
James J. Walsh started his education in the same place as so many Mount Aloysius students—he was the first in his family to attend college. Jim didn’t just attend, he won a scholarship to Brown University. From there, he graduated to a life in the community, spending most of the next decade as a community organizer—not a bad job title, given that it is the same one once held by our nation’s current President. Jim then re-entered higher education as a mature student—another point he has in common with many here at Mount Aloysius College—and received his doctorate from MIT, where he now teaches. He also served as Executive Director of the Managing the Atom project at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and as a visiting scholar at the Center for Global Security Research at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Jim Walsh has become an internationally recognized expert on nuclear weapons, terrorism, negotiation, and media—and is one of only a handful of Americans who has traveled to both North Korea and Iran for discussions on nuclear issues. He has been described as, “one of the world’s top military thinkers.” His analysis of Iranian nuclear activity was cited by the British newspaper The Independent in its yearly list of the world’s “ten best and original ideas.” He regularly provides analysis to senior officers at the Department of Defense and has testified before the United States Senate on Iran and on the issue of nuclear terrorism. Jim is a trusted adviser to decision makers at the highest levels of the United States government.
Jim’s expertise in international relations is highly sought by both the print and broadcast media. He has made nearly one thousand radio and television appearances on outlets as diverse as CBS, CNN, Fox, MSNBC and National Public Radio. His comments and analysis have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Economist, Time, Newsweek, and the Times of London, as well as other international media outlets in more than 30 countries. Dr. Walsh’s recent publications include, “Sanctions Can’t be the Centerpiece,” in the New York Times and “What to do About Iran” with Ambassador Thomas Pickering and General Anthony Zinni in the Chicago Tribune. Jim’s new book, Dangerous Myths: North Korea, the United States, and the Future of Asia, will be published by Yale University Press early next year.
Jim’s scholarship has earned him the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency’s prestigious Hubert Humphrey Fellowship for arms control research. He was named a Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar by the United States Institute for Peace—an annual award given to only ten scholars selected from around the globe. Both awards support those working to save lives by reducing international conflict and the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Without doubt, Jim Walsh has become an expert in his field. But in his soul, Jim is a teacher, someone who believes deeply that ideas, knowledge and understanding can change the world. This explains why Jim travels the country and the globe to speak to audiences on the issues of war and peace—believing that greater understanding of the issues and of one’s adversaries is the way to avoid conflict and nurture peace. Jim’s commitment to educating his fellow citizens has brought him before a wide range of audiences: high school and college students, local clubs and organizations, religious groups, veterans groups, and both military and civilian leaders. Jim Walsh has also lectured here at Mount Aloysius College—delivering this year’s Moral Choices Lecture. We saw, first hand, his impressive skills as a teacher, his interactive style, his flair for storytelling and humor, and his ability to break down complex issues and explain them in terms that all can understand.
Finally, we honor Jim Walsh for being a devoted practitioner of the art of civil discourse—defined as conversation intended to enhance understanding. We prize this art greatly at this College, and see it as essential to the work of higher education and to the success of our democracy. Whether debating ideas in the public square or negotiating with our adversaries, Jim, in the best tradition of diplomacy, first listens and then speaks. He engages his intellectual and diplomatic counterparts with respect, which he describes as the sincere effort to understand how they see the world. Jim has demonstrated that the proper regard for the humanity of one’s opponents promotes the civil discourse that makes possible productive dialogue.
In recognition of his scholarly and real world contributions to promoting peace and improving international relations, for his commitment to strengthening democracy through the education of his fellow citizens, and for his example of the practice and benefit of civil discourse, the Board of Trustees of Mount Aloysius College is pleased to present to James J. Walsh the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, this Eleventh day of May Two Thousand Thirteen.
COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER AND HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
D. Brooks Smith
Doctor of Humane Letters
D. Brooks Smith, this year marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of your career in public service. We are delighted to honor you on this occasion and to celebrate your remarkable record of achievement in service to the law and to your fellow citizens.
Your public service began in 1977—shortly after you earned your Juris Doctor from the Dickinson School of Law—when you were appointed Assistant District Attorney for Blair County, Pennsylvania. Later, while maintaining a private practice, you served the Commonwealth as Special Assistant Attorney General and continued to serve Blair County as Special Prosecutor for the Investigating Grand Jury on Organized Crime and subsequently, as the county’s elected District Attorney. In 1984, Governor Richard Thornburgh called you to the bench to fill a vacancy on the Blair County Court of Common Pleas, thus launching your long and distinguished career as a jurist.
Your rapid rise in the legal profession continued when President Ronald Reagan appointed you to the United States District Court for Western Pennsylvania, making you, at age thirty-six, one of the youngest judges ever appointed to the federal bench. In 2002, President George W. Bush nominated you and the United States Senate confirmed you to serve on the second-highest court in the land, the United States Court of Appeals, where you serve today. Your rapid ascent to the appellate court stems from your personal and professional qualities, qualities often cited for a model jurist. You have been an exemplar of fair-mindedness and ethical devotion to the law, collegiality, and personal integrity of the highest order. For this, you are well liked and well regarded by your peers. In the words of your colleague on the court, Judge Marjorie Rendell, “Brooks Smith is the consummate judge. To say he is fair- minded would be an understatement. He considers every aspect of an issue in a thoughtful manner, striving always to ‘get it right.’ As a colleague, no one is thought of more highly on our court than Brooks–he is considerate, humble of spirit and a true friend.”
Judge Smith, your professional contributions extend beyond your work from the bench. You have served on more than fifteen oversight commissions, boards, and committees dealing with the rules and practices of the judiciary and the legal profession in general. You have written frequently for law reviews and legal journals on topics that include the separation of powers, federalism, and the rule of law; and you speak frequently at legal conferences across the country. Perhaps the most extraordinary of all your efforts off the bench has been your role as a judicial ambassador. You have traveled to fourteen countries including Turkey, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Bulgaria, and the Philippines as part of democracy building programs sponsored by the U.S. departments of Justice and State, the European Community, United States Agency for International Development, and the American Bar Association. Through your presentations on judicial ethics and human rights and your work on judicial training and assessment, you have been a champion of democratic ideals and the rule of law.
Finally, Judge Smith, no recitation of your achievements would be complete without citing the personal dimension of your public service, that is to say, your outstanding record of community service—especially to higher education. In spite of the duties and demands of your professional life you have served a remarkable twenty-two years as a trustee to three area institutions: as a member of the Board of Counselors for the Penn State University Dickinson School of Law, on the Board of Trustees of Saint Francis University, and most recently on the Mount Aloysius College Board of Trustees. Other important cultural and non-profit organizations, including the Altoona Area Public Library, the Blair County Historical Society, the Altoona Symphony, the YMCA of Pennsylvania, and Salvation Army, have also benefited from your generous commitment to the culture and commonweal of your hometown.
D. Brooks Smith, dedicated trustee, model jurist, devoted public servant, and global advocate for democracy and the rule of law, Mount Aloysius College now proudly confers upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, this fifth day of May two thousand and twelve.
HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
Patricia A. McGuire
Doctor of Humane Letters
Patricia Ann McGuire, on a May commencement day in 1974 you sat among your sister graduates of Trinity College little suspecting that just fifteen years later your alma mater would ask you to return to the campus, assume the presidency, and save the institution.
Like many historic women’s colleges, Trinity’s prospects declined as the co-educational movement of the second half of the last century advanced. As all-male universities opened their doors to women, the competition for students increased and Trinity’s enrollment steadily declined. At its nadir in the late 1980’s, with only three hundred students enrolled, the future of Trinity College was in serious doubt.
That was the daunting reality you faced as you began your presidency at just thirty-six. You saw immediately that only revolutionary change would save the school, and so you led that revolution. You proposed that the old, untenable model of a regional college serving middle- and upper-class women be replaced. The Trinity College you once described as “remote from the city behind gates and fences,” would open itself in mission to its neighbors, the minority women of the District of Columbia. For all the revolutionary feel of that decision, it was a return to Trinity’s founding principle and historic roots. Trinity was founded in 1897 by the Sisters of Notre Dame to provide education to an undeserved group—women barred from Catholic higher education. You restored this mission, ministering to a new underserved population, the low-income black and Hispanic women of urban Washington, D.C
Twenty-three years into your presidency, the story of the transformation of Trinity College is legendary. Today, the student population is the largest in the school’s history, ninety percent of whom are minority women. Extensive partnerships with local groups and the D.C. public schools have made Trinity an important agent for change in the local community. The twenty million dollar Trinity Center for Women and Girls in Sports is the nation’s largest athletic complex dedicated to women and girls. The expansion and improvement of academic programs led to a reorganization of the college into four schools: the historic Women’s College of Arts and Sciences, and the schools of Education, Professional Studies, and Nursing and Health Professions. In 2004, these changes culminated in the transformation of the college into Trinity Washington University. You not only turned a failing college into a thriving university, you created a new national model of a private, urban university in service to its local community.
President McGuire, your influence extends well beyond the Trinity campus. As a recognized leader among your fellow college presidents, you have served on many of the major governing bodies of higher education, including the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the American Council on Education, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. Such is the regard for your leadership, that the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities awarded you their 2012 Paley Award for service to higher education, a rare instance of the award being given to a sitting college president. You have also maintained a robust engagement as a public intellectual. Through frequent testimony before the Congress, countless speeches, opinion pieces in leading print journals, service on numerous corporate, governmental, and non-profit boards, and your popular Washington Post blog on leadership, your ideas and influence have spread beyond the world of education and earned you a spot on the list of Washington’s 150 Most Powerful People.
Great leadership requires vision, and vision is founded on principle. The power of your leadership comes from your deep commitment to the gospel principle of social justice, as reflected in the causes that you have championed: educational access for all, economic justice, civil rights, human dignity, and our responsibility to one another and to the common good. In this, you have been faithful to the American educator John Gardner’s dictum that: “the first and last task of a leader is to keep hope alive…the hope that we can find our way through to a better world.”
Patricia McGuire for your inspiring leadership in higher education, your outstanding contributions to American life, and your gift of hope, Mount Aloysius College now proudly confers upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, this fifth day of May two thousand and twelve.
HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
John M. & Genevieve M. Calandra
Doctors of Social Justice
John and Genevieve Calandra, as part of each commencement, Mount Aloysius College honors an individual who has demonstrated a life-long commitment to our local community consistent with the values of Catherine McAuley and the Religious Sisters of Mercy. In so doing, the College presents a model to our graduates of service informed and inspired by faith. It is with great pleasure this year that we honor you together, a couple presenting a compelling example of a partnership in faith–an active faith lived generously in service to others.
Your partnership dates back to your time as high school sweethearts. As you fulfilled your Christian vocation to “increase in wisdomand… and in favor with God and man,” you did so together. In your married life, you have truly “rowed the boat together” and you have navigated that boat by certain fixed stars. For you Jack, there were the examples of your immigrant father who had the faith to brave the unknown in hope of a better life; and his friend and your mentor, Bob Seese, a Navy man whose personal and professional qualities you so admired. For you, Genevieve, there was the example of your mother, Marie Hart, a life-long teacher and educator—as successful as she was beloved—a pioneering professional woman who rose to become a principal in the Cresson schools.
Pulling together has made your journey easier and brought blessings to your family life and professional pursuits. Jack, after attending the University of Pennsylvania on scholarship—where you succeeded in academics, athletics, and as president of your fraternity— you returned to run the family business. You built on your father’s legacy and, over time, grew the business exponentially. Always an economic and employment engine for the region, under your guidance the business has expanded beyond steel and machining into trucking, civil construction, and support industries for mining that include tunneling and the manufacture of fasteners and roof support systems. Today the family business has a global reach with operations as far away as Australia and China. It is a story of extraordinary business success. Your partnership of faith and shared sacrifice has meant blessings for your family as well. Together you have nurtured and raised six children and seen them through to successful careers in the fields of health, business, psychology, and military service.
In his encyclical Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II, spoke of the four dimensions of marriage. The first two, serving life and the forming of a community of persons, refer to the personal realm. The Church in its understanding of the sacramental nature of marriage sees it as integrally bound to community and so calls for a movement beyond the personal to a participation in the development of society and to a sharing in the life and mission of the Church. It is these last two aspects that we especially wish to honor today.
As a couple, you are known throughout central Pennsylvania for your philanthropic support of non-profit groups dedicated to enhancing life, protecting lives and promoting wellbeing. A hallmark of your generosity is the quiet, often anonymous, way in which you carried it out. A sample of local groups and projects you have supported includes the fire company, the ambulance service, food pantry, canine unit, Veteran’s and Children’s Parks, and even the local golf course. Jack, you have also devoted three decades of service to the Naval Academy Foundation and its mission to enhance the Academy’s programs in academics, athletics and leadership and to advance the admission of highly qualified candidates. In this last regard, you have personally guided dozens of young aspirants on their way to the Academy and to careers in the United States Navy.
Your commitment to community has been matched by your devotion to the life and mission of the Church. Genevieve you have served the church selflessly through your leadership in the Legion of Mary and your charism of visiting the sick as a Eucharistic minister. Like the good wife of Proverbs, you have reached out your hand to the needy…and the teaching of kindness has been upon your tongue. As a couple, your quiet generosity has meant much to the local church in general and to its educational mission in particular. You have been faithful benefactors to all our local Catholic high schools and colleges.
John and Genevieve Calandra inspired by your witness of faith, humbled by your generosity of spirit, and grateful for your life-long commitment to our local community, Mount Aloysius College proudly confers upon you now the degree Doctor of Social Justice, honoris causa, this fifth day of May two thousand and twelve.
COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER AND HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
Rev. William J. Byron, S.J.
Former President of Loyola University, University of Scranton, and The Catholic University of America
Fr. Byron, you were ordained a Jesuit priest in 1961 at Woodstock College in Maryland. Today, fifty years later, we are honored and delighted to join with you in the celebration of the Golden Jubilee year of your priesthood. Looking back, and simply stated, Fr. Byron, it’s been a busy half-century. Those years are a chronicle of great acts of service and notable achievements—such, perhaps, as you could have scarcely imagined when you stepped out into the world a newly minted priest.
In the years immediately after your ordination, you continued your studies and received your Doctorate in Economics from the University of Maryland. You soon began your career in academia which saw you rise to serve as president of three of our nation’s premier Catholic universities and be honored by both the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and by the Council of Independent Colleges with their top awards for outstanding leadership in higher education. You also served as a pastor and professor, as a trustee on countless boards, as a frequent keynote speaker at national and international conferences, and as presidential appointee on governmental commissions deciding important national policy. And somehow you also managed to be a prolific writer—writing fifteen books, scores of magazine, newspaper, and journal articles, as well as penning a nationally syndicated column for the Catholic News Service. Fr. Byron, your achievements are indeed many and varied but they have a single source which we also honor today, which is your passionate and unflagging commitment to social justice. You heard the great modern Jesuit leader Pedro Arrupe’s stark challenge: “love of God that does not issue in justice for men is a farce,” and his words found a home in your heart. You responded with a lifelong commitment to the service of faith through the pursuit of justice and of solidarity with those in need. This commitment often required you to enter the public arena in defense of human dignity and the common good.
As President of Loyola University of New Orleans, the University of Scranton, and The Catholic University of America, you championed the conception of higher education as “the pursuit of knowledge in service to the world,” and you challenged students to take responsibility for the life of society by releasing their unique human potential for the benefit of others.
As the Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Ethics at the Georgetown University and as University Professor of Business and Society at St. Joseph’s University you have been dedicated to educating students to become ethical executives and have urged the creation of a new corporate culture that enhances human life and advances the interests of all.
As a founder and past chair of the advocacy group Bread for the World, you fought to end hunger at home and abroad.
As a founding board member of the Corporation for National and Community Service you helped create the federal agency that today engages over five million Americans in volunteer service.
As an economist you aided efforts to revitalize economically distressed areas, shone a spotlight on the unemployed and marginalized, helped to fund community projects in the developing world, and worked to improve national standards for healthcare providers.
As an author you are an evangelist for the rich tradition of Catholic teaching on social justice. You write in defense of the poor, the ill, and the elderly. You argue against violence and torture, and against economic injustice. In your spiritual writings you offered encouragement to those on the journey of faith, and consolation to those in spiritual need.
Fr. Byron, you once told an international gathering that, “Life is only lived well when it is lived generously in the service of others.” That is a principle you not only taught, but one you modeled over a lifetime. And so, in tribute to a life well lived, it is with great pride that Mt. Aloysius College confers upon the Reverend William J. Byron of the Society of Jesus, the degree Doctor of Social Justice, honoris causa, this seventh day of May two thousand and eleven.
HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
Mrs. Phyllis O. Bonanno
Public Servant, Former President of Columbia College
Phyllis Bonanno, Class of ’62, the first time you received a Mount Aloysius degree, then President Sr. Mary DeSales, RSM, expressed the following hope for you and your fellow graduates: “Mount Aloysius looks upon her alumnae as women who will put out their hands to strong things, who will grasp the opportunities offered daily to lead, to point the way, to inspire, and to do.”
We honor you today for realizing the highest hopes of your alma mater—for a lifetime of grasping opportunities, inspiring, and leading. You once described the keys to a meaningful life as: flexibility, risk taking, and courage. These surely were traits needed for your own career as a trailblazing woman succeeding in arenas formerly the domain of men.
At age 22, you walked into the offices of McCall’s magazine unannounced but confident—looking for the opportunity that would launch your dream of editing a women’s magazine. You were hired on the spot because a position had suddenly become available, and, in just six months, you became assistant to the editor-in-chief.
It was at McCall’s that you made a friendship that changed your life. You became friends with a young co-worker Lynda Johnson, daughter of then President Lyndon Baines Johnson, and with her family. One day, out of the blue, your phone rang. It was the President of the United States, calling to offer you a job as one of his personal assistants in the Oval Office. Your initial response was to say “…but I want to be the editor of a women’s magazine.” To which the president replied, “No you don’t. Get on a plane.” And you did. Despite your tender years and lack of a background in politics, you went to work for the most powerful person in the world during one of the most politically turbulent times in our nation’s history. You looked the risks and fears square in the eye and grasped the opportunity that transformed your life.
After your White House years, you worked briefly in the State Department before moving to Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies. There you managed the non-academic staff while pursuing your own studies in international economics. This background in international economics and public policy led you back to the executive branch, where you served under both Presidents Carter and Reagan in the Office of U.S. Trade Representative—the agency responsible for developing U.S. trade strategy and negotiating trade agreements around the globe. You were then chosen to serve as the first director of the newly formed Office of Private Sector Liaison—responsible for creating government partnerships with Fortune 100 corporations, trade groups, and academics to improve national trade policy. Finally, your public policy career was capped by your appointment to serve as the Executive Director of the President’s Advisory Council on Trade Negotiations.
Your contact with corporate leaders led to a new opportunity in the private sector when the CEO of Warnaco, a major American apparel manufacturer, invited you to become that company’s Vice President for International Trade. You applied your expertise in the areas of global trade strategy, import and export policy, bilateral textile agreements, and supply chain logistics to help transform Warnaco from a strictly domestic concern into a global operation. Later, you would found your own consulting firm offering trade strategies to corporations, the U.S. and foreign governments, multilateral agencies, and trade associations.
Between these private-sector ventures, you met another unexpected challenge. Based on your administrative and business skills, you were asked to lead Columbia College, a women’s college in South Carolina—the first woman president in its 138-year history. You responded with characteristic flexibility and courage. You embraced this new opportunity because you believed you could make a difference in the lives of young women. Your experience offered an inspiring model of achievement for the young women and informed your vision for creating a more diverse campus and academic programs that better prepare young women for roles in an increasingly global society. You designed a ten-year strategic plan to foster greater leadership, diversity, and use of technology on campus. You also increased opportunities for international study and travel, expanded distance learning programs, introduced co-educational degree programs for working adults, and boosted international student enrollment in graduate programs. Your commitment to the development of women leaders has continued to the present day through your role in mentoring young women professionals.
Phyllis Bonanno, for your service at the highest levels of government, your promotion of international cooperation and education, your role as a pioneering woman professional, and for so beautifully fulfilling those dreams held out for you at your own graduation, your alma mater embraces you once more with affection and proudly proclaims you Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, this seventh day of May two thousand and eleven.
HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT
Dr. Donato B. Zucco
Educator, Executive, Public Servant, Philanthropist, and Engaged Citizen
Donato Zucco, as we gather today to honor you for a life of remarkable service, we marvel at your parents’ prescience in christening you Donato, a name which derives from the Latin Donatus, meaning gift. What an inspired choice—for you have been a true gift indeed to the people of Johnstown, the people of Cambria County, and the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
We are proud to present you to our graduates today as a model of engaged citizenship, an inspiring example of the transforming power of a single life given in service to others. Your record is exemplary, both for your lifelong commitment to service and for the variety of ways you found to share your talents with your community: as an educator, an executive in the non-profit and private sectors, an elected official, and a trustee on numerous corporate, cultural and community boards.
Like many of our graduates today, you were the first in your family to receive a college degree. And like many of our graduates, that achievement was won through hard work and sacrifice. As the son of a steelworker you imagined that college was economically beyond your reach and so you enrolled in the vocational program at Johnstown High School. After graduating, you worked at a neighborhood dry cleaner until the owner, recognizing your abilities, encouraged you to consider college and helped you secure a scholarship. You applied to the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown only to discover that you lacked the sufficient academic credits for admission. Undaunted, you returned to Johnstown High’s night school for the needed courses. Once enrolled, you had to struggle to develop the new skills necessary for collegiate success while also holding down two jobs. Again you persevered, and by your sophomore year you were on the dean’s list. From that point on there was no stopping you. You completed your undergraduate degree and went on to earn a Master’s in Mathematics. Then, for seven years, while working as a teacher you continued your studies—driving to Pittsburgh to attend evening classes until you received your doctorate.
With doctorate in hand you quickly rose from the teaching ranks to become Superintendant of the Greater Johnstown School District, serving with distinction for a decade. During that time, and perhaps because of your own story, you agreed to take on extra duties and serve simultaneously as the Chief Administrator of the Johnstown Regional Vo-Tech School. After more than twenty years in education, you sought new avenues for service and spent twenty years as an executive in the field of non-profit health and rehabilitation, serving first as Chairman and CEO of the Medical Center Hospital Corporation, then as Chairman and CEO of the Johnstown Regional MRI Center, and finally as Director of the Commonwealth’s Hiram G. Andrews Center for Vocational Rehabilitation for persons with disabilities. At this point, you decided to accept a position in the private sector and, ironically, entered into the most public phase of your career. As you became Chief Administrative Officer of Crown American Realty, one of the region’s largest publically traded corporations, you also found time to run for elected office. For the next 16 years you served on the Johnstown City Council, including two terms as Mayor of Johnstown.
During your tenure as mayor, you set a new standard of leadership for the city. When you entered office, the city was in a financial crisis. You quickly launched a recovery plan that became a blueprint for other cities: You eliminated debt, rebuilt infrastructure and increased the city’s stock of capital equipment. At the same time you oversaw multimillion dollar projects that helped to develop and expand medical and healthcare centers, refurbish downtown office buildings, and give birth to important new cultural institutions. Among the signature revitalization projects you spearheaded were the construction of the Pasquerilla Conference Center, renovation of the War Memorial Arena and Point Stadium, and establishment of the Heritage Discovery Center and the Art Works Center.
As your recovery plan provided an economic model for revitalization, your approach to leadership provided a political model for effective governance. You worked in a bipartisanship fashion that you once described as, “putting labels aside and working with a common purpose.” As a result, you helped area leaders develop a regional approach to strategic planning that led to unprecedented success in securing state and federal support for the region. In short, your vision and leadership gave the city hope and a promise for the future.
Finally, you offer us one more example of dynamic citizenship with your long service as a trustee on some twenty boards that touch almost every aspect of community life—business, philanthropy, education, economic development, government, and arts and culture. From the Johnstown Symphony to the Pennsylvania State Planning Board, from the Community Foundation of the Alleghenies to Penn State Public Broadcasting, and from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown to the United Way, you have given your time selflessly for the benefit of others.
Donato Zucco—educator, executive, public servant, philanthropist, and engaged citizen—awed by your generosity of spirit and inspired by the example of your life, truly a gift in service to others, Mt. Aloysius College proudly confers upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, this seventh day of May two thousand and eleven.
The commencement ceremony as we know it had its beginnings in the Middle Ages as rites of initiation into the close brotherhood of guild membership. Guilds were groups of artisans, tradesmen, and merchants who banded together to regulate their industry and standardize the training of potential new members. Our modern academic degrees of bachelor, master, and doctor correspond loosely to the titles of apprentice, journeyman, and master that indicated the ancient guildman’s level of knowledge and skill. Like the initiation rituals of the medieval guild, our commencement ceremony symbolizes both a new beginning and acceptance into the ranks of those who have attained an important and substantial body of knowledge.
An important part of the pomp and circumstance of the traditional commencement ceremony, the mace is a symbol of the authority of the university. It evolved from the weapons carried by the elite bodyguards who protected the king and other high officials at important events. It is carried in the processional by the grand marshal, a faculty member chosen for the occasion. In the early centuries of the university system, faculty members who were appointed to be marshals were charged with the task of ensuring that scholars complied with the curfew. Today, the mace has a purely symbolic purpose–to represent the authority of the university as a degree-granting institution.
The origins of academic dress date back to the 12th and 13th centuries, when universities were taking form. The ordinary dress of the scholar, whether student or teacher, was the dress of a cleric. With few exceptions, the medieval scholar had taken at least minor orders, made certain vows, and perhaps been tonsured. Long gowns were worn and may have been necessary for warmth in unheated buildings. Hoods seem to have served to cover the tonsured head until superseded for that purpose by the skull cap.
The assignment of colors to signify certain faculties was to be a much later development, and one which was to be standardized only in the United States in the late 19th century. White taken from the white fur trimming of the Oxford and Cambridge B.A. hoods, was assigned to arts and letters. Red, one of the traditional colors of the church, went to theology. Green, the color of medieval herbs, was adopted for medicine, and olive, because it was so close to green, was given to pharmacy. Golden yellow, standing for the wealth which scientific research has produced, was assigned to the sciences. The Intercollegiate Commission met at Columbia University in 1895 and adopted a code of academic dress, which besides regulating the cut and style and materials of the gowns, prescribed the colors which were to represent the different fields of learning.
Traffic will be restricted to enter and exit through the main campus vehicle entrance only. The upper entrance near Ihmsen Hall will be closed for the day. Officers will be positioned along College Drive to direct vehicles to open lots. The parking lots will be filled one at a time, beginning with lot 13. The earlier you arrive, the closer to the Athletic Convocation and Wellness Center you will be able to park. Special needs and handicap person drop off will begin in or near lot 14. Please have your handicap placard displayed and the Officers will direct you to the proper location. After the ceremony, Cresson Volunteer Fire Police will control traffic on Admiral Peary Highway to facilitate a safe and orderly exodus.
Please contact the Campus Safety Office at 814-886-6327 if you have parking questions or concerns.
Ticket & Regalia Questions
How many tickets does a student receive for graduation and how is that number determined?
Each student who has indicated on the Application for Graduation that he or she plans to walk can receive up to 6 tickets for the ceremony. The total number of tickets is determined by dividing the number of seats by the number of walking graduates. The number of students who choose to participate in Commencement varies from year to year.
I’m not walking; can I give my tickets to someone else?
Only students who have indicated they plan to participate in the Commencement ceremony will be issued tickets.
Can I get or buy extra tickets?
Students cannot buy extra tickets. Any extra tickets will be distributed via a lottery at the end of the practice during graduation week.
When can I pick up my regalia and tickets?
Students can pick up their regalia (caps and gowns) and tickets starting with Graduate Salute on March 31, 2015. The event runs from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in Cosgrave 122. If a student cannot attend Graduate Salute, students are more than welcome to pick up your tickets and regalia in the Registrar’s Office between Graduate Salute and Commencement. Please note any tickets not picked up by the start of Commencement Practice will be included with any extra tickets that are being distributed. Please see the Graduate Salute portion of the Commencement website for more details.
Can someone else pick up my tickets and regalia for me?
We do realize that some students may be off campus for internships and not be able to attend Graduate Salute. If you need someone to pick up your tickets and regalia, please email the Registrar’s Office at email@example.com with the name of the person who will be given permission to pick up your tickets.
What should I wear to the ceremony?
We ask that graduates wear dress shoes, no tennis shoes; dresses, skirts and dress pants for ladies and slacks for men. No jeans please. Your attire should reflect the auspicious nature of the occasion. Please beware that each student will be walking up and down a set of stairs to cross the stage.
How do I wear my hood?
When you remove your hood from the bag, do not attempt to make any adjustments to the hood. The hood should be worn draped around your neck with the largest portion of the hood hanging down your back. The velvet boarder, which indicates your specific field of study, should be showing on the outside. The velvet should fold under on the lower back to allow the colors of the College to show. Staff members of the College will be available the morning of Commencement to help students with their hoods and regalia.
Where should my guest enter the Athletic Wellness and Convocation Center?
Guests should enter the venue through the main doors of the building into the lobby where they will be able to access both bleacher and floor seating. Families with elderly or handicapped members may enter the venue through the first floor entrance of the Wellness Center. There these guests will be able to access the elevator to the second floor or gain access to floor seating at court level. Graduates should report directly to the Auxiliary Gym prior to Commencement.
Is Commencement practice mandatory? I can’t come to practice, what should I do?
Commencement practice is not mandatory, but highly recommended to ensure that your special day goes off without any hitches. It allows you to feel comfortable with the ceremony, know where you will be sitting, have your pronunciation of your name verified, and allows for students to hear some informal congratulatory remarks from members of the college community. If you can’t come to practice, we recommend that you arrive to the Auxiliary Gym earlier on Saturday, so that staff members can answer any questions you may have about the ceremony. Students should report to the Auxiliary Gym no later than 9:30 a.m. the morning of Commencement.
What time should I arrive to get good seats?
We recommend that guests plan to arrive on campus no later than 9:15 a.m. to ensure they have time to park their vehicles and arrive at the Athletic Convocation and Wellness Center well before the event begins.
Are there special accommodations and parking for handicapped guests? Can all of my guests sit together?
The Athletic Convocation and Wellness Center has reserved wheel chair capacities on both the upper and lower level of the facility. Wheelchair seating is indicated below:
Lower Level East Bleachers – 4
Lower Level West Bleachers – 4
Upper Level East – 7
Upper Level West – 6
Campus Safety will have designated drop off areas outside the front of the Athletic Convocation and Wellness Center. Please see the Parking Directions in the Commencement website for more detailed information. We recommend that guest needing handicapped seating arrives early as possible to ensure that guests can sit together. The Campus Safety Department requires anyone requesting to use handicapped parking spaces have either a current state issued handicapped plate or placard.
Is the seating reserved?
No, seating is first come, first seated.
I have a small child. Can they sit on a lap?
All children ages 6 and older will be required to have a ticket for the Commencement ceremony.
I have a family member who is deaf and will need interpreting services for the ceremony, who should I contact?
If you have family member who needs interpreting services for Commencement, please contact the Registrar’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do I have to attend the Baccalaureate Mass on Friday?
Attending the Baccalaureate Mass is not required, but encouraged of any student who wishes to attend. No tickets are necessary to attend the mass, but we ask that students who plan on attending RSVP with Campus Ministry, so that we can have an accurate guest count for the mass which is held in the College’s historical Chapel. Please see Baccalaureate Mass section of the Commencement website for more details.
Diploma and Honors Questions
When will I receive my diploma?
Students will receive their diplomas approximately 4-5 weeks after the Commencement Ceremony. Final graduate audits are complete the two weeks after Commencement to ensure that graduates have met all core, major, and institutional requirements for graduation. A student is responsible for ensuring that all financial obligations are met and all holds removed from his or her record to avoid a delay in receiving a diploma and final transcript. Please be aware that it is ultimately a student’s responsibility to ensure all of his or her degree requirements are completed. Students should consult the College Catalog to review the requirements of their program of study.
How are Latin Honors determined?
The college recognizes three levels of academic honors for undergraduate students. Honor at graduation is conferred on the student who qualifies for the academic distinctions of:
- Minimum Cumulative GPA — 3.50 – 3.69
Magna Cum Laude:
- Minimum Cumulative GPA — 3.70 – 3.89
Summa Cum Laude:
- Minimum Cumulative GPA — 3.90 – 4.0
The honors that are indicated in the program and the students’ name cards are based off the students’ final grade point average at the conclusion of the fall semester. Students’ final academic honors will be noted on the transcript and diploma.
When can I request my final transcript?
Students can request your final transcript online two weeks after the Commencement ceremony. If you need a more immediate verification of your status, students can request a letter from the Registrar’s Office by email the office at email@example.com.
Where do I get my honors cord?
If a student is a member of either the PTK or DES honors society, he or she should have received cords during the induction ceremony. If a student has not received his or her cords, then it is recommended he or she contact Dr. Ryan Costanzo and/or Dr. Anthony Dragani, as they serve as the coordinators of these honors societies. A student who is a member of the College’s Honors Program should have received his or her cords during the Honor’s Recognition in April. If a student has not received his or her Honors Program cords, then it is recommended he or she contact Dr. Glenn Neff, as he serves as the coordinator of the College’s Honors program.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
I’m a resident student. Can I stay in the residence halls until graduation?
Yes, contact the Residence Life Office at firstname.lastname@example.org to let them know your intentions and to arrange for room check out.
How much are the tickets for the luncheon after the ceremony?
Students who are graduating will be given a complementary ticket to the luncheon if they decide they would like to attend the luncheon. Additional tickets for the luncheon can be purchased for $10 and there is no charge for children under the age of 8. Tickets can be purchased at Graduate Salute and at the Registrar’s Office leading up to Commencement. Tickets can be purchased with cash, check, or money order. Checks and money orders should be made out to Mount Aloysius College. Tickets need to be purchased in advance of the luncheon. The menu for the luncheon can be found here. The deadline to order luncheon tickets is April 27, 2015.
How do I order announcements?
A representative from Jostens will be available to students at Graduate Salute. Additionally, you can order online directly from the company. A price guide can be found here.
Is there anything else I need to know?
We recommend that students do not bring purses, cell phones, umbrellas, backpacks, and other items with them to Baccalaureate Mass or Commencement. There will not be anywhere to secure or lock up these items during the event.
Tuesday, May 5th
Graduate Networking – Social-PJs Tavern
Wednesday, May 6th
Bus departs for Pittsburgh at 10: 00 am and will return to MAC around 9:00 pm
Pittsburgh Day for Seniors
Thursday, May 7th
10:00AM (Registration not required)
Graduate Toast – Bertschi Center and Technology Commons
Seniors vs Staff Softball Game
IA Picnic Dinner – Ihmsen Breezeway