On Friday, May 10th at 3:30 p.m., Bishop of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, His Excellency Mark L. Bartchak presided over the College’s Baccalaureate Mass held in the Our Lady of Mercy Chapel. Following the Baccalaureate Mass, at 5:00 p.m., six pinning ceremonies honored graduates of the College’s six health related majors.
On Saturday Mount Aloysius marked the 160th graduation as an institution and the 73rd as a College, honoring the academic achievements of 412 graduates: conferring 200 Associates degree; 191 Bachelor’s degrees and 24 Masters Degrees. Three graduates earned dual degrees. Graduates for 2013 represented the states of Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The Mount Aloysius Commencement took place in the College’s Health and Physical Fitness Center.
Leading the procession was Dr. Paul S. Farcus, associate academic dean, who served as the Bearer of the Ceremonial Mace. At Mount Aloysius College the mace was designed by Mr. L. Franklin Gilliam and Mrs. Mary Saylor. It is constructed of steel and wood—the combination of material representing the fusion of industrial and natural resources found in the Southern Allegheny Mountains. The mace represents the authority of the College’s faculty; these materials radiate the concepts of warmth and strength. The steel flame atop the Mount Aloysius mace symbolizes the College’s traditional motto—“With Our Light, We Serve.”
Following in procession, four students—selected for their unique contributions to the Class of 2013—served as Gonfalon Bearers. The gonfalon is a flag that hangs from a crossbar. This tradition was born in the medieval republics of Italy. The gonfalon serves as an ensign of state or office. At Mount Aloysius College the four gonfalons displayed represent the academic divisions of the College and the four Mercy Values of Faith, Hospitality, Justice, and Service.
Delivering the Invocation for Commencement was Ms. April Tewksbury of Wyalusing, Pa., a cum laude graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, specializing in Health Care Administration. Ms. Tewksbury is a Mercy Presidential Scholar.
Offering a Welcome message to the Commencement gathering was Ms. Jennifer Smith of Claysburg, Pa. Ms. Smith is a summa cum laude graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, specializing in Counseling. She is a distinguished member of the Delta Epsilon Sigma Honor Society.
Highlighting Saturday’s Commencement, Mount Aloysius President Tom Foley introduced Patricia R. Rooney, the College’s Commencement Speaker for 2013.
Mrs. Patricia R. Rooney’s community interests are multi-faceted, focused on improving the quality of life in the Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania region. She was instrumental in reviving the Women’s Auxiliary of the Salvation Army and was one of the early volunteers of Project Bundle-Up; a highly successful Salvation Army program aimed at providing warm winter clothing for needy children and the elderly. She recently completed service on the National Advisory Board of the Salvation Army and is a lifetime member of the Western Pennsylvania Advisory Board. Mrs. Rooney is the wife of former Ambassador to Ireland, and Pittsburgh Steeler owner, Dan Rooney.
Patricia Rooney’s Commencement Address served as a Capstone to the College’s yearlong theme of “Hospitality: Finding Home in a Changing World.” Her treatment of the campus-wide theme marks the ninth event exploring the topic since the College’s Fall Convocation.
A highlight of the Commencement Ceremony was the conferring of three honorary degrees. Patricia R. and Dan Rooney were honored as a couple with the Doctor of Social Justice degree. Mrs. Shirley A. Pechter, of Altoona, received the Doctor of Social Justice degree. MIT Professor James J. Walsh, Ph.D., received the Doctor of Humane Letters.
Reading citations for each of the honorary degree recipients were: President Tom Foley reading the Citation for Dan and Patricia Rooney; Sr. Helen Maria Burns, RSM, vice president for mission integration, reading the Citation for Shirley Pecter, and Mount Aloysius College Board of Trustees Chairman, Daniel W. Rullo, Esq. reading the formal degree Citation honoring Dr. Jim Walsh. The group was assisted by Ann M. Benzel, member of the College’s Board of Trustees.
Formally presenting degree candidates was Dr. Timothy E. Fulop, senior vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty. Mount Aloysius President Foley then conferred degrees upon, first the associate degree candidates, then the baccalaureate level students, and finally students who had completed requirements for graduate degrees.
Student Speaker for the Mount Aloysius College 2013 Commencement was Ms. Jessica Seasoltz of Altoona, Pa. Ms. Seasoltz graduated, magna cum laude, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology specializing in Pre-Health Professional. Ms. Seasoltz is a distinguished member of the Delta Epsilon Sigma Honor Society.
Sister Nancy Donovan, RSM, director of campus ministries offered Benediction for the event.
Music for the occasion was provided by “A Touch of Brass,” with Vox Nova, the Mount Aloysius College’s student vocal ensemble. Color guard for the event was provided by the Naval Support Center in Ebensburg, Pa.
Following Commencement, graduates and their guests enjoyed a Graduate Buffet at noon in the Cosgrave Dining Hall.