The Penn State Alumni Association will recognize The Honorable Thomas I. Vanaskie, Class of 1978, with its prestigious Alumni Fellow Award. Vanaskie will be recognized at an awards banquet Oct. 8 in University Park, Pa.
The Alumni Fellow Program, established in 1973, is designed to invite Alumni Fellows, prominent and outstanding leaders in their fields, to return to specific colleges of the University to lend their expertise through informal contacts with students, faculty and administrators. The Board of Trustees has specified the Alumni Fellow title as a permanent, lifelong designation.
Vanaskie is a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, nominated to the court by President Barack Obama in 2009 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2010. He previously served on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, a seat for which he was nominated by President Bill Clinton. Vanaskie held the seat from 1994-2010, servings as chief judge from 1999-2006.
Vanaskie serves as chairman of the Information Technology Committee of the Judicial Conference of the U.S., the policy-making body for the U.S. Courts, a position to which he was appointed by the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist of the U.S. Supreme Court. For the Third Circuit Judicial Council, Vanaskie presently chairs the Automation Committee and sits on the Library Committee. He is also a former member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Judges Association. In recognition of his impact on the judiciary and the legal community, Vanaskie has earned numerous awards and recognitions, including Honorary Master of the Bench of the Herbert B. Cohen Inn of Court in York, Pennsylvania, and the Federal Bar Association Middle District of Pennsylvania Chapter’s Presidents Award.
A 1975 magna cum laude graduate of Lycoming College, Vanaskie is a decorated scholar athlete. In June 2013, he was inducted into the Capital One Academic All-America Hall of Fame for football. Described as a “hard-nosed defender on the football field,” Vanaskie has also been inducted into the Shamokin Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame (1993) and into Lycoming College’s Athletics Hall of Fame (1994). He was a 1974 first team Academic All-American selection, a two-time Middle Atlantic Conference defensive back and earned honorable mention Associated Press All-American College Division honors as a senior.
Upon his graduation from The Dickinson School of Law, Vanaskie served as law clerk to Chief Judge William J. Nealon of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. In 1980, he joined the Scranton, Pennsylvania, office of Dilworth, Paxson, Kalish and Kaufmann. In 1992, Vanaskie became a principal member of the law firm of Elliott, Vanaskie and Riley, which maintained offices in Blue Bell, Scranton and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as well as an office in Washington, D.C.
Vanaskie is an adjunct professor of law at Penn State.