Penn State announces fall 2010 commencement events and speakers

December 01, 2010

Following is a compilation of fall 2010 commencement ceremonies and speaker information for Penn State's 24 campuses. Additional information is available online at

Penn College
11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, Community Arts Center, Williamsport
Speakers: Dennis F. Ringling, professor and lead faculty, forestry, and 2010 Veronica M. Muzic Master Teacher Award recipient; and Eric D. Felker, graduating student receiving a bachelor’s degree in information technology: web & applications development concentration

Penn State Abington
10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 17, Athletic Building
Speaker: R. Seth Williams Esq. '89, district attorney of Philadelphia

Williams, who attended Penn State Abington when it was known as the Ogontz campus, was active in student government both at Penn State Abington and at the University Park campus. He graduated from the University in 1989 with a major in political science. In 1992 Williams earned a law degree from Georgetown University where he graduated with distinction as a Public Interest Law Scholar. After completing law school his dedication to public service brought him home to Philadelphia. In 2009 he was elected district attorney and already has initiated significant reforms and progressive changes to law enforcement in the city.

Penn State Altoona
11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, Adler Athletic Complex gymnasium
Speaker: the Hon. Jolene Grubb Kopriva '75

Kopriva is Blair County’s first female president judge. She was elected to her current position in 2006 after having been elected the first female judge in Blair County in 1987. She graduated from the University in 1975 with an undergraduate degree in law enforcement and corrections. Kopriva received her law degree from Pittsburgh’s Duquesne School of Law in 1978. Because of her contributions to court and county development and community service, she has earned many awards over the years, including the R.O.C.K 2010 Eli Award in November.

Penn State Beaver
7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, Auditorium, Student Union Building
Speaker: Kimberly J. Kockler '87, vice president of government affairs, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Kockler is vice president of government affairs for Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) and guides the team serving as the company’s liaison to state and federal lawmakers and regulators. She also oversees tracking and analysis of health care as well as health insurance legislation and regulations, and advocates public policy positions on behalf of BCNEPA in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. Kockler, who also is responsible for BCNEPA’s political action committee, joined the company in 2000 and was named vice president in 2006. Recently, she was named to the governor’s Health Care Reform Advisory Implementation Committee, which represents Pennsylvania’s four Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans. She attended Penn State Beaver and graduated from the University in 1987 with a degree in political science.

Penn State Berks
10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, Beaver Community Center
Speaker: Chris Kaag ’04, founder and executive director, IM ABLE Foundation; founder and president, Corps Fitness

Through programs associated with both organizations, Kaag works to promote active lifestyles for all, including those with physical challenges. Shortly after graduating from high school, Kaag entered the United States Marine Corps, where he spent nearly five years in avionics. In 1998, he retired from the Marines after being diagnosed with adrenomyeloneuropathy, a rare degenerative condition affecting the myelin sheath of his nerve cells. Kaag returned to Pennsylvania and began pursuing a business degree at Penn State Berks while working full-time. In 2004, Kaag graduated with his baccalaureate degree in business. That same year, he founded Corps Fitness and began offering fitness classes modeled after his Marine Corps training. Shortly thereafter, Kaag organized the annual “Got the Nerve?” Triathlon to raise funds for nerve damage disorder research. To date, he has raised more than $100,000 for The Myelin Project, an international organization that seeks to further scientific research. In 2007, he founded the IM ABLE Foundation, building on his philosophy that everyone can benefit from a healthy lifestyle. The IM ABLE Foundation seeks to create a better understanding about what disabled athletes can accomplish. Kaag was inducted into the Central Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame as a Courageous Athlete in 2008. He was honored by his alma mater in 2009, when he was awarded the Penn State Alumni Achievement Award, bestowed upon prominent young alumni who demonstrate extraordinary professional accomplishments. In September 2010, the IM ABLE Foundation hosted its first duathlon, where participants and spectators alike were able to witness the accomplishments of physically challenged athletes.

Penn State Brandywine
10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 16, Commons/Athletic Building gymnasium
Speaker: Dick Vermeil, former head coach, Philadelphia Eagles

In seven seasons with the Eagles, Vermeil engineered four playoff appearances and took the team to the Super Bowl. He went on to have a prestigious career as a football broadcaster, analyzing both NFL and college games. Currently, he devotes much of his time to charitable causes.

Penn State College of Medicine
no fall commencement

Penn State Dickinson School of Law
no fall commencement

Penn State DuBois
7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 16, Hiller Auditorium
Speaker: Edward Nasuti '74, president, Lee-Simpson Associates

Nasuti is a Penn State DuBois alumnus and president of the DuBois-based engineering firm Lee-Simpson Associates. He is also president of the DuBois Educational Foundation, which provides financial and administrative support to the campus. This year, Nasuti and his wife, Della, along with Lee-Simpson Associates, established a Trustee Matching Scholarship for Penn State DuBois engineering students.

Penn State Erie, The Behrend College
6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, Junker Center
Speaker: Jay C. Amicangelo, associate professor of chemistry, Penn State Behrend

Amicangelo joined Penn State Behrend in 2002. He holds a doctoral degree in chemistry from the University of Vermont and was the recipient of the 2009 Penn State Behrend Council of Fellows Research Award.

Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus
no fall commencement

Penn State Great Valley
no fall commencement

Penn State Greater Allegheny
7 p.m. Thursday, Dec.16, Wunderely Gymnasium
Speaker: Daniel H. Simpson, writer and columnist, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Toledo Blade

Since retiring from the U.S. Department of State in September 2001, Simpson covers international affairs as a daily editorial writer and weekly columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Toledo Blade newspapers. He also writes on U.S. national politics, economics and other subjects. He is a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy, a small organization of distinguished retired American statesmen in the field of foreign affairs and national defense. He also teaches at various universities in southwestern Pennsylvania and is a Member of the Board of Directors of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh.

Penn State Harrisburg
9:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, Giant Center, Hershey
Speaker: Kevin M. Harter '90, '05 MBA, executive chairman of Saladax Biomedical Inc.

Harter, of Mechanicsburg, provides the overall strategic leadership for Saladax, which serves as a leader in personalized medicine and companion diagnostics. He was primarily responsible for the company’s success in raising $24 million from investors and its recent development partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb. He also is senior vice president of the Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central Pennsylvania, which he co-founded, and has been a founder, principal or a member of executive management of a number of health care companies, including Keystone Medical Systems, Pennsylvania Blue Shield, and Personal Medical Records Inc. For his efforts at Keystone, Harter was awarded the Inc. Magazine/Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Harter recently was named a 2010 Alumni Fellow, the highest award given by the Penn State Alumni Association. In 2006, he received the association’s Philip Philip Mitchell Alumni Service Award, which recognizes outstanding volunteer service to Penn State and its alumni. He is emeritus member and past chair of the Penn State Harrisburg Board of Advisers and is an active member on several Penn State Harrisburg program advisory boards. Harter holds a bachelor’s degree in information systems and a master’s of business administration from Penn State Harrisburg. He and his wife, Kathleen, have created two endowed Penn State Harrisburg scholarships -- the Harter Family Trustee Scholarship for the Honors Program and the Kevin and Kathleen Harter Scholarship for Information Sciences and Technology students.

Penn State Hazleton
no fall commencement

Penn State Lehigh Valley
no fall commencement

Penn State Mont Alto
no fall commencement

Penn State New Kensington
10 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 18, Forum Theatre
Speaker: Elizabeth K. Dietrich '06, director and actuary for product development and pricing, Prudential Annuities

Dietrich is director and actuary for product development and pricing at the Prudential Annuities in Shelton, Conn. Dietrich attended Penn State New Kensington for two years before completing her bachelor's degree in actuarial science at the University Park campus in 2006. She graduated first in her class and was selected as the student marshal for the Department of Actuarial Science and Insurance in the Smeal College of Business. A member of the Golden Key International Honor Society, Dietrich also is a two-time recipient of the Evan Pugh Scholar Award, which is given to the top half-percent of Penn State juniors and seniors. Her husband, Daniel, also is a Penn State graduate, and her father, Charles "Bud" Gibbons, is a professor of visual arts at Penn State New Kensington.

Penn State Schuylkill
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 16, Health and Wellness Building gymnasium
Speakers: Steve and Marjorie Cotler, community business leaders

Steve Cotler was born and grew up in Schuylkill County. He attended Pottsville public schools, Wyoming Seminary, Randolph Macon College and Temple University. After eight years of working in sales in the Midwest, he returned to Pottsville to operate several family businesses and become involved with many aspects of Schuylkill County life. He has served as president of the Pottsville Downtown Association, the Historical Review Board and the Schuylkill County Council for the Arts. Among his many leadership roles in county projects are the restoration of the Henry Clay Monument, the design and construction of Bicentennial Park and the founding of the annual Youth Conference on Diversity. He also serves on the Penn State Schuylkill Advisory Board and has gifted the campus through several projects including the Cotler Computer Center and classroom restoration project. He has been awarded the Torch of Liberty Award, The Winter Carnival outstanding citizen award and many business accolades. Marjorie Cotler grew up in Massachusetts and is a graduate of Boston University. Before working in Cotler family businesses in Schuylkill County, she worked as a teacher and in sales. She has been active in Oheb Zedeck Synagogue, teaching Sunday school and serving as president of the congregation. For the past seven years she has been on the Schuylkill campus every second semester to help direct the Penn State Schuylkill musical theater production.

Penn State Shenango
7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, Penn State Shenango Auditorium
Speaker: Donald Reed Jr., CPA and CEO of Reed and Reed Associates

Penn State University Park:

College of Agricultural Sciences
9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, Bryce Jordan Center

College of Arts and Architecture
12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, Bryce Jordan Center

Smeal College of Business
9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, Bryce Jordan Center

College of Communications
12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, Bryce Jordan Center

College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, Bryce Jordan Center

College of Education
12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, Bryce Jordan Center

College of Engineering
9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, Bryce Jordan Center
Speaker: Norman Augustine, retired chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corp.; Penn State honorary degree recipient, doctor of science

College of Health and Human Development
12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, Bryce Jordan Center

College of Information Sciences and Technology
9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, Bryce Jordan Center

College of the Liberal Arts
12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, Bryce Jordan Center

Eberly College of Science
12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, Bryce Jordan Center

The Graduate School
4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, Eisenhower Auditorium
Speaker: C. Lee Giles, professor of information sciences and technology, Penn State

ROTC Commissioning
Air Force: officers commissioned individually
Army: 1 p.m., Friday, Dec. 17, Nittany Lion Inn
Navy: officers commissioned individually

School of Nursing
12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, Bryce Jordan Center

Schreyer Honors College Medals Ceremony
5 p.m., Friday, Dec. 17, President's Hall, The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel

Penn State Wilkes-Barre
no fall commencement

Penn State Worthington Scranton
no fall commencement

Penn State York
6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, Pullo Family Performing Arts Center
Speaker: M. Abul Hasan, associate professor of physics, Penn State York

Hasan began his Penn State career in 1985 at Penn State York and this year celebrates 25 years of service to the University. During his tenure at the campus, Hasan has served on numerous campus and University committees. He holds B.Sc. (honors) physics and a M.Sc. physics from Karachi University in Pakistan and a master of science degree in physics and doctoral degrees in physics from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa. He has presented at more than 30 conferences and has published in about 50 publications and referred journals. Hasan was the 2009 recipient of the distinguished service award from the American Association of Physics Teachers, Central Pennsylvania Section. For those who cannot attend the event, Penn State York's commencement can be viewed locally on Comcast cable channel 18 and streaming at online.

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Last Updated December 07, 2011