Penn State announces spring 2014 commencement events and speakers

April 07, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — This spring Penn State expects to award 13,062 diplomas to students University-wide who are completing 496 associate, 10,809 baccalaureate, 1,195 master’s, 239 law, 190 doctoral and 133 medical degrees, bringing the University’s number of graduates to an estimated total of more than 739,862. 

At University Park, 11 students are expected to receive associate degrees, while 8,845 will be awarded baccalaureate degrees. Approximately 793 master’s degree students are expected to graduate, as are 190 doctoral degree candidates.

All figures listed are estimates as of May 2; totals do not include Penn College.

Following is a compilation of commencement ceremonies and speaker information for Penn State’s 24 locations. Additional information about University Park commencement is available at

Penn State Abington
10 a.m. Friday, May 9, Athletic Building
Speaker: Risa Vetri Ferman, district attorney, Montgomery County
Ferman was elected in 2007 as the first female district attorney in the history of Montgomery County. In 2011, she was re-elected for a second term. Ferman has dedicated her office to protecting our community’s most vulnerable citizens. She established the Elder Abuse Unit to target criminals who prey upon senior citizens. She was the driving force behind the creation of Mission Kids, a child advocacy center, designed to ease the criminal justice process for victims of child abuse. She was also the co-founder of Montgomery County Child Advocacy Project (MCAP), which provides pro-bono legal services to abused and neglected children.

Penn State Altoona
10 a.m. Saturday, May 10, Jaffa Shrine
Speaker: Darren Miller ’05
Miller is a marathon runner and open water swimmer who has completed an English Channel swim as well as the Oceans Seven challenge. He is the co-founder of the Forever Fund at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. The Forever Fund helps families afford the incidental costs incurred while caring for their children at the hospital.

Penn State Beaver
7 p.m. Friday, May 9, Student Union Building Auditorium
Speaker: H. Scott Cunningham ’80, executive vice president and regional managing director, PNC Wealth Management
Cunningham sets strategy and directs implementation of a 207-person organization serving 10,000 clients who receive wealth management services, including investment management, trust services, estate administration, wealth planning and private banking. Cunningham manages assets totaling $6.2 billion, loans of $1.3 billion, deposits of $1.3 billion, generates annual revenue of more than $100 million, and annual sales revenue of more than $39 million. After attending Penn State Beaver, he received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Penn State and graduated with distinction from the Smeal College of Business.

Penn State Berks
10 a.m. Saturday, May 10, Beaver Community Center
Speaker: Blaine E. Steensland, senior director of student affairs and enrollment management, Penn State Berks
Steensland will retire in June after 28 years of dedicated service to Penn State Berks. Steensland holds master’s and doctoral degrees in higher education administration from West Virginia University and a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Davis & Elkins College. He has served on the Berks County United Way, as president campaign chair of the Randolph County United Way, as president of the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art, and as a member of the YMCA of Berks County and Reading Corporate Board of Directors.

Penn State Brandywine
10 a.m. Saturday, May 10, Athletic/Commons Building
Speaker: Renee Amoore, president and CEO, The Amoore Group
Amoore oversees an economic development, healthcare and management consulting firm established in 1995.  She is a graduate of the Harlem Hospital School of Nursing with bachelor's and master's degrees from Antioch University. She has served on numerous boards, including Drexel University, the Franklin Institute and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Dickinson School of Law, Carlisle campus
10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 17, Lewis Katz Hall
Speaker: Bhavana Boggs ’91 J.D., vice president and assistant general counsel, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC
Boggs focuses on managing the long-term agreements with owners of The Ritz-Carlton’s assets, general operations and compliance, and protecting and advancing The Ritz-Carlton brand, a subsidiary of Marriott International. Prior to joining Marriott, she was a labor and employment attorney at Reed Smith in Washington, D.C. Boggs holds an undergraduate degree from Lafayette College.

Penn State DuBois
2 p.m. Saturday, May 10, Multipurpose Building Gymnasium
Speaker: Craig Pearce ’87, founding director, Deloitte Leadership Institute, Ozyegin University, Istanbul, Turkey
A Penn State DuBois and Schreyer Honors College alum and Punxsutawney, Pa. native, Pearce is a pioneer in the development of shared leadership scholarship and practice. He was formerly the dean of the School of Business and Entrepreneurship at the American University of Nigeria and was the Donald Clifton Chair in Leadership and director of the Institute for Innovative Leadership at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Previously, he worked with Peter Drucker at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito School of Management.

Penn State Erie, The Behrend College
6:30 p.m. Friday, May 9, Erie Insurance Arena
Speaker: Tracy Halmi ’93, senior lecturer in chemistry, Penn State Behrend

Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus
10 a.m. Saturday, May 10, Main Arena, Community Center
Speaker: TBA

Penn State Great Valley
7 p.m. Friday, May 9, Penn State Great Valley campus
Speaker: Madlyn L. Hanes, vice president for Commonwealth Campuses and dean of the University College, Penn State
Hanes has been Penn State’s vice president for Commonwealth Campuses since 2010. Hanes joined Penn State in 1988 as the chief academic officer of Penn State Delaware County, now known as Penn State Brandywine. In 1997, she was named CEO of Penn State Great Valley and served as chancellor of Penn State Harrisburg from 2000 to 2010. Hanes has served as a consultant to international boards of higher education in Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Israel, Korea and Jamaica, and was past chair of the network executive board of the Inclusive Excellence Group and the Commission on Women in Higher Education of the American Council on Education.

Penn State Greater Allegheny
10 a.m. Saturday, May 10, Athletics Center
Speaker: Suzette Shaffer Schultz ’83, senior project manager, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals
Schultz attended Penn State New Kensington before earning bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry at the University Park campus. She recently was named 2014 Delaware Valley Engineer of the Year.

Penn State Harrisburg
9:30 a.m. Sunday May 11, Giant Center, Hershey
Speaker: Tom Lynch, chairman and chief executive officer, TE Connectivity
Lynch has served as TE Connectivity’s chief executive officer since January 2006 and was elected chairman of the board in January 2013. TE Connectivity is a multi-national company involved in the design and manufacture of products that connect and protect power and data flow.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in commerce, with a major in accounting, from Rider University.

Penn State Hazleton
7 p.m. Friday, May 9, Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium, Physical Education Building
Speaker: Zena-Marie Lewoc ’12, sourcing specialist, Geisinger Health System
Lewoc was promoted several times to her current position, where she is responsible for contracts and multi-million-dollar initiatives. An active and award-winning student at Penn State Hazleton, she was the first student-elected president of the Student Government Association during her junior and senior years, and won the prestigious Eric A. and Josephine S. Walker Award and Dr. Dwayne A. Hilton Illumination Award.

Penn State Hershey College of Medicine
1 p.m., Sunday, May 18, Founders Hall
Speaker: Claire Pomeroy, president, Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation
Pomeroy is responsible for overseeing the implementation of programs that advance the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation’s mission to “foster the prevention and treatment of disease and disability by honoring excellence in basic and clinical science, and through public education and research advocacy.” An expert in infectious diseases whow holds advanced degrees in both medicine and business, Pomeroy is a longtime advocate for patients, especially those with HIV/AIDS, and for public health. She passionately supports ongoing investment in the full range of research and continues to lead an active research team studying host responses to viral infections.

Penn State Lehigh Valley
11 a.m. Saturday, May 10, Stabler Arena, Bethlehem
Speaker: John Ratzenberger
Ratzenberger is an Emmy-nominated actor, entrepreneur and philanthropist best known for playing mail carrier Cliff Clavin on the sitcom “Cheers.” His work for Pixar and other films make him the sixth most successful actor of all time, as measured by a total box office of more than $3 million. Ratzenberger is currently in pre-production on a new documentary, the purpose of which is to awaken Americans to the shortage of skilled workers that threatens our country as a whole.

Penn State Mont Alto
10 a.m. Saturday, May 10, Multipurpose Activities Center
Speaker:  Patrick W. O’Donnell, president and CEO, Summit Health
O’Donnell heads the largest healthcare provider in Franklin County, Pa. Summit Health is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a healthier community through its comprehensive services that include the Chambersburg and Waynesboro Hospitals, the Rhonda Brake Shreiner Women’s Center, the Antrim Family and Shippensburg Family Walk-in Care Centers and more. O’Donnell holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from Frostburg State University and Shippensburg University, respectively.

Penn State Schuylkill
Noon Saturday, May 10, the campus green
Speaker: Christian M.M. Brady, dean, Schreyer Honors College, Penn State
Brady joined Penn State in August 2006 after having served as an associate professor of classical studies and Jewish studies at Tulane University as well as director of Tulane’s Honors Program. He holds two advanced degrees from the University of Oxford, a graduate diploma in Jewish studies and a doctorate in Oriental studies with a concentration in ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature, the former obtained simultaneously while completing a master’s degree in biblical and theological studies from Wheaton College. His baccalaureate degree, in Near Eastern studies and history, is from Cornell University.

Penn State Shenango
7:30 p.m. Friday, May 9, Auditorium
Speaker: Charles Bursey, professor of biology, Penn State Shenango
Bursey has been a Penn State faculty member for 44 years and is considered one of the world’s leading experts in parasitology. His knowledge and expertise has helped countless zoos, wildlife refuges and other animal conservancy groups to identify and eradicate deadly parasites. As a veteran professor at Penn State Shenango, he is well respected among his colleagues and by his students.

Penn State University Park

College of Agricultural Sciences
3:30 p.m. Sunday, May 11, Bryce Jordan Center
Speaker: Rodney A. Erickson, president, Penn State
Erickson assumed responsibilities as president of the University on Nov. 9, 2011. Previously, he served as Penn State's executive vice president and provost since 1999. As provost, he was chief academic officer of the University, responsible for administration of the University's resident instruction, research and continuing education, and for the general welfare of the faculty and students. As executive vice president, Erickson served as the chief executive officer in the president’s absence and was centrally involved in most operations of the University. Erickson holds bachelor of arts and master of arts degrees from the University of Minnesota, and was awarded a doctorate in geography from the University of Washington in 1973. In 2012 he announced his retirement and will be succeed by Eric Barron as president in May. 

College of Arts and Architecture
Noon Saturday, May 10, Eisenhower Auditorium
Speaker: Beverly J. McIver ’92 MFA, professor of art, North Carolina Central University
McIver is a nationally acclaimed painter who has gained prominence for artwork that challenges cultural assumptions about race, gender and her own identity as an African American woman. She has received numerous prestigious awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship. A documentary about her life as a painter and her role as caretaker of her developmentally disabled sister titled “Raising Renee” was purchased and broadcast by HBO in 2012. McIver holds a bachelor of arts from North Carolina Central University and a Master of Fine Arts from Penn State. She received the College of Arts and Architecture Alumni Award in 2003.

Smeal College of Business
9 a.m. Sunday, May 11, Bryce Jordan Center
Speaker: Lou Grabowsky ’73
Grabowsky is the senior adviser, operations and former chief operating officer of Grant Thornton LLP, where he is responsible for the firm’s shared services operation in India. He has been active in supporting the communities in which he and his family have lived through board involvement in civic, charitable and academic institutions. Grabowsky received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Penn State.

College of Communications
Noon Saturday, May 10, Bryce Jordan Center
Speaker: Linda Yaccarino ’85
Yaccarino is president of advertising sales for NBC Universal. In that role, she oversees all advertising sales and market strategy for the company’s broadcast, cable and digital properties. Yaccarino holds a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications from Penn State.

Dickinson School of Law
10:30 a.m., Saturday, May 17, Eisenhower Auditorium
Speaker: R. Seth Williams ’89, district attorney, City of Philadelphia
Williams oversees 600 lawyers, detectives and support staff and is responsible for prosecution of more than 75,000 criminal cases annually. In 2011 he received the prestigious Penn State Alumni Fellow Award. In 2009 Williams became the first African American district attorney in Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

College of Earth and Mineral Science
8 p.m. Friday, May 9, Eisenhower Auditorium
Speaker: Eva J. Pell, undersecretary for science, Smithsonian Institution (retired)
From 1973 to 2009, Pell held several appointments at Penn State including distinguished professor of plant pathology and senior vice president for research and dean of the graduate school. In 2003, in recognition of leadership in her field, Pell was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS. While at Penn State, she was active in economic development and served on a number of Pennsylvania State boards.

Pell retired in March after serving as undersecretary for science at the Smithsonian Institution, where she oversaw operations of the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Zoo and its Conservation and Research in Front Royal, Va., the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Md., the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute in Suitland, Md., and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

College of Education
12:30 p.m. Sunday, May 11, Bryce Jordan Center
Speaker: Joan Ferrini-Mundy, assistant director for Education and Human Resources, National Science Foundation
Ferrini-Mundy is responsible for the leadership of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR). She has served the NSF in a number of capacities since 2007 including the position of inaugural director of EHR Directorate’s Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings.

College of Engineering
8 p.m., Friday, May 9, Bryce Jordan Center
Speaker: Jacqueline Hinman, P.E.
Hinman is CEO of CH2M HILL, a Fortune 500 company and global leader in consulting, full-service engineering, construction, procurement, program management, and operations for public and private clients. As CEO, Hinman’s goals for CH2M HILL include market leadership, balanced growth, and client stewardship. To achieve these goals, she has prioritized safety, quality, sustainability, technology, diversity, positive employee engagement, and the highest standards of ethical behavior as drivers for CH2M HILL’s success. Hinman holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from Penn State.

College of Health and Human Development
3:00 p.m., Saturday, May 10, 2014, Bryce Jordan Center.
Speaker: Neil Sharkey, Ph.D.
Neil Sharkey is the interim vice president for research and a professor of kinesiology at Penn State. He previously served as associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Health and Human Development and as director of research in the Department of Kinesiology. Sharkey’s research has focused on the advancement of orthopaedic medicine through improved understanding, better diagnosis, and more efficacious surgical procedures. He is an accomplished researcher, author, and speaker. Sharkey has served as a reviewer and editor for several journals and has been principal investigator or co-principal investigator for numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health, private foundations, and industry.

College of Information Sciences and Technology
3 p.m. Saturday, May 10, Eisenhower Auditorium
Speaker: Paul D. Bell
Bell is the operating partner at Lead Edge Capital, a growth equity firm investing in software and web services companies. Mr. Bell holds a Bachelor of Arts in arts & architecture and a Bachelor of Science in business, both from Penn State, and an MBA from Yale. The ceremony will be available via live streaming/video recording at:
For more information, visit

The College of the Liberal Arts
6:30 p.m., Saturday, May 10, Bryce Jordan Center
Speaker: Laura Brown '14, '14g
Brown is the College of the Liberal Arts student marshal, graduating with dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Russian and music, as well as a Master of Arts degree in musicology through the Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate program. She is also a scholar in the Schreyer Honors College. At Penn State she has received a number of awards including the Evan Pugh Senior Scholar Award, the Brewster and Presser Awards from the School of Music, and an Alumni Association scholarship from the College of Arts and Architecture. She also was the winner of the Penn State Philharmonic Orchestra Concerto Competition in 2012. The daughter of Arden and Mary Brown of Waterford, Pa., she will be entering the doctorate program in musicology at Yale University this fall.

College of Nursing
6 p.m. Saturday, May 10, Eisenhower Auditorium
Speaker: Gail E. Latimer ' 83
Latimer is vice president and chief nursing officer for Siemens Healthcare. A former hospital CEO and nurse executive with more than 30 years experience in health care, she is also an accomplished author and speaker on health information technology and clinical practice. She holds adjunct faculty appointments at Penn State and Loyola University. Latimer earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing from Penn State. A life member of the Penn State Alumni Association, she received the University's Alumni Fellow Award in 2009 in recognition of her outstanding career achievements. Latimer resides in Oakmont, Pa.

Eberly College of Science
9 a.m., Saturday, May 10, Bryce Jordan Center
Speaker: Paul H. Lerou, M.D. ‘96
Dr. Lerou is a neonatologist and research scientist at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) where he directs a research laboratory and is also an Assistant Professor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Lerou was recently appointed Associate Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at BWH with a secondary appointment in the Division of Genetics at BWH. Lerou was raised in Chadds Ford, Pa., and was a student in Penn State's Accelerated Premedical-Medical Program. Following his graduation from Penn State, Lerou attended Jefferson Medical College, where he earned the Alumni Prize in 1998. Lerou did his pediatric residency at BCH, and then served as a Chief Resident prior to his Perinatal-Neonatal Medicine Fellowship at Harvard Medical School. He has been a staff neonatologist at BWH since 2005.

Schreyer Honors College Medals Ceremony
5:00 p.m. Friday, May 9, Eisenhower Auditorium

The Graduate School
6:30 p.m., Sunday, May 11, Bryce Jordan Center
Speaker: Amr S. Elnashai
Elnashai was recently named dean of the College of Engineering. Prior to this appointment, he led the department of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he was also the Bill and Elaine Hall Endowed Professor. In addition, Elnashai was director of hybrid simulation at the National Science Foundation’s Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulations (NEED) laboratory. Elnashai obtained a bachelor of science degree from Cairo University, and his master of science degree and doctorate from Imperial College London (U.K.) where he received multiple honors for his work, including the Unwin Prize for the best doctoral thesis in civil and mechanical engineering.

Penn State Wilkes-Barre
10 a.m. Saturday, May 10, Athletics & Recreation Building
Speaker: Richard K. Struthers ’77, president, Ashford Point Enterprises
Struthers oversees a financial services consulting company in Wilmington, Del. Struthers has 33 years of experience in consumer lending and was a founding member of the management team of MBNA America. He is a member and past chair of Penn State’s Smeal School of Business Board of Visitors and a member of Penn State Wilkes-Barre Board of Advisors. Struthers, named a 1998 Penn State Alumni Fellow and 2002 Distinguished Alumnus, sits on the executive committee for Penn State’s For the Future capital campaign. Struthers holsa a bachelor’s degree in business management from Penn State and also is a graduate of the Retail School of Banking at the University of Virginia.

Penn State Worthington Scranton
6 p.m. Friday, May 9, Multipurpose Building
Speaker: Robert F. Beard ’89, ’94g, president and CEO, UGI Utilities
Beard served as UGI Utilities’ vice president of the Southern Region and vice president of Marketing, Rates and Supply before being named president and CEO and a member of its board of directors. Beard joined UGI in October 2008 through the acquisition of PPL Gas Utilities, where he was vice president of Operations and Engineering. Beard is an active member of the American Gas Association and is a member of the board of directors of the Energy Association of Pennsylvania. Beard holds a bachelor’s degree in petroleum and natural gas engineering and a master’s of management degree from Penn State. He began his Penn State education at the Worthington Scranton campus, where he has spoken during its Career and Company Showcase series, in which successful campus alumni meet with students to discuss their companies and industries and personal college and work experiences.

Penn State York
6 p.m. Friday, May 9, Pullo Family Performing Arts Center
Speaker: Jeffrey L. Wigbels, ’76, senior vice president, Morgan Stanley
Based in Atlanta, Wigbels has more than 30 years of financial experience. A cancer survivor, he is the recipient of the prestigious M.D. Anderson Making Cancer History Award, joining the ranks of Bob Schieffer, T. Boone Pickens and Laura Bush, sharing the same compassion and determination to make life better for those dealing with the challenges of cancer. Wigbels holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Penn State and studied his first two years at Penn State York.  He also is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

Pennsylvania College of Technology
Community Arts Center, Williamsport
Speakers: Selected from among graduating students
– 3 p.m. Friday, May 16: School of Business & Hospitality and the School of Construction & Design Technologies
– 10 a.m. Saturday, May 17: School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies and the School of Transportation & Natural Resources Technologies
– 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 17: School of Health Sciences and the School of Sciences, Humanities & Visual Communications

Last Updated May 09, 2014