Indiana University of Pennsylvania President Tony Atwater will present the 2009 President's Medal of Distinction for Professional Achievement to Nancy J. Newkerk of Indiana, a former IUP administrator.

The IUP President's Medal of Distinction is the highest nondegree award presented by IUP. It was established in 1985 to honor citizens of the state and region whose contributions in the areas of professional achievement and public service are of national significance or whose contribution is of special significance to the university.

The award will be presented at the community's annual Leader's Circle event on March 19 at Rustic Lodge.

Newkerk, a long-time resident of Indiana, served as the dean of women at IUP from 1957 to 1967 and as the associate dean of Admissions from 1978 until her retirement in 1994. Much of her time in recruiting students was spent developing positive relations among the county, town, and university.

Newkerk is an active supporter of athletics at IUP and was inducted into the IUP Athletic Hall of Fame as an honorary member in 2006. She is active as a volunteer mentor for IUP's student-athletes, working to oversee the academic progress of freshmen during weekly required sessions. She also serves on a number of scholarship committees at IUP.

Newkerk is an active member of IUP's University Acquisitions, Inc., Board, which coordinated the construction of the current residence facility at IUP at Punxsutawney.

She also worked in admissions at Harwick College in Oneonta, N.Y., from 1967 to 1978.

In the community, Newkerk served as a board member of Grace Manor, a senior living apartment complex. For six years, she served on the Indiana County Hospice Board of Directors, now joined with the Visiting Nurse Association.

She was also a member of the local chapter of Zonta and was nominated by that organization for Civic Leader of the Year.

In 2008, Newkerk was honored as a “Notable Woman” by the American Association of University Women. She has been president and secretary of the AAUW and chairwoman of the Educational Foundation Scholarship Committee, which screens and awards scholarships to nontraditional female students.

Newkerk has been a forty-year member of the choir of Grace United Methodist Church and served on various church committees.

A native of Liberty, N.Y., she started her career as an elementary music teacher. She has a bachelor's degree in music education from Oberlin College and a master's degree in student affairs administration from Syracuse University.

The Leader's Circle event features dinner at 6 p.m. and the awards program at 7 p.m. The event is open to any member of the community.

Cost to attend is $35 per person, and tables of eight are available for groups. Reservations can be made at the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce, 1019 Philadelphia St., or by calling the chamber at 724-465-2511. Reservations can also be made by mail to Leader's Circle, PO Box 1454, Indiana, PA 15701. Checks should accompany the reservation and should be made payable to Leader's Circle. Guaranteed reservations are due by March 7. Late reservations will be taken as space permits through March 16.

The event also will honor nominees and recipients for the Civic Leader award and finalists and the recipient of the Athena award.

Nominees for Female Civic Leader are Kathleen Mack, nominated by Quota International of Indiana, Pa., Inc.; Christine Rumbaugh, nominated by Indiana County Business and Professional Women's Club; and Chris Welker, nominated by Better Business Breakfast.

Nominees for Male Civic Leader are Larry Catlos, nominated by Better Business Breakfast; William Geiger, nominated by Indiana County Business and Professional Women's Club; Michael Hood, nominated by Indiana Rotary; Tom Teal, nominated by Quota International of Indiana, Pa., Inc.; and Fred Yun, nominated by Midday Rotary.

Athena Award finalists are Barb Croce, nominated by Midday Rotary; Laurel Diznoff, nominated by Indiana County Business and Professional Women's Club; Sherene Hess, nominated by Dr. Edwina Vold and the Indiana County League of Women Voters; Patricia Holmes, nominated by Vold; Sue McMurdy, nominated by Indiana Rotary; Elizabeth Sarneso, nominated by Sigma Sigma Sigma; and Brenda Teal, nominated by Quota International of Indiana, Pa. Inc.

The Civic Leader Award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a lifetime of volunteer service designed to improve the quality of life in Indiana County; demonstrated creativity and initiative in serving the needs of Indiana County; and provided significant leadership and a high level of involvement in projects designed to advance and make Indiana County a better place in which to live and work.

The Athena Award recognizes a man or woman who has achieved excellence in his or her career or profession; made outstanding contributions to Indiana County; and opened doors of leadership opportunity for women in business.

The master of ceremonies for the evening is Bill Flanagan of Pittsburgh. He is executive vice president of corporate relations for the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and its affiliated regional development organizations: The Pennsylvania Economy League of Southwestern Pennsylvania LLC, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, and the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce.

In this role, he also hosts Our Region's Business on WPXI-TV, WJAC-TV, WTOV-TV, and the Pittsburgh Cable News Channel (PCNC), a program produced by the conference in partnership with Cox Television.

Recipients of the Civic Leader and Athena awards are kept confidential until the evening of the Leader's Circle event.

Sponsors for the Athena program are Colonial Motor Mart, the Business and Professional Women's Club, the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce, and Renda Broadcasting.