Commencement crowd shot

Update added Saturday, December 19: tomorrow's Commencement ceremonies will take place as scheduled. Please use caution when traveling.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania's graduate and undergraduate Commencement ceremonies take place December 20, 2009, with 880 students eligible to receive degrees.

The undergraduate ceremony, set for 1:30 p.m. in the Memorial Field House, will include the presentation of an honorary Doctor of Laws degree to Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, an IUP graduate.

“We take great pride in Dr. Zahorchak's standing as a proud IUP alumnus,” Dr. Tony Atwater, IUP president, said. “His outstanding leadership and vision in advancing education throughout the commonwealth also bring pride to our university.”

The undergraduate ceremony will feature remarks from Zahorchak and from student speaker Derek Lambert, of Punxsutawney, a Communications Media major.

The ceremony for students earning master's and doctoral degrees will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the IUP Performing Arts Center's Fisher Auditorium.

Mariah Passarelli, a Criminology master's degree graduate and deputy attorney general in the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, will present remarks at the graduate ceremony.

Passarelli, of Pittsburgh, is the spouse of Kate Passarelli and the daughter of Marie Davis, of Sarver, and Pete Passarelli, of Olympia, Wash. She is a 1998 graduate of Kiski Area High School. She also has a bachelor's degree in political science and a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Duquesne University.

Following is a breakdown of graduates eligible to participate in commencement: bachelor's degree, 508; master's degree, 313; doctoral degree, 57; and associate degree, eight.

Lambert, the undergraduate student speaker, has been active with IUP's student-operated television and radio stations. He is a member of the National Broadcasting Honor Society and the Delta Epsilon Iota Academic Honor Society. He has won an award for his participation in IUP's Undergraduate Scholars Forum.

A former Marine, Lambert has an associate degree in information technology from ITT Tech. Before studying at IUP, he worked as a snorkeling tour guide in the U.S. Virgin Islands. While in high school, he was active with the Boy Scouts and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. He also was a member of his high school's track and cross country teams.

Following commencement, Lambert will work with Forever Broadcasting.

Of the bachelor's degree applicants, 186 qualify for Latin Honors, with a grade-point average of 3.25 or higher.

Number of graduates by college are as follows: Eberly College of Business and Information Technology, 93; College of Education and Educational Technology, 56; College of Fine Arts, 44; College of Health and Human Services, 180; College of Humanities and Social Sciences, 87; College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, 56; and School of Graduate Studies and Research, 370.

In both ceremonies, each graduate will be recognized by name and will be given a diploma cover unique to the university commencement ceremony. President Atwater began this initiative in May 2008.

Zahorchak, formerly of Johnstown, received a Master of Education degree from IUP in 1988.

The recommendation for the honorary degree was approved by the IUP Council of Trustees in September and then by the Office of the Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

Zahorchak was nominated by the IUP Senate Academic Committee and recommended for the degree by the IUP Commencement Committee and President Atwater.

IUP has granted only fifty honorary degrees in its history. Others receiving this honor include U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha, Oscar Arias Sanchez, Andre Previn, James “Jimmy” Stewart, Art Rooney, Fred Rogers, former governor Richard Thornburg, and retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Zahorchak was nominated by Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell to serve as secretary of education in October 2005 and was unanimously confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate on February 7, 2006.

Before his nomination, Zahorchak served as deputy secretary for elementary and secondary education, a role in which he was responsible for the education of more than 1.8 million school children in the commonwealth.

As deputy secretary, he worked on the development and implementation of support systems for public schools working to meet the high demands set by Pennsylvania and No Child Left Behind targets.

As the former superintendent of the Greater Johnstown School District, Zahorchak implemented full-day kindergarten, pre-kindergarten, high school reform, tutoring programs, and hired reading and math coaches to boost student learning. Data from his last two years as superintendent analyzed by Standard and Poor's listed Johnstown as one of the 47 outperforming school districts in Pennsylvania.

Zahorchak has worked with students at virtually every level of education as a superintendent, principal, teacher, and football coach. As a member of the Johnstown community, Zahorchak served as president of the Johnstown Rotary in 2003. He also served as an elected official—as a member of the school board of the Greater Johnstown School District and of the Johnstown City Council. In addition, Zahorchak served as deputy mayor of Johnstown.

In addition to his master's degree, Zahorchak received his doctorate from Pennsylvania State University and a bachelor's degree from St. Francis University.

4.0 Grade-Point Average Recognition

Several students will be recognized at the undergraduate Commencement ceremony for achieving a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. Here is information about eight of them:

Tracey Baker

Tracey Baker, of Glenwood Drive, Altoona, will receive a degree in Music Education and Chemistry Education. Daughter of Alice Kline and John Baker, she is a 2004 graduate of Altoona Area High School.

While at IUP, Baker received the Ronald Marks chemistry scholarship, a Robert E. Cook Honors College scholarship, the William Heard chemistry scholarship, and the Carol Teti organ scholarship. She also was recognized for academic achievement.

She participated in various IUP music ensembles; was a member of the Residence Hall Council, Residence Hall Association, the Educational Psychology Organization, the Pennsylvania Collegiate Music Educators Association, and the Honors Connection; and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity.

Susan H. Bauer

Susan H. Bauer, of Gemmell Road, has completed studies in Education of Exceptional Persons. She is the daughter of Mrs. and Mrs. Jon Harmon, Jr., of Mt. Lebanon. She received a bachelor's degree in home economics from West Virginia Wesleyan in 1979. She is a student assistant with the Pathways to the Governor's School program for high school students.

Sharon Bowers

Sharon Bowers, of Crabtree, will receive a degree in Child Development and Family Relations.

Sarah Dinger

Sarah Dinger, of Edgewood Drive, Brookville, will receive a degree in Art Education with a minor in Educational Psychology. Daughter of Dave and Gretchen Dinger, she is a 2005 graduate of Brookville Area High School.

While at IUP, Dinger received the Borders Group Scholar Award, the Jean Slenker Memorial Scholarship for study in art and the Ralph Reynolds Memorial Scholarship.

She was also president of the IUP chapter of the National Art Education Association, recognized as the most outstanding student chapter in the nation. As a member of the IUP chapter, she participated in the creation of murals for the Indiana community, art activities for Gilda's Club of Pittsburgh, the Youth Arts Celebration and Pittsburgh's First Night. She also was a co-chair of the university's annual Chalk on the Walk event. Dinger was a member of IUP's Marching Band and Concert Band.

Jessica Renee McEvoy

Jessica Renee McEvoy, of Wurm Street, Nanty Glo, will receive a degree in Business with a minor in Marketing. She is the daughter of Robert and Tracy McEvoy, Third Street, Nanty Glo. She is a 2006 graduate of Blacklick Valley Senior High School.

While at IUP, McEvoy was selected for Sigma Alpha Lambda honor society and was a member of the American Society for Quality.

Lindsey Marie Stefurak Miller

Lindsey Marie Stefurak Miller, formerly of Evansville and now of Home, Pa., will receive a degree in Accounting. Miller is the daughter of Tracy and Michael Stefurak, Evansville. She is a 2005 graduate of Camden County High School, Kingsland, Ga.

While at IUP, she was selected for membership in Phi Kappa Phi honor society, Beta Gamma Sigma honor society, Delta Epsilon Iota academic honor society, Sigma Alpha Lambda national leadership and honors organization, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Phi Eta Sigma honor society, National Scholars honor society, and Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society. She also was a member of the IUP Student Accounting Association.

She volunteered with the local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program; the Alice Paul House, a shelter for domestic violence survivors; and Four Footed Friends animal shelter. She also participated in the local Relay for Life event to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Lauralee Ann Neale

Lauralee Ann Neale, a Psychology graduate, is the daughter of Dr. John and LuAnn Neale, Indian Springs Road. She is a 2006 graduate of Indiana Area Senior High School.

She is a member of Psi Chi international honor society in psychology and IUP's Psi Chi chapter; Phi Kappa Phi honor society; Phi Eta Sigma national honor society; and Sigma Alpha Lambda national leadership and honors organization. She is the 2007 recipient of the United States Achievement Academy National Collegiate Natural Science Award. She serves as the student representative of the IUP Psychology Undergraduate Committee.

Alex Nicholas Smith

Alex Nicholas Smith, of Churchill, will receive a degree in Criminology. He is the son of Gina Stephens and Scott Stephens, Marbury Road, Churchill, and Alan Smith, Timberbrook Court, Zelienople.

He is a 2002 graduate of Woodland Hills High School. He is the recipient of the IUP Criminology Department's John J. Prandy Award for outstanding academics and has been selected for Delta Epsilon Iota honor society and Alpha Phi Sigma honor society.