Sunday, May 10, 2015
NEW WILMINGTON, Pa.-- Sunshine greeted the Class of 2015 on the Weisel Senior Terrace of Old Main at Westminster College as campus officials handed out degrees to more than 275 graduates on Saturday, May 9.
A former Westminster College dropout from 1964 was among faces graduating from Westminster. Mark Fowler, who is 82, received his B.A. in Latin 50 years after he left campus to join the U.S. Marine Corps.
This was also the last commencement for retiring Registrar June Pierce. It was also the farewell commencement for Classics Professor Dwight Castro, Ph.D., who retires after 45-years as teaching faculty at the institution. Castro received the 2015 Distinguished Faculty Award earlier in the semester.
The College also awarded two degrees posthumously to the late Paul Sammons and Joseph Kerley.
Graduates, family, friends, faculty and staff heard from Class of 2015 speaker Haley Barger as well as the Honorable JoAnn Lynn Balzer who received an honorary doctorate from Westminster.
Balzer, ‘63, is the Trustee of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, NM. Balzer earned a bachelor's degree magna cum laude from Westminster, and a master's degree in mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University. After teaching college mathematics, and retiring after twenty-five years at IBM in systems engineering and advanced technology, she started her second career in the arts, non-profit management and development.
Her passion has been advancing Native American art and advocating for indigenous cultures around the world. This led her to growing a contemporary Native American collection of her own, so prominent that it was recognized as "one of America's top 100 collections," by Arts and Antiques Magazine. In 2014, she and her husband named a gallery at IAIA for Native American student art, The Balzer Contemporary Edge Gallery.
In 2010, she was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate as a Trustee at the Institute of American Indian Arts. In 2003, she was appointed by Governor Bill Richardson to serve as President of the New Mexico Film Museum and in 2009 appointed as a Commissioner of New Mexico Arts, the state arts agency.