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Westminster College Confers Degrees on More than 300 Graduates

Posted on Saturday, May 18, 2013

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - More than 300 students earned diplomas during the 159th annual Westminster College commencement ceremonies Saturday.

Undergraduate degrees were conferred on 330 students with an additional 17 receiving master's degrees.

The ceremony began with baccalaureate service at 10:30 a.m. in Orr Auditorium.  The Rev. Dr. John B. "Mike" Loudon `70, senior pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Lakeland, Fla., shared "How Do You Measure Success."  He was introduced by the Rev. James R. Mohr II, College chaplain.

The service included music by Westminster organist Kathryn Miller and the Rev. James Latta, bagpiper and pastor of Calvin Presbyterian Church in Ellwood City; the Senior Choir under the direction of Dr. Robin Lind, associate professor of music and director of choral activities.

Guests received a welcome from Dr. Jesse Mann, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, and closing thoughts from Westminster College President Dr. Richard Dorman.  Prayers were offered by the Rev. Mohr and Father Thomas Lewandowski, of St. Camillus Church in New Castle. Senior worship participants included: Tawni Darby, who read the call to worship; Simmone Bell and Jane Larson, who read Scripture; Eric Dennis, who did a Gospel Reading; Caitlin Rozgonyi and Stephanie Gasser, who led the litany of faith; and Hannah Jaskiewicz, who lead the singing of the hymns.

While waiting for the graduates to appear for the 2:30 p.m. Commencement ceremony, parents and friends were treated to music by Dr. Nancy Zipay DeSalvo, associate professor of music, at the organ and the Westminster College Faculty Brass Quintet: Robert Antonucci on tuba; Terry Gale on trumpet; Dr. R. Tad Greig on trombone; Jon Nickel `09 on trumpet; and James Scanga on horn.

Bagpiper Latta led the grand march and Zipay DeSalvo played "Pomp and Circumstance" as the graduates, faculty, trustees, and platform party entered.  Dr. A. Dwight Castro, professor of classics, was the mace bearer and Dr. Gary Lilly `69, associate professor of sociology, and Dr. Pamela Richardson, associate professor of mathematics, were faculty marshals.  Students were led by marshals Dorita Bolger, professor and librarian, Dr. Jamie McMinn, associate professor of psychology, and Dr. Richard Sprow, professor of English.

The opening declaration was made by Thomas A. Tupitza `79, chair of the Board of Trustees, and the Rev. Mohr gave the invocation.  President Dorman offered greetings.

An honorary degree, doctor of business administration, honoris causa, was presented to Leonard M. Carroll, chairman of Seneca Capital Management Inc. of Sewickley, and former chairman of the Westminster Board of Trustees. Carroll served 20 years on Westminster's Board.

Westminster College has benefitted greatly from Carroll's involvement and leadership. During his term as chair of the board (2008-2012) he helped develop the vision and goals of Westminster's current $50 million comprehensive campaign Ever Higher: The Campaign for Westminster College, and has supported that effort significantly.

In addition to the role of chairman of Seneca Capital Management Inc., a venture capital firm he co-founded in 1996 focusing on the growth and development of northwest Pennsylvania businesses, he served as president and chief operating officer of Integra Financial Corporation in Pittsburgh, and served in executive positions with Pennbancorp in Titusville and First Seneca Bank of Oil City.

Carroll shared his thoughts on "Working with Westminster" with the audience. 

"I have spent many years volunteering at the College. At first, I viewed my volunteering efforts as one more social obligation in a busy career. As time passed, it became more than an obligation. It became a passion. I have said and will continue to say that Westminster College is a special place and deserves to be respected, watched after and supported with our time and treasure," Carroll said. "I've never worked for any non-profit organization where so many people spend so much time and effort trying to do the right thing."

Carroll also addressed the graduating class.

"You have and will benefit greatly from your stay at the College, but the benefit you have received comes at a price. You now have a life-long duty to help keep Westminster strong and on the right track so that the next generation of students will be able to enjoy the same life changing experience you had here on campus."

Lauren Gaynord, an English major from Valencia, was the senior class speaker.

"It recently occurred to me that we all answer, Why Westminster? in our own way, but the answer comes down to the education we received and the people we met while receiving it. Some of you, I have never met on a personal level. Others have become my greatest friends, people I have happily watched change and grow as we have gone through our education together. What matters is not whether or not I know you; it is that we are all Westminster graduates, and will go on to change the world with like-minded ideals and goals. What's more, we will always remember the people who held the door for us," Gaynord said.

Gaynord continued, "Whatever you choose to do when you walk off this campus today, I am as sure as I have ever been that you will do it well. We are confident, we are young, we are all well-trained, and we are all compassionate towards one another. The reason coming to Westminster feels like coming home is obvious to me now; everyone here knows that Westminster is something special."

Faculty greetings were given by Dr. Terri Lenox, professor of mathematics and chair of the faculty.

Westminster's commencement would not be complete without recognizing its faculty.

Distinguished Faculty Award
Lenox received the Distinguished Faculty Award.  Lenox, who serves as chair of Westminster's Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, joined the faculty in 1999.  She earned an undergraduate degree from Grove City College and master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh.

The Distinguished Faculty Award is given to the faculty member who has, over a sustained period of time, demonstrated characteristics of the most outstanding faculty - intellectual vitality, effective communication skills, the ability to motivate or inspire compassion and concern for student success, collegiality, and leadership. Nominations come from students, faculty, and alumni.

Bolger, Dr. Linda Domanski, Lilly, Dr. Gail Miller and Dr. David Twining Honored with Emerita Status
Bolger was honored with designation as professor/librarian emerita.   Bolger, who has been with Westminster since 1981, earned her undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University and master's from Clarion University.

Domanski was honored with designation as professor of education emerita. Domanski, who has been with Westminster since 1996, earned undergraduate and master's degrees from Slippery Rock University and a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. She served as the Westminster education department chair from 2005-2010. Most recently she has taught the Legal Issues and Assessment and Instructional Strategies methods courses required for special education certification, and supervises student teachers

Lilly was honored with designation as associate professor of sociology emeritus.  Lilly, who was a 1969 graduate of Westminster College, has been a member of the faculty since 1977.  He earned his master's and Ph.D. from Kent State University. He was chair of PSS for 10 years, chair of the faculty for three terms, and director of institutional research since 1985. His work with students has included being adviser to a fraternity from 1981-2008, women's cross-country coach from 1989-2002, and cross-country head coach from 2002-2008. He also helped establish the women's track club and helped create and was the first faculty adviser for the Black Student Union.

Miller was honored with designation as professor of business emeritus. Miller, who has been with Westminster since 1983, earned his undergraduate degree from Otterbein College, master's from the University of Georgia and a doctorate from the University of Kentucky.

Twining was honored with designation of professor of history emeritus. Twining, who has been with Westminster since 1990, earned his undergraduate degree from the College of Wooster, master's from the University of Virginia, and Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University. He was one of the founders of the National History Day Program. He coordinated the First-Year Program, the History Program, and has offered summer workshops for social studies teachers. He was chosen as the Henderson Lecturer for 2010, an honor to encourage and recognize original and continuing research and scholarship among Westminster College faculty, and to afford the opportunity for faculty to share their learning with the academic community.

Alexandra Patterson, a music performance major from Saxonburg, sang the Westminster College Alma Mater to end the ceremony.

Commencement highlights are available at

the Rev. Dr. John B. "Mike" Loudon
Leonard M. Carroll