College Confers Degrees on Over 300 Graduates

Saturday, May 22, 2010

More than 300 students earned diplomas during the 156th annual Westminster College commencement ceremonies Saturday.

Undergraduate degrees were conferred on 284 students, with an additional 23 receiving master's degrees.

The ceremony began with baccalaureate service at 10:30 a.m. in Orr Auditorium. The Rev. Dr. Mark Ruppert, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Akron, Ohio, and a 1978 Westminster graduate, shared "You're Not Who You Was."

The service included music by Westminster organist Kathryn Davison Miller and the Senior Choir under the direction of Dr. Robin Lind, associate professor of music and director of choral activities. Seniors included Floyd Dierker III, music leader, and Susan Davidson, who sang an original composition accompanied by Claudia Brown on piano.

Guests received a welcome from Dr. Jesse T. Mann, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, and greetings from Westminster College President Dr. Richard H. Dorman. Prayers were offered by the Rev. James Mohr II, college chaplain, and Father Thomas Lewandowski of St. Camillus Church in New Castle. Scripture readings were given by John T. Weisel, chair of Westminster's Board of Trustees, and senior Kimberly Worst. Senior Kyle Pierce led the call to worship and the litany of faith was led by senior Amber Dillaman.

While waiting for the graduates to appear for the 2:30 p.m. Commencement ceremony, parents and friends were treated to music by the Westminster College Faculty Brass Quintet: Robert Antonucci on tuba; Andrew Erb, a 1996 Westminster graduate, and Terry Gale on trumpet; Heather Johnson on horn; and Robert Matchett on trombone.

Bagpiper Richard Hosie, 1981 Westminster graduate, led the grand march and Dr. Nancy Zipay DeSalvo, associate professor of music, played "Pomp and Circumstance." Dr. A. Dwight Castro, professor of classics, was the mace bearer and Dr. Gary Lilly, associate professor of sociology, was faculty marshal. Student marshals were Dorita Bolger, professor and librarian, and Dr. Richard Sprow, professor of English.

The opening declaration was made by Weisel, a 1979 Westminster graduate. Rev. Mohr gave the invocation and President Dorman offered greetings.

An honorary degree, doctor of public service, honoris causa, was presented to Dr. David Orr, a 1965 Westminster graduate. He was introduced by Dr. Helen Boylan, associate professor of biology and a 1995 Westminster graduate.

Orr is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College and a James Marsh Professor at the University of Vermont. His career as a scholar, teacher, writer, speaker, and entrepreneur has earned him six honorary degrees and other awards including the Millennium Leadership Award, the Bioneers Award, the National Wildlife Federation Leadership Award, and a Lyndhurst Prize. His father, Will W. Orr, was president of Westminster College from 1949-67.

He is the author of seven books and co-editor of three others. His most recent, The Essential David Orr, is a collection of his writings from 1985-2010.

Orr helped launch the green campus movement in the late 1980s and organized the first conference on the effects of impending climate change on the banking industry. He organized the effort to design and build Oberlin's Adam Joseph Lewis Center, the first substantially green building on a U.S. college campus.

Orr shared what he has learned-or should have learned-since graduating Westminster. "The antidote to both stupidity and lack of critical thinking, as George Orwell knew, is how we use words," he said. "Be a lifelong reader. Read books that stretch you and hone your capacity for words and language and give you a foundation for a life of serious thinking and thinking about thinking."

His final "pearl of wisdom" was to "be kind to each other; hug each other lots; be there in the laughter and the tears, in the good times and bad. Be faithful, hopeful, and charitable. Of course, that's not my pearl at all: those are the values of Westminster, my alma mater."

Senior class speaker Lurene McDonald, a public relations major from Hickory, took the audience on "A Walk Down Westminster Way."

"We didn't realize that the people we would meet here would change our lives," McDonald said. "Westminster is more than a college. The people here are a community and, more importantly, a family. People here will support you and your cause, even if it means extra work for them."

"Always remember the people and actions that have gotten you to this place and pay it forward to other travelers," McDonald concluded. "Remember to go out of your way for other people and work hard to assist others in finding success. Remember to support those who surround you, even if it means more work for you. If you do this, you will never leave your days at Westminster behind, because your life will be filled with the Westminster Way."

Faculty greetings were given by 1978 Westminster graduate Dr. Carolyn Cuff, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.

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

Distinguished Faculty Award
Kathy Koop
, professor of art, received the Distinguished Faculty Award. Koop, who has been with Westminster since 1973, earned an undergraduate degree in art education and a master of fine art degree from Indiana University. While at Westminster, Koop served as chair and director of the Art Gallery. She actively built a strong and successful ceramic program, including hosting five separate Japanese artists-in-residence to work in a cultural exchange with Westminster students. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in more than 250 venues and is represented in public collections in the U.S., Japan, and Malaysia. Nominations came from students, faculty, and alumni.

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.

Two Honored with Emerita Status
was honored with designation as professor of art emerita.

Dr. Carol Bové was honored with designation as professor of French emerita. Bové, who joined the faculty in 1984, earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and master's and Ph.D. from the State University of New York, Binghamton. She has published several articles and a book, translated two books on French psychoanalytic writing, offered several cluster courses linking French to other disciplines, and is working on a book manuscript on Italian immigrants to France and the U.S.

Recognition of the graduates as Westminster alumni was given by Harry Smith, a 1966 graduate and president of the Alumni Council.

Katlyn Schroll, a music education major from Canton, Ohio, sang the Westminster College Alma Mater to end the ceremony.

Departing guests were serenaded by Paula Kubik with selections on the Westminster carillon.

Commencement highlights are available at

About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College is a top tier liberal arts college and a national leader in graduation rate performance, according to U.S. News Guide to America's Best Colleges. Westminster ranked third among liberal arts colleges in social mobility, according to the Washington Monthly College Guide, and is one of the most affordable national liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 371 Colleges" and "Best in the Northeast" by The Princeton Review, and is named to the President's Honor Roll for excellence in service learning.

Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty while choosing from 41 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa., campus. Visit to view "Advantage: Westminster" A Strategic Plan 2010-2020.

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Dr. David Orr