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Westminster College to Celebrate Commencement, May 9

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Posted on Wednesday, April 15, 2015

More than 275 students are expected to earn degrees Saturday, May 9, at Westminster College’s 161st commencement ceremonies.  A baccalaureate service will be held at 10 a.m. in Orr Auditorium with Commencement at 1 p.m. on the Weisel Senior Terrace of Old Main.

The baccalaureate message will be given by Dr. John Ryan ’90, director of youth & family ministries at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Ga.

The class of 2015 selected Haley Barger to give the senior address. An English major, Barger is the daughter of Carolyn Barger and a graduate of Blackhawk High School.

In case of rain, the commencement ceremony will be held in Memorial Field House.

Contact Gabriella Budai, executive secretary in the Office of Academic Affairs, at 724- 946-7122 for more information.

The Honorable JoAnn Lynn Pasacic Balzer to Earn Honorary Doctorate

The commencement ceremony will include the conferring of an honorary doctorate, doctor of science, honoris causa, to The Honorable JoAnn Lynn Pasacic Balzer ‘63, Trustee of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, NM.  She will present “The Power of YOU” during the ceremony.

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. 

She helped establish two Museums in Santa Fe and founded the Institute of American Indian Arts Foundation, the Code of the West Foundation, and the Center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership. She co-founded the Collectors’ Club at the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles and Friends of Indian Art at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe.

Additional accomplishments include serving on the boards of the IAIA, the Lensic Performing Arts Center, and New Mexico Arts. She is an advisory trustee of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and the Santa Fe International Folk Art Alliance. She formerly served on the boards of the Southwest Museum and Autry National Center in Los Angeles, Creative Santa Fe, and New Mexico Women in the Arts, and was Executive Director of the Institute of American Indian Arts, Buckaroo Ball, and Code of the West and Center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership Foundations. In 2014, Balzer was inducted into the Farrell High School Alumni Hall of Fame.