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Edinboro University graduates 899 students during Saturday's Spring 2011 Commencement


EDINBORO, Pa. – Reflecting upon decades of rich academic customs and traditions and amidst traditional pomp and circumstance, Edinboro University President Jeremy D. Brown conferred degrees upon 899 graduating students during the University’s 2011 Spring Commencement ceremony Saturday afternoon.

Parents, family members and friends, many bearing flowers and gifts for their favorite graduates, packed into McComb Fieldhouse, with the overflow crowd taking seats for the televised ceremony in the Frank G. Pogue Student Center.

The 1 p.m. ceremonial procession of faculty and graduating students that launched the Commencement Ceremony was video-streamed live to a global internet audience via the University’s website at, and was also televised live by ETV, the campus’ student-run television station. 

The day officially began at 10 a.m. when President Brown and his wife, Rebeca Acuña, welcomed graduates and their families at a Pre-commencement Brunch at Van Houten Dining Hall.

During the Commencement ceremony, a total of 79 academic majors were represented by the Spring 2011 graduating class, which included members who had earned associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The largest number of students graduated with degrees in education, art, business administration, nursing, psychology, social work and criminal justice.

President Brown, who presided over his eighth and final Edinboro Commencement before he departs to assume the presidency of Dowling College on Long Island, N.Y., on June 1, pointed out that Saturday’s baccalaureate graduates began to matriculate at Edinboro about the same time as President Brown became the University’s 16th president four years ago. As such, he said the past four years have been a shared journey.

“Rebeca reminds me that in 2007 our moving van arrived in Edinboro the same day you were moving into your residence halls on campus.  Can you remember your first night in your dorm room – your new home-away-from-home? I was right there with you, beginning my new life at Edinboro University.”  He quipped that he might have come to campus “with less stuff than many of you!”

Brown’s Commencement message reflected upon those four shared years at Edinboro University with this year’s graduating class, as well as looking forward to growth and successes in the graduates’ future.

“Graduates, today is about moving on to the next phase of your life as much as it is about reflecting on the last few years. You need to embrace this time as you graduate from Edinboro University and look back with pride. You also need to learn from the good and the bad, and not ignore what leaps and bounds – and stumbles and falls – it took to get here today.”

He said that being at Edinboro has been “one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my professional career … and one of my proudest achievements is that whilst you were here we challenged you to reach beyond your expectations to realize your true potential …

“Your perseverance and creativity are truly what I will take away from this experience in the land of all things tartan!”

Concluding his remarks to graduates, he said, “Four years ago, we began this incredible adventure together. And although we now depart together, I know we will all think back upon our time here with great fondness, never forgetting we will always be Fighting Scots!”

 Graduation Day Factoids:

  • Of the 899 graduates, 586 received bachelor’s degrees, 288 received master’s degrees and 25 received associate’s degrees.
  • Latin honors were awarded to 208 students. Forty-seven received Summa Cum Laude honors (3.8 to 4.0 grade point average); 68 received Magna Cum Laude honors (3.6 to 3.79 grade point average); and 93 graduated Cum Laude (3.4 to 3.59 grade point average).
  • Three-hundred forty graduating students reside in Erie County, while 114 are from Crawford County.
  • Six-hundred and seven graduates are female; 292 are male.
  • The oldest is 79; the youngest 19.
  • An alternate ticketed video viewing location for overflow attendees and those uncomfortable with McComb’s bleacher-style seating was established in the Frank G. Pogue Student Center.
  • Live video of the ceremony was streamed worldwide via Edinboro’s website and viewed by many online at; the ceremony was also telecast live by the University’s student-run television station, ETV.

Spring Commencement participants

Dr. Philip E. Ginnetti, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, convened Saturday’s Commencement ceremony. Leading the academic procession and carrying the ceremonial mace was the Grand Marshal, Dr. Douglas Puharic of Edinboro’s Mathematics and Computer Science Department, and president of the University Senate. The distinction of being mace bearer emphasizes the importance of faculty in Edinboro’s academic environment where learning is preeminent.

Ms. Yvette Nelson, a non-traditional student who earned a Bachelor of Arts in Geography degree, and graduated Summa Cum Laude, delivered Saturday’s student address. 

Also during the Commencement Ceremony, Erie Attorney Harry Thomas, of Knox, McLaughlin, Gornall and Sennett law firm and a member of the Edinboro University Council of Trustees, delivered the traditional COT greeting to graduates and their families. Thomas has been a long-time member of the COT, the University’s governing body, and has previously served as its chair. 

Others participating in the ceremony included Mr. David Irlbacher, Class of 1973, a Lifetime member of the Edinboro University Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, and immediate past president of the organization, who welcomed the University’s newest alumni to the growing alumni network of some 60,000, as well as Dr. Terry Smith, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Alan Beil, Dean of Graduate Studies and Research; and Dr. Nomsa Geleta, Dean of Education.

Going green

Edinboro’s dedication to protecting the environment and sustainability in all things again was reflected in a major way during Commencement. Graduates were decked out in black gowns and “mortarboard” caps, but the Commencement apparel has definitely “gone green.”

For Edinboro’s fourth consecutive Commencement, degree recipients were wearing GreenWeaver graduation caps and gowns made of 100 percent, post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.  In December of 2009, Edinboro was the first of PASSHE’s 14 universities to have its graduating class wear the “green” caps and gowns.

“Once again, Edinboro University makes a concerted effort to recycle while developing sustainable programs and reducing our carbon footprint,” said President Brown. “As always, this ‘going green’ for Commencement remains a great reminder to our graduates – our future leaders – of the impact each one of them can make on our environment.”

Each GreenWeaver gown produced by Oak Hall Cap & Gown, a Virginia manufacturer of academic apparel, keeps an average of 23 plastic bottles from winding up in a landfill. With hundreds of graduating students participating in Saturday’s Commencement exercise, that equates to more than 16,000 bottles being kept from landfills.

Music for Saturday’s ceremony was provided by Edinboro’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Gary S. Grant, chair of the Music Department, and by the University Singers, conducted by Music Department Professor Peter van den Honert. The student leader for the National Anthem and Alma Mater was Tara Hart. Dr. Kahan Sablo, Interim Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Student Life, performed a special music solo in tribute of the Spring graduating class.

Also unique during Edinboro’s Commencement Ceremony was the deployment once again of the “Marching Order” system of graduates’ own video self-introductions to the Commencement audience. Prior to Commencement, graduates were video-recorded giving their names, majors and hometowns. The self-introductions were loaded into a computer and then displayed on a huge screen at McComb as the graduates crossed the stage to receive their diplomas. The result was hundreds of personalized displays of the graduate for all to see and hear.

Several years ago, Edinboro University was the first in the nation to use the “Marching Order” system of self-introductions during Commencement.

Grads, families, nurses, ROTC  honored during special events

Graduating students and their families were also honored by University officials Friday evening during a Commencement Dinner Celebration at the Frank G. Pogue Student Center.

In addition, also on Friday, some 40 students graduating with nursing degrees were recognized during a traditional pinning ceremony in McLane Church in nearby McKean. The pinning ceremony marks the completion of the first part of the journey to becoming a nurse. Although the graduates’ formal education is completed, continued learning in nursing is a life-long pursuit. Thus, the pinning ceremony can be looked upon as the bridge that carries the individual from the role of student to the reality of the professional. Decades ago, nurses wore white uniforms with caps that identified them as graduates of a particular school. As caps and whites gave way to colorful scrubs, the school pin remains a symbol of the connection with their school, their peers, and their faculty. Many Edinboro students choose to dedicate their pins to family members who helped them along their journey, to a close friend, or to the spiritual force that supported them.

This year’s nursing graduates were the first to experience the new Human Services Building, designed to meet the specialized needs of the Nursing Department, and which opened in January.

Edinboro’s Nursing Program had six Korean students graduate from the University’s first-ever cohort of Foreign-Educated Nurses.

Another meaningful Friday event associated with Commencement took place in the historic Louis C. Cole Auditorium-Memorial Hall when the Cadre and Cadets of the Fighting Scots U.S. Army ROTC Battalion held its Spring Commissioning Ceremony. Four graduating seniors took their oaths as Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Army.

Those who swore to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution were Justin Smith of Greenville, a Criminal Justice major who will serve in the Military Police; Joseph Smith of Grand Forks, North Dakota, a History major who will also serve in the Military Police; Jeb Davis of Cambridge Springs, an Independent Studies major who will serve in the Armor branch; and JoyAnne Bulkley-Bean of Titusville, an Applied Media Arts major who will be assigned to the Medical Service Corps.

The Commissioning event’s keynote speaker was the highly-decorated U.S. Army Brigadier General Mark Bellini, the Army’s 49th Quartermaster General and a 1979 graduate of Edinboro University.