The graduating Class of 2011 walked across the stage to cheers from family, friends, faculty and staff at The Mann Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, May 15, for Philadelphia University’s 127th Commencement ceremony.
Steven G. Blank, an award-winning educator, author and entrepreneur gave the Commencement address and received the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters. Blank urged the graduates to find their own path upon leaving Philadelphia University, working hard at what they love and seeking out new experiences. After discovering a love for aeronautics and technology, Blank joined the United States Air Force as a young adult and learned the skills he would later use to launch eight technology start-ups in the Silicon Valley.
“Be forever curious. Volunteer for everything. Show up a lot. Treat failure as experience, and make your life matter,” Blank said. “Live your life with no regrets. There is no undo button.” Click here to read Blank’s full Commencement speech.
Tomio Taki, a leader in textile and apparel manufacturing whose company at one time owned designer firms Anne Klein & Company and The Donna Karan company, was awarded the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters on campus before Philadelphia University’s An Evening of Innovation two weeks prior to Commencement.
At Commencement, Mike Leonard, associate professor of industrial design, received the President’s Award for Teaching Excellence. The award and medal are made possible by a gift from the late Charles Rothchild, past president and chair of Hanson Textiles and alumnus of the Class of 1923. Valerie Hanson, Ph.D., assistant professor of writing, received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award.
Erin N. Buck, a graduate of the School of Business Administration with a degree in accounting, was honored as the Class of 2011 valedictorian. President Stephen Spinelli Jr., Ph.D. presented the President’s Award for Excellence to Joanne Amos for undergraduate studies, Sarah Jane Sheber for graduate studies and Carol Lukens for continuing and professional studies.
Michael Johnson ’11, winner of this year’s student speaker competition, presented the student address at the 2011 Commencement Ceremony. Johnson, a self-described “non-traditional” student received his degree from the School of Health and Science after more than 20 years working as a counselor. Johnson reminded the graduates that their achievement can serve as an inspiration to others.
“As students, we have proven that we can collaborate to tackle projects and achieve goals. As graduates, we have an obligation to take the skills, education and knowledge we’ve gained here at Philadelphia University and apply it not only to the empowerment of ourselves, but to the enrichment of society,” Johnson said. Click here to read his full speech.
Saying farewell to the Class of 2011, President Spinelli challenged the graduating students to live meaningful, purpose-driven lives. “I urge you to explore the depth of your beliefs and understandings,” President Spinelli said. “Start today by asking the question, ‘What are the truths by which I will lead my life.’” Click here to read President Spinelli’s full speech.