PhilaU Welcomes Incoming Students at Convocation Ceremony


Philadelphia University welcomed some 730 new students and their families and marked the official start of the 2014-15 academic year at Convocation on August 21.

After a bagpipe processional into the Gallagher Athletic, Recreation and Convocation Center, President Stephen Spinelli Jr. welcomed what he called “one of the most qualified classes admitted to Philadelphia University” and said he expects great things from these students.


David Sirkin ’94, president of The Neckwear Group at PVH Corp., delivers the keynote address.

“Before the first day of class, I suggest each of you set a few specific goals for yourself,” Spinelli said, inviting students to film a video “selfie” of what they would like to be able to say about themselves four years later at Commencement. Spinelli then pulled out his cell phone and created his own video with the new students in the background.

The ceremony featured a keynote address from David Sirkin ’94, president of The Neckwear Group at PVH Corp. and a textile marketing and management graduate. “This is an amazing start to the beginning of your college career,” said Sirkin, telling students the real-life preparation they will gain at PhilaU will be critical to their success in the workplace. “Congratulations on taking this first step.”

Sirkin oversees sales, marketing, design, finance, warehouse and distribution, and planning and analysis for the neckwear group division of PVH Corp., a global $8 billion company whose brands include Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen, IZOD and Speedo.


Erik Smith, Student Government Association president, addresses his classmates at Convocation.

Erik Smith, Student Government Association president and senior interior design student, advised his new classmates to make the most of their time at PhilaU.

“The students and faculty you meet during your time at PhilaU will become your personal network,” he said. “Learn everything you can from your classmates, and listen to their ideas and share your unique skills with others every chance you get. The relationships that you build here will become the driving force behind landing your dream job.”

At the ceremony, four Centennial Medals were presented to outstanding high school educators nominated by incoming PhilaU students. The annual award was created in 1984 by the Board of Trustees to celebrate Philadelphia University’s 100th anniversary.

“It’s nice to be recognized by your peers, but when a student feels that you’ve impacted their life in a positive way, that’s the reason you teach,” said Centennial Medal recipient Concetta Mattioni, an art teacher at Penncrest High School in Media, Pa.


Concetta Mattioni (right) is presented with the Centennial Medal. She was nominated by freshman animation student Madeline Conway (left).

She was nominated by freshman animation student Madeline Conway, who cited her former teacher’s support and guidance. “Ms. Mattioni gave me confidence—what I needed most to continue my art career,” Conway said at Convocation.

The other Centennial Media recipients and the PhilaU students who nominated them are:

Cherylyn Straubmuller, an algebra teacher at Haddon Township High School in Westmont, N.J., was nominated by interior design major Benjamin Rogers.

Judith Marquardt, a technology teacher at Patterson Mill High School in Bel Air, Md., was nominated by industrial design major Soren Sibbesen.

David Reynolds, a business teacher at Middletown High School in Middletown, Conn., was nominated by graphic design major and fashion merchandising and management minor Liza Marino.

Convocation marks the first official meeting of the Class of 2018, as well as the Class of 2019 for students in the five-year architecture program. To keep up with the latest news and information at Philadelphia University, go to and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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