Commencement Ceremonies to Feature Auditor General Wagner, Professor Rafoth as Keynote Speakers

Posted on 12/13/2010 3:16:02 PM

IUP’s graduate and undergraduate Commencement ceremonies will take place Sunday, December 19, 2010, with 1,073 students eligible to receive degrees.

The graduate ceremony will take place in Fisher Auditorium at 10:30 a.m. Jack Wagner, Pennsylvania auditor general and a 1974 graduate of IUP, will be the keynote speaker.

The undergraduate ceremony will be at 1:30 p.m. in Memorial Field House, with Dr. Ben Rafoth, a faculty member in the English Department and IUP’s 2010-2011 University Professor, as the keynote speaker. University Professor is a title and annual award presented to an IUP faculty member based on an outstanding record of teaching, research, scholarly activity, and service.

Wagner, of Beechview, is serving his second term as Pennsylvania’s fiftieth elected auditor general.

Before he was elected to the post, Wagner represented Allegheny County as a state senator, serving in the leadership of the Senate and as the Democratic chair of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.

Wagner was a member of the Pittsburgh City Council for ten years, representing all city neighborhoods, and was council president from 1990 to 1993.

After graduating from South Hills High School in Pittsburgh, Wagner was employed by Duquesne Light Company and was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers for five years.

Wagner, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1966 to 1968, received a Purple Heart and other military commendations while serving in the Vietnam War in 1967.

Following his military service, Wagner enrolled at IUP and graduated with a degree in safety management. While a student, he worked as a paramedic with Citizens’ Ambulance Service in Indiana.

In 1994, he received IUP’s Distinguished Alumni Award for service to the community and the university. He and his wife, Nancy, have two children, Luke and Sara.

Rafoth joined the IUP community in 1987 as an assistant professor of English in the rhetoric and linguistics program. He was promoted to associate professor in 1991 and to professor in 1995. He currently serves as director of the IUP Writing Center, a position he also held from 1988 to 2006. From 2006 to 2009, he served as director of graduate studies in Composition and TESOL. He also served as interim dean of the IUP Libraries in 1997 and 1998 and directed the Continuing Improvement Project for Stapleton Library during that time.

In 2008, the International Writing Centers Association established the Ben Rafoth Graduate Student Research Award in recognition of his “many years of support for graduate student research in teaching writing and writing centers.”

He received the International Writing Centers Association Book of the Year Award in 2005 and a National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing Distinguished Leadership Award in 2002.

He is an active member of several professional organizations and has been the author or coauthor of four books and thirty-three articles and book chapters and has received more than $380,000 in grant funding.

Active in university and community service, he received an award for his volunteer work with the Foundation for IUP and received the Point of Excellence Award from Kappa Delta Pi education honor society. He was the faculty writer for the Middle States Comprehensive Self-Study for IUP and has served on scores of university and department committees and advisory councils.

He and his wife, Dr. Mary Ann Rafoth, dean of IUP’s College of Education and Educational Technology, are the parents of two college-age children, Henry and Paige.

In his speech, Rafoth will share the stories of twenty graduating seniors he interviewed in the weeks before Commencement.

Dr. Dawn Fels, an August graduate of the doctoral program in Composition and TESOL and an assistant professor in IUP’s English Department, will be the student speaker for the graduate ceremony, while Amy Raabe, a Food and Nutrition major from Butler, will be the student speaker for the undergraduate ceremony.

Fels has a fifteen-year career as a published author, researcher, writing center director, mentor to new colleagues, and contributor to professional organizations. She has coauthored a book (with another IUP doctoral student) that will be published next year by Teachers College Press of Columbia University. Literacy Lives in the High School Writing Center shows how writing centers support literacy education in American schools.

Fels is a member of the executive board of the International Writing Centers Association. She was chair of the Midwest Regional Writing Centers Association conference in 2006 and has been a frequent presenter at conferences of the National Council of Teachers of English, College Composition and Communication, and the International Writing Centers Association.

Raabe, who is graduating with a 4.0 grade-point average, is a 1985 graduate of Slippery Rock Area High School. A nontraditional student, Raabe worked as a restaurant cook, server, and manager; as a customer service representative for PNC Bank; and as owner and operator of a florist business before beginning her studies at IUP. She and her husband, Ken, are the parents of two children, Colten and Hallie.

Undergraduate and graduate students who have applied to graduate in December 2010 and graduate students who have earned their degree in August 2010 are invited to participate in the ceremonies. The breakdown of degrees for the group is 518 bachelor’s degrees, 489 master’s degrees, 59 doctoral degrees, and seven associate degrees.

Of the bachelor’s degree recipients, 197 qualify for Latin honors, with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.25 or higher.

The breakdown of graduates by college is eighty-five from the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology, seventy from the College of Education and Educational Technology, thirty-six from the College of Fine Arts, 195 from the College of Health and Human Services, seventy-eight from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, sixty-one from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and 548 from the School of Graduate Studies and Research.