Erdman, Lehr, and Levine to Receive Honorary Degrees

William Lehr, Esq., H'19

Lebanon Valley College will award honorary degrees to three medical, musical, and community leaders during its 150th Commencement on May 11, 2019. The honorees include a trombonist for five U.S. Presidential inaugurations, a philanthropist who has served on more than 30 charitable and cultural boards, and a doctor who has made significant strides combating the opioid epidemic and advocating on behalf of the LGBTQ population. 

James A. Erdman II, a 35-year member of the LVC music faculty and founder of the country's first quartet-in-residence at an American college or university, will receive the Honorary Doctorate in Music (D.Mus.). William Lehr Jr., Esq., community philanthropist, corporate leader, and former two-term chair of LVC’s Board of Trustees, will receive the Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters (L.H.D.). Dr. Rachel L. Levine, Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine, will receive the Honorary Doctorate in Science (Sc.D.). 

James A. Erdman II

Doctor of Music (D.Mus.)

James A. Erdman II, an adjunct professor of music at LVC for 35 years, started his career after being accepted as a trombone soloist of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. Being selected at the age of 17, he was the second-youngest ever member after renowned American composer John Philip Sousa. After just six years Erdman became principal trombonist in the band, eventually performing more than 1,000 solos during annual Marine Band nationwide concert tours, including at The Kennedy Center, Boston’s Symphony Hall, and UCLA’s Royce Hall.

In his two decades with the Marine Band, Erdman performed numerous times at the White House, including during the inaugurations of Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald R. Ford. He made frequent guest artist and clinic appearances for the International Trombone Association and was recognized by the organization in 1985 for his “contributions to virtuoso trombone playing.”

In 1983, Erdman was appointed as an adjunct instructor of low brass at Lebanon Valley College. He received the College’s top teaching award for an adjunct instructor, the Nevelyn J. Knisley Award for Inspirational Teaching, in 2001, and in 2013, he was an inaugural inductee into the Lebanon County Harmonia Society Musician’s Hall of Fame. 

Erdman taught countless private instrumental lessons at LVC, and classes in low brass ensemble, low brass pedagogy, and low brass literature. In 1985, he founded “Quartet die Posaunen,” which LVC and the International Trombone Association recognized as the first trombone quartet-in-residence at an American college or university.

A graduate of Lebanon High School where he was solo trombonist for three years, Erdman was a member of the Pennsylvania State Band, and received the Superior Solo Performance rating at the Pennsylvania Forensic League at the University of Pittsburgh his senior year. In 2016, he was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus by the Lebanon School District.

William Lehr Jr., Esq.

Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)

From 2004–2016, William Lehr Jr., Esq., was chair of the board of Capital BlueCross. He also served as chief executive officer from 2008–2012 and as president from 2008–2010 at BlueCross. Lehr previously served as senior vice president, secretary, and treasurer of Hershey Foods Corporation, from which he retired in 1995 after a 28-year career. 

Lehr is a respected leader in the central Pennsylvania community and has served on the boards of more than 30 non-profit and public-private organizations, acting as chair of the board of more than a dozen of them at the national, state, and regional levels. Noteworthy among these leadership roles are his service to Lebanon Valley College (trustee emeritus and two-time chair of the board), The Foundation for Enhancing Communities (chair for nine years), Americans for the Arts (past chair), Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra (past chair), WITF (past chair), Susquehanna Art Museum (president of the board), the Whitaker Center (founding director and vice chair), and Capital BlueCross (director emeritus and advisor to the board).

Among the many honors bestowed on Lehr are his recognition as an Angel of the Arts by MetroArts (2001), designation as a Regional “Mover and Shaker” by the Central Pennsylvania Business Journal (2003), appreciation for outstanding community service by the Mental Health Association of the Capital Region (2005), and recipient of Harrisburg Magazine’s SAGE Award (2008). Lehr also was chosen as the inaugural recipient of the Champion of Philanthropy Award of The Foundation for Enhancing Communities (2012), honored with the Founders Medal by Lebanon Valley College (2015), and received the Living Legend Award as a philanthropist and Patron of the Arts from the Harrisburg Chapter of The Links Inc. In 2015, he and his wife, artist Beverlee Lehr, received The Patron’s Award during the Governor’s Arts Awards from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, LVC Class of 1971.

In addition to their extraordinary service to The Valley, Bill and Beverlee created The William and Beverlee Lehr Scholarship at LVC and financially supported numerous campus projects, including the annual Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra free concert in July. One of the College’s dining areas, Lehr Dining Hall, is named in their honor.

Lehr holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame, where he graduated cum laude and is a member of the advisory board of the university’s Center for Ethics and Religious Value in Business. He received his juris doctorate degree from Georgetown University Law Center. Lehr is a graduate of the Stanford Executive Program and completed The Governing for Nonprofit Excellence course at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business Administration. Beverlee, an accomplished ceramic sculptor and Craniosacral Therapist, has exhibited her work at LVC’s Suzanne H. Arnold Art Gallery.

Rachel L. Levine, M.D.

Doctor of Science (Sc.D.)

Dr. Rachel L. Levine is Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine. 

As physician general, Levine made significant strides combating the opioid epidemic and advocating on behalf of the LGBTQ population. She spearheaded efforts to establish opioid prescribing guidelines and opioid prescribing education for medical students. She also led an LGBTQ workgroup for the governor’s office, which has worked to create programs and processes that are fair and inclusive in healthcare, insurance, and many other areas. Recently, Levin was recognized as one of NBC’s Pride 30, a national list of 30 people who are members of and making a difference in the lives of the LGBTQ community.

Her previous posts include vice chair for clinical affairs for the Department of Pediatrics and chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital–Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Levine graduated from Harvard College and the Tulane University School of Medicine. She completed her training in pediatrics at the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City and then did a fellowship in Adolescent Medicine at Mt. Sinai. Levine then practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine in New York City and was on the faculty of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. In 1993, she came to Central Pennsylvania as director of Ambulatory Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the Polyclinic Medical Center. She joined the Penn State Hershey Medical Center in 1996 as director of Pediatric Ambulatory Services and Adolescent Medicine. 

Her accomplishments at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center include the initiation of a Division of Adolescent Medicine for the care of complex teens with medical and psychological problems. Also, she started the Penn State Hershey Eating Disorders Program, which offers multidisciplinary treatment for children, adolescents, and adults with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. She was the liaison for the LGBT community for the Office of Diversity at the Penn State College of Medicine. In that role, Levine established an LGBT faculty and staff affinity group and was the facilitator for the LGBT student group.

Levine teaches at the Penn State College of Medicine on topics in adolescent medicine, eating disorders, and transgender medicine. She also has lectured nationally and internationally and published articles and chapters on these topics.