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Lebanon Valley College Celebrates 152nd Commencement

Lebanon Valley College celebrates commencement

Nearly 440 students in the Class of 2021 undergraduate and graduate programs celebrated their educational and personal accomplishments during three Commencement ceremonies this weekend. The College held three distinct Commencements—one for physical therapy doctoral graduates and two for undergraduate degree recipients—as part of the CDC and other COVID-19 protocols. 

The physical therapy Commencement ceremony was Friday, May 21, 2021, while the two undergraduate ceremonies—grouped by degree attained—were Sunday, May 23, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The College also recognized the Class of 2020 during an on-campus Commencement on Saturday, May 22, 2021.

View our recognition pages here.

Dr. Michael Fink, PT, DSc, SCS, chair and newly promoted professor of physical therapy, was the featured Commencement speaker by virtue of being named the Vickroy Award winner (see below) during the 2020 Commencement Celebration.

Dr. Fink’s speech focused on “Adapt and Overcome.” He advised the Class of 2020 to “Surround yourself with those who embody what you want to become…those with a positive outlook on life, who speak encouragement into the lives of others, and who exude confidence, and who have mastered their craft. Spending time with these type of people, can help reframe your mental narrative.

Along with honoring graduates, LVC revealed the winners of several major annual awards.

Dr. Ken Yarnall, chair and associate professor of mathematical sciences, presented the top student award, the H. Anthony Neidig Award, to Allison Liu, who graduated with a near-perfect 4.0 GPA with degrees in actuarial science and computer & data science. Liu received almost every honor bestowed by the faculty in the College’s Department of Mathematical Sciences, and took four national actuarial sciences exams, including passing two during her first year. 

Faculty in the nationally recognized department noted that “Allison is one of the most astonishingly capable, involved, and accomplished students we have ever had the pleasure of working with. Her incredible level of involvement with campus life, diversity initiatives, and community service make her near-perfect academic and professional accomplishments even more amazing. She represents the best of LVC in every way imaginable.”

Liu, who also minored in German and studied in Germany, is one of the College’s four Allwein Scholars in the Class of 2021. Allwein Scholars receive LVC’s most distinguished full-scholarship. Liu earned three paid internships during her LVC career, including on with the Capital Insurance Group in California. Liu accepted a position with Capital as an actuarial analyst. 

Also during Commencement, Dr. Monica Cowart, provost and vice president of academic affairs, announced Michael Pittari, M.A., professor and director of creative arts, as the recipient of this year’s Vickroy Award, the top honor for a full-time faculty member. His department chair noted, “Professor Pittari is a skilled and practiced technician in the art of teaching.” A fellow professor added, “Professor Pittari’s ability to engage students, stimulate thinking, and develop understanding is exemplary.” 

Professor Pittari has taught at LVC for more than 15 years, including creating the distinctive Color + Culture course, which led to a 100-page Color + Culture Journal that featured student work and a dozen student essays selected from among 36 finalists. He has a B.F.A. from the University of Florida and an M.F.A. from the University of Tennessee. Pittari’s art has been featured in museums throughout the United States 

The second teaching award presented by Dr. Cowart during Commencement was the Nevelyn J. Knisley Award, annually bestowed on a part-time or adjunct member of the College faculty. Rev. Timothy Dewald, adjunct instructor in mathematics, received this year’s honor. Dewald, who has taught classes throughout the curriculum in his nearly three decades at The Valley, is the first-ever two-time winner of the Knisley Award. He was described by a nominator as “Tim teaches his courses to develop students’ ability to read technical material, work through complex lines of reasoning, and explain technical materials at appropriate levels. His love of mathematics and science gives his courses a unique air. Students will long remember his tactile demonstrations to illustrate statistical concepts, including falling beads, rolling dice, flipping coins, and even a plastic Godzilla toy to illustrate statistical curves.”

Earlier in the week, Dr. Andrew Milosz, clinical assistant professor of exercise science, received the Educator of the Year Award from Camden Selby ’21, Student Government representative, on behalf of the student body. This honor is bestowed annually on a member of the full-time faculty who embodies the transformative power of the LVC experience, in and out of the classroom. View the baccalaureate service in full here.