Philadelphia University’s largest class ever – 692 undergraduate and graduate students –walked across the stage at The Mann Center for the Performing Arts yesterday to collect their diplomas in front of a cheering crowd of family, friends, faculty and staff.
Business publisher Steve Forbes gave the commencement address and received the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters. Closed-end fund specialist Thomas J. Herzfeld, ’66, also was awarded the honorary degree.
President Stephen Spinelli Jr. presided over his first Commencement at the May 18 ceremony, which took place under mostly sunny skies at the outdoor performing arts center in Fairmount Park.
At Commencement, Alexander Messinger, an architect, environmental artist and professor of Interior Design, received the President’s Award for Teaching Excellence. Barbara Kimmelman, associate professor of history, received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award.
The Sara Tyler Wister Awards for excellence in scholarship are given each year to the students who have earned the highest scholastic average in each academic school. This year’s winners were: Skylar Tibbits, School of Architecture; Henry Buchholz, School of Business Administration; Jennifer Garrett, School of Design and Media; Tara Mayer, School of Engineering and Textiles; Shaheed Abdulhaqq, School of Science and Health; and James Stasik and Anthony Russo, Continuing and Professional Studies.
Shaheed Abdulhaqq also was this year’s class valedictorian and Henry Buchholz received the President’s Award for Excellence as an undergraduate student. Yan Liu, who received an M.S. in Textile Engineering, received the President’s Award for Excellence as a graduate student.
In addition, the first 11 graduates to receive the Associate in Science in Health and Human Services as part of an innovative partnership between Philadelphia University and the National Union of Hospital and Healthcare Employees, District 199C, received their diplomas at Commencement. The partnership, which started in 2005, now enrolls about 65 working adults who are seeking to earn their degrees and advance in their careers.