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Waynesburg University’s annual Baccalaureate and Commencement exercises will be held Sunday, May 18, on the campus of Waynesburg University. The celebration will honor approximately 600 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students. 

The Rev. Thomas M. Hall II, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, will present his message, “Where Have All the Heroes Gone?” at the Baccalaureate service. Laura E. Ellsworth, partner at Jones Day, an elite international law firm, will address the Class of 2014 as the Commencement speaker.

Baccalaureate services will be held in Roberts Chapel at 11 a.m., and Commencement will be held on the front lawn of Miller Hall at 2 p.m. In case of inclement weather, the Commencement Ceremony will be held in Rudy Marisa Fieldhouse.

Graduates will have the opportunity to reflect on their personal and academic journeys as they experience the day’s momentous events. The Baccalaureate and Commencement speakers will offer inspirational guidance as each member of the Class of 2014 begins a new chapter in his or her life. Families are encouraged to arrive early, as the Commencement processional begins approximately 20 minutes prior to the ceremony.

Both Ellsworth and Hall will be honored during the Commencement Ceremony with honorary degrees, Doctors of Humane Letters, for the ways in which their lives and personal missions relate to the mission of Waynesburg University.

The Rev. Thomas M. Hall II

b2ap3_thumbnail_Rev-Tom-Hall-Feb-2014_20140423-200816_1.jpgHall is senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh.  Since being called to the church in 2009, Hall’s passion for the heart of Pittsburgh has advanced the region in spirituality and sustainability.

He is president of the Pittsburgh Downtown Ministerium and is on the board of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. Hall also serves on the Bethlehem Haven Board and the Council of the Metro-Urban Institute at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh.

A retired Air Force colonel, Hall began his military career in 1974 after graduating from the United States Air Force Academy. In the military, he served as an intelligence analyst and as a headquarters staff officer. His international experience includes chairing the 15-nation NATO Electronic Warfare Advisory Committee and commanding the 11th Operations Group. Rev. Hall’s military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Medal. In 2004 he completed a 30-year career in the Air Force as a full colonel. 

The esteemed leader earned a Master’s degree in systems management from the University of Southern California and a master of divinity degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

Laura E. Ellsworth

b2ap3_thumbnail_Ellsworth-Photo.jpgNamed one of Pennsylvania’s “Best 50 Women in Business,” Laura Ellsworth practices as a partner at Jones Day, an elite international law firm.

She serves as the vice chair of the board of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and on the boards of Imani Christian Academy, Governor Tom Corbett’s appointed Council on Privatization and Innovation, and the Allegheny Conference on Economic Development.

Ellsworth is partner-in-charge of the Jones Day Pittsburgh office. She has been involved extensively in electronic discovery and currently serves on the Jones Days’ e-Discovery Committee. Since joining Jones Day in 1992, she has practiced a wide range of complex commercial litigation including high-profile, multi-jurisdictional product liability and bankruptcy cases.

She has been named one of the best lawyers in America for commercial litigation and was recognized as a "leader in her field" by Chambers USA in 2009. Ellsworth was recognized as a "leader in the law" by the Legal Intelligencer and as one of the top female litigators in Pennsylvania by Pennsylvania Law Weekly.

Ellsworth received her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 1980, then graduated magna cum laude with her Juris doctorate in 1983 from the University of Pittsburgh. She completed her bar admissions in the state of Pennsylvania.

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Contact: Ashley Wise, Communication Specialist
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The Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program at Waynesburg University will offer a free, online professional development workshop series for educators.  The TPS Level III: Coaches Academy for Teachers workshop will take place every Thursday beginning May 15 through June 19, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. 

Participants will gain a basic understanding of adult learning theory, peer coaching strategies and facilitation techniques through sample activities, peer discussion and independent reading from a variety of professional organizations. As a culminating project, participants design a strategy and plan to coach colleagues to effectively use digitized primary sources from the Library of Congress to better support student learning.

Coaches Academy for Teachers is an advanced, online professional development course. The six-week workshop includes synchronous chat sessions supplemented by independent reading, peer discussions and project development outside of class. Participants can earn up to 20 PDE Act 48 activity hours.  

Graduates of TPS Level I are welcome to apply; others are asked to complete the six online modules before attending.  To locate modules, visit http://www.loc.gov/teachers/professionaldevelopment/selfdirected/. Those who submit certificates of completion will receive six additional PA Act 48 activity hours.

Space is limited. To register, visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CoachesAcademy. For more information, contact Sue Wise at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 724-852-3377. 

TPS is funded through the Library of Congress and is administered through Waynesburg University. The Library of Congress TPS program was initiated at Waynesburg University in 2004 as a pilot and was officially launched by the Library of Congress in 2006. Waynesburg University TPS continues to serve educators throughout southwestern Pennsylvania and is a professional development provider for in-service and pre-service educators. The TPS program works with schools, universities, libraries and foundations to help teachers use the Library’s vast collection of digitized primary sources to enrich their classroom instruction.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Unknown.jpgJohn Olon has joined Waynesburg University as chief financial officer, the University announced today. Olon will provide executive level direction and management oversight for financial planning, budgeting and budget analysis. 

“Mr. Olon will certainly be an asset to Waynesburg University,” said University President Douglas G. Lee. “With his experience, educational background and strong analytical mind, he will serve the Business Office and University well.”

Olon will also direct and coordinate the institution's debt financing and debt service payments, risk management and insurance and purchasing and contract services, as well as accounting and business operations, finance controls and reporting and investment oversight.

“I am happy to have been asked to join the Waynesburg family,” he said. “There is a lot of excitement here, and I look forward to being a part of it.”

Olon brings to Waynesburg University an impressive background as well as an enthusiasm for Christian higher education.

With a blend of experience in both the higher education and corporate industries, Olon most recently served as the vice president of financial planning and analysis at Dick’s Sporting Goods, where he directed short- and long-term forecasting, analysis, store performance tracking, supply chain costing and competitor comparisons to promote strategic decision making and to develop earnings guidance.

Previously, he served in a variety of roles at the Education Management Corporation, most recently as vice president/assistant controller. In this role, he directed enterprise accounting operations including general ledger, revenue, fixed assets and financial reporting.

Olon has additional corporate experience as the manager of corporate financial planning and analysis of ALCOA, Inc., the world’s leading producer of aluminum, miner of bauxite and refiner of alumina.

A certified public accountant, Olon holds a master’s of science degree in industrial administration from Carnegie Mellon University and a bachelor’s degree in finance from Pennsylvania State University.

He is an active member of Saints John and Paul Parish and is involved in community fundraising committees, including active involvement in support of the Anna Seethaler Hospital (TASH) in Oaxaca, Mexico.

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Waynesburg University will hold its Spring Concert in two parts this year. Musical Scavenger Hunt Part I will be held Friday, April 25, at 7:30 p.m., in Roberts Chapel. Doors will open at 7 p.m. Musical Scavenger Hunt Part II will be held Saturday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m., in the Goodwin Performing Arts Center. Doors will open at 7 p.m. Admission is free for both events, and the public is cordially invited to attend.

“The Music Program at Waynesburg University is taking the next step in its growth with this two- night offering,” said Dr. Ronda DePriest, associate professor of instrumental music and chair of the University’s Department of Fine Arts.  “Each concert will be unique, and we hope our audience will choose to spend an hour or so with us for one or both evenings.”

Part I of the Musical Scavenger Hunt will feature musical selections from the Lamplighters Concert Choir as well as vocal solo and small ensemble contributions. After the concert, guests are invited to visit with students and faculty at the reception in the Marsh Center, hosted by the Waynesburg University Music Program. No reservations are necessary.

Part II of the Musical Scavenger Hunt will continue at the GPAC the following day. The concert will feature the Symphonic Band as well as instrumental solo and small ensemble contributions. Reserved seating is available. For reservations, visit waynesburg.ticketleap.com/spring-concert-2014. After the concert, guests are invited to visit with students and faculty at the reception in the GPAC Lobby, hosted by the Waynesburg University Music Program.

For more information on these events, contact Dr. Ronda Depriest at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 724-852-3420.

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Waynesburg University will host its seventh annual Mini-Relay for Life Sunday, April 27, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the University’s Johnson Commons. Every spring, Waynesburg students rally together to generate awareness and raise funds for the American Cancer Society. A representative from each student group on campus must walk for an hour at a time, making sure a team member is always on the course. The public is cordially invited to attend and enjoy food, games and prizes.

During this year’s “superhero” themed relay, campus organizations sell food and products as well as host activities to engage the campus and community in the fundraising cause. Organizations are also encouraged to fundraise as teams or individually before the event.

“It is crucial for each student group to fundraise,” said Theresa Butler, junior accounting major and president of the Relay for Life. “Without each different club and organization, it would be impossible to host the biggest event on campus and reach our overall goal.”

The event will commence with a morning Ecumenical service led by Reverend Carolyn Poteet, director of faith and mission at the University, an opening ceremony led by University President Douglas G. Lee and a revamped version of ‘Why We Relay.’ Additional activities will include a karate demonstration, music, student talent, inflatables, caricature artists and the Sheetz truck, among others.

Kelley Hardie, assistant dean of student services, has implemented seven mini relays at Waynesburg. According to Hardie, Relay for Life gives the community hope because everyone is striving to make a difference in finding a cure for cancer. Every year, Hardie and the relay captains establish a certain monetary goal.

“This year we hope to reach an overall goal of $18,000,” said Butler. “If every team reaches their individual goals, this will be 100 percent possible.”

The Mini Relay for Life will conclude with an acoustic Upper Room service and a closing ceremony with an American Cancer Society Representative.

“If you really take time to consider the people who are battling cancer, survived cancer or lost the fight to cancer, they're all heroes, and that is why we do Relay for Life,” said Victoria Kapp, junior psychology major and publicity officer for Relay for Life.

The 2014 Relay for Life officers are:

  • President: Theresa Butler, a junior accounting major from Uniontown
  • Vice President: Emily Weiss, a junior nursing major from Pittsburgh
  • Survivorship: Katie Schultz, a junior education major from Venetia and Anastasia Barr, a senior sports broadcasting and information major from Avella
  • Publicity: Victoria Kapp, a junior psychology major from Shippensville
  • Fundraising: Luke Feldner, a junior forensic accounting major from West Lafayette
  • Event Chair: Tiffany Franck, a senior sociology major from Ephrata

For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 724-852-3402.

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