Commencement - Penn State Altoona

Fall 2014 Commencement

Penn State Altoona's fall 2014 commencement ceremony will be held on Saturday, December 20, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. in the Jaffa Shrine in Altoona.

GRADUATES, click Commencement Details on the menu to find out more about the ceremony.

#PSUgrad — Share the experience!

Soon-to-be graduates and families of soon-to-be graduates: Tell the world about your tremendous accomplishments. Share your photos and your thoughts and include the #PSUgrad hashtag on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Google+.

Tickets

Because of the large number of seats available at the Jaffa Shrine, no tickets are required for guests to attend the ceremony. Likewise there is no limit on the number of guests per graduate.

Professional Photography

To commemorate this milestone occasion, a professional photograph will be taken of each graduate being congratulated by the chancellor. No pre-orders will be taken. Rather, photos can be viewed and ordered after commencement by visiting the Film Center's Web site.

In order to avoid congestion and to maintain decorum during the ceremony, we ask that family and friends refrain from approaching the platform when taking pictures or using a video camera.

About the Jaffa Shrine

Altoona’s Jaffa Temple was chartered on July 9, 1903; the dedication of the Jaffa Mosque at Chestnut Avenue and Seventeenth Street occurred on August 29, 1920. Rapid growth of membership resulted in the establishment of larger headquarters.

Thus, on September 25, 1930, the present Jaffa Shrine was dedicated and opened, celebrating twenty-seven years of growth and development.

Although the Jaffa Shrine has not changed since its dedication, through efforts of the trustees and the Jaffa Improvement Association, thousands of dollars have been expended each year to update and improve the building. Various activities, both social and philanthropic, have been the source of the Shrine’s success over the years.

The Shrine Circus each spring is the biggest and most successful activity at the Shrine, hosting nearly 6,000 persons, including hundreds of school children. The Jaffa Shrine also is host to concerts, seminars, trade shows, banquets, and other events throughout the year. Penn State Altoona celebrated it seventieth anniversary at the Jaffa Shrine on October 25, 2009, with a concert by the Doobie Brothers.

Commencement Speaker

Susan Russell, Penn State Laureate

Susan Russell photo

Susan Russell, associate professor of theatre, was named the Penn State laureate for the 2014-15 academic year. The Penn State laureate, an honorary position established in 2008, is a full-time faculty member in the humanities or the arts who is assigned half-time for one academic year to bring an enhanced level of social, cultural, artistic and human perspective and awareness to a broad array of audiences. The individual appears at University events at Penn State campuses and throughout the state at various community programs in hopes of adding a more human dimension to the conduct of the usual affairs and business of these locations.

Russell uses her skills as an actor, stage director, playwright, author, and speaker to advocate for human rights. In 2007, soon after joining the Penn State faculty, she founded Cultural Conversations, a new works festival devoted to issues of local and global diversity. The only university festival of its kind in the United States, the weeklong event features new artworks by Penn State School of Visual Arts students, new dance pieces choreographed by students and faculty, and new plays written by local and international playwrights. The core programming of Cultural Conversations is Body Language, a storytelling and performance program that has brought middle school, high school and university students together with community members to talk about the social issues that define growing up in the 21st century.

Russell’s books, Body Language: Cultural Conversations Reaching Out and Reaching In and Body Language: Stop the Violence/Start the Conversation, are texts designed to offer day-by-day templates for school systems on how to use playwriting, media and public performance to explore issues that affect middle and high school students.

Russell graduated summa cum laude with a doctorate in theatre studies from Florida State University in 2008. She received her undergraduate degree in theatre from St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, N.C., in 1979. Between educational pursuits, she experienced a 25-year career as a professional actor on and off Broadway — including five years in the Broadway production of “Phantom of the Opera” — in regional theatre and at opera companies across the country.

As a professional playwright, her works “Olympia” (1998) and “Present Perfect” (1999) have been produced by Lincoln Center and the Emerging Artist Theatre in New York City. Her play “Severe Clear” was a semifinalist in the 2006 O’Neill Theatre Center Playwriting Competition, and her 2009 play “Écoute: Pieces of Reynaldo Hahn” toured 40 venues in the United States, starring Penn State School of Music faculty member Norman Spivey. Russell recently initiated a collaboration between the School of Theatre’s bachelor of arts program and Penn State’s Office of Student Affairs to produce student-generated films on drinking and sexual assault, and the first of these films will be shown to the first-year student class of 2017.

Russell, who teaches playwriting, history of American musical theatre, women in theatre, and graduate literature and criticism seminars in ancient theatre, won the Penn State Commission for Women's Achieving Woman Award in 2012 and the Centre County Youth Service Bureau's Dr. Edward Vogelsong Professional Excellence Award in 2013. Also in 2013, she was selected as one of the “Faces of Penn State.” A popular speaker and academic presenter, Russell has spoken to local, national and international audiences about “how to make choices that make change, and how to make change make sense.”


For questions concerning commencement ceremonies:
Contact the Office of University Relations
Beech House, 814-949-5105

For questions concerning graduation requirements:
Contact , Registrar
E130 Smith Building, 814-949-5035