Penn State Altoona to hold fall commencement ceremony
Monday, December 3, 2012 - 583 hits
ALTOONA — Penn State Altoona will hold its fall 2012 commencement ceremony Saturday, December 22, 2012, at 11 a.m. at the Jaffa Shrine in Altoona.
130 students are slated to graduate this semester.
The commencement speaker will be Dr. Ralph D. McKibbin. McKibbin is a lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, having grown up in the eastern part of the Commonwealth. After earning his bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania, he went on to receive his medical degree from what is now the Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. He performed his medical residency at Hahnemann University Hospital, where he was selected as chief medical resident prior to completing his fellowship in gastroenterology. In 1992, McKibbin returned to his ancestral roots in central Pennsylvania to embark upon his career in gastroenterology.
In addition to his clinical practice, McKibbin currently is Director of Operations for Blair Gastroenterology Associates in Altoona, Pennsylvania. During his more than twenty years at this medical practice, his strategic vision has helped it to grow to become one of the largest gastroenterology practices east of the Mississippi. The seventeen providers offer specialty disease services to a region of more than 500,000 people. Blair Gastro’s inflammatory bowel disease program is one of the largest in the country. The practice also hosts one of the nation’s only genetic and high-risk colon cancer programs outside of a university environment.
Early in his career, McKibbin noted an historic 20 to 30 percent higher risk for colon cancer in the northeastern United States, including the central Pennsylvania region. Because of a lack of available resources, he founded the Colon Cancer Prevention Foundation, one of the first charities in the nation dedicated to preventing colorectal cancer - the “number two” cancer killer. The foundation’s mission was to improve the process of prevention by providing support and education at critical points in the healthcare chain, highlighting his concern for “leverage.” The organization’s successful efforts were highlighted on both CNN and Fox News, as colorectal cancer rates in the region have dropped to normal levels. McKibbin’s successful efforts were recognized in 2008, when the Commission on Cancer awarded him the National Physician Outstanding Performance Award. He also has been honored as a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. He continues this work by serving on the medical advisory board for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America and as a cancer liaison physician to the American College of Surgeons.
McKibbin’s contributions to this field include a longstanding commitment to service. He has held numerous leadership positions on regional hospital committees. He is currently President -elect of the Pennsylvania Society of Gastroenterology, a member of the State Leadership Cabinet for the Pennsylvania Medical Society, and serves as a representative to the National Digestive Disease Coalition policy group in Washington, D.C. Locally, McKibbin is on the advisory board of the Sheetz Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence at Penn State Altoona.
An avid sportsman, outdoorsman, and hunter, McKibbin has participated in hunting and photo safaris in Africa, New Zealand, the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Last April, he fulfilled a childhood dream by earning his black belt in Taekwondo, the traditional martial art of Korea. He is quick to point out, however, that his biggest source of pride is his family.