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Graduates Told to Keep Traditions in Mind

Published on May 11, 2014

Susquehanna University Class of 2014 commencement speaker Dr. Glenn D. Steele Jr.


Geisinger boss sends Class of '14 into world with advice on 'place'


Speaking at Susquehanna University’s 156th commencement on May 11, Geisinger Health System President and CEO Dr. Glenn D. Steele Jr. told a graduating class of 507 students to carry a piece of Susquehanna with them wherever they go. Steele received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Susquehanna before giving the keynote address to the Class of 2014 in the field house of the Garrett Sports Complex.

Incoming procession at Susquehanna University's 156th commencement.The Class of 2014 marks the first class to graduate from Susquehanna and receive a ginkgo pin to represent the Traditions of Susquehanna and instructions to go forth, but come back often. Several ginkgo trees are planted on campus and can survive for centuries while remaining strong in the face of change.

“One of the things that sustains individuals and institutions is the experiences we share and the meaning we derive from them,” Susquehanna University President L. Jay Lemons said. “Susquehanna Traditions are those shared experiences that bridge time and distance to connect generations of Susquehannans to each other and this special place.”

Members of Susquehanna University's Class of 2014Ruth Eleanor McCorkill, a 1943 graduate of Susquehanna, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. McCorkill was recognized for positively impacting the university for 75 years, first as a student; then as alumni director and sports publicist, a position held by few, if any, women at the time; alumna and friend “You have been a key figure in the rejuvenation of the alma mater,” Lemons said of McCorkill, who worked to revive interest in the alma mater. “Known and loved by students, faculty and staff, you represent the best of what it means to choose Susquehanna for a lifetime.”

Steele, who has headed Geisinger for 14 years, focused his remarks on the importance of place and the changing landscape of healthcare in the United States.

“There’s something special about where we work, where I’ve been blessed to be a part of the Geisinger family for the past 14 years, where you’ve gone to school for the last four years,” Steele said. “This power of place connects the physical qualities of our surroundings with a set of necessary qualities—key human values. Enough room for the kind of human interaction that leads to creativity and innovation, the right balance between energy and serenity to allow humans to work together, to think together and to move together to accomplish things not accomplishable by a single individual.

“Hopefully this special place, in my view so essential to the success of both Geisinger and Susquehanna, should stay with you no matter where you go physically. Remember it. Revisit it. Try to find a little piece of it to carry with you no matter where you end up.”

Among many practical points of healthcare advice Steele gave the crowd of more than 4,500 people was to “be positive.”

“When things change, personal and societal opportunity abounds and stress occurs,” he said. “Like your own individual trajectory, most of our societal aspirations and a great deal of our social accomplishments have been and will continue to be upward. Even if it’s not warranted all the time, feeling positive about change is more often than not linked to your individual success.”

Four faculty members were honored with awards during the ceremony. Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Kathy Straub received the John C. Horn Distinguished Service Lectureship Award, memorializing a former long-time member and chair of Susquehanna University’s Board of Directors. This year’s Teaching Award winner was Assistant Professor of History Maria Munoz. And a new award was unveiled this year to recognize the important role students’ academic advisors have in students’ academic experiences and outcomes. Dual winners of the inaugural Distinguished Academic Advising Award were Associate Professor of Communications Kate Hastings and Associate Professor of Psychology M.L. Klotz.

Before ending his remarks to the graduating class, Lemons recalled a popular song from the musical Rent, which counts the number of minutes in a year to be 525,600. Multiplied by four years for the time they’ve spent on campus, Susquehanna’s graduates have each spent more than 2 million minutes as a member of the campus community.

“In one sense, 2 million minutes seems like an immense amount of time, but if you are like me, the four years they represent have passed by in a flash,” he said. “However, I have seen you making the most of every moment during this senior week. We cannot stop time, but by embracing and living it to the fullest we create the memories that can last and sustain us for a lifetime.”


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