Skip to main content




Aug. 15, 2012
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU plans weeklong inaugural program

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – A week’s worth of interactive events beginning Sept. 22 will be part of Slippery Rock University’s inauguration of Cheryl Norton as the University’s 16th president.

The formal inauguration and investiture ceremony will be at 10:30 a.m., Sept. 28, on the campus Quad.

Norton was selected as the first woman to lead the 8,800-student University by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education board of governors April 6 following a nationwide search. She assumed her presidential duties June 4.

Norton had previously served as a senior fellow with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C., and had been president of Southern Connecticut State University.

The president’s cabinet is serving as the executive planning committee for the weeklong event.

“We wanted a week of activities that would engage the entire campus, including students, faculty, staff and the community, and which would focus on the University’s strategic initiatives,” said Tina Moser, assistant to the president. “The executive planning committee sees the week as a way of celebrating the University’s success, introducing Dr. Norton to all constituencies, including alumni and the local community, and launching a new era of leadership for SRU.” William Williams, SRU provost and vice president for academic affairs, will serve as the ceremony’s presiding officer. Eric Holmes, chair of the SRU Council of Trustees will present Norton to John Cavanaugh, chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, for investiture, and Guido Pucini, chair of the board of governors, will administer the oath of office.

Inauguration Week opens with an 8 a.m., Sept. 22, fun 5K run/2K walk through campus sponsored by the Butler Health System FastER Care and SRU’s Wellness Committee. A $20 entry fee ($12 for students) will support the newly created Norton Undergraduate Research Scholarship at SRU.

A faculty fine arts exhibition opens at 5 p.m., Sept. 24, in the Martha Gault Art Gallery located in Maltby Center. The free show, open to the entire community, will continue through Sept. 29.

Three, free academic symposia will bring an academic focus to Inauguration Week events. Two of the presentations are open to the entire campus and community; the third is limited to SRU students.

Topics are: “Title IX: Understanding and providing democratic principles of justice and equality,” spotlighting SRU’s commitment to diversity offered at noon, Sept. 25; “Protecting the world’s resources: A common responsibility,” spotlighting SRU’s emphasis in sustainability and greening, at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 26; and a students-only session, “Accepting personal responsibility for change," hosted by the SRU Student Government Association, at noon Sept. 27. All sessions are in the Smith Student Center Theatre.

Norton will present the personal responsibility symposium, and Patrick Burkhart, professor of geography, geology and the environment, will present the resources symposium.

The formal inauguration will begin at 9:30 a.m., Sept. 28, with professional participants assembling in North Hall, the Russell Wright Alumni House and Conference Center and Old Main before marching to the Quad inauguration site for the 10:30 a.m. investiture. A free campuswide picnic will follow.

The processional will include delegates and representatives from higher education institutions and professional societies, trustees, distinguished guests, faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members.

In the event of rain, the ceremony will move to the Smith Student Center and the picnic to Morrow Field House.

At 6 p.m. Sept. 28, the SRU Council of Trustees will host an Inaugural Scholarship Dinner in the Smith Student Center. Tickets are $100 per person with proceeds supporting the Norton Undergraduate Research Scholarship. Tickets may be reserved by calling University Advancement at 724.738.2004.

Inauguration week concludes Sept. 28 with two programs. At 8 a.m., SRU’s Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, will conduct a community service project. The Rocket, SRU Student Newspaper, is also sponsoring an “Adopt a Tree,” tree-planting program, in which donors contribute $100 toward purchase of trees to be planted across campus. The program marks the end of the formal week of activities and symbolizes that SRU is now growing in new directions, said Will Deshong, Rocket editor.

Norton Biography:

In naming Norton to lead SRU, PASSHE Board of Governors Chair Guido Pichini said, “Dr. Norton has outstanding credentials and an excellent record as an academic leader. We are confident she will continue that record as she assumes the leadership of Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania during these extremely challenging times.”

Norton was named president of Southern Connecticut State in 2004 and served in the position for six years. She was the first woman president in the university’s 115-year history. Following her presidency, she completed a year-long sabbatical researching how university teacher preparation programs could support public school education reform. 

“Dr. Norton has a wide array of experiences that caused her to stand out among an impressive collection of candidates for the SRU presidency,” said PASSHE Chancellor John Cavanaugh. “I am certain she will be an outstanding president for Slippery Rock and that she will be a valuable addition to the state system and to the outstanding group of presidents already in place.”

“On behalf of the entire Slippery Rock University community, I am pleased to welcome Dr. Norton as our 16th president,” said Joshua Young, chair of the SRU Council of Trustees. “I am excited for Dr. Norton’s leadership and I am excited for the future of Slippery Rock University. Her exemplary accomplishments in higher education will serve the university, PASSHE and the commonwealth well as we move forward in fulfilling our mission.”

Norton grew up in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. She graduated with honors from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and recreation. There she was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa academic honorary.

Norton also holds three degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York; a master of arts in applied physiology and both a master of education and a doctor of education in applied physiology. She has completed additional studies at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. 

Upon graduation from Denison University, Norton worked for nearly two years in the Psychiatric Recreational Therapy unit at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville, including one year as director of the recreational therapy department. She began working at Metropolitan State College of Denver in 1976 in the department of human performance, sport and leisure studies where she became a tenured professor.

She was named department chair in 1992, interim associate dean of the School of Professional Studies in 1996 and provost and vice president for academic affairs in 1997.

During her tenure as president of Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Norton led the development of the university’s strategic plan, directed a $260 million building plan and revision of the campus master plan and led the Connecticut State University System’s development of a transfer compact agreement with Connecticut’s community college system.

She supported a complete revision of the university’s general education program, increased the use of campus technology, secured the university’s first-ever endowed chair and increased the university’s philanthropic support for scholarships and academic program enhancement by more than 67 percent.

During her tenure as president, Southern Connecticut experienced record full-time enrollment, graduation and retention rates.

Norton has published a number of books, manuals and journal articles and made numerous presentations at national conferences. She also has served on a variety of national advisory boards and commissions, including the NCAA Division II President’s Council.

For her contributions to the field of sports medicine, including serving as president of state and regional professional organizations, she was elected a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. 

She also has been involved in numerous local community organizations in Connecticut, including the New Haven Regional Leadership Council, New Haven Symphony Orchestra and United Way. 

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.