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Sept. 14, 2012
CONTACT: K. E. Schwab

SRU plans Inauguration Week symposia

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University will celebrate the inauguration of its 16th president, Cheryl Norton, with a series of symposia that expand upon the inaugural theme of "Embracing the Challenge: Excellence, innovation and responsible citizenship."

The free symposia, scheduled for the Smith Student Center Theater, are:

  • 12:30 p.m., Sept. 25: "Title IX: Understanding and providing democratic principles of justice and equality," presented by Roberta Page, a 1988 Slippery Rock University physical education graduate and now director of championships with the National Collegiate Athletic Association;
  • 7 p.m., Sept. 26: "Protecting the world's resources: A common responsibility," presented by Patrick Burkhart, SRU professor of geography, geology and the environment; and
  • Noon, Sept. 27: "Everything I Learned About Leadership I Learned by Sweating," presented by President Norton. The SRU Student Government Association is sponsoring the symposium, which is open to students only. The Sept 25 and Sept. 26 symposia are free and open to the campus and local community.

Page, who formerly served as Shippensburg University's director of intercollegiate athletics, joined the NCAA in 2009. As director of championships, she is responsible for general administration and oversight of National Championships within Division I, II and III. She has direct oversight of Division II field hockey and the men's and women's tennis national championships.

She serves as NCAA staff liaison to the Division II Championships Committee and makes recommendations on policies and procedures governing all facets of Division I, II and III championships.

At Shippensburg, she supervised a staff of more than 60 and was responsible for all operations, budgets, events and external activities for the university's athletics program.

Page earned her master's of science degrees in physical education and educational leadership at Western Maryland College. She earned her doctorate, in educational leadership, at Duquesne University.

Burkhart will open his symposium by describing his life as a geologist - one who studies Earth - and recounting many of his experiences that have engendered his deep environmental ethic.

"A variety of scholarly approaches to understanding resources, as well as their utilization and protection will be explored. Candid assessments of Planet Earth and the health of its ecosystems will be included," he said.

Burkhart will also offer a range of choices for how people might respond to the resulting challenges. "SRU has taken many steps to address this responsibility, and my presentation will outline some of them," he said.

Burkhart, who joined the SRU faculty in 1998, has been a longtime proponent of environmental issues. He has led student education projects to Newfoundland, Alaska and the Badlands of South Dakota. His interest in Charles Darwin has taken him to Argentina and Chile.

Burkhart created the SRU Symposium for Student Research and Scholarship and its publication The Journal of Scholarly Endeavor.

Norton will use the student only symposia to share the leadership life lessons she acquired as an athlete, coach, teacher, university administrator and Mom. "I want this symposia to be my gift to the students. It's one way I can say, 'hey, here are some things I've learned along the way. Take these lessons and build on them.'"

Norton was the 10th president of Southern Connecticut State University and the first woman to lead the 115 year-old institution, serving as president for six years from 2004-2010. Following her presidency, she completed a year-long sabbatical researching how university teacher preparation programs could support public school education reform. She is an AASCU senior fellow exploring these findings with staff and member institutions.

As president of Southern, Norton oversaw a $260 million construction program transforming the campus and preparing the university to meet 21st-century educational needs. With more than 12,000 students, and one of the largest graduate programs in New England, Southern became known as a regional comprehensive institution that serves the needs of Connecticut as a university of choice and university of opportunity.

She grew up in suburban Cleveland and graduated with honors from Denison University in Granville, Ohio with a bachelor's degree in physical education and recreation. Norton earned two master's degrees and a doctorate in applied physiology from Columbia University. She is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.

"We wanted Dr. Norton's inauguration to be an event that would encompass the entire campus and involve all segments of the University community, including students, faculty, staff and the local community," said William Williams, SRU provost and vice president for academic affairs, who is serving as the inauguration ceremony's presiding officer. "We wanted to make the inauguration an 'event to remember' and a way of establishing a new path for the University as we continue to face, and meet, the challenges of the 21st-century. I think the variety of events and programs that have been planned will do just that."

SRU's Inauguration Week activities begin Sept. 22 with a campus and community ROCK Pride Inauguration 5K Run/2K Walk. Onsite registration begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Aebersold Student Recreation Center. The entry fee for the on-campus race/walk is $20 for the general public, $12 for students. Forms may be completed in advance at: or the morning of the race/walk at the ARC.

Proceeds from the event will support the newly created Norton Undergraduate Research Scholarship. Butler Health System's new FastERcare center and the SRU wellness committee are co-sponsoring the race.

Norton, a physical fitness enthusiast, will take part in the race.

A reception for the "While You Were Out," faculty art exhibit, is at 5 p.m., Sept. 24, in the Martha Gault Gallery, Maltby Center. The exhibit, open weekdays noon to 5 p.m., continues through Sept. 28.

The formal inauguration ceremony is at 10:30 a.m., Sept. 28, on the Quad. (Rain: Smith Student Center), preceded by an inaugural procession from upper campus (Old Main, North Hall, Alumni House, Weisenfluh Hall) by visiting dignitaries, SRU faculty and participating students.

A picnic luncheon will follow the ceremony on the Quad. (Rain: Smith Student Center.)

An Inaugural Dinner in the Smith Student Center Ballroom is planned for 6 p.m., Sept. 28. Reservations, $100 per person, are being accepted at 724.738.2000.

Proceeds will benefit the newly initiated Norton Undergraduate Research Scholarship.

At 10 a.m., Sept. 29, a community service project organized by SRU's Center for Student Involvement and Leadership is planned to clean the campus.

An "Adopt-A-Tree project, sponsored by The Rocket, SRU's student newspaper, is asking supporters to contribute $100 toward the University's tree program. "A ceremonial tree will be planted Sept. 29 to signify the end of the formal inaugural activities and to symbolized that the University is now growing in new directions," said Will DeShong, Rocket editor-in-chief.

For more information about inaugural activities visit:, then click the "Inauguration" link.

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.