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Sept. 28, 2012
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine

Norton inauguration hits ground running

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Not only did the "ROCK Pride Inauguration Fun Run/Walk" last Saturday kick off inauguration week activities in healthy style, the event raised more than $4,000 for the newly created Norton Undergraduate Research Scholarship.

"We saw faculty, staff, local residents and a lot of students showing high-energy enthusiasm and support, making a statement that this campus stands behind the vision of our new president," said Jeff Lynn, associate professor of exercise and rehabilitative sciences.

Norton, a tireless advocate for physical activity, will be formally installed as the 16th president of Slippery Rock University at 10:30 a.m. today. The celebration continues with an inauguration dinner at 6 p.m. in the Smith Student Center, followed by several community service projects Saturday morning and the planting of an "inaugural tree" at 11 a.m. Saturday in front of the President's Residence.

More than 340 students, faculty, staff and community residents participated in the 5K and corresponding 2K walk, with 229 runners finishing the 5K. The race began in the parking lot in front of the Robert N. Aebersold Student Recreation Center and included two loops around campus.

Chris Grooms, a secondary education major from Butler, finished first with a time of 15:50. Runner's High handled the official timing of the race, with every participant receiving a participation ribbon. Awards, donated by local businesses and campus organizations, were presented.

The race underscores the University and new president's commitment to fitness as a core institutional value. Norton spoke to participants before the start and finished the course herself.

"Every president has an inauguration. Everyone has speeches and a ceremony. None of them have a 5K race," Lynn said. "This president came in wanting to make a statement about health, wellness and fitness."

Lynn said he was pleased but not surprised so many students participated.

"Our students get it. They understand the value of taking exercise and health seriously," Lynn said. "That is why they got out of bed early on a windy and gray Saturday morning to demonstrate that this is what we believe."

Jon Holtz, SRU assistant director of sports information, served as race director.

"Roughly 50 volunteers worked on race day," he said. "We couldn't have done it without them. Volunteers included staff and students. Staff volunteers handled the race check-in and registration. Students served as course marshals, medical staff and water providers."

The Butler Health System FastERcare was the title sponsor. It provided T-shirts and water cups.

Holtz, Lynn, Karen Perry, assistant director of campus recreation, Greg Sferra, director of campus recreation, Randy Nichols, associate professor of physical education, and Nicholas McIntire, constituent services and database assurance manager for advancement services, served on the organizing committee. Kimberly Keeley, instructor of exercise and rehabilitative sciences, volunteered her services as athletic trainer and provided water coolers.

"I was definitely pleased. It went really well," Perry said. "To me, it was really kind of neat to see the energy of the students who were there running and cheering each other on. As an institution, it shows that we're health conscious and promoting healthy lifestyles. It was really nice to kick off the inauguration week and set the tone with high energy and trying to get people moving."

"I think the commitment that students showed and the overall attendance was outstanding," Nichols said. "For the president to put that kind of emphasis on health, wellness and physical activity says a lot about our campus and the climate."

There will be opportunities to contribute to scholarships at tonight's inaugural dinner. Or you can make a direct donation to the undergraduate research scholarship through

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.