Skip to main content





SRU trustees honor art professor, retiring trustee

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – The Slippery Rock University Council of Trustees today named

the Art Sculpture Building in honor of James Myford, professor emeritus of art who served the University 29 years before retiring in 1997, and honored John Thornburgh, retiring 10-year trustee who has served with distinction.

Resolutions honoring the two were unanimously approved.

“It is indeed a honor to cite Mr. Myford for his outstanding art that can be found in corporate, museum, university and public and private collections in the U.S. and abroad,” said Joshua Young, council chair.

One of Myford’s aluminum sculpture art works stands outside SRU’s Swope Music Hall. Another is located in the “Village at Slippery Rock” park in downtown Slippery Rock.

SRU’s 5,100-square-foot, $1.25-million Art Sculpture Building opened in fall of 2009 giving students a larger and more efficient facility for creating works in clay, metal, wood and other materials.

The resolution naming the building the James C. Myford Art Sculpture Building and honoring Myford was read by John Hicks, trustee. It read, in part, James and Betty Myford have been “longstanding supporters of Slippery Rock University. It is befitting that the Art Sculpture Building be named in his honor as recognition of his exceptional contributions as an accomplished artist and educator.”

Thornburgh, who joined the trustees in 2002 and has served as secretary on the council, will retire in February. He was thanked for his dedicated service as a trustee.

He faithfully devoted his time, energy and enthusiasm to council committee endeavors throughout his tenure, and he exemplified the highest standards of professionalism. He was unwavering in his loyalty to the University and brought a collaborative spirit to the table, providing great insight and always keeping the interest of our students as priority in University planning,” according to the resolution.

The resolution honoring Thornburgh was read by Young. Neither honoree was able to attend the session.

Council also used the meeting to honor retiring President Robert Smith who leaves office Feb. 10 after 10 years in the post.

Among the trustees thanked retiring Smith for his dedicated service.

I have worked with you through the SRU Alumni Association and as a trustee. You were a great friend. I am going to miss you,” said Eric Holmes.

I graduated from SRU and had a great experience, but you have taught me many things. You have changed our campus. We will never be able to thank you enough,” said Robert Taylor.

You are one of the great leaders I have worked with.” said Dennis Murray.

Thank you for your service,” said Suzanne Vessella.

You are a great leader and a great humanitarian,” said John Hicks.

It was a pleasure to get to know you, I have learned a lot,” said Brandon Maharaj.

In return, Smith said he was “deeply appreciative of the support you have provided. Each of you care a great deal about this University. You have nurtured me into this post, and I have made great friends. I will miss you.”

In routine action, council approved contracts, fixed assets and service and supply purchase orders as submitted.

Trustees were informed of 46 appointments.

It was reported that Kathleen Strickland, dean of the College of Education, would retire at the end of June after 24 years service and Caryn Trapp, an assistant professor of secondary education/foundations of education, had retired after 23 years of service. Also retiring from facilities and planning are Linda Duffy, 21 years, and Anna Hart, 12 years. Thomas Klingensmith, a supervisor in University Police, will retire after 33 years service.

Dennis Fair, a 41-year SRU professor in special education, and Richard Altenbaugh, a 10-year professor in secondary education, have been named professor emeritus. Both professors retired last June.

NOTE: Separate news releases were issued regarding the naming of Charles Curry, vice president for finance and administration, as acting president following the Feb. 10 retirement of President Smith, and council’s creation of the Robert M. Smith Community Leadership Award. See SRU web page: