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 SRU Academic Honors Convocation salutes 2,000 scholars 



March 21, 2007
Contact: K.E. Schwab

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SRU Academic Honors Convocation salutes 2,200 scholars

 SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -Slippery Rock University's Annual Academic Honors Convocation April 1 will recognize more than 2,200 scholars for their academic efforts and present a number of faculty and staff awards, including the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching to Stacey Steele, assistant professor of music.

The 2 p.m. Morrow Field House convocation, will honor SRU's Presidential Scholars, scholarship recipients, Honors Program participants, students named to the dean's list for the 2006 spring and fall semesters, and those who have earned scholar athlete honors.

Emily A. Burchfield, an elementary education and special education major from Altoona, was selected as senior speaker based on her outstanding academic work, campus and community involvement and leadership.

In addition to Steele, faculty and staff honors will also go to:

  • David Dixon, professor of history, selected to receive the President's Award for Scholarly and Creative Achievement for his book "Never Come to Peace Again: Pontiac's Uprising and the Fate of the British Empire in North America," which details the local region's influence in fomenting the American Revolution, and

  • Christopher Cole, director of the University Union and the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, recipient of the President's Award for Outstanding Service, in recognition of his outstanding mentorship and ability in helping students grow in responsibility and leadership skills.

The event will also honor Emily J. Elder, a mathematics major from Volant, who is SRU's nominee for the Syed R. Ali-Zaidi Award for Academic Excellence presented by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The recipient of the $1,000 scholarship will be announced before spring commencement.

"Slippery Rock University dedicates the entire month of April to saluting academic excellence, including student achievement in terms of learning and research, faculty achievement in terms of teaching and staff contributions in terms of exemplary service," said President Robert M. Smith. "Convocation opens our salute and is a way of spotlighting the tremendous achievements that make it a great time to be at Slippery Rock University."

President's Award for Outstanding Teaching

Steele, director of SRU's Flute Choir and Chamber Flutes and who teaches all flute courses, was nominated for the outstanding teaching award by students and graduates who repeatedly cited her as a professional and personal role model. One alumna who will soon receive her doctorate in music from The Ohio State University, wrote, "Her commitment to her students does not end when they don the cap and gown at commencement - it extends for a lifetime�the professionalism, excellence in teaching and care for students as a unique person that she demonstrates is above and beyond that of any other professor I have had."

Others called her "an inspiring teacher" saying, "She has provided an education journey with many destinations." 

Steele earned her master of music in flute performance with a minor in music education from the University of North Texas, where she has undertaken doctoral work. She earned her undergraduate degree from Wichita State University.

She served as principle flutist with the Butler Symphony and founded the Symphony Wind Quintet which has performed with the SRU Faculty Jazz Quintet at the annual Take 5 concert at SRU. In addition, she has been active in the National Flute Association, including selection to the national pedagogy committee for both the San Diego and Pittsburgh conferences. 

Her performance presentation resume is impressive, including numerous National Flute Association conventions, as well as presentations at College Music Society National Conferences in Quebec, Spain and Japan. She has performed before the Women and Creativity Conference at West Virginia University, the International Festival of Women Composers at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and offered a solo recital at the Bangalore School of Music in India.

President's Award for Scholarly and Creative Achievement

National reviewers praised Dixon's latest book "Never Come to Peace Again" calling it "lively and engaging" and offering an "approach that is refreshing and accurate." Another said, "It takes the reader on a fascinating journey." Dixon joined the SRU faculty in 1989. 

His book, published by the University of Oklahoma Press, details the social and political climate leading to the American Revolution and offers historical analysis of the three-year Pontiac's Uprising of 1763. 

In the 384-page work, which includes 23 black-and-white illustrations, Dixon examines unrest by the early Pennsylvania settlers in the region and their displeasure with the quality - and quantity - of British government rule. He concludes the colonial agitation set in motion events that led to the American Revolution and overthrow of the British. Since publication, Dixon has commented on similarities between current world terrorism and the events of nearly 250 years ago.

His latest work represents several years of research and is the first comprehensive narrative concerning Pontiac's Uprising in nearly 50 years. Copies are available at the Student Government Association Bookstore on campus as well as from major online book suppliers.

Dixon's other books include the award-winning "Hero of Beecher Island: The Life and Military Career of George A. Forsyth," along with "Bushy Run Battlefield" and "Fort Pitt Museum." He has also published a number of anthologies and essays and has lectured extensively on the Seven Year War and the Civil War.

President's Award for Outstanding Service

Cole, who has served SRU in the areas of Greek life, the Freshman Leadership Program, judicial affairs, a number of student-oriented leadership programs, University Union operations and the assessment program was nominated by student life division co-workers who cited his outstanding leadership.

The service award was first made possible in 1981 through the generosity of the late Robert and Donna McMullen, long-standing Slippery Rock University patrons. It now continues through the support of their son Doug and his wife, Linda. The award recognizes a University staff member who has contributed consistently in ways that support the University's advancement as did Robert McMullen, a member of the class of 1951 and former chair of the Slippery Rock University Foundation, Inc. board of directors. Both he and his wife were involved in campus programs and offered continuing support to SRU throughout their lives.

Cole was also cited for his eagerness in lending a hand with other projects and programs within the division. He was praised for teaching the "Student Affairs Law in Higher Education" course, for his work with the FYRST Seminar program, and for implementing the current assessment program. 

He earned his undergraduate degree at the College of William and Mary, his master's degree at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and his doctorate in higher education from Nova Southeastern University. He joined the SRU staff in 1993 as coordinator of Student Standards and the Inter-fraternity Council, and later served as director of student organizations and leadership before being named to his current post.

Senior Convocation Speaker

The convocation committee selected Burchfield as the senior speaker based on her outstanding academic work, campus and community involvement, and leadership. The education major has a 4.0 grade-point average and will receive her Pennsylvania teaching certificates for grades K-6 and special education following May's commencement. 

A Presidential Scholar and Honors Program participant, Burchfield was named Outstanding Student for the College of Education. She is a member of Lambda Epsilon Delta, Kappa Delta Pi, education honoraries, and Sigma Pi Epsilon Delta, the special education honorary. She is a member of the National Scholars Honor Society, Collegiate All-American Scholars and is listed in "Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges."

Burchfield is completing her student teaching experience at Case Avenue Elementary School, part of the Sharon [Pa.] City School District, and served as a student teacher for 26 students at the school earlier this year while completing her pre-student teaching experience. The school is a professional development school in partnership with SRU, and allowed Burchfield to participate in its Project Learning Tree program. She is active in the Read Across America program at Clearfield Elementary School in Butler and in the storytelling program at Slippery Rock Elementary School.

Involved in extra-curricular activities throughout her SRU career, Burchfield has served as a senator to the SRU Student Government Association, a member of the Cooperative Board of Activities, the Judicial Hearing Board, the University Union Taskforce and the off-campus housing committee. 

She also helped organize relief efforts for those affected by Hurricane Katrina. In addition, she served the Office of Admissions as a rock pride guide, office assistant, Saturday Showcase presenter for elementary education, and presenter for elementary education and special education at the SRU Majors Exposition. She served with the SRU Institute for Community, Service-Learning and Nonprofit Leadership's project with Saucier Elementary School in Saucier, Miss., and as a volunteer for the Office for Students with Disabilities. 

She was named a Rising Star at SRU, holds the SGA "You Rock" award along with certification from Project WILD and Project Learning Tree.

Syed R. Ali-Zaidi Award for Academic Excellence nominee 

Elder, who graduates in May, was recommended for the $1,000 state system award as an SRU honors students who excels in the pursuit of knowledge. The honor was established by Dr. Ali-Zaidi, a charter member of the Pennsylvania State System board of governors and a strong advocate for system universities, 

The award honors outstanding academic performance in the academic major and other areas of study, recognition of scholarship by university faculty, participation in extra- or co-curricular activities as an undergraduate and submission of an essay on how the university has prepared the student for the next step. 

Elder was highly endorsed by SRU's mathematics faculty where her academic accomplishments are exemplary: She carries a 3.97 grade-point average; was cited for often earning perfect scores in upper division mathematics courses; and was called "by far the best mathematics students I have had in the past five years" by one professor.

She will receive a bachelor of science degree in mathematics and a minor in middle school math at commencement.

In addition to her academic work, Elder has served as parliamentarian to the SRU Math Club, was named the Outstanding Mathematics Junior and has published a poem tiled "Dream" in "The Teachers Selection Anthology of Poetry." She solved two problems posed in "The Pentagon Journal," published by the mathematics honorary Kappa Mu Epsilon and is a member of the Association for Women in Mathematics. She has tutored more than 30 students at various local school districts. For fun she coached two local women's softball teams to championship wins. 

While at SRU, Elder received the Leadership in Science Scholarship, Coen Family Scholarship, Janice Sharek Hogue Memorial Scholarship, William and Connie Halttunen Scholarship, Watson Family Scholarship and the CETP-PA Scholarship for Mathematics/Science Teacher Candidates.

Her future plans include continuing her education at SRU by seeking a master of education in mathematics degree as part of the University's graduate program, all in preparation to teach mathematics at the middle-school level.

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.

Editor's Note: Photos are available at: -- then click on "Convocation" story.

The SRU deans lists for fall and spring semesters 2006 were sent previously and are available on the SRU Web site: (Click on "More" in the news column, then 2006 News Releases.)


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