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 SRU Salute of 2,100 Planned at Annual Academic Honors Convocation 




Contact: K.E. Schwab  -- 724-738-2199;  e-mail:

EDITOR’S NOTE: Photographs of the award winners are available at: www.

For photo of  Dr. Robert Marcus: CLICK HERE

Marshall B. Nych: CLICK HERE

Dr. Carolyn Prorok: CLICK HERE

Dr. Thomas Pearcy: CLICK HERE

Dr. Cindy LaCom: CLICK HERE

Jean Richardson: CLICK HERE


Presidents Awards to be Presented -- 


     SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. –  Slippery Rock University will salute more than 2,100 SRU students for their outstanding academic achievements along with a number of faculty and staff for their academic and support work as part of this year’s annual Academic Honors Convocation set for 2 p.m. April 3 in Morrow Field House.

      The event is expected to draw more than 2,000 students, parents and other relatives.

     By tradition the event presents the recipient of the year’s Outstanding Alumni Award as the convocation speaker with Dr. Robert Marcus, a 1961 SRU graduate and current chair of the SRU Council of Trustees, earning this year’s honor.

     The student speaker this year is Marshall B. Nych, an elementary education major who will graduate in May. Nych earned the honor by holding the highest grade-point-average – a perfect 4.0 -- and the largest number of academic course hours – 117 – in his graduating class. After this semester, Nych will grade with 129 credits.

     The ceremony will also see Dr. Robert Smith, SRU president, present the President’s Award in a number of categories:

* Scholarly and Creative Achievement: co-recipients, Dr. Carolyn Prorok, professor of geography, geology            and the environment, and Dr. Thomas Pearcy, associate professor of history;

* Excellence in Teaching: Dr. Cindy LaCom, professor of English;

* Outstanding Service: Jean Richardson, administrative assistant in the Office of Academic Affairs.


     Prorok was selected for the scholarly and creative award for her essay titled “Transplanting Pilgrimage Tradition in the Americas” published by the American Geographical Society as the lead article in the Vol. 3, No. 3 issue of Geographical Review, a premier publication in the field, while Pearcy was selected to receive his second award in the category for his extensive research and writing as a chapter author in the 340-page “Historia General de General Panama,” commissioned by the Panama Centennial Commission to detail a portion of Panama’s history. The book was directed by Dr. Alfredo Castillero Calvo.

     Nominated by both fellow faculty in her department and by off-campus geographers, Prorok was repeatedly cited for her academic interest and originality. She was also commended for having her paper selected as the lead article in the prestigious magazine. She was also nominated for her work as a founder of the Geography of Religions and Belief Systems, a specialty group of the Association of American Geographers, and for her wide-ranging published works as well as persistent enthusiasm for scholarship.

     Prorok was cited for her “highly original, complex and meaningful piece. This particular work also demonstrates an intellectual return on the decades of intense, ethnographic research she has conducted in diverse religious communities in both hemispheres,” by Dr. Alyson Greiner, associate professor at Oklahoma State University and editor of the Journal of Cultural Geography.

     Prorok earned her doctorate at Louisiana State University, her master of arts degree in geography from the University of Pittsburgh and her undergraduate bachelor of science degree from Slippery Rock University. She joined the SRU faculty in 1987 and holds numerous awards, including selection for an SRU Faculty Development Grant, the University’s Academic Advisor Award and the SRU Outstanding Mentor Award in the Excel Minority Student Mentoring Program.

      In 2002, Pearcy was invited as the only foreigner by the Panamanian government to serve on its Centennial Commission marking the country’s 100 years of independence from Columbia. In addition to organizing the country’s celebration, the commission was charged with writing the nation’s official history. One of the SRU professor’s books is required reading of all students in Panama’s Escuela Normal, where the nation’s teachers are trained.

      His contribution to the history examined Panama’s students and their contribution to the nation’s struggle for sovereignty and independence, and included information on the repressive role of the nation’s military dictators, which Pearcy points out is a very sensitive theme for any Panamanian scholar. In explaining his project, Pearcy says the sensitive nature of his work included review of the role of General Omar Torrijos’ leadership – often regarded as a brutal military dictator and well-known as the Panamanian leader who negotiated the U.S. return of the Panama Canal to Panamanian control. The general’s son, Martin Torrijos, is currently president of the country. The Omar Torrijos Foundation gave Pearcy access to the general’s private papers as part of his research efforts.

     A nomination from Dr. Robert H. Jackson with the Texas Faculty Association reads, in part, “It was a great honor for [Dr. Pearcy] to be invited to contribute along with the leading scholars of Panama. Contributors to the project include a former president of the country…[Dr. Pearcy] has gained a level of respect for his scholarship in Panama, and was chosen to contribute to the most important publication on the history of the country. He has gained international recognition beyond the narrow world of historians of Latin America and the United States…” The work has been called “path-breaking” by fellow scholars who note “No other study has provided such a wealth of detail about this conspicuously, yet, long-neglected element of Panamanian society.”

      Pearcy joined the SRU faculty in 1998 and received the same award a year later as author of “We Only Answer to God: Politics and the Military in Panama, 1903-1947” published by the University of New Mexico Press. He received his doctorate from the University of Miami and his master’s degree and bachelor of science degree from Purdue University.


      LaCom will be honored for her scholarly and professional accomplishments that epitomize the standards for the important teaching award. She received her doctorate in English from the University of Oregon, her master of arts degree and her bachelor of arts degree in English from California State University, Chico, and is now in her 12th year of teaching at SRU.

       Nominations for the award cited her devotion of time and energy to teaching a range of courses from “English 101” to a “Seminar on George Eliot” and for her outstanding work in director the SRU Honors Program where she developed learning opportunities for students in the Oaxaca Program in Mexico and created the “Great Book” courses that includes an international learning component. Her commitment to the National Collegiate Honors Council and the Ad Hoc Committee on Service Learning also drew praise.

      As a member of the SRU English faculty, she encourages her students to take advantage of her energy, enthusiasm and investment in teaching and to have faith in their own abilities to work hard to be interesting and thoughtful in what they have to say.  In 2001, she received Slippery Rock University’s Woman of Distinction Award and the Outstanding Female Educator at the Ninth Annual Community Service Awards event sponsored by the New Castle Junior Woman’s Club; in 1996, she received the SRU Outstanding Commitment to Diversity Award; in 1993, she was a University of Oregon Outstanding Graduate Teaching Fellow; and in 1989 she was named the Outstanding Teacher of Composition at the University of Oregon.


     Marcus is a leader in education and business, including his service on the council where he was named chair last June following four years as a trustees. His SRU degree is in health and physical education and he holds a master’s degree in counseling from Shippensburg University, a master’s in administration from Western Maryland and a doctor of education degree from Nova University.

     He retired in 1995 after 34 years in the Harrisburg School District as a teacher and administrator and for more than 40 years has been president of Marcus Bonding, a family business. Long active in local politics as president of the Susquehanna Township Board of School Directors, he has served as a commissioner of Susquehanna Township and was founder and first commissioner of the Slow Pitch Softball Association of Central Pennsylvania and the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Central Pennsylvania.

     He has funded two scholarships for minority students at SRU.


      This year’s student convocation speaker is a 2001 graduate of West Middlesex High School who participated in accelerated academic courses and graduated with honors. Nych is currently completing his student teaching at Mercer Elementary School where the first half of his work included a mathematics lab for second-, third- and fourth-graders, and the second half involved a literacy lab for second- and third graders as well as time in a second-grade classroom.

He also completed his field experience teaching with a fifth-grade class at Reynolds Elementary School. His SRU education has also involved work at a math and science teaching lab at West Middlesex Elementary as well as teaching language arts at Farrell Elementary School. Nych completed his observation work at a sixth-grade class at West Middlesex Elementary.

      In addition to teaching, he has undertaken basketball coaching duties and has been involved in the 2004 America Reeds Program at Slippery Rock Elementary School. Nych has been recognized by Who’s Who Among College Students and is a four-year recipient of the General Motors United Autoworkers Scholarship.

          Richardson, of Grove City, was selected for the service award, in part, for her 12 years of dedicated service, efficiency and effectiveness in the Office of Academic Affairs. She was cited for developing a management system for distance education activity and for bringing clarity and cost savings to the program.

     She is also being recognized for her work in coordinating the annual Academic Honors Convocation and for her longtime and dedicated work with senior administrative staff and with students in providing kind words, pleasant smile and acts that support the University’s overall mission.

     Established by the late Mr. and Mrs. Robert McMullen, both long-time University supporters, the award continues through the generosity of their son and daughter-in-law, Doug and Linda McMullen.


          The afternoon program will be led by President Smith and include tributes to SRU’s Presidential Scholars from the senior, junior and sophomore class. Each Presidential Scholar will name a faculty or staff member who has served as the student’s mentor – a new feature in this year’s ceremony. The named mentors will stand as the student is recognized on stage.

          A reception for convocation participants will immediately follow the ceremony in Morrow Field House and at     4 p.m. Dr. Nanette Kaplan Solomon, professor of music, will offer a free recital in Swope Music Hall, including a salute to the 200th birthday of Fanny Mendelssohn.



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