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 SRU Academics, Scholarship to be Honored Sunday at Annual Convocation Ceremony 




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



     SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – And the 2006 recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching at Slippery Rock University goes to Dr. Eva Tsuquiashi-Daddesio, an 18-year member of the modern languages and cultures department which will be presented when the university honors more than 2,200 students for their academic accomplishments and achievements at the annual Academic Honors Convocation April 2.

     The ceremony is expected to draw more than 2,000 family members, friends and honorees and will be held at 2 p.m. in Morrow Field House. The assembly will include an address from Lauren Plesko, a graduating senior from Lower Burrell and holder of the highest grade-point average in her graduating class 4.0 on 129 hours of credit. Plesko will receive her bachelor of fine arts degree with a second major in dance at May’s commencement.

     The two-hour ceremony will see presentation of a honorary doctor of humane letters to Marvin Hamlisch, best known locally as the principal pops conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the presentation of the President’s Award for Excellence for Scholarly and Creative Achievement to three honorees:

* Dr. Cornelius Cosgrove, professor and chair of SRU’s English department, and Dr. Nancy Barta-Smith, professor of English for their combined work in the publication of “In Search of Eloquence: Cross-Disciplinary Conversations on the Role of Writing in Undergraduate Education,” and by

* Dr.  Michael J. Zieg, assistant professor of geography, geology and the environment for his paper “The Sudbury Igneous Complex: Viscous emulsion differentiation of a superheated impact sheet” published in the Geology Society of America Bulletin.

     The annual convocation, led by SRU President Dr. Robert M. Smith, also honors SRU’s scholarship recipient students, the university’s Presidential Scholars, those named to the 2004-05 spring semester and 2005-06 fall semester dean’s lists, along with students who have earned scholar athlete honors. The ceremony salutes those recognized as service-learning scholars and is held as part of SRU’s Honors Month, and includes the annual presentation of the President’s Award for Outstanding Service which this year goes to Tracy Allison, coordinator in the Office of Annual Giving.


     Plesko, a member of SRU’s Honors Program, is a three-year Presidential Scholar Award holder and the 2002 recipient of the Martha Gault Art Scholarship. In addition, she has twice received the Craig A. Succop Metalsmithing Scholarship and is a recipient of the 2004 Glenn Bell Scholarship. Her art work has been displayed at SRU, and she has performed at Tthe Attack Theatre Studio in Pittsburgh and with the recent “Slippery Rock Dance in Concert with the Three Rivers Jazz Orchestra” event at Butler County Community College. She began her dance career at age 3 and includes ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, pointe and Riverdance among her talents.

     She was a member of Phi Eta Sigma, the freshman honorary as well as Golden Key International Honors Society, Phi Sigma Pi, national honor fraternity, the Martha Gault Art Society and has completed numerous volunteer projects at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the I Care House in New Castle and with the Relay for Life programs at SRU and in New Kensington. She was a member of the Rocklettes Drill Team in 2002-03, and at SRU, she has worked with the Summer Arts Academy. She has also served as a dance teacher in private studio work.


     Tsuquiashi-Daddessio joined the faculty in 1988 and now serves as chair. She was nominated for the award by both faculty and students who repeatedly cited her caring nature, understanding and teaching ability to help students understand other cultures in the world as it increasingly becomes more diversified.

           She was called out by one nominator who wrote, “Not only does she pack her day full with teaching French and Spanish classes, she also goes that extra mile to help her students understand and succeed…her whole period is very interactive and promotes discussion on all topics.”

     She was cited for involving herself in the lives of her students, serving as an adviser who listens and helps in scheduling to help meet her student’s needs. In addition she was cited for her work as adviser to the French honorary, Pi Delta Phi, the SRU French Club, known as “Le Cercle Francais,” and for her work in sponsoring language and culture events related to the University and community.

     Tsuquiashi-Daddesio holds her doctorate in French with a Spanish minor from the University of Minnesota. In addition, she has a maitrise de letters modernes in comparative literature from the Universite de la Sorbonne Nouvell in Paris and holds a license es letters from the Sorbonne. She was named department chair last year and has previously served as academic coordinator for international studies at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota, where she also taught French and Spanish for four years.

     The author of numerous publications and papers, she has secured thousands of dollars in grants for her department, including one to improve video holdings and another to help upgrade the language laboratory in Carruth Rizza Hall. She is obviously fluent in French, Spanish and English, and is also fluent in basic Italian, Japanese and German.

     In a personal note, she explains, “I consider myself a born teacher. I became committed to teaching as a vocation at an early age, and I began teaching what I knew to others at an early age.”


     Over the past dozen years, SRU’s music department has been privileged to include more than 75 choir students in the “College All-Star Chorus” which performs in Heinz Hall with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Hamlisch. During those years, he has come to call SRU his “favorite” and often uses the choir’s on-stage time to joke and tease SRU students. The bond that has developed resulted in his recent appearance in a one-man, sold-out show as part of SRU’s ING Performing Art Series and the university’s admiration of his outstanding abilities as a respected American composer and conductor has prompted its decision to present him with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

      Hamlisch’s life in music is notable for its great versatility as well as substance. As composer, he has won every major award: three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, one Tony and three Golden Globe awards. His groundbreaking show “A Chorus Line,” received the Pulitzer Prize. Among the Broadway shows Hamlisch has composed are “They’re Playing Our Song,” “The Goodbye Girl,” “Sweet Smell of Success” and “Imaginary Friends.” He is the composer of more than 40 motion picture scores, including his Oscar-winning score and song for “The Way We Were” and his adaptation of Scott Joplin's music for “The Sting,” for which he received a third Oscar. His prolific output of scores for films includes original compositions and/or musical adaptations for “Sophie’s Choice,” “Ordinary People,” “The Swimmer,” “Three Men and a Baby,”  “Ice Castles,” “Take the Money and Run,” “Bananas” and “Save the Tiger.”

     Hamlisch holds the position of principal pops conductor with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as well as with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., the first time any one has held such positions with either orchestra. In addition he serves as conductor with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

      He was musical director and arranger of Barbra Streisand’s 1994 concert tour of the United States and England as well as the television special “Barbra Streisand: The Concert” (for which he received two of his Emmys). He served in the same capacities for her millennium concerts. Hamlisch is a graduate of both Juilliard and Queens College

Cosgrove and Barta-Smith

     The shared award for scholarly and creative achievement cited the work of Cosgrove and Barta-Smith salutes their 262-page book published in 2004 by Hampton Press, Inc., for offering its argument for the value of face-to-face conversations between composition specialists and professors within other disciplines. Their work calls for achieving both development of an ordinary language that can be used while faculty members across disciplines together consider the role of writing in undergraduate education and as a  means of shared learning among conversants that can benefit students in composition, professional writing and major program courses. It also serves as a discovery of possibilities for mutual assistance while seeking to enhance undergraduate teaching and to design curriculum for both general studies and major programs.

     Cosgrove, who joined the SRU faculty in 1987; Barta-Smith in 1995. The two combined their efforts, drawing heavily from both their reading and years of experience teaching first-year composition as well as from sources in the English department’s professional writing program as part of their book research. Primary sources for much of the book were interviews conduced with colleagues from other academic fields within SRU.


     Zieg’s work in geology has attracted national and international attention with his paper discussing the origins of one of the world’s largest and most valuable nickel and copper deposits uncovered by his research explaining the 1.85-billion-year-old Sudbury impact crater in northern Canada. The 20-mile deep crater was formed when a meteorite slammed into the earth and the discovery has attracted attention in geology circles around the world. After five years of study, Zieg realized the layering in the Sudbury complex, with its dramatic layering in which roughly one mile of granitic rocks overlie 3/4 mile of basaltic rock, was produced entirely in the liquid state immediately after the meteorite impact. His work adds new insight into the formation of rocks at the site that has captivated geologists for 100 years.

      Zieg, who joined the SRU faculty in 2003, determined that like oil and water, nickel and copper settled independently to the bottom of the crater floor and that the melt sheet mechanically segregated into two distinct compositional layers before crystallization began. This process had not previously been recognized, or even considered. Zieg studied the Sudbury impact crater for his doctoral dissertation at Johns Hopkins University. His undergraduate degree is from Michigan State University.

     His discovery has been cited as “stellar” with a nomination noting it has “caused a sensation across the globe. In a subject fraught with dissension and controversy, this paper has been praised by the best and most hardcore researchers as a milestone contribution. It has woven together at both very detailed and quantitative levels all the available science, combined with his own work, to not only fully explain this occurrence, but his work has predictive qualities that point the way where additional breakthroughs are likely to be made…Michael Zieg has made a stir throughout the world, and it has been a universally pleasant reaction. His work has both solved a long-standing mystery and has broken new and cutting-edge ground. This is truly unprecedented in this highly competitive field.”


      Allison will be presented the outstanding service award primarily for her positive attitude of optimism and enthusiasm that resulted after taking over the operation and increasing alumni support for the project.

            Allison joined the university in 1989 and stepped up to lead this year’s Annual Fund/Phonathon Program when her supervisor was given another assignment. In a nomination letter, it was noted her work had resulted in a smooth transition with the division “overwhelming impressed by the success and innovation she brought to the program in a short period.”

           Under her leadership, pledges increased by 34 percent, the average gift to the university increased from $27 to $38 and credit card gifts nearly doubled. All are regarded as key indicators of success for the gift program which also saw a midyear increase in alumni participation. She was credited for reviewing current practices and making use of an outside consultant to develop new policies and procedures expected to have long-term impact – in addition to the immediate success – on improving the giving program. Allison initiated a strategic student recruitment effort that resulted in more and better qualified Phonathon caller candidates and she extended training, revised the script and revamped the incentives while at the same time establishing a consistent expectation from student callers.

       As part of her work, Allison has shown an ability to work well with people throughout the university, including alumni, students, administrators, faculty and technical staff.

            The annual award, open to SRU employees and those closely associated with the university, was established by the late Mr. and Mrs. Robert McMullen, both long-time University supporters. Mr. McMullen was a 1951 SRU graduate and was deeply involved in creating the Slippery Rock University Foundation, Inc. The award continues through the generosity of their son and daughter-in-law, Doug and Linda McMullen.






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