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 State's Top Educator, SRU Graduate, to Address May 7 Commencement 




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



     SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Dr. Francis V. Barnes, once himself a recipient of an SRU diploma, will be the speaker when the university presents more than 1,050 diplomas at commencement ceremonies set for 11 a.m. May 7 in N. Kerr Thompson Stadium.

     The ceremony will see the presentation of 30 doctorate degrees in physical therapy, while 137 students receive their master’s diplomas. Some 900 undergraduate degrees will also be presented. Tickets are not required for the outdoor ceremony, but all graduating students have been issued four tickets in the event inclement weather forces the ceremony to Morrow Field House.

     The spring ceremony, marking the largest in recent memory, will be led by President Robert Smith. The event will include presentation of the national anthem by SRU students Michael Sypien of Pittsburgh, Mark Erickson of New Wilmington, Christopher Keiper of Beaver Falls, and Markus Kaiser, an international student from Germany.

     Greetings will be presented by Dr. Robert Marcus, a 1961 SRU graduate and current chair of the SRU Council of trustees.

     Barnes, who earned his bachelor of science degree in education from SRU in 1971, was named to lead the state’s education program in 2004 by Gov. Edward Rendell. He has said his personal mission is, “The goal remains unchanged: learners of all ages will experience the economic opportunities, fulfillment and liberty that a quality education offers. Now, it is time to focus on the means to this end, so that our attention aligns with our intention. We will strengthen the foundation already laid by working together as one, building coherent systems and supports, and leading with personal courage and great resolve. Continuity of focus, deeper roots, disciplined implementation, and attention to the common good...these will be the hallmarks of our stewardship."

     He holds his master of education degree and his doctor of philosophy degree from the University of Pittsburgh, and holds certifications as elementary and secondary principals, in health and physical education, as supervisor of curriculum and instruction and a letter of eligibility for superintendents of schools. Prior to accepting the state’s top education post, Barnes had served six years as superintendent of Palisades School District in Kintnersville, located in Northern Bucks County, a district serving some 2,200 students. He has served as superintendent at both the Huntingdon Area School District and at the Hopewell Area School District, as well as principal at North Allegheny School District and as dean of students, department chair and teacher for the Pittsburgh Public Board of Education.

      Active in his profession and community, Barnes is a member of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, and was president-elect in 2004, a member of the American Association of School Administrators Governing Board, the American Association of School Administrators membership committee, the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators Board of Governors, he is a  Grandview Hospital trustee, and a member of the Shippensburg Area and Pennsylvania State School Study Councils, Phi Delta Kappa, and the Citizens Advisory Board for the State Correctional Institute at Huntingdon as well as the Huntingdon County United Way education committee.

   The new graduates will be inducted into the SRU Alumni Association by William G. Kirker, a 1973 SRU graduate and president of the association. A reception for graduates and guests will follow in the University Union. In addition 11 Army Reserve Officer Training Corp. cadets will be commissioned as second lieutenants at the ceremony.



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