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 SRU honors 5 alumni for leadership, distinguished service 



September 21, 2009

CONTACT: K.E. Schwab



SRU honors 5 alumni for leadership, distinguished service


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Five Slippery Rock University graduates have been named to this year's class of Distinguished Alumni Award recipients and will honor them as part of the University's annual homecoming Oct. 2-3.

           This year's awardees are:

           Gary Lancaster, a 1971 graduate, now a United States District judge for Western Pennsylvania;

           Quentin Currie, a 1962 SRU graduate and professor emeritus of East Stroudsburg University;

           Dorotha Elder Anderson, a 1937 SRU education graduate, who with her husband, Orville, built one of the nation's premier transportation companies, Anderson Coach and Travel, headquartered in Greenville;

           Daniel Gillen, a 1978 SRU political science graduate, now senior manager in human resources at the McDonald's Corp. headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill.; and 

           Rose Spataro Dillner, a 1957 SRU bachelor of science graduate in health and physical education, who used her education as part of her 30-year teaching career.

           The annual awards honors individual SRU graduates who have translated their Slippery Rock University experience into distinguished personal and professional achievement, community service, university service, or philanthropy to the SRU community. Recipients must have also distinguish themselves by reaching the highest level of accomplishment and possess the highest standards of integrity and character to positively reflect and enhance the prestige of their alma mater.

           This year's recipients will be honored at a 5 p.m. Distinguished Alumni Awards Banquet Oct. 2 in the Russell Wright Alumni House and Conference Center.


           Lancaster received his bachelor of science degree in secondary education from Slippery Rock University and his juris doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. He was admitted to the practice of law in Pennsylvania in 1974 and from 1974 to 1978 served as regional counsel for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and as assistant district attorney for Allegheny County. In 1978, he entered private practice specializing in criminal and civil litigation. He was appointed as a United States magistrate judge and took office Oct. 23, 1987. 

           He was appointed to the district court President Bill Clinton, taking his oath of office Dec. 17, 1993. He serves as the chair of the district court's space and facilities committee. As such, he is charged with primary responsibility for overseeing the $75 million renovation of the United States District Court's historic courthouse. He has also served chair of the district court's local rules committee. In 2004, he was appointed by Chief Judge Anthony J. Scirica of the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to the circuit committee to draft standard civil jury instructions. In 2004, he was appointed by Chief Justice William H. Renquist to the United States judicial conference committee on judicial resources. 

           Lancaster is a member of the board of directors of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a member of various civic, religious and charitable groups. He resides in Pittsburgh.


           Currie earned his SRU degree in health and physical education and his master of science degree in health and physical education from the University of Rhode Island. He also took addition course work at both East Stroudsburg and Lehigh universities.

           As an undergraduate, he distinguished himself as a four-year starter in varsity football, where he won numerous district and state awards. He was the first graduate assistant football coach in Rock history. As a graduate student, at the University of Rhode Island, he served as an instructor in health and physical education and intramural director. His first job after graduation was as a health and physical education instructor and assistant athletic director at McDowell High School in Erie. Between 1963 and 1977, he held several coaching and physical education faculty positions at Slippery Rock University, the United States Military Academy, Dartmouth College and the United States Coast Guard Academy. In 1977, he began his career at East Stroudsburg University as associate professor of physical education. Since that time he also served as an assistant football coach, director of summer sessions and continuing education and chairperson of the department of movement activities and lifetime fitness. He was named a professor emeritus at East Stroudsburg in 2001 and a year later was inducted into SRU's Athletic Hall of Fame.

           At East Stroudsburg, he served on the committee of academic excellence from 1999-2000 and was chair for the intercollegiate athletic committee from 1996-1999. In his free time, he competed in race walking events. He is certified by the American Red Cross and was an instructor for basic canoeing and sailing in Monroe County. He served as the high school and football game announcer on 840/960 AM radio in East Stroudsburg. He makes his home in East Stroudsburg.


           Anderson was valedictorian of her SRU class and after graduation became a teacher at a one-room schoolhouse in the Mercer School District. She met the man who was to become her husband, Orville Anderson, at the school where he held the transportation contract and after their marriage had an immeasurable impact on the company, the nationwide motor coach transportation industry and northwestern Pennsylvania. As a partner, owner and decisionmaker with her husband, their business, Anderson Coach and Travel, grew and thrived. She said that understanding the important of "customer service" long before it was part of the business vocabulary was a major factor.

           Anderson was an active member in the American Bus Association, the Pennsylvania School Bus Association, the Pennsylvania Bus Association and the National Tour Association. She recognized the importance of these professional relationships in raising the standards of the motor coach industry. In 1996, the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce honored her as its Business Woman of the Year. In 2001, she was honored as Pennsylvania's Best 50 Women in Business, and two years ago was nominated for the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Bus Association.

           Today, the company employs 200 using 44 motor coaches and 53 school vehicles for two local school districts. She has helped lead the company for more than 70 years and currently serves as its financial disburser. At age 92, she daily manages the outgoing expenses for more than 100 drivers.

           Her community work includes singing in her church choir for more than 40 years. She is a past worthy matron of the Greenville Chapter of the Order of White Shrine and has been a 50-year member of the Order of the Eastern Star, Chapter 63, in Greenville. She is an accomplished pianist and has played for many events in Greenville and surrounding areas. She has served as a trustee at Thiel College and played an integral part in fundraising for the successful Next Century Campaign. Thiel honored her in 1995 with the A. Louis and Barbara Thiel Distinguished Service Award. In 1997, she received the Distinguished Citizen Award from French Creek Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and this year she endowed the Dorotha Elder Anderson Scholarship at Slippery Rock University.


           Gillen received his bachelor of arts degree in political science from SRU and his master of arts degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix. He also completed the executive education course at Harvard University. 

           While an undergraduate, Gillen played varsity soccer on the team that still has the record for most wins in the history of the sport at SRU. As an SRU student, Gillen began his career at McDonald's where he was given increasingly more responsibility. During summers and he worked closely with Jim Delligatti, an early McDonald's franchise owner and creator of the Big Mac.

           After graduation, Gillen accepted a fulltime position with McDonald's rising through the ranks as store manager, regional manager and then to the company's headquarters. He is proud of the corporation's reputation for recruiting, mentoring and promoting women and minorities. The emphasis on developing a diverse workplace and providing opportunities for upward mobility through hard work is both Gillen's personal philosophy and the corporate culture of McDonald's. Since 2004, as a senior manager he has been involved in the management and training of personnel at McDonald's franchises worldwide. He spends significant time overseas and had a major role in developing the business in India and other Far East locations.

           A former Rock athlete, Gillen continues to play and coach soccer in Naperville, Ill., where he makes his home. He has coached soccer at the elite regional level. He has served on Slippery Rock University's Presidents Advisory Council since 1994; is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management; received the McDonald's President Award in 1996; and has won numerous McDonald's Team Awards. He established the James P. Gillen Scholarship at Slippery Rock University in memory of his father, James P. Gillen.


           Dillner used her SRU education in a 30-year professional teaching career, including 20 years with the Chambersburg [Md.] School District where she served as supervisor and department chairman of the elementary physical education department. As a school administrator and teacher, she participated in a student-teacher preparation program through the guidance department at SRU and later at Wilson College where she spent six years as a student-teacher supervisor.

           Among her numerous awards and recognitions is being named Woman of the Year in Shippensburg by Beta Sigma Phi and being named a Paul Harris Fellow by her local Rotary International Chapter. In 1988, she received the Pennsylvania State Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Professional Honor Award. Dillner designed the official Slippery Rock University Centennial Logo to help mark the institution's 100th anniversary in 1889.

           Her community involvement includes being organizer of the Corn Festival in Shippensburg for 16 years; program chairman for the Shippensburg Community Fair, 20 years; chair of the 50th Anniversary Night Celebration of the Fair in 2007; secretary of the 250th Cumberland County Anniversary Celebration; service on the Cumberland County Planning Commission, 14 years. 

           She also authored several articles for the Pennsylvania Journal of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and is active in her church where she has served in numerous leadership roles. 

           She makes her home in Shippensburg, and has been a life-long supporter of The Rock. She has entertained the SRU football team, marching band and cheerleaders at her farm on many occasions. Along with her family, she helped establish the Joseph Paul Spataro Scholarship Fund for deserving students.


           This year's award selection committee included Michael Saraka, director of the Office of Alumni Relations and committee chair; Ruth Purcell, director of University Advancement; Tina Moser, assistant to the president; Cynthia Dillon, assistant to the provost; Richard Manning, immediate past president of the SRU Alumni Association; and John Hicks, assistant professor of secondary education and foundations of education.   

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.


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