Academic Honors and Student Leadership Convocation kicks off SRU’s “excellence” activities

the word excellence written in chalk above a compass illustration

Feb. 17, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University will honor more than 3,000 students, as well as present the winners of the President's Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Academic Advising, as part of the University's Academic Honors and Student Leadership Convocation. The annual event, which kicks off the University's month-long "Celebration of Excellence," will take place at 1:30 p.m., March 25 in Morrow Field House.

Among the categories of students to be honored are:

  • Presidential Scholars: SRU Presidential Scholars represent the top 20 students in their class based on overall GPA and meeting minimum required credit hours earned at the University. Required: Sophomores, at least 28 credit hours earned at SRU; juniors, at last 40 credit hours earned at SRU; seniors, at least 52 credit hours earned at SRU. Students must have successfully completed a minimum total of 12 credit hours during 2016.

  • Honors Program Graduates: The University Honors Program offers students an opportunity to gain the most from their undergraduate careers. Students enrolled in the Honors Program take 21 credit hours of special course work in limited enrollment classes that emphasize extensive reading, critical thinking, intensive writing and group discussion. In order to earn recognition as program graduates, students must maintain a 3.25 GPA or higher and participate in various honors activities, including community service, leadership and extracurricular requirements.

  • Outstanding Students in Research, Scholarship or Creative Activity and Outstanding Student Academic Leader: Students in each of the four colleges (College of Business, College of Education, College of Health, Environment and Science, and College of Liberal Arts) are involved in many research, scholarly and creative projects as well as academic leadership activities. In recognition of the importance of student scholarship and leadership at SRU, each college has recognized an outstanding student in the area of research, scholarship and creative activity and an outstanding student academic leader.

  • Deans' List Students: Deans' list students for spring and fall semester 2016 are those who have excelled in their course work and have earned semester averages ranging from 3.5 to 4.0 on at least 12 newly-earned credits.

  • Scholar Athletes: Scholar athletes, recognized by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, must achieve a 3.25 cumulative GPA or higher while competing in a varsity sport.

  • Student Leadership: AVI Foodsystems, Inc. sponsors 10 stars in the International Star Registry to honor and recognize students who have exemplified outstanding leadership. Seven of these stars are awarded to "Rising Stars." One is awarded to the Student Leader of the Year, one to the Silent Inspiration Award Winner and one to the Student Community Service awardee. The award winners will be recognized at the Rising Star Award Ceremony at 5 p.m., May 3 in the Smith Student Center Ballroom.

  • Academic Scholarship Winners: Each academic scholarship is established with certain criteria. Students must meet these requirements to be eligible for a particular scholarship.

  • Norton Undergraduate Research Scholarship Winners: The Norton Undergraduate Research Scholarship is a scholarship program designed to assist undergraduate students in their pursuit of academic research or creative activity. The Scholarship program is open to sophomore or junior status undergraduate students who have earned a 3.0 grade point average both cumulatively and in the major in which the research will be conducted.

Students that have earned 4.0 semesters; Service Leadership Coordinators; SRU Student Government Association members; Center for Service, Involvement and Leadership Peer Mentors; and Jump Start Peer Mentors will also be recognized.

The President's Award for Excellence in Teaching will be presented to Douglas Strahler, an assistant professor of communication. The award honors a faculty member whose primary responsibility is teaching. Those nominated must demonstrate an exemplary commitment to teaching and student learning and must maintain a classroom that promotes high student engagement while pursuing scholarly growth that enhances teaching.

"There is no double that Douglas Strahler meets - if not exceeds - all of these requirements," said SRU President Cheryl Norton. "We couldn't be prouder of all those faculty members who are not only dedicated to their disciplines, but to the University as well as their students. This year, Dr. Strahler stands out from the crowd."

Strahler's nomination received staunch support from students and coworkers alike.

David Jordan, associate professor in SRU's College of Business, is being honored for his dedication and outstanding service to students with this year's President's Award for Outstanding Academic Advising.

Jordan, who joined SRU in 2013, has a self-described passion for working with all stakeholders to prepare students as leaders in industry and government. His research interests include health care benefit design, health care management and administrative processes, individual and population health behaviors and factors of health care utilization.

Norton said Jordan, "Has gone above and beyond to dedicate the time to make sure every student receives the assistance they need to be successful at Slippery Rock University and in the future.

"The decision to award him this year's honor comes as a result of the enthusiastically strong recommendations from several of the students he has advised. It is obvious from that show of support, the difference he has made in their academic and personal lives."

Emily Brumbaugh, a music education major from Altoona, will serve as the event's student speaker.

Brumbaugh, who will graduate in May, has a 4.0 GPA. Twice she was named one of Slippery Rock University's Top 20 Presidential Scholars (2015 junior class, 2016 senior class). Brumbaugh was named a Rising Star Award recipient as an individual (2015) and as part of an organization (2016).

She is a recipient of the Robert M. Smith Music Scholarship (2013-2016); the Kate Brennan Music Education Scholarship (2016); the Jamie Minoski Special Education Scholarship (2016); the Lily Ray Byers Early Childhood Education Scholarship (2016); and the Catherine Schaeffer Special Education Scholarship (2015).

Brumbaugh was also awarded the 2015 Swope Music Department Citizenship Award which honors an undergraduate student who has demonstrated leadership qualities within the Department of Music. Award candidates must have excelled in their musical endeavors and emerged as leaders within the department through participation in events, encouragement of peers and dedication to the success of departmental students.

SRU will also recognize Timothy Samec, a physics major from Drums, as the University's nominee for the 2017 Syed Ali-Zaidi Award. Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education board of governors presents the award.

Samec's nomination followed rigorous internal procedures that included nominations from across the University's academic community.

Samec will graduate in May with a major in physics with a concentration in computational biophysics and a minor in mathematics. He plans to pursue a doctoral degree in biomedical engineering with a focus on cell and tissue regeneration.

Despite majoring in one of the most demanding areas of study offered by SRU, Samec's academics have encompassed not only the required coursework, but have taken advantage of extensive research opportunities.

His research on the physical properties of integrated DNA nanostructure architectures - conducted with SRU faculty in collaboration with faculty at the University of Pittsburgh - was supported in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Samec presented his findings at the 2015 National Conference for Undergraduate Research in Spokane, Washington. Later this year, he will present his work at the 2017 American Physical Society's annual meeting in New Orleans. His work has also been recognized through a President's Undergraduate Research Grant, the Provost's Distinguished Scholar Award and selection as an SRU nominee for the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.

A reception in the GrassTex area of the field house will immediately follow.

MEDIA CONTACT: Robb King | 724.738.2199 | robert.king@sru.edu