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Rhonda L. Steigerwald, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at UPMC Northwest, has been named the 2008 Clarion University–Venango Campus Distinguished Alumna.

She will be honored on October 2 with a full day of activities at the Venango Campus that culminates in a community-wide reception and will receive an award the following evening at the annual Clarion University Alumni Association banquet in Clarion.

She is one of seven individuals who will be honored with a Clarion University Alumni Association Distinguished Award on Friday, October 3, during a banquet in 6 p.m. in the Gemmell Student Complex Multi-Purpose Room. A reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Gemmell Student Complex Rotunda.

            RSVP for the banquet at due by Sept. 21 to or telephone (814) 393-1784 . The cost is $40 per person. Checks should be made payable to the Clarion University Foundation, Inc., and mailed to Clarion University Foundation, Inc., 840 Wood St., Clarion, Pa. 16214. Those attending are asked to indicate any food allergies and the honoree for whom they are attending.

            Being honored are: Distinguished Alumni – Edward Bauer (’70); Distinguished Service – H.E. (Gene) and Susanne Burns; Distinguished Faculty – Dr. Gail (Fulton ’66) Grejda; Distinguished Achievement – Brigadier General Peter Talleri (’79); and Distinguished Volunteer – Sheryl Riesmyer.

            In addition a special presentation of the President’s Medallion will be made to the Honorable Fred C. McIlhattan (’70) in acknowledgement of his 40 years of public service.

Established in 1990, this award is presented to one Venango Campus alumnus each year by the Clarion University Alumni Association. Recipients are honored for their professional accomplishments and extraordinary service to their community and/or humanity which have brought distinction to their alma mater.  

Ms. Steigerwald is a shining example of someone who knew what she wanted to do, did it very well, and rose to the top of her profession. She has worked her way through the ranks of her current employer, joining the staff of Northwest Medical Center, which later became UPMC Northwest, as a staff nurse upon graduation from Clarion University’s nursing program in 1975.

In her current position, Ms. Steigerwald is part of the leadership team of a 189-bed hospital that provides acute and ambulatory care to a five-county area. She is responsible for clinical and financial operations, strategic planning, program development, patient services, and the advancement of professional practice.

From that first position, Ms. Steigerwald went on to serve as nurse manager of the birthing center, pediatrics, and emergency services before being promoted to assistant vice president of nursing in 2004, and her current position in 2006.

Her position gives her an opportunity to interact with her alma mater, especially in the programs that have been developed in partnership with UPMC Northwest to prepare existing hospital employees to become registered nurses. Staff from various hospital departments attend classes part-time while working full-time over a four-year period, graduating with an associate of science in nursing degree.

 “It is so exciting to be working with the School of Nursing and Allied Health at Clarion University–Venango Campus to enable us at UPMC Northwest to be proactive in addressing the nursing shortage for our organization,” said Ms. Steigerwald. “Having the availability of educational opportunities and venues locally through the Venango Campus meets the needs of all types of students, traditional and non-traditional.”

After earning her associate degree in nursing at Clarion University–Venango Campus, Ms. Steigerwald received her baccalaureate degree in health administration at Kennedy-Western University in Thousand Oaks, California. She then completed the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Beckwith Fellowship Leadership Program before earning her master’s degree in health administration from Kennedy-Western. She also holds certifications as a maternal newborn nurse and as a neonatal resuscitation program instructor.

Ms. Steigerwald is a member of the American Organization of Nurse Executives, the Early Head Start Health Advisory Board, the Northwest Pennsylvania Organization of Nurse Leaders, and is secretary of the MuXi Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, the International Honor Society of Nursing.

She has been recognized by the Family Health Council, Inc., with the 1999 Teen Pregnancy Prevention Leadership Award and by Northwest Medical Center with the 1992 Excellence in Nursing Management Award.

Ms. Steigerwald is an active member of her community, currently serving on the board of directors of United Way, and is a past board member of the Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry, and Tourism.

Ms. Steigerwald and her husband, Jeffrey, reside at Lake Latonka, and are the parents of three children, Jeffrey, Jr. and his wife, Wendy; Joseph and his fiancée, Felicia; and Jennifer. They also have four grandchildren, Katelyn, Emily, Savana, and Evan.

Clarion University-Venango Campus, located in Oil City, is the oldest regional campus in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.   The campus provides high-quality educational programs and personalized services to help students succeed.  Students can begin any of Clarion University’s 90+ bachelor’s degrees at the Venango Campus, earn an associate degree, a bachelor’s or master’s degree in select areas, obtain a one-year certificate or participate in a variety of professional development and personal enrichment courses.  The campus is home to Clarion University’s School of Nursing and Allied Health and its Department of Applied Technology.  Clarion University-Venango Campus is committed to serving the needs of the community.



9/4/2008 4:57 PM

Rhonda L. Steigerwald Clarion University–Venango Campus Distinguished Alumna