Mr. John R. Phillips II, president and chief operating officer for the Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry and Tourism, was the featured speaker at the annual Venango College commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 18th at the Robert W. Rhoades Center gymnasium. A crowd of nearly six hundred watched proudly as graduates received their diplomas.
The class of 2013 is the first to commence as graduates of Venango College of Clarion University and were recognized as participants in an historical moment in time. The campus became the fourth college within Clarion University almost one year ago. The college conferred its first bachelor degrees in the Venango ceremony in addition to many associate degrees.
Phillips, in his address to the student body, challenged the graduates to "set your sights high. Don't just be employable, be sought after. Wake up every day with the mindset of making a difference in the lives of others, your community, and your region. Love what you do, and it will make what you do enjoyable and easy.”
Phillips coordinates a team of professionals that are responsible for Economic and Community Development, Tourism and Destination Marketing, Historical Preservation, Outdoor Recreation Development, Property Development, and Brownfield Reclamation for Venango County and the Oil Region. The Oil Region Alliance works to assist existing organizations in the region to expand and make their operations more competitive while marketing the region to new companies that will invest capital and employ and develop our workforce.
Venango College awarded 251 fall and spring graduates with degrees as the first class to graduate from Venango College of Clarion University. Of the graduates, 27 were awarded bachelor and master degrees at the Clarion campus ceremony earlier in the day. 234 associate, bachelor and master degree recipients were recognized at the Venango College ceremony.
Dr. Chris Reber, Executive Dean of Venango College of Clarion University welcomed the audience and noted that, “from the very first day that students step onto campus, the university community looks forward with much anticipation to this culminating celebration of our students’ academic accomplishments. We’re immensely grateful to the parents and family members, educational partners, community leaders, university faculty and staff, alumni, and other friends who support our students in many, many ways."
Students, faculty and staff processed to and from the ceremony with the accompaniment of the Clarion University Brass Quartet under the direction of Jeffrey A. Wardlaw. Seth Robertson, a Clarion University music major, led the singing of the Clarion University Alma Mater.
David Bailey, president-elect of the Clarion University Alumni Association, addressed the students by offering them words of encouragement. “Your association with Clarion has not ended. It is expected of you to do well, to prosper, and to make this world a better place.” Bailey congratulated the graduates and welcomed them to the ranks of living Clarion University alumni, a group that is now over 51,000 strong throughout the nation and the world.
Following the commencement ceremony, a reception was held for the graduates, family members, faculty, staff and friends, sponsored by the Venango College Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.