Commencement 2011: The Class of 2011 Begins its New Journey

Release Date: Monday, June 20, 2011

Commencement Recap

Susan Corbett - Commencement 
Susan Manbeck Corbett, chairperson of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, tells the graduating class “we fail to reach our full potential if we place our future in others hands.” During her commencement speech, she urged the Class of 2011 “to give their best to every job they have, and everything they do.”

Susan Manbeck Corbett, wife of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and chairperson of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, delivered the 84th commencement address at Chestnut Hill College on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

The College awarded 309 bachelor degrees, 205 graduate degrees as well as 11 doctoral degrees in clinical psychology during the ceremony. Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees were awarded to Susan Corbett, former vice president of programs and development at the Gettysburg Foundation, and a Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree was awarded to Sister Constance FitzGerald, OCD, highly respected scholar and author known for her writings on John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila.

Susan Manbeck Corbett is a native of Schuylkill County where she was born and raised in Pine Grove. She began a life-long love of learning, critical thinking and creative inquiry at Lebanon Valley College where she received her bachelor’s degree in English in 1972, the same year of her marriage to Tom Corbett. As a high school English teacher in Northern Lebanon Valley School District, she challenged students to achieve effective communication skills, to read for understanding and enjoyment, and to creatively express themselves. Susan knows the importance of promoting and nurturing the growth of others, as demonstrated by her willingness to set aside her professional life so as to dedicate several years to staying at home while raising her family of two children.

When Susan resumed her professional career as a special projects manager for the President’s Office at the Carnegie Museum and the Director’s Office at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, she began a long commitment to the goals of service through leadership, civic responsibility and practice, integrative and intentional learning, and ethical and spiritual growth. While serving as the vice president for programs and development of the Gettysburg Foundation, she was instrumental in developing the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center that today teaches and orients visitors from around the world to Gettysburg Military Park, a premier Pennsylvania historical legacy. As executive director of Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures, Susan encouraged western Pennsylvania audiences to explore their own identities and those of others through presentations by renowned authors such as Arthur Miller, Kurt Vonnegut and John Updike.

Just recently, the First Lady of Pennsylvania was selected as chairperson of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts where she had served as a member for nine years. Fittingly, for one who recognizes the importance of integrative learning, holistic education, and service to others, Susan Corbett has announced a new direction for her energies: exploring how the arts can help at-risk children.

Sister Constance FitzGerald, author and educator, contemplative and critic, leader and lecturer, began her studies at Chestnut Hill College when Mount Saint Joseph Academy claimed ownership to St. Joseph Hall. A member of the first community of religious women in the thirteen original states, she has occupied a leadership role in the renewal of contemplative life for women in America. Through her publications, lectures, and involvement in The Carmelite Forum she has brought a contemporary interpretation of Carmelite spirituality to religious and lay people alike, inserting a thrust of feminist spirituality.

Sister Constance’s publications on spirituality, mainly in the Carmelite tradition of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, also embrace the more modern contemplatives, Thérèse of Lisieux and Edith Stein. While focusing on the written word, she integrates modern media through audio and video tapes. Her works have appeared in such publications as Spiritual Life and The Way Supplement. The titles of her articles and scholarly contributions echo her orientation to both contemplation and action: “Contemplative Life as Charismatic Presence,” “The Carmelite Adventure,” and “Transformation in Wisdom.”


Sister Carol - Commencement 
President Carol Jean Vale, SSJ, Ph.D. congratulates Jessica Kahn, Ph.D. professor of education for receiving this year’s Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.


Carol Jean Vale, SSJ, Ph.D., president of Chestnut Hill College, recognized Jessica Fisher for her scholastic achievement with the President’s Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement. The President’s Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement is awarded to graduates of the School of Undergraduate Studies who have completed eight consecutive semesters at Chestnut Hill College, earned a grade point average of 3.9 or better, and are graduating Summa Cum Laude. Jessica, an English literature major, had a grade point average of 3.97.

Jessica Kahn, Ph.D., professor of education, received the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. The award is given to a distinguished teacher who is “committed to the life of the mind and spirit, is intellectually stimulating, challenging and accessible, and devoted to the temporal and eternal well-being of students.” The recipient of the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching is selected from a committee of students, faculty and staff at the College. Dr. Kahn was honored as this year’s winner for her dedication to her students and her passion for teaching and education.



Students - Commencement Students_ - Commencement 
Excited graduates of the Class of 2011 pose for photos with their classmates.
Sister Constance FitzGerald Jessica Fisher 
Sister Constance FitzGerald receives her Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Carol Jean Vale, SSJ, Ph.D., president of Chestnut Hill College.Jessica Fisher receives the Presdent's Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement for her scholastic endeavors.