Chestnut Hill College Celebrates 84th Commencement

First Lady of Pennsylvania Susan Corbett to Deliver Commencement Address

Saturday, May 14, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Susan Manbeck Corbett, wife of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and chairperson of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, will deliver the 84th commencement address at Chestnut Hill College on Saturday, May 14, at 2 p.m. at an outdoor ceremony on the College's campus.

The College will award 309 bachelor degrees, 205 graduate degrees as well as 11 doctoral degrees in clinical psychology during the ceremony. Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees will be awarded to Susan Corbett, former vice president of programs and development at the Gettysburg Foundation, and a Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree will be 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, OCD
Author and educator, contemplative and critic, leader and lecturer, Sister Constance FitzGerald 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.”

A compelling speaker, Sister Constance has given lectures in the Philippines, Hong Kong, England, Scotland, and Ireland, as well as in the United States. She speaks with passion, a word we find in many of her articles and tapes, such as The Passion of the Carmelite Tradition: Edith Stein. A recent article “From Impasse to Prophetic Hope: Crisis of Memory,” published in the Proceedings of the Catholic Theological Society of America, forms the basis of several talks. Deep and penetrating, these works inspire a contemporary audience with their practical applications.