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2008 Recipients

President's Medallion
Distinguished Service Award

Distinguished Faculty Award
Distinguished Alumni Award
Distinguished Volunteer Award
Distinguished Achievement Award
Clarion University-Venango Campus Distinguished Alumna


Honorable Fred C. McIlhattan '70
President's Medallion

McIlhattanThe Honorable Fred C. McIlhattan, a 1970 Clarion University graduate, received the 2008 Clarion University President's Medallion.

Fred McIlhattan has spent a lifetime helping people. He is serving his sixth term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, representing the 63rd Legislative District, which includes all of Clarion County and portions of Armstrong County. After 40 years of working for the public good, he plans to retire at the end of his current term, which expires Nov. 20.

McIhattan's long and distinguished career in public service began in 1969, when, at the age of 24, he was elected the youngest mayor of his hometown, Knox Borough. In 1975, he was elected to serve as a Clarion County commissioner, a post to which he was re-elected twice more. During the last eight years he was in county office, McIlhattan served as chairman of the Board of Commissioners.

He remained a commissioner until 1987, when he accepted a position as executive assistant to then Pennsylvania State Senator John Peterson. Also during his Senate tenure, McIlhattan served as executive assistant to Pennsylvania State Senator Tim Shaffer. McIlhattan left the Pennsylvania Senate in 1996, upon his election to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

In the current session, McIlhattan serves as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's Education Subcommittee and as a member of the State Government, Health and Human Services, and Appropriations committees and the new Gaming Oversight Committee. A strong supporter of Clarion University and public higher education, McIlhattan has backed increases in state appropriations that have advanced the university's efforts to provide a high-quality education at an affordable cost. He has also provided valuable assistance with the university's development of public/private partnerships to deliver education and training to help expand local economies and sustain the future growth of the region.

 In addition to his years in elected office, McIlhattan has provided distinguished service on university boards, including more than 17 years as a member of the Clarion University Council of Trustees and service on the Alumni Association Board and the Venango Campus Advisory Council. He also has served on numerous board and commissions throughout northwestern Pennsylvania, including 15 years as a member on the Executive Board of the Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission. He is an active member of the Knox United Methodist Church.

A graduate of Keystone High School in Knox, McIlhattan earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Clarion University and a diploma from the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science.

He and his wife, Teresa Parsons McIlhattan, have two children, a son, JR, and a daughter, Andrea.

The President's Medallion award was created by former Clarion University President Diane Reinhard as a means of honoring individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of Clarion University through their beneficence; extraordinary and unique service; or performing with distinction in teaching scholarship and university service. Since its creation in 1996, this special honor has been presented to only seven other individuals who have distinguished themselves in one or more of these areas. The medallion, which features the official seal of the university is being presented to McIlhattan with a display frame and engraved bronze plate carrying the inscription, "Clarion University of Pennsylvania gratefully acknowledges the extraordinary and distinguished service of Fred C. McIlhattan."        

H.E. (Gene) and Susanne (Sue) Burns
Service Award

Burns_08 H.E. (Eugene) and Susanne Burns, Distinguished Service
H.E. (Gene) and Susanne (Sue) Burns could be synonymous with the word service at  Clarion University. Since they became involved with Clarion University in the 1960s they have provided time, expertise, and financial support to their adopted institution.

Neither Gene or Sue are Clarion graduates, but Gene’s father, Henry G. Burns (’36) graduated from Clarion State Teacher’s College and Gene’s maternal grandmother, Edith Summerville Myers (1906) graduated from Clarion Normal School.

“The thrust of our family has always been education,” said Gene, who first was involved with Clarion through athletics. “I got involved with the Quarterback Club, which raises money for sports scholarship programs, in its infancy. A number of business people and individuals participated in this project. I was also involved with the wrestling Pin Club and the Boosters dinner that was held for the wrestlers.”

The scope of their service expanded from there.
Gene served on the College of Business Advisory Committee and the search committee to find a dean of the College of Business. He served as co-chair of the Advance Clarion Challenge for the 80’s Capital Campaign.

Sue is currently a member of the Clarion University Council of Trustees (appointed in 1997) and serves as the secretary for PACT, an organization composed of all 14 members of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. She served on the presidential search committee, which resulted in the hiring of the current Clarion University President, Joseph Grunenwald. Sue has been a member of the Clarion University Foundation Board of Directors since 1988 and has played an active role in community campaigns in support of Clarion University.

Together they served as the co-chairs for the Clarion University Investing in Futures Capital Campaign Steering Committee, which raised over $11 million for Clarion University.

Their support of Clarion University students is reflected in the family of Henry G. Burns establishing the Henry G. Burns Center for Finance and Insurance in Clarion University’s College of Business, and establishing an endowed scholarship in memory of Henry G. Burns for high achieving students in finance, insurance, and real estate and support of student athletes participating in golf programs.

In 1998, the Henry G. Burns Family was honored by PASHEE with an Eberly Award for Philanthropy, presented to an individual, family, corporation, foundation, or organization that has demonstrated exceptional generosity and civic responsibility in providing financial support and leadership to Pennsylvania public higher education.

“Clarion is a part of our life,” said Sue. “The university is important to the whole area by giving so many young people a chance to get an education, especially first generation college students. I am proud of the caliber of the university and the success of its graduates. We are happy to do whatever we can to help the university and I will promote it where I go.”

“Clarion University improves our community, from the faculty involvement, cultural programs and sports activities,” said Gene. “We are honored to be recognized by the Alumni Association.”


Dr. Gail (Fulton '66) Grejda
Faculty Award

Grejda_08Dr. Gail (Fulton ’66) Grejda has experienced all facets of Clarion University – as a student, faculty member and administrator.

“I feel very honored to have been selected as the Clarion University Alumni Association 2008 Distinguished Faculty Award recipient. This award is particularly meaningful because Clarion University has long been synonymous with high quality instruction. The exemplary list of national accreditations held by the university attests to the elite group of educators who share this honor with me.

“The opportunity to work with professionals who share my interest in teaching and learning has been a major factor in both my personal and professional growth. It generated my passion for teaching and ignited my pursuit of lifelong learning.”

A Clarion education has been a long tradition in the Finnefrock-Fulton-Grejda family. Four generations of Grejda’s family graduated from Clarion since it was established as Clarion Normal School in 1887. Grejda’s grandmother, Inez Finnefrock (1902), completed a two-year program at Clarion Normal School; her father, Ralph Fulton (’35), received his degree in mathematics from Clarion; her son, Richard, received his M.B.A. from Clarion and her granddaughter, Erin, is currently a freshman education major. Several other members of her family are also Clarion graduates.

Grejda’s husband, the late Dr. Ed Grejda (’57), was also a Clarion graduate. Ed Grejda received the Clarion University Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty Award in 1985.

“Much of what I learned about teaching, I learned from him,” said Grejda. “Our respective teaching successes, however, began with the quality educational foundation we experienced at Clarion University.”
Grejda earned her Ph.D. from Penn State University in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in instructional systems design. She taught for 17 years in the public schools and two years internationally at the School of the American Embassy in Barbados and at the Beijing International Embassy School in Beijing, People's Republic of China, before joining Clarion University’s faculty in 1988.

She was named the interim dean of the College of Education and Human Services in 1997 and in 1998 was appointed to the position full-time, serving as dean until her 2004 retirement.

“Although there were many memorable moments during my tenure as dean, the accreditation visits by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) in 1998 and 2003 were the highlights. The exemplary reports received by the university, with no weaknesses, are extremely rare. This again attests to the extraordinary faculty I had the pleasure of working with and who share this honor with me.

During her tenure at Clarion University, she was honored by Marquis Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who of American Women, and Marquis Who’s Who in America. In addition, she was named in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, and was selected as an Academy Urban Fellow and a member of the Society of Urban Scholars. She is also a member of Pi Lambda Theta, Education Honorary, Phi Delta Kappa, Education Honorary, and Phi Kappa Phi Education Honorary.

Grejda was also extremely productive in the area of publications and presentations, including articles in the Journal of Educational Research, Computers in the Schools, and the Technology and Teacher Education and the Association of Teacher Educators Annuals.

Her exceptional service to the university is also recognized through the writing and funding of millions of dollars of grants in the areas of early literacy, science, technology, assistive technology, professional development schools, and the K-12 Council.

“Education has long been the cornerstone of my professional life,” said Grejda. “I’ve had a passion for teaching and learning since the first day I stepped in front of a classroom. Travel has also been an important component of my life. The opportunity to travel, live and teach in other cultures has broadened my world and contributed to my pursuit of lifelong learning.”

Since retiring, Grejda has split her time between Sarasota, Fla., during the winter, and Shippenville, Pa., during the summer. She enjoys golf (some days), bridge, mahjong, theater, music reading and the beach. During the summer she enjoys attending her grandchildren’s sporting events.

“Being selected as the recipient of this distinguished award from the Clarion University Alumni Association is an honor I will long cherish,” she said. “It is the capstone of a very satisfying and rewarding career.”

Edward Bauer '70
Alumni Award

Bauer_08Edward Bauer (’70), the 2008 Clarion University Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni recipient, came to Clarion intending to be a teacher and recently retired as a person whose designs almost all Clarion University alumni have touched.

Bauer left his mark on the packaging industry through many of the world’s top products from Campbell soup cans to Swanson’s TV Dinners to Similac baby formula plastic containers to Bausch and Lomb contact lens solutions. Inducted by his peers into International Packaging Hall of Fame in 2006 for his accomplishments, Bauer has extensive contacts in the plastics, metal can, pharmaceutical, and aseptic packaging industries in North America, Europe, Asia, and South America.

“I am really surprised by the award,” said Bauer. “I tried to do my best over the years and do what I though was the right thing.”

Clarion became Bauer’s college of choice because it was affordable. The first of his family to go to college, he enrolled shortly following his father’s death with a plan to become a chemistry teacher. Bauer found his niche, become a member of the marching band and concert band, participating in intramurals, and joining TKE fraternity. Bauer joins fellow TKE member Bill Hartman (’70) as the recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award. Hartman’s award came in 2004.

“It was a very good time to be in college,” he recalled. “Most of us were first generation college students and we didn’t know much about college or where we were going in the future. We learned to grow up and work with people. Clarion helped us focus on a career path.”

Bauer’s career path was set when he realized that with a few more credits he could get a bachelor of arts degree along with a bachelor of science degree.

“Dr. Peirce made a big difference for me,” said Bauer. “He encouraged me, helped me find financial aid, and took and interest in how I progressed. Dr. Ken Mechling was very encouraging too, along with Galen Ober during my student teaching, and Dr. Stanley Michalski also had a big influence on me.”

His first job after graduating was with Mobil Chemical in Pittsburgh with Stoner Mudge Packaging Coatings as a chemist. After two years he moved on to Glidden Paints where he was first responsible for coil coatings, the paint on the outside of aluminum siding and steel metal buildings, before moving into sales and marketing.

One of his accounts in sales was Campbell’s and they enticed Bauer to return to the lab as manager of organic materials and section head of can coatings. With Campbell’s, Bauer designed, planned and built both Campbell’s Plastic Center, a first-of-its-kind plastic packaging development laboratory, and the Campbell’s Plastic Frozen Food Tray Manufacturing Facility in Modesto, Calif. He also developed the first plastic cans, the replacement for the aluminum tray used in TV dinners, and microwaveable soup bowls.

After nine years at Campbell’s, Bauer joined Abbott Laboratories as Director of Package Engineering and Development in 1990 where he continued his impressive string of packaging successes, developing special plastic packaging for products such as Similac (infant formula) and Ensure (medical nutritional supplement drinks).

American Home Products Corp. (known today as Wyeth) recruited Bauer in 1997 as Senior Director of Packaging Services where he managed all pharmaceutical, over-the-counter, vaccine, and biologics package development and specification at multiple sites throughout the world. He joined Bausch and Lomb Corporation in 2001 as director of global packaging where he was responsible for all medical device, pharmaceutical, and consumer packaging worldwide.

Bauer retired from Bausch and Lomb in 2006, but stays active as a consultant, lecturer, writes frequently for professional publications, and was active with St. Louis Catholic Church, Pittsford, N.Y. He and his wife, Suzy, moved to Mars, Pa., following his retirement.

“It is nice to be back in Pennsylvania around family and friends,” he said. “I feel very fortunate in looking back at my career. I received a good education from Clarion University.”

Sheryl Riesmeyer
Distinguished Volunteer Award

Riesmyer_08Sheryl Riesmeyer of New Bethlehem, currently serving a two-year term as the president of the Clarion University Pin Club, is the 2008 Clarion University Alumni Association Distinguished Volunteer.

The Pin Club holds benefits to raise money for the wrestling program. A golf tournament last year raised over $7,000 with half of the money going to the Bob Bubb/George Williams Wrestling Scholarship and the other half to buying items such as exercise bikes, camcorders, and televisions for the program.

The Club also sponsored an alumni gathering when the wrestling team visited Rider for a match. Over 45 Clarion alumni gathered to watch the match and have dinner with the team. This year they plan to host a similar event when the wrestling team visits Cleveland State.

“I didn’t expect anything like this when I got a phone call,” said Riesmeyer upon learning about the award. “I’m doing something that I like to do and feel I am supposed to do. I love Clarion Wrestling and anything that I do for the program is a labor of love. This is very humbling.”

Riesmeyer extends her support of the team to her hobby, photography. Each year, she takes photos of the wrestlers during their matches, compiles them in individual photo albums, and presents them to each wrestler at the year-end banquet.

“I feel it is a small way for me to give something back to the Clarion Wrestling program,” said Riesmeyer. “This year at the banquet the team presented me with an “Under Armour” sweatshirt with Clarion wrestling and my name embroidered on it and a matted framed team picture. Each member of the team wrote a small note of appreciation and signed their name to the mat board. To receive the signed picture from the team meant so much to me and I thought that was so special.”

Perhaps the most amazing fact about all of this is that Riesmeyer had no connection to Clarion University and had never seen a wrestling match prior to 1979,

“My husband, Mark, and I both worked for the postal service and we transferred here when he was named postmaster at Strattanville in 1979,” recalled Riesmeyer. “We noticed a wrestling match at Clarion University against Oklahoma and decided to go. We didn’t know Clarion was Division I in wrestling and I had never been to a wrestling match before.”

The Riesmeyer’s were amazed at the crowd and the atmosphere in Tippin Gymnasium. The match came down to the heavyweight match and Clarion won and the university community would benefit because of the victory.  “I was hooked,” said Riesmeyer. Clarion would benefit from the catch.

Several matches later, Chip Buck of Burns & Burns of Clarion, asked the Riesmeyers if they would like to come up to the Pin Room where refreshments are served to Clarion wrestling supporters. Riesmeyer accepted an invitation to join the board of the Pin Club during the 1984-85 wrestling season.

“The sports programs have given Mark and I a lot of enjoyment,” said Riesmeyer. “Bob Bubb was the head coach when we first attended. I have the highest respect for him. He made it a point to talk to everyone, including the opponents, and shake their hand.”

Riesmeyer worked at the Clarion Post Office for 11 years before being named the postmaster for Distant. She retired on Oct. 3, 2006, following 36 years with the postal service. But, she is not about to retire from wrestling.

“I will continue with the Pin Club until my term is up,” she said. “I will continue to work with them for as long as they want me to do it.”

Brigadier General Peter Talleri '79
Distinguished Achievement Award 

Talleri_08“Recognition of this type by one’s University is among the highest honors that can be bestowed upon anyone, and I deeply appreciate being selected for this year's Distinguished Achievement Award,” said Talleri. “To know that I am included in this group is very rewarding. Clarion has given me a tremendous honor – and it is one that I will always cherish.”

Talleri came to Clarion University from Butler, Pa., where his family moved after his father retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1972. Deciding to attend Clarion was an easy choice.

“I wanted to attend a college that personally suited me and enabled me to reach my goals,” he explained. “Clarion was the perfect choice since it offered many advantages that I would not have received at a large campus. My family also played a major part in this decision. I wanted to attend a school that was just far enough from home yet close enough that I could drive home on weekends to spend some quality time with my family.”

Talleri went on to earn his degree in business in 1979.

I was convinced a business degree would broaden my horizons and be most relevant to the career paths that interested me,” he said. “A business degree is quite relevant in the United States military. One military specialty is called supply chain management, and it is taking the business world by storm.”

Despite the relevance of a business degree to the military, Talleri had no intentions of pursuing a career in the military.

“I did not join the military to pursue a career,” he said. “I simply wanted to serve my country and was determined to be a lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. After a period of time in the Corps, I realized that being an officer is not just about leading Marines, it's about earning their respect. This requires physical and mental toughness, moral courage, unselfishness, teamwork, commitment and a belief in your self. These are the reasons why I have remained a Marine for almost 30 years.”

Talleri’s brigadier general rank, proves he has succeed far beyond his original goal of becoming a lieutenant. In his current position, he commands the Defense Distribution Center, which operates 26 depot sites around the world that provide logistical support to America's war fighters and peacekeepers.

He began his career as a platoon commander and supply officer for 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. In 1982, he reported to Recruiting Station Pittsburgh, Pa., where he served as an officer selection officer and the executive officer.

He returned to the supply field in 1986 as a supply analyst, and was subsequently reassigned to Washington, D.C., where he served a fellowship with the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In 1991, he reported to the Installation and Logistics Department at Headquarters Marine Corps, where he served as an operations officer and occupational field sponsor.

In 1994, Talleri flew overseas to join the 'Wing,' where he served as the supply and logistics officer for Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing on Okinawa, Japan. He left Japan in 1997 and relocated to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he served as the Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, Logistics. A year later, he assumed command of 2nd Maintenance Battalion, 2nd Force Service Support Group. During this period, he was appointed as the Commander of the Combat Service Support Detachment for Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Vieques that deployed to Puerto Rico in support of Operation Eastern Access.

Talleri transferred to U.S. Central Command in 2001. During this tour, he deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom as the Chief of the Logistics and Transformation Automation Division. In 2003, he assumed command of 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Force Service Support Group.

During this assignment, he returned to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and also deployed to Haiti for Operation Secure Tomorrow.

Talleri arrived at United States Marine Corps Forces Central Command in August 2005 and served through June 9, 2006. It was during this tour that he was selected to Brigadier General. In July 2006 Talleri assumed command of 3rd Marine Logistics Group, Okinawa, Japan and relinquished command in June 2008.

“Clarion prepared me for rapid growth with regards to education and life experiences,” said Talleri. “Over the years this foundation has continually been reinforced, teaching me that successful leadership requires opening up to new ideas and letting your best judgment be your guide.”

Talleri and his wife, Deborah (Lipko ’80), have three children, Adam, Danielle, and Anna.

Rhonda L. Steigerwald '75
Clarion University-Venango Campus Distinguished Alumna

Steigerwald_08Rhonda 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.

Today, as vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at UPMC Northwest, 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.