State Senator Mary Jo White will deliver the keynote address at the Clarion University-Venango Campus Commencement on Saturday, May 8, 2010, at 7:30 p.m., in the Robert W. Rhoades Center gymnasium at the campus.
Senator White has been a member of the Pennsylvania State Senate since 1997, serving the 21st Senatorial District, which consists of Clarion, Forest and Venango Counties, and parts of Butler, Erie and Warren Counties.
A long-time advocate and supporter of Clarion University-Venango Campus and the university at large, Senator White chaired the Clarion University School of Nursing and Allied Health Advisory Committee and The Venango Campus Advisory Council over the years. In fall 2003, she established the Western Pennsylvania High School Student Government Conference at the Venango Campus.
Senator White has also been very supportive of the growth and development of the Venango Campus' Department of Applied Technology, which was launched in 2003 to meet workforce development and technical education needs of the region and helped advocate an educational partnership with FirstEnergy Corporation.
In May, 2005, Clarion University conferred upon Senator White the degree of Doctor of Public Service, honoris causa, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the Commonwealth, Clarion-Venango region, and to Clarion University.
Senator White is a graduate of Quincy University, Quincy, Illinois and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
From 1974 to 1976, she was the public defender for the County of Venango and later practiced law as an associate with the law firm of Dale-Woodard before joining the legal department of Quaker State Corporation. For 19 years, she served as an attorney and in other capacities with Quaker State Corporation, most recently as Vice President for Environment/Government Affairs.
Her Senate committee assignments include Appropriations, Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, Education and Judiciary. She is also the Chairman of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. She serves on the Wild Resource Conservation Fund, the Joint Conservation Committee, the Environmental Quality Board, and the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing.
For the 2001-2002 Legislative Session, Senator White was elected Caucus Administrator for the Republican Majority, becoming the first woman ever elected to a Senate Republican leadership position. She held this position through the 2005-2006 Legislative Session.
Active in her community, Senator White is past Chairman of the Barrow Civic Theatre Foundation and has served on the Boards of the Venango County Association for the Blind and the Venango Community Foundation. She is concerned about rural health care, and serves on the Center for Rural Health Practice Advisory Board.
Senator White and her husband of more than 43 years, Judge H. William White, have three children and seven grandchildren.
Associate degrees will be awarded to 218 students at the ceremony, the largest graduating class in the campus' history. In addition, 77 students enrolled in Venango Campus programs will be awarded bachelor and master's programs in a commencement ceremony earlier in the day at the Clarion campus.
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, the Department of Applied Technology, and the Venango Department of Arts and Sciences. Clarion University-Venango Campus is committed to serving the needs of the community.