Thank you, Janet, and good morning everyone. Welcome to Shippensburg University and welcome to the Ship family. To the new students in the room, we’re glad you’re here and we’re looking forward to getting to know you! To the parents and others who have joined us, we’re pleased that you’re also here today as we begin your student’s immersion into university life.

This morning I’ll share some information with you about the University’s mission and culture, and about the academic and student life you’ll encounter at this place we affectionately call SHIP. Listen and watch for the SHIP words that capture some of the many experiences you may encounter at Shippensburg—words like scholar-SHIP, intern-SHIP, leader-SHIP, champion-SHIP, friend-SHIP, and partner-SHIP.

During orientation, we try to help you navigate through some of the complexities you may encounter as a new student at a university. We hope to make your experience as comfortable and as meaningful as possible.

Please pay close attention to the information that’s shared with you today and DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS


You will find Shippensburg University is a very student-oriented place. My job, and everybody else’s job on this campus, is to serve you – and we really mean it! We strive to make the environment very personalized and your SHIP experiences here as individualized as you are. We’ll get to know you by your name, not by a number, and we’ll help to fulfill your dreams and expectations.

We are committed to your success. In doing so, we encourage you to think about success, not as a destination, but as a journey. You’re taking the first step today on a major, exciting, and adventurous set of experiences that will help you for the rest of your life. We know it might be very exciting, but it may also be a little scary – that’s ok. It’s new, it’s different, and we are right beside you and behind you to make your time here very successful.


One of the very special things about Ship is that we value diversity and human understanding. It’s a place where everyone is welcome. We have students from all over Pennsylvania, all over the United States, and indeed from all over the world. We pride ourselves on creating a community within our society where we respect each other, we understand each other, and we appreciate our differences. The only thing that differentiates one student from another is his or her academic performance – not race, not gender, not sexual orientation—not anything else. We believe a diverse community helps our students prepare to live in an increasingly complex global society—a world where you will come in contact with, and work for, people from many different backgrounds and parts of the US and the world.


This institution is nationally recognized for its emphasis on teaching and learning and for its talented faculty. Our faculty members have teaching as their primary responsibility. They are also involved in scholarship, research, and community service, but their major focus is on teaching and your learning experience.
More than 85% of our faculty members have doctorates in their respective academic disciplines - an unusually high number for an institution with a mission such as ours. We purposely hire the most talented and qualified faculty to work with you. This is a place where faculty—assistant, associate, and full professors—will be in the classroom with you, right from the start.

The personal attention you receive from faculty often creates relationships and friendships that extend over a lifetime as our faculty members often stay in touch with our graduates through professional school and into their careers.


We know that hands-on experience is an effective way to learn. We take learning outside the classroom into the real world. This helps transfer theory into practical experience. It also motivates students to be more interested in the subjects they’re studying. We’ll do this through field experiences and internships.

  • James Heiss, a geo-environmental major pictured on the right, created his own internship and became the first SU student to intern with NASA.
  • Becky Brensinger, a communication/journalism major had three internships – first with abc27 news in Harrisburg, then she interned for NFL Films in Mt. Laurel, NJ, on the HBO series, Hard Knocks. And finally, she freelanced as an operations assistant for NASCAR on ABC.
  • Ashley Lewis, a human communication studies major, spent her internship preserving and restoring Civil War Muster rolls at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in Harrisburg.

We have placed our students in internships with businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. And parents, you will be happy to know that very often internships lead to job offers.


Our students also participate with faculty on research or scholarly projects. Pictured here are Grant Izzo of Mt. Wolf and Larry Ashton of Downingtown who partnered with biology professor Tim Maret on examining the effects of timber harvest on small mammals in Michaux State Forest. They found that timber harvest does not have a negative impact on small mammal populations. Many students attend academic gatherings or meetings around the country to present their research findings with their faculty. Students also choose from a growing number of study abroad opportunities that help them gain a whole new perspective on the world and themselves. Ship has agreements with schools in the British Isles, Australia, central Europe, and a number of other places. We also just sponsored and lead the State System of Higher Education Honors Program trip to Belgium and France.


There is no question that the talents and gifts this incoming class brings to Shippensburg are impressive. But let’s be sure to keep things in perspective. Although you are some of the best and brightest students from your high school class – our SAT scores and GPAs are up this year, so are many other students coming this fall. This means that the academic competition here will be much more challenging than what you may be used to and that you’ll find the academic standards in the classrooms much higher than in high school. You may find that you need help in a course or two. We’ve made a serious commitment to provide you with academic assistance and support. Everyone struggles at times. I changed my major four times while in college – and still graduate in four years. I wasn’t afraid to ask and I encourage you not to be afraid to ask for help, and don’t wait too long to ask. Your academic advisor can help. Each of you will be assigned an advisor who will assist you as you move through the institution academically. Another resource is the Library/Learning Center where our reference librarians can help you with research and other assignments. The Learning Center, which is located in the library, has a wealth of academic support services. Our Counseling Center staff is also available to help you with any personal issues you may experience, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of them. Keep in mind – nobody’s perfect. I’m certainly not!


Some of you know a little bit about the history of the institution and I suspect we have a few alums in the audience accompanying their sons or daughters. Perhaps some of you know that this institution was founded in 1871. It was an outgrowth of the interest of several businessmen in the Cumberland Valley who wanted to create a school to train female teachers for the area. They actually sold stock and, with the money they raised, they built Old Main and hired a principal. The school was named the Cumberland Valley State Normal School. We moved from being a normal school to a State Teachers College in 1927, to a State College in 1960 when we diversified our curriculum and moved heavily into the liberal arts and business, and in 1983 we became Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania with three colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business, and Education and Human Services. In 2021, only 11 years from now, Shippensburg will celebrate its 150th anniversary.


As you walk around campus, you will note that we’re in the midst of several campus improvement projects. The main entrance at Prince Street is impressive thanks to a gift from the Class of 1959. Major renovations to Dauphin Humanities Center added space for the College of Arts and Sciences. Reisner Dining Hall was just expanded and renovated as a dining facility like no other. Current and future projects in our master plan for facilities on campus include the on-going renovation of Lehman Library, an addition and remodel to the Huber Art Center, the expansion – doubling in size – of the Ceddia Union Building, and construction of new living and learning residence halls –that construction should begin in 2010 for the opening of Phase I in the Fall of 2011. Every project is approached with our students in mind because we are committed to providing the resources they need to succeed at Shippensburg University.


Parents, I want you to know that we intend to encourage your students to get involved in activities outside the classroom. I know this runs counter to some of your thinking, but we know from our own research, as well as national data, that students who get involved in some co-curricular activities are generally more successful academically.

Pictured on the left is Mark Messick, a junior from Middletown who is majoring in supply chain management with a logistics concentration. Mark has been a Resident Assistant since the second semester of his freshman year. He is member in the Shippensburg University Band, the ROTC and is a volunteer fire fighter for the Lower Swatara Fire Department. Last summer Mark worked at the Reading Airport, a job he landed based on the skills he had learned in his major.

Last year our students helped make a difference by volunteering more than 14,000 hours of community service. You will be given information about many of our student groups and organizations and you’ll be able to sign up for those that interest you, whether it’s cheerleading, the band, intercollegiate athletics, the school newspaper, campus television, Big Brother/Big Sister, clubs for your academic major, and many other kinds of groups. These groups provide an opportunity for leadership and for broadening your SHIP experience.


Ahhh, residence hall living. You know, it took us about three months to find a room this clean. The parents here know what I’m talking about. Actually, you’re going to find the residence life program on this campus provides a very supportive and caring environment. This is where many of you will find lifelong friends—in your roommate or in one of the student groups you may join. You will hear much more about Residence Life in other sessions later in the day as well as information for those of you living off campus.

Our food service is managed by Chartwells, an international company that specializes in providing food for college students and has a reputation for doing it very well. In addition to the two student restaurants on campus, you’ll find a QUIZNOS, STARBUCKS, AND CHICK-FIL-A.

We know you are looking forward to moving to campus in August. We’re looking forward to it too and want to make the day go smoothly for everyone. You will soon be receiving instructions for move-in day that will include the time you should check in and the route we recommend you travel based on your residence hall. We ask that you please adhere to your check-in time and recommended route. We know you’re anxious to get here, but if everyone shows up at 8 a.m., there will be major congestion… and that means longer waits in traffic, at elevators, and in front of the residence halls. Please help us by sticking to your assigned check-in times and travel routes; with your help, we’ll be able to make move-in day less stressful for everyone.


Another aspect of campus life we value greatly is a sense of community and citizenship. This is a place where we support and care for one another. It’s not a place where arguments or disagreements are resolved physically. It’s a place where we get involved in rational dialogue, we build consensus, and we move ahead. You will get copies of the student handbook, the Swataney. In it you will find the Student Code of Conduct, which lays out the set of expectations we require you to meet, not just here on the campus, but in the surrounding communities. I urge you to read it –then read it again and keep it close at hand. Ignorance of the code will not be a viable defensive if you are facing disciplinary action.

You are an EMERGING ADULT, you have responsibilities, and we expect you to be a person of good character and to behave that way. Frankly, 99% of our students do just that. But there are some who occasionally stray from that path and get themselves into difficulty. There are two areas where you can get into deep trouble very quickly.

The first is involvement with illegal drugs, on or off campus. If you are found guilty in a campus hearing for any drug violation, the sanction is immediate suspension for a minimum of one academic semester and possibly permanently. Dealing drugs will mean permanent expulsion – PERIOD – no exceptions – one strike and you’re out.

Second, if you’re under 21, don’t drink alcohol. It is not permitted on campus regardless of your age and if you are caught on or off campus using alcohol illegally, it could result in suspension or other serious disciplinary sanctions. Our discipline code contains a “long arm” clause so if you are charged by local authorities, you will not only face the local magistrate, and you will also face university disciplinary procedures.
In both cases your parents can be notified immediately; there are no secrets here in this regard. You need to understand what’s expected of you as a student of good character on this campus.


Safety and security are clearly major concerns for us. With 17 officers, we have one of the largest police forces in the region. They are all state certified and trained police officers that maintain bicycle patrols, foot patrols, as well as, vehicular patrols. They are always visible and can be very helpful when you need assistance. We also work with our students to provide an evening and late night ride service on campus if you need it. In addition, we have special emergency phones, as well as video cameras, located around campus, which we use to help provide you with the safest possible environment we can.


Our collective goal is your graduation. Here are a handful of our 56,000 alumni living and working around the world.

  • Rich Pizzarro came to the University as a Computer Science major and right after graduation, he and a colleague started working on an idea they had for a revolutionary video conferencing software. After many long hours of work, they had a product which they sold to a major computer corporation and became multimillionaires. Rich is now a venture capitalist. He lives locally and often comes to campus to work with our students.
  • Pam O‘Berry Evans has had an outstanding career of public service. She was recently elected by the Virginia General Assembly as Judge of the General District Court for the Twelfth Judicial Circuit. Originally from York, Pam graduated magna cum laude from Shippensburg in 1990 with an English major and a French minor. She later earned a law degree from American University Washington College of Law.
  • A more recent graduate is Rebecca Strawn, a chemistry major who received a full-tuition scholarship to Princeton University’s Ph.D. program in chemistry. Princeton admits only about 25 students to this program annually. She’s conducted research in the Czech Republic and Sweden and has been recognized for excellence as a graduate teaching assistant.
  • Rob Davis was the Packers’ starting long snapper for 11 seasons and played in 167 consecutive games in a Green Bay uniform. He retired at the end of the 2007 season and then joined the team’s front office as director of player development. The Packers have picked up another Ship alumnus, John Kuhn, for his fourth season at fullback. In addition to Rob and John, we have one more member of the Ship family playing in the NFL. Another member of the Ship family, Brent Grimes, will be starting his third season as cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons. While Rob still holds football records at Shippensburg, he also had to overcome many obstacles and personal challenges to succeed and the university supported him in this process. He took the best this small town of Shippensburg had to offer and used it to become not only a successful athlete, but also a successful human being and father as well. In addition to earning a Super Bowl ring, he’s also been recognized time and again for his commitment to the schools, children, and communities throughout the state of Wisconsin.
  • Colette Raebiger is a senior project manager of Global Supply Chain at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. There she led the multi-functional, multi-departmental international project to facilitate the global implementation of automated demand feeds into SAP and has been the leader for all SAP business-related processes within Wyeth. Her husband J.R. is also an alumus of Ship and along with both of their careers; they are raising two children, Jack and Ben.
  • Ithink most of you know bestselling author, Dean Koontz, but you may not have known that he’s a Ship alum. He regularly sells more than 17 million copies of his books each year, in 38 languages –and, as reported by USA Today, has sold nearly 400 million copies of his books – as many as famed Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. He came to us as an English major from Bedford County in the mid 60s and in his sophomore year he won the Atlantic Monthly fiction competition and has been writing ever since. When he graduated, he became an English teacher in Mechanicsburg, but it really wasn’t to his liking. His wife Gerda made him an offer he couldn’t refuse when she said “I’ll support you for five years and if you can’t make it as a writer in that time, you’ll never make it.” The rest is history.
  • Another ’60s graduate, Jeanne Shaheen came here as a young woman interested in teaching but got involved in campus politics as a student senator. Since then, she’s had a very successful political career. She was the first woman to be elected Governor of New Hampshire, serving two terms from 1997 to 2003. When she won the seat for junior New Hampshire Senator in November 2008, she became the first and only woman in the history of the United States to be elected as both a Governor and U.S. Senator.

In a few years we hope we will be projecting some of your pictures up on this screen as distinguished alumni. There is a lot of talent and promise in this room and one day soon you will be proud alumni of Shippensburg University!


The goal is graduation. During your progress toward this goal, you will have an opportunity to grow and develop in many positive and distinct ways. We’re going to get you interested in things that you never thought could be interested before, and when you leave here, you’ll go on and do some very special things in your life.

All we ask is that you bring your commitment to work hard and to use the skills and talents that you have, and we’ll provide the resources and the support services to get you through to commencement. We’re here to help you on your journey to success and to help you write your own Ship story.

I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to speak with you and I hope you enjoy the rest of your day. Thank you for your attention, thank you for choosing Shippensburg University; and good luck to the new students. Have a great day!


The President:
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