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Alumni Awards of Distinction 

With over 70,000 alumni living across the country and living internationally, one can imagine the successes achieved and the impacts being made by graduates of Shippensburg University every day in their professional fields, in their lives, and in their communities.The Shippensburg University Alumni Awards are presented annually to alumni in the categories of Distinguished Alumni, Outstanding Young Alumni, Lifetime Achievement, Cultural Impact and Exceptional Service.

For 2021, we recognize eight individuals. Three as distinguished alumni, two as outstanding young alumni, one for cultural impact, one for lifetime achievement, and one for exceptional service to the university.

Honorees for 2021 include:

Distinguished Alumni Award

Steven M. Dolbin

Steven M. Dolbin graduated from Shippensburg University in 1983 with a BA in Art. In 1988 he earned a MFA from the Pratt Institute, in NYC. A full professor and former chairperson of the Dept. of Art & Design at SU, Steve is a recognized artist and educator who has exhibited his work throughout the United States and Britain. Steve is the recipient of numerous awards such as the prestigious Pollock-Krasner Grant. His sculpture is featured in the world’s leading textbook on sculpture “Shaping Space”. Professor Dolbin was elected to the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 2017. In 2016 his work was exhibited in the Henry Moore Gallery of the Royal College of Art in London. A native of Shippensburg he attended the Rowland Lab school on campus as a child and as a Shippensburg College student he was a member of the wrestling team and the 1981 championship football team. He is the founder of the area’s first environmental organizations -The Middle Spring Water Shed and The Rail Trail Sculpture Path. He is the creator of Shippensburg’s “New Year’s Anchor” and many sculptures on campus, including the ”Touch Stone” in Seth Grove Stadium, “Creative Tools” at the Luhrs Elementary School and “Victory” the greyhound sculpture at Shippensburg Area High School. As Dept Chair he founded the art education major and spearheaded the construction of the new Huber Art Center. As a professor he has positively mentored countless SU students. He is married to Robin Howellls-Dolbin. They have two sons Reece and Collin.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Chad Lesher

Chad graduated in 1994 with a BSBA and was a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the College of Business’s international honor society. He’s self-employed as the President of CSL Materials, in Frisco, TX. Chad was the youngest regional manager in the 40-yr history at Carlisle SynTec when promoted in 2001. After managing three different areas of the United States for Carlisle, he started CSL Materials in 2011 as an independent rep agency for commercial roofing products covering North Texas and Oklahoma. He later added the territory of Arkansas in 2012. Chad started CSL West in 2014 with an office in Colorado. He later added Western Tennessee and Northern Mississippi in November 2019 to the CSL Materials territory. CSL Materials sales have grown from 3 employees in 2011 to a total of 16 employees between CSL Materials and CSL West in 2021. The revenue of the companies grew from $750,000 to $4.5 million. CSL is the largest construction material rep group in the United States representing over 10 different manufacturers. Outside of the CSL business, Chad started and sold an Escape Room business (Escape Hunt Dallas 2016-2019).

Distinguished Alumni Award

Dr. Elizabeth Welsh Robison

An educator for 35 years, Dr. Elizabeth Welsh Robison is the Superintendent of Schools for Pocono Mountain School District, the largest school district in Monroe County, Pa., spanning 305 square miles and encompassing seven municipalities, with a current enrollment of more than 8,000 students. Since she assumed the role of superintendent in 2011, Dr. Robison is credited with resolving a $23 million budget gap, which was achieved without increasing local property taxes. She is also credited with working with her School Board to reduce local property taxes by 12 mills over the past five years while continuing to maintain and improve upon the outstanding educational opportunities for students of all abilities. Dr. Robison graduated from Shippensburg University in 1985 with her Bachelor of Science in Education with a concentration in Elementary Education and a minor in Reading. She’s an alumna of Delta Zeta sorority. Elizabeth continued her education and received her Master of Education from Bloomsburg University and PhD in Educational Administration from Marywood University in 2004. Dr. Robison has received many awards and honors including the Distinguished Alumni Award for Pottsville Area High School; Outstanding Campaign Manager for the United Way of Monroe County; and Outstanding Educator Award from Marywood University.

Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Dr. Ivy Schneider Buchan

Dr. Ivy Buchan fell in love with nonprofit management in high school as president of a community service club and for the last 21 years she’s worked in the nonprofit space. Five years ago Ivy started Helix Strategies, and her team helps organizations develop strategic solutions to fundraising and leadership challenges. Ivy earned her Ph.D. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Administration and Leadership Studies in the Nonprofit Sector with a research focus on engagement and collaboration. She is a National and State Licensed Consultant, an AFP Master Trainer, and an Adjunct at West Chester University. Ivy also co-founded two nonprofits, edited three nonprofit textbooks, and serves on several community boards including as the Chair of the United Way of the Capital Region’s Bridges Society. One of her proudest career moments was winning the 2018 Central Penn Business Journal’s Women of Influence Community Achievement Award. During her free time, Ivy loves spending time with her husband and daughter. Ivy is a 2009 masters graduate of the criminal justice department at Shippensburg University.

Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Deanna Bridge Najera

Deanna graduated Shippensburg in 2014 with a MS in clinical mental health counseling. She earned a bachelor of science in physiology and neurobiology from the University of Maryland, and a masters in physician assistant studies from Chatham University. Deanna is a PA and splits her time between the emergency department at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, the Carroll County Health Department in the reproductive health program and on an as-needed basis as a psychiatric provider for Shippensburg University, Gettysburg College and True North Wellness Services. Deanna was named one of “The Baltimore Sun’s 25 women to watch 2020”, and was named a local hero of the week among other awards. She serves on the advisory board for the proposed school of nursing and allied health within the College of Education and Human Services, is the immediate past president of the Maryland Academy of PAs, and is currently a director at large on the American Academy of PAs Board of Directors. 

Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Neal R. Dando

Dr. Neal Dando graduated from Shippensburg University in 1979 with dual majors in biology and chemistry. He continued his studies to receive a master’s degree and Ph.D. in chemistry. Retired from Alcoa as a senior technical specialist after thirty years, he has been granted 13 patents, holds 65 external refereed publications, co-invented/developed four commercial products, and presented at 15 invited seminars. While at Alcoa, he developed a perfluorocarbon (PFC) monitoring program implemented at all Alcoa aluminum smelters word-wide, resulting in a sustainable 1 million ton reduction in annual PFC emissions and worked with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit to create an Industrial Immersion program whereby groups of teachers are invited to Alcoa Technical Center for one-day sessions to experience first-hand real-world problem solving in order to better understand skill sets required to be effective in industrial jobs across a range of educational skill levels. Neal is the 2021 president for The Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy, a non-profit educational organization based in Pennsylvania that organizes an annual Conference and Exposition on laboratory science and was the 2019-20 chairperson for the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh.

Exceptional Service Award

David Weisgerber

David has dedicated over 15 years of his life volunteering at Shippensburg University. He has served as a devoted member of the College of Arts and Science Advisory Board since 2006 and currently serves as chair emeritus on the Annual Fund Leadership team at the Shippensburg University Foundation. He served as a campaign volunteer for the Lighting the Way capital campaign from 2013-2017, then served as National Annual Fund Chair from 2018-2020 where he devoted generously of both his time and treasure. He generously supports the men’s and women’s track and field team as well as the College of Arts and Science on an ongoing basis. He has also spent time engaging fellow classmates and bringing them on board to the Annual Fund Leadership team encouraging alumni to devote both time and treasure for the betterment of Shippensburg University. David graduated in 1981 earning a bachelor of arts in history, and a J.D from Dickinson School of Law in 1984. He recently retired after 35 years of practicing law in Maryland, primarily as a criminal defense attorney.

Cultural Impact Award

Rochelle D. Plummer

Rochelle began her professional career at Shippensburg University in January of 2019 as the inaugural director for students first: a program that serves first-generation students. In this role, Rochelle established and led the newly opened Center for Emerging Scholars. In August 2019, she was appointed executive director for student retention. Under her leadership, Shippensburg University was named by NASPA and their Center for First-generation Student Success, as part of the 2020-21 cohort, a First-gen Forward Institution. The First-gen Forward designation recognizes institutions of higher education that demonstrate a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. Additionally, in spring of 2020, Rochelle received a special invitation for Shippensburg University to participate in and receive further distinction as a First Scholars institution for her work with first-generation students. 

Rochelle was accepted into the Emerging Leader Program 2021 Cohort as part of the American Association of State College and Universities. In July, Rochelle was named associate vice president for academic success at King’s College. She is a graduate of the organizational development and leadership program at Shippensburg, where she earned her master of science degree in 2012. She also has a master of arts in English from Wilson College and begins her dissertation process spring of 2022 for her doctorate degree in Administration and Leadership from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Our 2020 award recipients will join in our 2021 in-person recognition.