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Delaware Valley University’s first graduating class

May 16, 2015

Graduation cap, Delaware Valley University's first class

Credit: Delaware Valley University. A member of the Class of 2015 shows her excitement about being part of Delaware Valley University's first class.

Rasheed Bailey, a star football player who was signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles, excels on and off the field and believes “the sky is the limit” when you work hard enough for a dream. Maggie Villari, one of the first students to receive a master’s degree in policy studies from Delaware Valley University started a recycling program in the 400-unit apartment complex where she lived. Trey Twigg is a military veteran who is passionate about protecting the environment for future generations, who gained real-world experience in Alaska as part of DelVal’s environmental science program. Meghan Compton, a DelVal small animal science major, was accepted into four veterinary schools. She plans to dual major in veterinary medicine and public health at Ohio State University so that she can specialize in diseases that spread from animals and insects to humans.

These are just a few of the stories of members of Delaware Valley University’s Class of 2015. The students who received their diplomas Saturday, May 16 at the institution’s 116th Commencement ceremony are exceptional, but they are also going to be an important part of DelVal’s history for another reason. The Class of 2015 is the first class to have the new name, Delaware Valley University, on their diplomas. DelVal officially changed its name from Delaware Valley College to Delaware Valley University on April 8, 2015.

Jade Orth, president of the Class of 2015, reflected on the changes on campus over the past four years. During their time on campus, a new artificial turf field was installed; a new academic building opened providing new classroom and lab space and a beautiful new auditorium; new academic programs were added and the new name of the school was announced. She said over her past four years the institution was not only changing, but its students were changing as people.

“This graduating class will make history,” said Class President Jade Orth. “Whatever paths we take, we will always know we can come home back to where it all began…Congratulations to the Class of 2015 and let’s go change the world!”

Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding was the Commencement speaker. Redding is a former DelVal dean of agriculture and environmental sciences.

“Having watched this class over the last several years, I know you will do great things,” Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding told the graduates. “When I joined DelVal, it was obvious that this was a place that was on the move and being transformed in many ways...As the first class of graduates from Delaware Valley University, know that you are stepping into history…Delaware Valley University has positioned you to tackle the most important issues of our time.”

DelVal awarded three honorary degrees during the ceremony. This year’s recipients were Redding, Emeritus Trustee Gerard Marini ’52 and Herman Silverman ’40.

Marini, a DelVal agronomy and environmental science alumnus, is a nationally recognized leader in the fight against drugs in the workplace. He served on DelVal’s board of trustees from 1991 to 2012, is a former chairman of the Board and became an emeritus trustee in 2013. He worked for Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc. for 30 years, before retiring in 1993. In 1976, he was elected as a corporate officer of Hoffmann-La Roche. While at Hoffmann-La Roche, he honed his expertise in drug abuse policy initiatives and substance abuse intervention programs. He has held leadership roles with the New Jersey Governor’s Council for a Drug Free Workplace, Inc. and the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. He is a former vice president and general manager of the Pantene Company and he also served as senior vice president of Roche Biomedical Laboratories. He has served on numerous boards and committees related to employee assistance and a drug-free workplace. He was inducted into the DelVal Hall of Fame for both football and baseball in 1987. Marini and his wife, Rita, recently celebrated 60 years of marriage.

Silverman is a former acting president of DelVal and also served as a DelVal trustee. He was also president and CEO of Sylvan Pools –a leading pool installer in the Northeast. After selling Sylvan Pools, he founded Silverman Family Partnerships, Inc., which he continues to serve as managing partner. Silverman Family Partnerships leases, manages, and develops commercial real estate. Silverman is a lifelong advocate of the arts in Bucks County. He was instrumental in creating: the Bucks County Art Council, the Bucks County Poet Laureate position, and the Artmobile, a “gallery on wheels” that teaches area children about art and culture. He is also one of the James A. Michener Art Museum’s six founders and is Chairman Emeritus of the Museum’s board of trustees. In 2011, he opened The Silverman Gallery in Buckingham, Pennsylvania. Silverman and his late wife, Ann, helped create The Free Clinic of Doylestown, which was renamed in her honor. Silverman has held leadership roles with: The Friends of The Heart Institute of Doylestown Hospital, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, the Doylestown Historical Society, Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce, and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

DelVal President Dr. Joseph Brosnan told students not to be nervous as they went out into the world and prepared for job interviews. He shared a story about an interview he went on early in his career, where he was having a meal with the person who would determine if he would be hired or not. He was nervously clutching a ketchup packet and looked up to see that he had squeezed it so hard that the woman interviewing him was splattered with ketchup. Instead of getting upset, she graciously asked him if he was OK. He’s still in touch with the person who interviewed him and the two have been exchanging ketchup packets from all over the world for years.

He told the students to be confident in their abilities and that when someday they are on the other side of the interview to be as gracious and kind as the woman who interviewed him early in his career.

As he looked out at the faces of graduating class with pride, University President Dr. Joseph Brosnan told them, “Delaware Valley University has pledged to change the world one student at a time, and as I look out upon this group, I see a powerful wave of change coming.”