The Inauguration of Central Penn College’s Ninth President
Celebrating Our Future
“Our Family is Strong”
By Sarah Blumenschein
A deep line of vibrant colors, designs and seals painted the Central Penn College Summerdale campus on Saturday, June 7 as the academic procession advanced toward the Inauguration of Dr. Karen M. Scolforo. Close to 200 guests, including the 70 people donning academic regalia for the procession, gathered as a community to celebrate Central Penn’s future.
The ceremony not only observed the investiture and installation of Central Penn’s ninth president, but also the first inauguration held on campus and the College’s second female president. The day, bright and sunny, showed off the Student Fellowship Area and clarified the promise of Central Penn’s future.
Chairman of the Central Penn College Board of Directors and 1981 Alumnus William Kobel provided the welcome. In his remarks, he gave a charge to the new president, saying, “For more than 130 years we have been career-focused. Keep the flame of this focus in mind; never lose sight of our desire to contribute tangible skills, business acumen, leadership and professionalism to businesses that hire our graduates.”
A longtime friend of the College, Senator Pat Vance delivered the salutation, emphasizing the value that a career-focused education brings to our community, region and nation.
“Schools emphasizing career-focused education allow students to pair book learning with practical, real-world experiences,” said Vance. “That produces a really solid education, and it’s an education that employers respect and look for in prospective employees.”
Delivering greetings on behalf of the higher education community, Dr. John “Ski” Sygielski, president of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, said, “With many HACC students continuing their education here each year, the future shows HACC remaining a strong and committed partner with Central Penn.”
Another committed partner to Central Penn is G. Scott Shatzer, a 1991 alumnus who described how important it was to him to “give tribute to his roots.” He spoke on behalf of the more than 10,000 Central Penn alumni and shared with guests how he founded a student scholarship in memory of his aviation professor, the late Robert “Bob” Wright.
Faculty were a large focus of the ceremony, with special greetings from Associate Dean and Professor of English, Dr. Melissa Wehler, who explained faculty’s “solemn duty and privilege to celebrate the future every day” in their classrooms.
Students Jordan Spence ’08, ’14 and Isaiah Isley, ’17 detailed the reasons why Central Penn was the right choice for them.
“Having the businesslike atmosphere that requires us to be professional and focused, and having the faculty and staff truly care, not only about our professional success, but also our personal success, truly separates Central Penn from other institutions,” Spence said.
Spence discussed how impressed she was to have a president so invested in the success of the students, and that Dr. Scolforo will lead the institution to an “amazing future.”
That amazing future officially started with a standing ovation as Dr. Scolforo was formally recognized by Kobel as Central Penn College’s ninth president. President Emeritus and Ambassador to the Central Penn College Education Foundation Todd A. Milano (president from 1989 to 2012) then presented Dr. Scolforo with the College’s symbols of authority, the College’s mace and chain of office.
Three generations of leadership were represented that day, as Jean Milano, wife of the late President Emeritus Bart A. Milano (president from 1969 to 1989) watched the great promise of Central Penn’s career-focused legacy live on.
At the lectern, Dr. Scolforo shared, “Central Penn College will continue to prepare its graduates for the real world. We recognize that we have a responsibility, as educators, to prepare our students and ultimately our graduates to be: accountable, responsible and committed to their careers; to their communities; and to their environment. We will encourage innovation and creative problem-solving, respect for individual differences, a solid work ethic, servant leadership and face-to-face communication.”
The theme of family was woven throughout Dr. Scolforo’s inaugural address. From student family legacies and alumni who never forget their Central Penn family, to the bond that students form with their professors and staff members, she said, “family surrounds you at Central Penn.”
Especially meaningful was the presence of Dr. Scolforo’s close family and friends, including her mother, sister, brother-in-law, husband, children and husband’s family.
She described how her commitment to education is epitomized in the successes of her family members. Dr. Scolforo also described her commitment to increasing diversity, the residential student population and the creation of a family environment in which all students, “whether residential, commuter or online, might engage and connect with each other and with our faculty and staff members.”
She concluded her remarks with one simple and powerful request.
“So, the next time someone asks you what you know about Central Penn College, feel free to let them know: Our family is strong.”