Father, Son Graduate at Clarion

CLARION – Diane Wells got an early Mothers Day present Saturday at Clarion University Commencement Ceremonies.

Both her husband and son were among the 851 students receiving diplomas during commencement ceremonies Saturday at Clarion University.

Both had waited a long time to earn their degrees, but for Diane Wells, it was one of the proudest days of her life with her entire family earning Clarion degrees.

“As graduates you need to stand up for things that will serve you well in the future,” said Dr. Gary Alt, a noted environmentalist and wildlife research biologist who received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree Saturday. “Remember, you have an enormous control over your fate and you future. Dream your wildest dreams and never let them go.”

Alt’s advice for all of the graduates seemed fitting for Reggie Wells Sr. and Jr. who both received diplomas at the afternoon commencement ceremonies as the Wells family followed through on their dreams.

“Reggie Wells, Sr. was a basketball All-American at Clarion from 1975 to 1979,” said Dr. Rachelle Prioleau, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, before the two crossed the stage. “After playing basketball internationally for several years, Reggie Sr. joined the ranks of the Pennsylvania State Police and has served as a trooper for 22 years. In 1990, Reggie Sr. was inducted into the Clarion University Sports Hall of Fame. He is currently head coach of the South Park High School Girls Basketball Team, which this year won the WPIAL Class AA Championship. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette selected Reggie Sr. as the 2007-2008 Girls Coach of the Year. Today, he and his family are celebrating his achievement of a Bachelor of Science Degree in Liberal Studies with a minor in Sociology.

“Reggie Wells, Jr., who graduated from South Park High School, starred at offensive left tackle for Clarion University from 1999 to 2002,” continued Prioleau. “During his football career here, Reggie Jr. was an Associated Press First Team “Little All-America” selection, a first team selection by the American Football Coaches Association and PSAC-West, and received Honorable Mention by Football Gazette. In his final three seasons at Clarion, he did not yield a single sack. His football game jersey and number (56) were retired in 2004. Reggie Jr. is currently a member of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, where he has been a starter on the offensive line for the past four seasons. This summer, he will complete the requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Media Arts, Journalism and Communication Studies.”

President Joseph Grunenwald said Clarion University is a tradition for the Wells family and invited the remaining two additional members of the family to join him at the podium.

“Diane Logan Wells is a 1990 graduate of Clarion University with a Bachelor of Science in Business,” said Grunenwald. “She is owner of D. Wells Development, an organizational development firm in South Park, PA. She has also been a very active member of the Clarion University Alumni Association, serving on the association board for two years and providing outstanding leadership for the development of the Minority Alumni Council and the Black Student Alumni Reunion as part of the annual Clarion Autumn Leaf Festival.”

Next was Reggie Sr’s other son, Ryan.

“Ryan was a first-team PSAC-West basketball player for Clarion in 2004 and 2005, when he earned a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies with a minor in Sociology as his father has now done,” said Grunenwald. “Ryan currently plays basketball professionally in Sweden.”

Clarion University’s 2008 Spring Commencement ceremonies included two at Tippin Gymnasium and an evening ceremony at Venango Campus in Oil City. A total of 594 bachelor’s degrees, 134 master’s degrees, and 123 associate degrees were presented.

Dr. Gary Alt, environmental consultant and former wildlife research biologist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, will receive the honorary Doctor of Public Service at the 10 a.m. ceremony and will share remarks with graduates at both sessions.

Honorary Degree Recipient – Dr. Gary Alt

For his commitment to advancing the health and sustainability of ecosystems within and beyond the Commonwealth and for his dedication to educating the public about the environmental, ecological, and economic impact of these issues on our future, Alt received an honorary degree.

“Clarion University is positioned to play an important role in resource management with its new Science and Technology Center under construction and a planned Biotechnology Development Center,” said Alt. “We can all make changes that are felt throughout the world.”

For over 27 years, Alt worked as a wildlife research biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission. He was responsible for launching some of the largest field studies in the country on black bear and deer, resulting in sweeping changes to their management in Pennsylvania and beyond.

Retiring from the Pennsylvania Game Commission in 2004, he later promoted science-based management of forest ecosystems as a wildlife management consultant and naturalist speaker. Today, he works as an environmental consultant for Normandeau Associates, Inc., a company specializing in natural resource management with offices throughout the US.

Active in public education, Alt has presented over 1,500 lectures during his career. Much of his effort has been focused on getting the public to understand wildlife management from an ecosystem perspective. Alt’s work has been published in a variety of professional journals and featured in People Magazine, National Geographic World, Sports Illustrated, Readers Digest, and National Wildlife as well as variety of national television programs.

A Pennsylvania native, Alt earned a Ph.D. in Forest Resources Science from West Virginia University. Additionally, he earned a Masters of Science in Wildlife Management from The Pennsylvania State University, Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Science from Utah State University, and an Associate Degree in Wildlife Technology from Penn State-DuBois.

Aimee Zellers Student Speaker

Aimee Zellers, a graduating senior in history and philosophy, was the student speaker at the ceremonies. Zellers is a daughter of Kent and Denise Zellers of Felton and is a graduate of Red Lion High School.

Zellers served as a member of the Clarion University Council of Trustees since July 10, 2007. The Trustees passed a resolution of appreciation for Zellers’ service during its last meeting.

In addition to serving as a Trustee, Zellers excelled academically and served as a campus leader. Academically, she was a member of the Honors Program, Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society, and the Order of Omega, Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society. She received the Gilbert Hill Award as Clarion University’s outstanding graduating history major.

Outside the classroom, Zellers was elected to Clarion University Student Senate, and was a member of the Clarion Student Association and University Activities Board. She was a member of Delta Zeta Sorority and a starter on the Golden Eagles Women’s Varsity Soccer Team.

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