WCU President and Bucks Alumnus Christopher Fiorentino Delivers Commencement Address
Keynote speaker, a member of the class of 1973, addressed nearly 1,000 graduates at the 52nd annual ceremony May 17; Other celebrations included Nurses Pinning Ceremony May 16
Bucks County Community College celebrated its 52nd annual commencement May 17 by welcoming alumnus Christopher Fiorentino, Ph.D., president of West Chester University, as commencement speaker. The ceremony took place in the Gymnasium on the Newtown Campus.
Fiorentino, a member of the college’s seventh graduating class of 1973, says attending Bucks helped him discover his passion and eventual career path.
“When I started at Bucks I did not have a sense of direction, but I was able to take a wide array of courses from outstanding professors at the college,” Fiorentino said. “Among them were two economics courses, which set the stage not only for my choice of an undergraduate major at Temple but also led me to complete a Ph.D. in economics and enter the field of higher education, first as a professor and later as an administrator. In fact, I got my start in teaching at Bucks – I became an instructor at the college while I was studying for my Ph.D.”
After graduating from Bucks, Fiorentino completed his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees at Temple University. Introduced to teaching by Professor Martin Sutton, one of Bucks’ founding faculty members, he returned to Bucks to teach economics, and then began teaching at West Chester University. There, he rose to become the dean of the College of Business and Public Affairs (now the College of Business and Public Management), a position he held for more than 20 years. In 2013, he became vice president for external operations. In 2016, he was selected to serve as the university's interim president, and in 2017 was inaugurated as WCU’s 15th president.
The college recognized Fiorentino’s achievements by granting him an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree, presented by college president Dr. Stephanie Shanblatt, Board of Trustees Vice Chair Elizabeth Fineberg, and Professor Emeritus Martin Sutton.
The class of 2018 – which numbers 990 – also heard from one of its own. F. Sebastian Suarez-Avila of Warminster was selected to address his classmates in recognition of his outstanding achievements.
Suarez-Avila, who graduated with an associate degree in communication, is transferring to Temple University to study political science and plans to go to law school. The William Tennent graduate embraced campus life at Bucks, serving as vice president of the Student Government Association, and founded the first-ever Lions Club International chapter on campus. Suarez-Avila also was a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success and traveled to Harrisburg as part of Lobby Day, advocating on behalf of community colleges before state lawmakers. His academic success combined with campus involvement earned him the President’s Cup award from Dr. Shanblatt this year.
In addition, the Bucks County Community College Alumni Association presented its Alumni Achievement Awards during the ceremony to the following people:
President’s Distinguished Service Award – Dr. Christopher Fiorentino ’73, President of West Chester University
Community Service Award – Jennifer Eckfield ’91, owner of The Learning Experience in Doylestown
Professional Achievement Award – Nereida McCulley-Breustedt ’98, clinical programs coordinator at Mercer Bucks Cardiology
The ceremony featured live music from the Bucks County Community College Madrigal Singers performing the national anthem and the college’s alma mater. In addition, Professor Jeff Baumeister led the Bucks Graduation Ensemble in performing his own jazzy arrangement of “Pomp and Circumstance.” Business Professor Bernard Bieg served as commencement marshal.
Nursing graduates were also honored with a pinning ceremony May 16 in the Gymnasium. The 62 students who completed the college’s associate degree nursing program are poised to become registered nurses upon completion of state licensing exams.