BETHANY, W.Va. — Sy Holzer, president of PNC Bank – Pittsburgh, spoke to Bethany College’s 2012 graduating class as part of the institution’s 172nd Anniversary Commencement Weekend. Holzer delivered his remarks, “Prepared for a Lifetime of Achievement and the Importance of Legacy and Appreciation,” to Bethany’s 135 graduates on May 12 outdoors at the Tilock Amphitheatre in the Pennington Quadrangle.
Reflecting on the beautiful setting and the graduates’ walk through the historic Oglebay gates — as freshmen and then as seniors facing a new beginning — Holzer noted, “This is a wonderful day for all of you, as you mark the end of one great effort and the beginning of another. You’ve taken on difficult assignments, passed tough exams. You’ve pored over course packets late into the night and into the early morning. You’ve worked hard. Candidates for graduation, as I’m standing here, I can feel the electricity and excitement for you.”
He continued, “You’re leaving this campus and all the daily opportunities to learn and grow that it offers; but at a curious time. A time when our economy is struggling, our nation is facing tough problems, and a time when jobs are harder to come by than perhaps many of you had hoped for or expected just four years ago. But it is also a time of so much upside.”
Looking toward the future and its many possibilities, Holzer said, “It is at moments like these in the rich history of our great country, when we need a new generation to offer new ideas and new energy to meet the challenges we face as a country. It is moments like these when we prove what we as well-educated graduates are really worth. I am excited for you because I know that you are ready to add creativity and imagination to the background and training that you have received at our great Bethany College.”
Holzer, who was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humanities by Bethany College President Scott D. Miller, has overall client, community and employee responsibilities, which include Corporate & Institutional Banking, Commercial Banking and Wealth Management in Western Pennsylvania. He also oversees financial services relationships with all large government entities, higher education institutions, health care organizations and labor unions throughout the ten-county Southwestern Pennsylvania market. He has corporate-wide responsibility for all international labor unions.
Holzer joined the bank in 1971 and has held various executive positions in corporate and retail banking. He was named president of PNC Bank - Pittsburgh in May 1997 and is co-chair of the PNC Management Committee.
Active in the community, Holzer is Chairman of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, as well as a member of the Board of Directors of the UPMC Cancer Centers. He was appointed by Pennsylvania's governor to serve on the Board of Trustees of the University of Pittsburgh. He serves on the Board of Visitors for the Katz Graduate School of Business and the School of Pharmacy, and Board of Visitors for Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. He also serves on the Board of the Children’s Hospital Foundation and is a member of the Executive Committee.
Additionally, he serves on the Boards of Directors of the Bethany Board of Trustees, The Pittsburgh Opera, Fred Rogers Foundation, and the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. He is also chairman of the Strategic Investment Fund. He was appointed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Judiciary Advisory Council by the Chief Justice and was named Vectors/Pittsburgh Man of the Year in Finance. In addition to Holzer's many awards and recognitions, he recently was honored with the Art Rooney Humanitarian Award for public service.
Holzer is a graduate of Duquesne University, where he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics. He is a graduate of the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University and the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business - Management Program for Executives. Since 2002, Holzer has hosted a monthly radio show, The PNC Business Journal, which features key executives and community leaders throughout the region.
Dr. Miller also addressed the graduates. “Tomorrow, you will enter the so-called ‘real world,’ pursuing employment or graduate studies. But today marks a time for you to indulge your dreams.”
He continued, “It’s often been said that we live at the intersection of expectation and experience. Those of us who are older adults tend to rely more on experience; you who are younger, on expectation. But experience without expectation often leads to a mundane predictability, whereas expectation without experience can lead to reckless risk-taking. You will need both to succeed, and your Bethany experience has prepared you well to do so.”
“Be continuously alert,” he urged, “for new opportunities; actively seek possibilities to grow, both professionally and personally. If you do that, you will have fulfilled Bethany’s expectation that our alumni will be intellectually curious, life-long learners. For in a very real sense, your education is not ending today as you leave our fields and classrooms; rather, you are beginning an exhilarating new phase.”
Drawing attendees’ attention to a tree near to the stage, Miller concluded, “After Commencement, we will plant this tree at the Erickson Alumni Center along with a commemorative plaque to celebrate the class of 2012. As you embark on your life journey’s of success and future growth, know always that this tree, too, will be growing, anchored here at alma mater as a symbol of your enduring connection to Bethany College, a connection that will grow and develop as the years go by.”
James P. Johnson, President Emeritus of the Christian Church Foundation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), delivered remarks to the graduating seniors during the College’s Baccalaureate service on May 11. Johnson was presented with an honorary Doctor of Divinity during the Commencement Ceremony.
Johnson served from 1992 to 2003 as president of the Christian Church Foundation, which seeks to ensure the continuing ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) through education about planned-giving opportunities, consultation with individuals and congregations, and fund management, among other services. Previously he served as development consultant, vice president and president of the Church Finance Council for the organization.
Johnson received his undergraduate degree from Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., and went on to attend Lexington (Ky.) Theological Seminary, earning his Bachelor of Divinity degree in l965. He also received a Master of Science degree from Butler University in Indianapolis, Ind., and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. He received the designations of Chartered Financial Consultant and Chartered Life Underwriter from The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa., and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive.
Following his retirement from the Christian Church Foundation, Johnson served as director of planned giving at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., until December 2007. Johnson also served as pastor of Monroe City Christian Church and St. Charles Christian Church in Missouri prior to his work with the Foundation.
Johnson served as the 16th president of Lexington Theological Seminary from September 2008 until September 2011. During his time as president, he led the institution’s transition from a traditional residential model to a dynamic model incorporating the use of online courses, intensive short-term residential courses, experienced mentors, and required congregational responsibilities.
The Rev. William Burwell Allen, former regional minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, also received an honorary Doctor of Divinity. Allen has previously served as pastor and college chaplain at Bethany Memorial Church and Bethany College.
Bethany College is a small college of national distinction located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the state’s oldest private college. The College held its first Commencement on July 4, 1842.