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Historian Betty Ann Cherry to Receive Honorary Degree from Juniata

(Posted May 2, 2005)

Betty Ann Cherry

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Betty Ann Cherry, a resident of Huntingdon, Pa. and professor emerita of history at Juniata College, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree from Juniata College May 14 at 2 p.m. during Juniata's 127th commencement ceremony.
The commencement address will be given by Yolanda King, activist and daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.

Cherry's personal history is intricately intertwined with the history of Juniata College. The daughter of Calvert Ellis, president of Juniata College from 1943 to 1968, and Elizabeth Wertz Ellis, Cherry was professor of history at Juniata from 1962 to 1998, and was married to the late Ronald Cherry, professor of economics and business administration from 1958 to 1998.

Cherry remains active in the Juniata and Huntingdon communities. She is coordinator of the college's Currents of the Juniata Valley project, a cooperative project designed to interpret the cultural and historical assets of the seven counties comprising the Juniata River Valley. She also is very active in the Church of the Brethren, acting as a moderator at the Stone Church of the Brethren and remaining active on the district and national level in ministry education. Most recently, she was a reader for the 2004 Christmas Eve service televised nationally on CBS-TV.

"The reason this honorary degree means so much to me is that I am the last person in the Oller and Ellis families to be associated with Juniata College," Cherry says. The Oller family history reaches back to the college's beginnings, as Jacob F. Oller was a member of the first board of trustees. The Ellis family, which included two college presidents (C.C. Ellis and Calvert Ellis), also have a long history with Juniata.

She taught a variety of general education courses over her career, most notably the "Great Epochs" courses, which were the first interdisciplinary, team-taught courses at the college. She also taught courses in the history of science, ancient Greece and medieval history. She believes one of her lasting contributions to the college was her work as an adviser to many Juniata students.

Cherry received the Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service in 1990 and received the Beachley Distinguished Professor Award in 1998. She was named Juniata's "Woman of the Year" in 1995 and 1998. She is a member of the American Historical Association and Phi Alpha Theta. She started her academic career at Juniata in 1962 as an instructor. She was promoted to assistant professor in 1965, to associate professor in 1975, and to full professor in 1998.

Cherry earned a bachelor's degree in history from the College of Wooster in 1956 and earned her master's degree from Columbia University in 1957. She was a visiting fellow in history at Harvard University in 1973-74. She and her husband spent a year teaching at Hokusei Gakuen University in Sapporo, Japan during the 1992-1993 academic year.

Cherry lives in Westminster Woods. She has two children, Charles "Chip" Cherry, of Glenview, Ill., an executive vice president of operations at Textura, a construction payment management company; and Anne E. Rice, of Greencastle, Pa., a library aide at the local high school.


Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.