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2011 Juniata Commencement Features Learning, Literacy Specialist as Speaker

(Posted May 2, 2011)

Maryanne Wolf, professor of child development and director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree and deliver the commencement address at Juniata's 133rd Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 14

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Maryanne Wolf, professor of child development and director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree and deliver the commencement address at Juniata's 133rd Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 14 on the Juniata campus.

Wolf, an internationally known expert on reading and learning disabilities who has earned accolades for her university and other institutions as a groundbreaking teacher and researcher, will speak to the graduating class in a year of growth for the college.


In addition, David Goodman, CEO of D.C. Goodman and Sons and a trustee on the Juniata College board of trustees, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at the ceremony.

Juniata welcomed its largest (2009) and second largest (2010) incoming classes in the history of the college in successive years and those classes feature students flocking to the college from areas beyond Juniata's traditional central Pennsylvania markets. Indeed, about 58 percent of the 2010 class is from Pennsylvania, the first class in college history to have less than 60 percent of its class from Pennsylvania, while 42 percent of the class are international students or are from locations out of state.

Juniata has also seen its international program expand, as the current freshman class of 2014 has 29 students from other countries, including 16 students from China. About 6.5 percent of the class is international students, some coming from Japan, Myanmar, Vietnam, El Salvador, Bosnia, Nigeria and Brazil. This growth and other innovations garnered Juniata praise from a new book, "Accepted," by David Marcus, and a new rating of 63rd in Kiplinger's Personal Finance Best Value Ratings.

The commencement address will be given by Maryanne Wolf, professor of child development and director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University. Wolf is an internationally known expert on reading and learning disabilities who has earned accolades for her university.


Wolf, whose research is focused on the neurological basis for language, reading and dyslexia, started her college career as an English major, intending to study poetry. Instead, after earning a master's degree in English, she taught reading to schoolchildren at an impoverished Filipino mission school in Hawaii, where she began to understand the effects of illiteracy on human development. She applied to Harvard University for her doctoral studies in order to study how children learn to read and what she could do ameliorate the causes of illiteracy and reading failure.

Her most recent research centers on a new, evolutionary theory of why developmental dyslexia occurs and how this knowledge can inform new methods for reading interventions.

Wolf's work in reading intervention has been recognized around the world. She is the author of the RAVE-O Intervention Program, a comprehension program for struggling readers that was proven successful in two major federal studies. For her work in dyslexia, she received the Norman Geschwind Lecture Award from the International Dyslexia Association for research in the neurosciences. Most recently she received the Samuel Orton Award, the highest award for dyslexia research from this society..

Wolf is the author of "Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain," which has been translated into 12 languages and has received awards for the best book on reading. Proust and the Squid devotes equal parts to the history and science of how humans learned to read, to the reasons why some humans fail to learn, and to the effects of digital media on an evolving reading brain.

Wolf earned a bachelor's degree in English in 1969 from St. Mary's College/Notre Dame and went on to earn a master's degree in 1970 in English literature from Northwestern University. She earned her doctorate in education in 1979 from Harvard University.

Wolf joined the faculty at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., in 1980 as an assistant professor. She was promoted to associate professor in 1987, and to full professor in 1999. In 1992, she was named a research Scientist at Harvard Medical School, a position she holds today.

Tufts named Wolf director of the university's Center for Reading and Language Research and she was named the John DiBiaggio Professor of Citizenship and Public Service for her work in literacy. She has received many awards for her teaching and research, most notably a Fulbright Fellowship to study dyslexia in Germany, the Tisch Fellowship, the Shannon Award for Innovative Research from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Teaching Award for Four-Year Universities from the American Psychological Association, the Distinguished Teacher of the Year from the Massachusetts Psychological Association and Tufts Distinguished Scholar Award,.

Most recently Wolf is working with members of the MIT Media Lab to create platforms for acquiring literacy for the many children around the world who have no teacher or schools.

David Goodman, a native of Mount Union and a longtime Huntingdon resident, has long been a champion for Juniata programs. In 2007, he honored his former biology professor, Ken Rockwell, now retired, by establishing the Goodman-Rockwell Chair in Biology, a post currently occupied by Jill Keeney, professor of biology. He also helped fund opportunities for faculty in the humanities, social sciences and earth sciences to do funded summer research with Juniata students. He also has given generously to a variety of Juniata building projects, most notably the von Liebig Center for Science and Founders Hall. He is a regular contributor to the Juniata Scholarship Fund and contributed work toward a new athletic locker room for the Juniata women's basketball team.

Goodman, in addition to his duties at Goodman & Sons, was a founding director of Nittany Financial Corporation, the parent company of Nittany Bank. When Nittany Bank was sold to National Penn Bank, in Boyertown, Pa., Goodman was asked to serve on the National Penn Bank's board of directors. He also serves on the board of directors for Miller Auto Parts Co. in Huntingdon and Golden Eagle Asset Management Company in New York City. He recently joined the board of Miller Chemical & Supply LLC, based in Hartford, Conn.

Beulah Baugher, former director of housekeeping at Juniata College, received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Juniata College at a special dinner April 30.

Baugher currently is a resident of Westminster Woods retirement community. She came to Juniata as director of housekeeping in 1959. At a Juniata event she met Chalender Lesher, a local banker and the widower of Maude Lesher . The two were married, and in 1964 the couple honored Chalender Lesher's son (also named Chalender), who had been shot down and killed near Amsterdam in 1943 during World War II, by purchasing a $24,000 gift annuity.

By 2010, Baugher's gift annuity had grown into a $1.9 million investment, making her one of the largest individual benefactors in the college's history. The gift will be used to fund scholarships in Chalender Lesher's name. Twice widowed, she remains connected to Juniata, attending cultural events and meeting with Juniata administrators over the years.

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