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Widener Celebrating Commencement May 15-16

Graduate commencement set for May 15, undergraduate commencement May 16.

John Lippincott, former president of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), and Dr. Martin E.P Seligman, director of the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center, will deliver the commencement addresses at Widener University on May 15 and 16.

Students who are receiving master's or doctoral degrees will graduate at 9 a.m. on May 15, and undergraduates who are receiving bachelor's or associate's degrees will graduate on Saturday, May 16. Both ceremonies will take place in the Bown Garden behind Old Main on Widener’s Main Campus in Chester. Students, parents, alumni and faculty and staff can participate in social media dialog leading up to commencement using the hashtag #widener2015.

Lippincott will present the address for the graduate commencement and Seligman will present the address for the undergraduate commencement. Both will receive honorary doctor of public service degrees from the university during the ceremonies. Rev. James L. Ley, the Archdeacon of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, will also receive an honorary doctorate of public service degree during the graduate ceremony.

“John Lippincott and Martin Seligman are accomplished leaders at the forefront of their fields and we look forward to having them share their experiences and wisdom with our graduating students,” said Widener President James T. Harris III. “In addition, Reverend Ley’s commitment to the community and social justice is an inspiration for all of us and a value that we strive to instill in our students before they graduate.”

As president of CASE, Lippincott has helped schools, colleges and universities around the globe strengthen their alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing operations. He was named to the position in 2004, and was the longest-serving president in the organization’s history before retiring in January.

Lippincott provided strategic and operational leadership for one of the largest associations of education-related institutions in the world. During his tenure he oversaw growth in CASE Europe and the establishment of CASE Asia-Pacific and CASE America Latina.

He served on the board of the American Council on Education, the major coordinating body for the U.S. Higher education, and on Independent Sector’s ethics and accountability committee and the Washington Higher Education Secretariat’s steering committee. He is a frequent speaker at CASE conferences and wrote a regular column for CURRENTS magazine.

As director of the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center, Seligman is also director of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program. He was president of the American Psychological Association in 1988, during which one of his presidential initiatives was the promotion of positive psychology as a field of scientific study. He is a leading authority in the fields of positive psychology, resilience, learned happiness, depression, optimism and pessimism. He is also a recognized authority on interventions that prevent depression and build strengths and well-being.

Seligman has written more than 250 scholarly publications and 20 books which have been translated into more than 20 languages and have been best sellers in America and abroad. His work has been featured on the front page of the New York Times, Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report.

Seligman is the recipient of two Distinguished Scientific Contribution awards from the American Psychological Association – the Laurel Award of the American Association for Applied Psychology and Prevention and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Society for Research in Psychopathology. In 1991, His research on preventing depression received the MERIT Award of the National Institute of Mental Health. Since 2000 his main mission has been the promotion of the field of positive psychology.

As a resident of West Chester, Ley operates non-profit organizations in the Chester area. He immediately associated with Chester Eastside Inc. (formally known as Chester Eastside Ministries) and within three months recognized his call to ordained ministry. Ley was ordained in 2003 and the following year was appointed as the Archdeacon of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.

Ley is currently the vice chair of Chester Eastside Inc. and president of the advisory board of Episcopal Place at Park Row, a low income housing project in Upland, Pa. He is a member of the Chester branch of the NAACP and the Chester Swarthmore Leadership Institute. In his 18 years of social justice advocacy, he has been associated with more than a dozen other organizations in Chester and the Episcopal Diocese and was the recipient of the John Shelton Sr. Freedom Award given to the Chester branch of the NAACP and the Liberty Bell Award given by the Delaware County Bar Association.

Ley works very closely with Widener on the Community Based Learning Strategic Planning Taskforce, The Bonner High Impact Strategic Planning Committee, The Presidents Community Advisory Board and frequently guest lectures and provides administration, professors and students tours of Chester as seen through the lens of social justice.

Widener University is a metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate’s, baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral degrees. The university's campuses in Chester, Exton and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve more than 6,000 students. Widener is proud to be a tobacco-free campus. Visit the university's website,