Veteran NFL Quarterback Charlie Batch to Keynote College’s 214th Commencement

WASHINGTON, PA (April 30, 2013)—Two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback and Pittsburgh native Charlie Batch will deliver the keynote address at Washington & Jefferson College’s (W&J) 214th Commencement ceremony May 18 at 10 a.m. on the lawn in front of the Olin Fine Arts Center on Wheeling Street.

Batch will receive an honorary degree, as will Bernard Harris, Jr., retired NASA astronaut and the first African American to walk in space; James E. Rohr, executive chairman of PNC Financial Services Group, the nation’s seventh-largest bank with more than 5 million customers and 56,000 employees; and Rabbi Serena Fujita, Jewish chaplain at Bucknell University. Fujita will be the keynote speaker at the Baccalaureate service May 17 at 6 p.m. in Church of the Covenant on East Beau Street in Washington, Pa. More than 330 students are expected to participate.

Batch was drafted by the NFL’s Detroit Lions and has played for the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2002. He is a free agent. Well known for his philanthropic efforts, Batch was presented with the first Jerome Bettis Award for Humanity and Community Service for his work supporting children through his Best of the Batch Foundation and for efforts to upgrade local football fields and basketball courts for area children. Most recently, he received the 2013 Byron "Whizzer" White NFL Man of the Year Award. The award honors work in the community.

Batch established The Best of the Batch Foundation in 1999 to serve underprivileged youth. His community involvement has included: Project C.H.U.C.K (Continuously Helping Uplift Community Kids), a summer basketball league; other in-school/after school programs, scholarships, playground and community restoration projects, and motivational speaking; Best of Batch Club, for grades K-5, where students must demonstrate excellence in school work, attendance, behavior and extra-curricular activities during selected months out of the school year; and Batchpacks for Kids, a program that provides school supplies to students.

Bernard Harris became an astronaut in July 1991. Harris served as the crew representative for Shuttle Software in the Astronaut Office Operations Development Branch. He was a mission specialist on STS-55 (April 26 to May 6, 1993). During this flight, Harris logged over 239 hours and 4,164,183 miles in space. He was the Payload Commander on STS-63 (February 2-11, 1995). On this mission, Harris logged 198 hours, 29 minutes in space, completed 129 orbits, and traveled over 2.9 million miles. Dr. Harris received a bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of Houston, a doctorate in medicine from Texas Tech University School of Medicine and a master's degree in biomedical science from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in 1996.

A Cleveland, Ohio native, James E. Rohr has spent his 41-year professional life at PNC-affiliated or predecessor companies, the last 13 as chief executive officer. Involved in a number of civic, cultural and educational organizations, Rohr has personally helped raise or contribute more than $300 million for charitable organizations. Rohr was named Banker of the Year by American Banker in 2007 and was awarded the Horatio Alger Award in 2011. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame and earned a master’s degree from The Ohio State University.

Rabbi Serena Fujita joined the Bucknell community in 2000 as its first full-time Jewish chaplain. During her tenure at Bucknell, she has instituted a series of Jewish heritage trips for students of all faiths to Holocaust sites in Eastern Europe, Russia, Peru and Uruguay. During her five years of rabbinical training, Fujita served internships in Israel and with the Woodlands Community Temple in White Plains, N.Y., and Temple Beit Shalom in East Liverpool, Ohio. She holds a bachelor's degree in history and philosophy from Queens College and a master's degree in Hebrew literature from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.


Commencement 2013