Honorary Doctorate Recipients
One of the highest honors bestowed upon an individual at Kutztown University is an honorary doctorate. On this page are the recipients of this prestigious award, including the month and year the award was bestowed.
Candace L. Lightner
Candace L. Lightner received a Doctor of Public Service and was the first person to be awarded an honorary doctorate from Kutztown University. Lightner established Mothers Against Drunk Driving in 1980. She raised the nation's consciousness about drunken driving and brought about changes in laws and public opinion that resulted in a decline of 6,500 a year in drunken-driving fatalities. John K. Stoner, vice president of the university trustees, hailed her as one of the most influential women of this decade.
Paul Rand received a Doctor of Letters and was one of the world's leading graphic designers and art director. He was the pioneer of iconic logo designs for major corporations and firms, some of which included ABC, Enron, IBM, Morningstar, Inc., NeXT Computer, UPS and Yale University. Rand is considered to be the Father of Graphic Art and was one of the twentieth century's most influential graphic artists. His work helped to revolutionize American commercial art as he advocated for the functional, yet beautiful designs imagined by European modernists.
Garrison E. Keillor received a Doctor of Letters with a citation that described him as the greatest American storyteller since Mark Twain. Keillor is an American author, singer, voice actor and radio personality. He is best known for his creation of the Minnesota Public Radio Show "A Prairie Home Companion" which he hosted from 1974 to 2016. He has received countless awards and honors for his radio, writing and voice-over work including multiple Peabody Awards, a Grammy Award, the John Steinbeck Award and in 1994, was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
Justice Juanita Kidd Stout
Justice Juanita Kidd Stout received a Doctor of Public Service and was the first African American woman appointed judge of a court in the United States' record. She was an internationally celebrated advocate and defender of rights to all citizens and a prolific writer on judicial and social issues. Justice Stout served several terms for the County Court of Philadelphia and later served on the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. She served on many government and legal commissions during her lifetime and earned countless awards for her integrity, skills and commitment.
Arthur L. Wiesenberger
Arthur L. Wiesenberger received a Doctor of Laws and was a distinguished engineer whose commissioned projects included dozens of major municipal works in the Lehigh Valley. For more than 45 years, Wiesenberger worked in the public and private sectors supervising projects such as the construction of the Lehigh Valley Thruway, the Lehigh Valley Postal Distribution Center, Gross Towers in Allentown, the Allentown center city traffic pattern and the master plan for the development of Kutztown University. In 1946, he became president of A.L. Wiesenberger Association, an engineering group that handled the design and construction of many local civil engineering projects. In 1971, he became president of the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Society of Professional Engineers and was the first head of the Loyalty Fund of Kutztown University. He also became a township and borough engineer for many local municipalities and founded the Kutztown University Foundation.
Paul Tilton Diefenderfer
Paul T. Diefenderfer received a Doctor of Humane Letters and was an accomplished anthropologist, humanitarian and a longtime executive for the Metropolitan Life Company. He and his wife, Minnie, served as mission interpreters for the United Church of Christ for more than two decades and completed more than 150 humanitarian visits to other countries. During these visits, Diefenderfer received no compensation or salary but provided various services for poor and undeveloped regions, including establishing a formal education system for children in the Samoan Islands. He also devoted his life to his community where he served in leadership positions for many organizations, including being a 50-year member of Masonic Lodge, 62, West Reading where he served as former chairman and co-chairman of many community drives, such as War Bond and Red Cross.
Ardath Harter Rodale
Ardath Harter Rodale received a Doctor of Laws. After her husband's death, she became the chairwoman and chief executive officer of Rodale, Inc., a publishing company based in Emmaus, Pa. Rodale Publishing printed some of the country's most popular magazines and under her leadership, Rodale launched “Men's Health Magazine” and published “The Doctors Book of Home Remedies,” which sold more than 20 million copies. Rodale wrote a series of self-help books and in 1996, was named one of the 50 Best Women in Business in Pennsylvania by the Central Penn Business Journal. In 1997, she was named as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania by then Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. She also was named as one of the top 50 Women Business Owners in the United States and in 1999, The Star Group chose her as one of the 50 Leading Women Entrepreneurs in the World.
Andrei Kozyrev received a Doctor of Laws and former Kutztown University President, David MacFarland praised him as a voice of reason and leader of efforts to achieve world peace. Kozyrev was the first Foreign Minister of Russia from 1990 to 1996. In his position, he was credited with developing Russia's foreign policy immediately after the fall of the Soviet Union.
DeLight E. Breidegam, Jr.
DeLight E. Breidegam, Jr. received a Doctor of Laws and was the chairman emeritus and founder of East Penn Manufacturing Company. He laid the foundation that has made East Penn become the successful company that it is today and supported thousands of employees, communities and customers worldwide. He was an inspiration to the battery industry serving as a member and former president of the Battery Council International, Lead Industries Association and International Battery Manufacturer’s Association. Breidegam was a prominent supporter of the United States military as he served as a member of the Southeastern, Pa. Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Committee and has received countless awards and honors for his extraordinary entrepreneurial and leadership abilities.
Anatoly Dobrynin received a Doctor of Laws and was a Soviet statesman, diplomat and politician who served as the Soviet Ambassador to the United States for more than two decades. He was appointed Soviet ambassador to the United States by Nikita Khrushchev in March 1962. Due to his fluency in English and French, his good-humored nature and his intellectual flair, Dobrynin became a highly visible presence on the Washington scene. His long tenure as ambassador, spanning five Soviet leaders and six U.S. presidents, provided a vital continuity to U.S.-Soviet relations during the Cold War.
Mr. Fred Hafer
Fred Hafer received an honorary Juris doctorate for his outstanding contributions to the community. He and his family have strong connections to Kutztown University and he co-chaired the 2007 Kutztown University Capital Campaign. Hafer was the former president of the Kutztown University Foundation Board of Directors and delivered the commencement address for the 1996 graduating class. Giving back to Kutztown University was always one of Hafer's and his wife's top philanthropic priorities; his family made a transformative gift that enabled the university to acquire a scanning electron microscope that is used by multiple science departments. KU has dedicated the "Fred and Martha '02 Hafer Scanning Electron Microscope Laboratory" to Fred and his wife in honor of their contributions to the KU community.
Dr. Marilyn Nelson
Marilyn Nelson received an honorary doctorate and is an American poet, translator, educator and children's book author. Nelson has received many honors for her outstanding work including the 2019 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, a Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America, a Fullbright Teaching Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes and the 1990 Connecticut Arts Awards. From 2001 to 2006, Nelson served as the Poet Laureate of Connecticut and was awarded the 2017 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature. In 2013, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Her poetry is remarkable in that it includes historical roots, lyrical narratives and emotional force. She has been deemed a vital ambassador of poetry.
Senator Michael A. O'Pake
Michael A. O'Pake received a Doctor of Public Service. O'Pake was elected to the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives in 1968 and was a member of the state Senate from 1972-2010. During his lifetime of public service, the Reading and Berks County native was recognized as a tireless and effective advocate for children, senior citizens, crime victims and those who cannot help themselves. Most notably, he led the charge to protect children in Pennsylvania through the passage of the Child Protective Services Law in 1974, in addition to spearheading efforts to implement the Amber Alert Child Abduction Early Warning System throughout the Commonwealth. He sponsored major legislation to help Pennsylvania's senior citizens, including property tax and rent rebates and prescription medication assistance. Kutztown University's O'Pake Fieldhouse is named in his honor and houses indoor tracks and courts.
Jay S. Sidhu
Jay S. Sidu received a Doctor of Laws and is the chairman and chief executive officer of Customers Bankcorp, Inc. and Executive Chairman of Customers Bank. He was the former president and chief officer of Sovereign Bank and served as the Chairman and CEO of Sidhu Advisors, a private equity and financial services consulting company. His outstanding business and leadership abilities have allowed him to lead diverse organizations in the face of dynamic challenges and a rapidly changing global environment. In 2004, Wilkes University received a gift from Sidhu that provided the university to endow a school in Sidhu's name. The Jay S. Sidhu School of Business offers undergraduate and graduate programs that transform students through an empowering education in a mentoring environment. Sidhu has received great recognition for his contributions to the baking and business community. He was included in Philadelphia Business Journal’s Power 100 from 2016-2019 and in 2017, he received the CEO of the Year Award from the Asian American Chamber of Commerce. Sidhu has also been commended for his commitment to philanthropy and his community and was named Citizen of the Year by the Caron Foundation. He also received the Hero of Liberty Award from the National Liberty Museum.
Albert Boscov received a Doctor of Public Service and was a legendary American businessman philanthropist and Navy Veteran. Boscov was a Reading High School graduate and was the long-time president, chairman and CEO of Boscov's Department Stores from 1969-2015. Boscov Stores is America's largest family-owned business department store. In 2006, he co-founded the Goggleworks Center for the Arts in downtown Reading, Pa., which is one of the largest art centers in the country. Boscov also helped to establish the city's Entertainment Square, which features several anchor institutions along with restaurants and businesses. Boscov's philanthropy and dedication extended to all the communities the department stores serve which led him to receive many awards and honors throughout the years. Boscov's hosts many non-profit programs that generate thousands of dollars for deserving organizations, namely, the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts where Boscov raised more than $3.5 million for its creation. There is a statue of Boscov in Albert Boscov Square and he has a day dedicated to him that is known as “Al Boscov Day” celebrated on April 4. He championed many causes and organizations that were near and dear to his heart and continues to make an everlasting impact on the lives and communities today.
Marlin Miller, Jr., and Regina Gouger Miller
Marlin Miller Jr. and his wife, Regina Gouger Miller received honorary doctorates. Marlin is the co-founder of Norwich Ventures and has decades of experience as an entrepreneur and leader in the medical device industry. Regina is a nationally-recognized watercolorist and needlecraft artist. As collectors, philanthropists and artists, the Millers have a keen sense of the transformational power of art. They have extensive involvement in their community that is informed by their shared passion for arts and education. Located in the Sharadin Arts Building on campus, the Marlin and Regina Miller Gallery maintains the university's collection of fine art objects. The Miller family has long served Kutztown University and the greater Reading community. In 1989, the Marlin Miller Jr. Family Foundation was established as an independent non-profit foundation based in Reading, Pa. The foundation primarily provides grants to support private grant-making foundations, arts, higher education and museums. The Millers have galleries at other universities and institutions, including the Miller Gallery at Alvernia University and Carnegie Melon University.
Marlene “Linny” Fowler received a Doctor of Humane Letters and was the philanthropist behind many of the Lehigh Valley's most famous landmarks. Fowler was a community leader and longtime patron of the Allentown Art Museum. She was a stained-glass artist who dedicated more than three decades of her life to helping at-risk children, college students from low-income families and all who would benefit from art and culture. Along with her husband, Fowler was a major benefactor to institutions such as the Banana Factory, where the Fowler Education Center is named for them and Community Services for Children, where the program building on Donley Campus is dedicated to. She was also a large benefactor for Lehigh University, Historic Bethlehem Partnership, Council for Spanish Speaking Organizations, Touchstone Threate, Baum School of Art and Northampton Community College.
Col. Leonard Shupp
Leonard E. Shupp received a Doctor of Humane Letters and faithfully and honorably served his country in the U.S. Army during World War II with the rank of Master Sergeant. Upon his discharge, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves where he retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after 30 years of service. From 1975 to 2005, he was a licensed minister for the Penn Northeast Conference, United Church of Christ. He was a member of the Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church in Whitehall, Pa., and was an active member of many civic, fraternal and military organizations. In 2007, Kutztown University conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters in PA German Studies for his research on the beliefs, customs, folklore, traditions and superstitions of the Pennsylvania Germans. He served on the Board of Directors of the Groundhog Lodge #1, Northampton and various other Satellite Lodges and was a member of the prestigious Pennsylvania German Society in Birdsboro.
George M. Meiser, IX
George M. Meiser IX received a Doctor of Humane Letters and is a well-known local historian. Meiser joined the Historical Society of Berks County in August 1959 and has been a member for more than 60 years. He served as associate editor of the Historical Review of Berks County from 1966 to 1999, followed by five years as publisher. He was vice president of the Historical Society of Berks County from 1996 to 1998 and its president from 1998 to 2011. Meiser completed 24 volumes of The Passing Scene, his book series that displays Berks County history through old and rare photographs. Meiser has received numerous awards, including being named official historian of Berks County in 1994 and receiving an honorary doctorate from Albright College in 2002.
Dr. Don Yoder
Don Yoder received a Doctor of Humane Letters and was a folklorist and the Father of the American Folklife Movement. Yoder made significant contributions to the study and preservation of Pennsylvania Dutch folk culture and wrote more than 15 books on folklife in Pennsylvania. In 1950, he cofounded the Kutztown Folk Festival and his legacy of scholarship has inspired generations of research in folklife, linguistics, foodways, genealogy and Pennsylvania German studies. The Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center at Kutztown University is home to the Folklife Collection of Don Yoder. Although his legacy is most decidedly felt among the Pennsylvania Dutch of his native State, his influence has extended across the nation and into Europe, where he inspired the lives and work of countless individuals.
James J. Brett
James J. Brett received a Doctor of Laws for his conservation education accomplishments through the International Global Wildlife Educational Internship Program as well as his work on wildlife heritage in the Commonwealth. Brett has had natural resource conservation for nearly 50 years and is recognized by the Department of Environmental Protection as one of the top environmental leaders of Pennsylvania, the only living person on the list. His crowning achievement has been the co-founding and formation of the PA Institute for Conservation Education which has received recognition from across the state for its development of innovative natural history education and stewardship programs offered to a diverse audience. He serves as president of the Institute and is very active in leadership, development and educational programs.
Eric D. Schaeffer
Eric D. Schaeffer ’84 received a Doctor of Humane Letters for his contributions to the arts, theater and performance in a ceremony for both undergraduate and graduate classes of the Colleges of Visual and Performing Arts and Liberal Arts and Sciences. Schaeffer is the co-founder and artistic director of Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia. The theatre received the 2009 Regional Theatre Tony Award and is home to the American Musical Voices Project – the largest musical commission program in America. At Signature Theatre, Schaeffer has directed more than 60 productions and led the Theatre to 77 Helen Hayes Awards along with 305 nominations for excellence in the past 22 years. He was named ‘Washingtonian of the Year’ in 2002.
Lieutenant General Richard Zilmer
Lieutenant General Richard Zilmer received an honorary doctorate and was commissioned in the Marine Corps upon graduation from Kutztown University in 1974. During his military career, Zilmer served in a variety of operational and staff assignments throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan. His operational commands consisted of Commanding Officer First Battalion, First Marines, Commanding Officer 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Commanding General Multinational Forces West (Anbar Province, Iraq) and Commanding General III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan. Zilmer completed combat tours during Lebanon Peacekeeping Operations, Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He received the Defense Superior Service Medal for his exceptional service during the Global War on Terror and retired as the United States Marine Corps Lieutenant General following 36 years of commissioned service.
John E. McGlade
John E. McGlade received an honorary doctorate and is an American businessman and former chairman, president and chief executive officer of Air Products and Chemicals Inc. He joined the company in 1976 and held various positions of increasing leadership, including general manager of Chemicals and Process Industries Division, vice president in which he had global responsibility for the group, as well as the company's industrial gas and chemicals manufacturing organization. In 2012, he was elected to the Board of Directors of The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and serves on the Audit, Governance and Executive Committees. McGlade has been listed as a noteworthy chemical executive by Marquis Who's Who and serves on the board of directors of the American Chemistry Council. He has created an endowed fund with the KU Foundation for the Hancher Society that provides scholarships to attract excellent students.
The Honorable Arenda Wright Allen
Arenda Wright Allen received a Doctor of Public Service and is a United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia. She graduated from Kutztown University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1982. Wright Allen started her legal career as a Judge Advocate General's Corps officer in the United States Navy as an active-duty officer between 1985 and 1990 and in the United States Navy Reserve between 1992 and 2005. She was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia from 2001 to 2005. Wright Allen joined the Federal Public Defender's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia in 2005, where she had served as a Supervisory Assistant Federal Public Defender until becoming a federal judge in 2011. Wright Allen's exceptional legal practice and public service have been recognized by numerous honors and awards throughout her career and his highly regarded for her prosecutorial and criminal defense work.
Kermit Oswald & Lisa Oswald
Kermit and Lisa Oswald received a Doctor of Laws and are the owners of Sorrelli Jewelry Store located on Main Street, just blocks away from the Kutztown University campus. Kermit is the vice president and co-owner of Sorrelli Jewelry earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from KU in 1981. Sorrelli is a family-owned jewelry design company founded in 1983, and by the late 1980s, the company was expanded. Since then, the company has grown to become a worldwide supplier of original jewelry through its online store and other web retailers. Sorrelli products are sold by more than 400 boutiques in the U.S., the British West Indies and Hong Kong. Today, Sorrelli is a fixture in popular magazines and in Hollywood. Kermit is a member of the KU Entrepreneurship Advisory Board and both him and Lisa are KU alumni.
Guido M. Pichini
Guido M. Pichini received a Doctor of Laws and is the President/CEO of W.S.K. & Associates and its related companies of Wyomissing. He has served as a member of the Council of Trustees at Kutztown University for approximately 20 years. He is a member of the State System Board of Governors, for which he served five consecutive terms as chair, and was named Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Governors. Pichini is the past president of the Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Trustees (PACT). He served on the Kutztown University Foundation and has chaired numerous fundraising campaigns. Pichini and his wife, Susan, served as honorary co-chairs of KU's Sesquicentennial Celebration.
C. Scott Weidensaul
Scott Weidensaul received an honorary doctorate and is a Pennsylvania-based naturalist and author. He was a finalist for the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction for his book “Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds.” Weidensaul, who attended KU, began his writing career in 1978 with a weekly natural history column in the Pottsville Republican. He became a full-time reporter for the newspaper, a position he held until 1988 when he left to become a freelance writer. He has written more than two dozen books and is also an active field researcher whose work focuses on bird migration. He is a co-director of Project Owlnet, a collaborative effort among nearly 125 banding and research stations across North America studying owl migration. Weidensaul is a long-time board member at nearby Hawk Mountain in Kempton, Pa.
Linda Cliatt-Wayman received a Doctor of Public Service and spent 20 years as a special education teacher before becoming principal of FitzSimons High School in 2003. In 2005, she took over The Young Women's Leadership School at Rhodes High School. Cliatt-Wayman spent two years as assistant superintendent of high schools for the School District of Philadelphia, directly overseeing 52 high schools. When her two former schools, FitzSimons and Rhodes, merged with Strawberry Mansion high school, Cliatt-Wayman knew she had to step in to lead and became principal in 2012.
Dr. Nathaniel J. Williams
Dr. Nathaniel J. Williams received a Doctor of Humane Letters. Williams is a noted author, lecturer, entrepreneur and international motivational and keynote speaker. He is the president, chief executive officer and founder of HumanWorks Affiliates Inc., a cluster of eight organizations that provide direct social services and management support to social service agencies for the last 28 years. These corporations provide 50+ group homes, foster care/life sharing, supports for individuals living independently, leisure and recreation excursions and training and professional development opportunities.
Nancy Jean Stump Seiger
Nancy Jean Stump Seiger received a Doctor of Pedagogy. Seiger's generosity and dedication to her alma mater – and the community at large – are transformative. Seiger graduated from Kutztown State Teachers College in 1954 with a degree in education. She taught fifth grade in the Reading School District for 32 years and taught citizenship classes at night.
Richard G. Wells
Dr. Richard G. Wells received a Doctor of Humane Letters. Wells came to Kutztown University in 1968 in the Department of Music and taught for 29 years. He directed the marching, concert and jazz bands, as well as the instrumental ensembles. He organized the jazz program in 1968. Before retiring in 1997 as associate professor, Wells influenced scores of graduates to aspire to excellence in music performance and remain loyal to the ideals and benefits of music and education. Many students continued their association with the university and Department of Music long after graduation because of experiences in classes and performance organizations led by Wells.
norman A. Inkpen, Jr.
Norman A. Inkpen, Jr., received a Doctor of Public Service. A 1970 graduate of Kutztown University, Inkpen has served on the Kutztown University Foundation board of directors since 2015. In 2017, he accepted the role as chair of the Foundation's Campaign Committee. In fiscal year 2018, the Kutztown University Foundation raised $3.1 million. In fiscal year 2022, $10.4 million was raised. Inkpen has supported the university's Providing Resources and Opportunities for Future Standouts (PROFS) program, a one-of-a-kind support program for students who are current or former members of the foster care system.