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York College of PA President Thomas Burns to offer first commencement address on Dec. 13

November 17, 2023
Thomas Burns Commencement

President Thomas Burns will offer his first York College commencement address on Dec. 13 as nearly 200 students receive their diplomas. Commencement exercises begin at 10:15 a.m. in the Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center’s M&T Bank Field House. Additional information, including a live stream for the event, is available at www.ycp.edu/commencement.

The faculty address will be presented by Dr. Gabe Cutrufello, recipient of the Presidential Award for Teaching and Mentoring Excellence, and the student speaker will be Jay Hynes, a Political Science graduate from Marietta, Pa. Michael Daiuto, a Philosophy major and Music minor from Shrewsbury, Pa., will lead the Alma Mater.

Dr. Thomas Burns began his tenure as York College of Pennsylvania’s fifth president on July 1, 2023. A chemist and lifelong educator with an extensive résumé in higher education administration, he came to York College after serving as Provost of Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., from 2011 until May 2022.

Dr. Burns’ tenure at Belmont was marked by major achievements, including significant growth in enrollment, as well as successful mergers with both the O’More College of Design and the Watkins College of Art. Through his leadership, Belmont also introduced a number of new majors and degree programs while successfully navigating the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges university reaccreditation and multiple specialized accreditations for various colleges.

Dr. Burns graduated cum laude with a B.S. in chemistry from Dickinson College and completed his Ph.D. in physical chemistry at Vanderbilt University.

He taught in the Chemistry and Physics Department at Florida Southern College and was named Department Chair in 1999. He then served as the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs for the Yale University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where he oversaw the Fulbright program and participated in the creation, implementation, and interpretation of the policies of the Graduate School.

In 2006, Dr. Burns accepted the role of Associate Provost for Academic Administration at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. In cooperation with the Provost, he was responsible for the general education program, the First Year Experience, global education, and community and academic partnerships, among other duties.  

Dr. Gabe Cutrufello is the Chair of the Department of Communication and Writing and serves on the College’s Middle States Accreditation Steering Committee. An Associate Professor in the Professional Writing program, he teaches courses in first-year writing, technical writing, research methods, digital writing, document design, and rhetoric of science, as well as the major’s research seminar.

With his York College colleagues, Dr. Kim Peck and Dr. Emily Cope, he serves as a co-editor for the international undergraduate research journal Young Scholars in Writing. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Education, English from West Chester University, his Master’s in Literature from San Diego State University, and his Doctorate in Literature with a focus in Rhetoric and Writing Studies from Temple University.

Dr. Cutrufello presented his research on 19th-century physics argumentation and the history of technical communication at the Rhetoric Society of America Conference, the National Communication Association Conference, and the Conference on College Composition and Communication. He has published his research in Rhetoric ReviewWritten Communication, and several edited university press collections.

He and his colleagues, Dr. Michael Zerbe (York College of Pennsylvania), Dr. Cristina Hanganu-Bresch (St. Joseph’s University), and Dr. Stefania Maci (University of Bergamo, Italy), were awarded the 2023 Best WAC Edited Collection by the Association for Writing Across the Curriculum and the WAC Clearinghouse for their co-edited collection The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Communication.

The recipient of several scholarships at York College, Jay Hynes was inducted into Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society, and Tri-Alpha, the national honor society for first-generation students. As a Political Science major, they participated in the Model European Union and the National Model United Nations. They also interned at the PA Department of Health’s Division of Environmental Health Epidemiology, focusing on the topic of lead exposure.

Hynes was active with the Student Senate, serving as a Student Senator during their sophomore, junior, and senior years, as well as Campus Sustainability Chair. In addition, they were treasurer and then vice president of the York College Plant and Gardening Club and a general member of the Campus Activities Board.