YSU To Award Two Honorary Degrees

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Youngstown State University alumnus Brian J. Wolf, executive director of the Marion G. Resch Foundation, and Los Angeles musician and composer Bill Bodine will receive honorary degrees at YSU’s two spring commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 5.

Wolf, a Liberty Township resident, and student speaker Rachel Emerson, Leetonia, will speak at the 9:30 a.m. ceremony at Beeghly Center, where degrees will be presented to graduates of the Williamson College of Business Administration, the Beeghly College of Education and the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Bodine and Ryan Portela of Little Ferry, N.J. will speak at the 2:30 p.m. ceremony, when graduates of the College of Creative Arts and Communication, the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences receive their degrees.

A retired teacher, coach and school administrator, Wolf was named executive director of the Marion G. Resch Foundation in 2001. The foundation partners with YSU and six other universities to provide need-based scholarships to students in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties, and has awarded more than $3 million in scholarships to YSU students.

Wolf earned his undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary and in 1972 was part of the first class to receive a Master’s of Science in Education from YSU. He will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Bodine began his musical career in Youngstown and is considered a co-founder of the Dana School of Music Jazz program. In 1994, he established the Tony Leonardi Jazz Scholarship Fund at YSU in honor of another of the Dana School’s founders. He moved to Los Angeles in the 1970s and has become a well known composer, arranger, bassist and trumpeter.

His production company, Bill Bodine Music, has composed scores for more than 300 television commercials for Honda, McDonald’s, Nike, Gillette and Toyota. Bodine co-founded CreativeBridge Coalition, a nonprofit that brings music programs to regional children with special needs. He will receive an Honorary Doctor of Music.

Emerson is the daughter of Melanie and the late Dr. T. Scott Emerson. She will graduate with a baccalaureate in Middle Childhood Education with a concentration in Math and Science and a minor in Art, and hopes for a career in education in the Mahoning Valley. Emerson is head varsity swim coach at Poland Seminary High School and has worked as a swim coach year-round for the past six years. She also developed and teaches an art program at the Youngstown YMCA and enjoys volunteer work at her church.

Portela is a second-generation American and the first in his family to graduate from college. He enlisted in the Army after high school and served in Afghanistan and Kuwait. His Post 9/11 GI-Bill helped pay for his education at YSU where he worked at the Student Veterans Resource Center.

He founded and served as an officer in the YSU Chapter of the John Quincy Adams Society, a foreign policy club. He was vice president and events coordinator for the Armed Forces Student Association and a member of the National Geography Honor Society, Gamma Theta Upsilon, the National Political Science Honor Society and Pi Sigma Alpha. He will graduate with bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Geography, and looks to pursue a PhD in Geopolitics.

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