Spring 2017 Ceremony

Penn State Altoona's spring 2017 commencement ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 6, 2017 at 10 a.m. in the Jaffa Shrine in Altoona.

GRADUATES, click Commencement Day Details on the menu to find out more about the ceremony.


Because of the large number of seats available at the Jaffa Shrine, no tickets are required for guests to attend the ceremony. Likewise there is no limit on the number of guests per graduate.

Tom Baker

Tom Baker

Image: Penn State

Speaker: Tom Baker

Tom Baker is the Founder and Chief Program Officer of Get Involved!, Inc., a non-profit organization that educates and empowers young leaders through the annual Pittsburgh Service Summit, Fast Track Community Leadership program, Power Hour series, and Student Empowership Conference. He is the President of Baker Leadership and author of three books: Get Involved! Making the Most of Your 20s and 30s, Give Our Passion), and Empowered in Pittsburgh . He hosts two television programs: Get Involved! Pittsburgh on Pittsburgh Community Television and Get Involved! Moon Township on Moon Community Access Television. Since February 2008, Baker has spoken with over 100,000 students, young professionals, and community leaders at over 500 colleges, corporations, professionals associations, and civic groups across the country.  Baker has also served as the Penn State Altoona Leadership for Life program facilitator since its inception in 2013.

Baker has worked for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Greater Pittsburgh since 2008, and currently serves as their Chief Community Affairs Officer. At BBBS, Baker currently oversees volunteer recruitment, child recruitment, volunteer trainings, government affairs, and partnerships. Baker also has volunteered as a Big Brother to his BBBS little brothers, Preston (since 2002), Eric (since 2010), and E.J. (since 2015). BBBS of Greater Pittsburgh has been named the National Agency of the Year two of the previous four years out of more than 300 affiliate agencies across the country. In his civic life, Baker serves as Allegheny County Councilman, since he was elected in 2013, and recently was elected to the Allegheny County Library Association. He previously served as a school director in the North Hills School District.

Baker has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Millersville University and received his graduate degree in student affairs in higher education from Indiana University of Pa. The Thomas Justin Baker Person of the Year Award was established in 2001 and is presented annually to a top leader on campus at Millersville. In 2009, he received the Distinguished Civic Leadership Award from Millersville University, and in 2014 Baker was honored with the Young Alumni Achievement Award at the Millersville Honors and Awards Convocation. Baker also was honored with the 2015 Indiana University of PA Young Alumni Achievement Award.

The Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce selected Baker as the 2011 Young Business Leader of the Year, Pittsburgh Magazine named him a “40 Under 40” honoree in 2014; In Community Magazine named Baker as the 2014 Volunteer of the Year for Ross Township; and The Incline named him a Who’s Next in Politics honoree.

Baker was named a 2010 Jefferson Award for Public Service honoree by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; received the Public Sector Leader Award at the 2011 RISE Changemaker Awards; was one of the 2011 “Faces” of Gilda’s Club; received the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award from the Coro Center for Civic Leadership; and was recognized as a 2013 Fast Tracker honoree by the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Baker completed two terms as President of the Pittsburgh East Rotary Club and served as Assistant District Governor for Rotary District 7300. He is also Past President of the National Speakers Association Pittsburgh, Past President of the Coro Pittsburgh Alumni Council, Past President of the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project Board, Vice Chair of the Pittsburgh Jobs Corps Center Community Relations Council, and Past Co-Chair of the United States Army Advisory Board. He has served on a number of non-profit boards including North Hills Community Outreach; Visit Pittsburgh; Breathe PA; Special Olympics of PA; Pittsburgh Cares; LifeSpan; National Student Partnerships; and the Baierl Family YMCA. Baker was appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate to serve a term on the Professional Standards and Practices Commission in October 2012.

Baker and his wife, Erin, have been married since 2004 and live in Pittsburgh. The Bakers fund and present annual scholarships to students at Millersville University; Indiana University of PA; and North Hills High School, and were honored as one of the "Couples for a Cure" in 2012 by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.