Fall 2017 Ceremony

Penn State Altoona's fall 2017 commencement ceremony will be held on Saturday, December 16, 2017 at 11 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.

Commencement Speaker

Stephen J. McKnight

Stephen J. McKnight

Stephen J. McKnight

Image: Penn State

Stephen McKnight began his career in 1991 when he joined the management team of the High Speed Ground Transportation Association in Washington, D.C. Advancing quickly from intern to Chief Operating Officer (COO), he was one of the youngest senior trade association executives in the country. As COO, McKnight managed the association’s daily operations, including membership development, government affairs, human resources, and strategic planning. During his tenure, membership more than tripled and the association helped secure the passage of two Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Acts (ISTEA), and well as the nation’s first comprehensive high speed rail legislation.

In 1996, McKnight returned home to Blair County, Pennsylvania, where he led the operations and land development efforts at Blue Knob Four Seasons Resort. As the resort’s General Manager, he was able to combine his love for skiing and the outdoors by overseeing its daily operations and helping to market the property to outside investment interests. This experience introduced him to the region’s economic development organizations and their business support services.

McKnight joined the Altoona Blair County Development Corporation (ABCD) in 2000 where he served several years as Director of Corporate Services. He was a member of the Southern Alleghenies Tourism Committee, the Workforce Investment Board, and managed the development and marketing of the I-99 Innovation Corridor Initiative. He helped to create and served as project manager for the Blair County Technology Council, the Keystone Innovation Zone Program, and the I-99 Executive Internship Network. He frequently represented ABCD on a variety of economic development issues before Altoona City Council, municipal Boards, as well as print and television media.

In 2007, McKnight moved to Pittsburgh where his wife Jeria had accepted a faculty position at Carnegie Mellon University. In Pittsburgh, he joined GSP Consulting where he served as a Senior Economic Architect and led the firm’s industrial site selection practice. In 2010, he partnered with GSP colleagues Rich Overmoyer and Dr. Jerry Paytas to launch the economic development firm Fourth Economy Consulting.

Fourth Economy grew to ten full-time employees with annual revenues in excess of $1.5 million. The firm’s national client base includes local and state agencies, universities, non-profit organizations, and private industry. McKnight has managed numerous business expansion and strategy projects resulting in an estimated $600 million in total investment.

During his time in Pittsburgh, McKnight continued to stay connected with the Central Pennsylvania region. Most recently, he was hired to complete an urban housing market and development project for the City of Altoona, titled “Ahead of the Curve.” Prior to that, he served as project manager on the Bedford County Pike to Bike Study, ABCD Corporation’s 2010 Strategic Plan, and the Blair County Campaign for Active Transportation Plan.

In the spring of 2016, McKnight returned home and to his former employer to take on the President and CEO role at the Altoona Blair County Development Corporation, following the retirement of long-time ABCD chief Martin J. Marasco. A central focus of the organization’s efforts will be to attract and retain new residents and a high qualified talent force needed to fuel new and existing businesses throughout Blair County and the I-99 Corridor.

McKnight resides in Hollidaysburg with his wife Jeria and their 5-year old daughter, Ella. An avid skier and cyclist, he continues to advocate the advantages of living and doing business in central Pennsylvania and the quality of place the region represents.