Norm Conway to be honored at SU commencement

Norman H. Conway studied hard to earn his B.A. in education from then-Salisbury State Teachers College, culminating with his graduation in 1965. The longtime educator returned to earn his M.Ed. in 1970.

On Wednesday, May 23, he receives yet another degree from his Alma Mater during Salisbury University’s 92nd-year Spring Commencement: an honorary doctorate of public service. The award is presented during the 6 p.m. graduate ceremony.

From the 1965-1986, Conway played a prime role in molding young minds as a teacher, vice principal and principal at Salisbury’s Pinehurst Elementary School. He continued his career with the Wicomico County Board of Education as supervisor of the school system’s Chapter I programs until his retirement in 2004.

Conway’s public service extended far beyond the classroom, however. He served on the Salisbury City Council from 1974-1987, including five years as president. In 1986, he was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates, a position he held until 2015.

During that time he served as a staunch advocate for his native Eastern Shore, as well as his Alma Mater. Named chair of the Capital Budget Subcommittee in 1986 and then chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee in 2003, he helped secure funding for numerous capital projects on campus and throughout the region.

This is Conway’s second SU Commencement honor in recent years. In 2014, he received the University’s inaugural President’s Medal in recognition of his service to the citizens of Maryland and support of education.

Joining Conway during the ceremony will be some 238 master’s and 14 doctoral graduates. SU awards its first Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degrees to six students that evening.

Undergraduates earn their degrees during two ceremonies on Thursday, May 24. Students in the Richard A. Henson School of Science and Technology and Samuel W. and Marilyn C. Seidel School of Education and Professional Studies turn their tassels at 10 a.m. Students in the Charles R. and Martha N. Fulton School of Liberal Arts and Franklin P. Perdue School of Business cross the stage at 2:30 p.m. Some 1,392 receive the Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Arts in Social Work.

This Commencement marks the last to be presided over by SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach, who will step down on June 30 after 18 years. University System of Maryland Board of Regents Chair James Brady joins her on stage for all three ceremonies, held at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center. USM Chancellor Robert Caret is scheduled to attend Thursday’s festivities.

Graduating students speak at each ceremony. Kristin Cashman of Salisbury, receiving her M.Ed. — Reading Specialist, represents her class at the graduate ceremony. Undergraduate ceremony speakers are Iffat Sarfraz, originally of Herndon, VA, receiving her B.S. in mathematics, at 10 a.m.; and Tyler McGinnis, of Lynbrook, NY, earning his B.S. in psychology and conflict analysis and dispute resoultion, at 2:30 p.m.

A reading intervention teacher at Wicomico Middle School, Cashman earned her B.S. in elementary education in 1998 before relocating to teach in Pennsylvania. Upon returning to the area in 2007, she decided to pursue the next level of education — and knew her Alma Mater was exactly where she wanted to be.

“The name changed during the journey,” she said, referring to the transformation from Salisbury State University to SU in 2001, “but the campus stayed the same.”

That included the quality of education she had come to expect from SU’s education faculty, such as the late Dr. John Wolinski, a past mentor, as well as Drs. Laurie Andes, Judith Franzak, Patricia Richards and Joyce Wiencek.

“As a teacher, I set high expectations for my students, and I like when someone does that for me,” she said. “They definitely set the bar high.”

She encourages her fellow graduates to remember the importance of lifelong education — just as she did upon returning to SU to earn her master’s.

Sarfraz began her collegiate years with plans to attend medical school, but quickly changed her focus to her first academic love: mathematics. She also graduates with minors in statistics, physics, chemistry, biology and English.

Outside the classroom, Sarfraz enjoyed extracurricular activities including serving as a writing consultant at the SU Writing Center and as president of the Muslim Student Association.

After Commencement, she hopes to further her mathematical studies in graduate school, following the same advice she offered her fellow graduates: “Work hard and work smart.”

That’s what McGinness did to earn his SU degree — though it wasn’t always easy. Placed on academic probation following his sophomore year, he soon learned he had attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, which previously had been undiagnosed.

With a new focus, he dug into his studies and sought guidance from faculty across departments, including Drs. Heidi Fritz in Psychology, Brian Polkinghorn in Conflict Analysis and Dispute Resolution, Cynthia Payne in English and Kristen Walton in History.

“These professors put their reputations on the line for a student who, on paper, seemed to lack any sort of drive or ambition,” he said. “They exemplify what it means to be a member of a community and that everyone has something to contribute.”

With their help — and support from his classmates — he raised his grades and earned his SU degree. His advice in return: “Together, we can prove how important it is for us to invest in the success of one another.”

Admission to Commencement is by ticket only. A reception at the Civic Center follows each ceremony. For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU website at        


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