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Press Releases

Friday, December 12, 2008

McLauchlin, Wills Honored at 83rd Year Winter Commencement

Eric McLauchlin Jennifer Hope Wills Alex Williams
Eric McLauchlin Jennifer Hope Wills  Alex Williams
SALISBURY, MD---Eric McLauchlin has taken the stage at Salisbury University’s Commencement many times, first in 1992 on earning his B.A. in pre-law and French, and more recently to convey congratulations to new graduates as president of the SU Alumni Association.

However, when the Bel Air, MD, attorney steps onto the stage at SU’s 83rd year Winter Commencement 2 p.m. Saturday, December 20, at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center, he will be the one receiving the congratulatory messages. McLauchlin is one of two former students being honored by the SU Alumni Association during the ceremony, with the Alumni Service Award.

McLauchlin is an attorney with the firm Gessner, Snee, Mahoney and Lutche, P.A., of Bel Air, MD. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1995. He is chair of the Harford County Economic Development Advisory Board, where he also serves as chair of the Land Use Committee.  He is also a member of the board of directors and the executive committee of the Harford County Chamber of Commerce.  He was appointed to Harford County’s BRAC Preparedness Advisory Commission and is a former member of the board of directors of the Route 40 Business Association.

Jennifer Hope Wills [website], who graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in music education, has been honored with the Young Alumni Award. Nearly two years ago, Wills stepped into the starring role of Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera at New York City’s Majestic Theatre after starring roles in other productions including Wonderful Town with Brooke Shields and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

Her love of performing was nurtured by her theatrical parents who started Parker Playhouse in Ocean City, MD. While an SU student, she performed under the direction and tutelage of Dr. T. Paul Pfeiffer, director of SU Theatre, in West Side Story, The Grapes of Wrath and her favorite, The Secret Garden. She has credited support from SU faculty and students for instilling in her the confidence to head out into the real world and pursue her dreams of a career in theatre.

Currently on maternity leave from Phantom, Wills received the award citation during a campus visit in late October.

“The Alumni Association is proud to present these awards to both Eric and Jennifer,” said Jason Curtin, director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving at SU. “As alumni, they exemplify the outstanding accomplishments of so many Salisbury graduates.  We are proud of their service to Salisbury University and for the success they have gained in their chosen careers.”

Some 556 students receive their diplomas at this year’s Winter Commencement. The Commencement speaker is Alex Williams of Hurlock, MD, an English major who will talk about the connections he made at SU and how he believes they will help him in the future.

“The professors here really go out of their way to help students,” he said, noting that one recently retired faculty member in particular, Dr. Jerry Miller of the Philosophy Department, stood out.

Though Miller was well known by many for his penchant for throwing erasers at contentious students in class, Williams was perhaps one of the few who received a full-body tackle. Once the semester ended, Miller wrote Williams a letter, telling him how much he enjoyed their conversations.

Following graduation, Williams is returning to Salisbury to pursue his M.B.A. Currently a student employee in the Admissions Office, he hopes to become an admissions counselor and pursue a career in higher education consulting.

Among undergraduates, 290 students receive the Bachelor of Science, 184 the Bachelor of Arts, 120 the Bachelor of Fine Arts and seven the Bachelor of Social Work. Graduate degrees include Master of Education—23; Master of Science—12; Master of Business Administration—eight; Master of Social Work—six; and Master of Arts—six.

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

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