Retiring Dean Sparks ’66, Pittsburgh pastor Stevens to headline Commencement, Baccalaureate
Long-time faculty member, attorney and retiring dean Dr. John A. Sparks ’66 will deliver the commencement address at the 2013 Grove City College Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 18, 2013. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. on the Quad between Harbison Chapel and Crawford Hall. In the case of inclement weather, Commencement will be moved to the Arena of the Physical Learning Center.
Pittsburgh Pastor Scott Stevens will offer the Baccalaureate sermon to students at a 7 p.m. service on Friday, May 17, also planned for the Quad. Stevens is the lead pastor at North Way Christian Community.
Sparks graduated from Grove City College in 1966 with a degree in economics and was named by Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honorary as Senior Man of the Year. Sparks earned his juris doctor degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1969 and is a member of the State Bars of Michigan and Pennsylvania. He went on to chair the division of economics and business administration at Hillsdale College in Michigan, where he was Professor of the Year in 1973.
Sparks joined the faculty of Grove City College in 1976 and currently serves as Dean for the Alva J. Calderwood School of Arts and Letters. He was appointed to the dean’s position in 2003 after chairing the Department of Business since 1990. He received the Professor of the Year award in 2001 and was recognized by the Alumni Association in 2002 with a Jack Kennedy Memorial Alumni Achievement Award in the field of education.
In 1992, he was awarded the George Washington Honor Medal from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge for his article titled, “Increasing Educational Choice,” and also was named a Chavanne Fellow by Baylor University’s School of Business.
Sparks served as a member and president of a Christian school board for 10 years, followed by two four-year terms on the Grove City Area School Board. He was formerly president of the Public Policy Education Fund, Inc., based in Grove City. He is widely published and, for many years, served as editor of the Grove City College Alumni Association publication, Vision & Values. He is now a fellow for educational policy with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.
He is married to Marion (Malarkey ’67) Sparks; they have two children: John Sparks ’95 and Elizabeth (Sparks ’99) Timmons and three granddaughters.
Baccalaureate speaker Stevens is the lead pastor at North Way Christian Community. Since assuming that role in 2011, he helped establish the church’s strategic vision and direction while leading North Way in the launch of four campuses since 2007. A fifth campus is tentatively planned for 2014.
Earlier, Stevens served North Way as executive pastor and leadership pastor for nearly 10 years. He has more than 20 years of ministerial service in the Pittsburgh region. Before joining North Way, he served at the Homestead United Presbyterian Church and Pleasant Hills Community Church, concentrating on student ministry and young adults.
Stevens earned his teaching degree at Edinboro University and taught for a number of years in the Pittsburgh Public School System. He also attended Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry and is currently completing his Master of Divinity at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
He serves on the board of the Pittsburgh Kids Foundation, an organization dedicated to training and developing youth pastors throughout the region as well as partnering with orphanages in Haiti. His work for global missions has taken him to Honduras, Haiti and China to observe orphan care ministry.
Stevens is a native Pittsburgher and lives in the North Hills with his wife, Tina, and their daughters, Alyssa ’13 and Erin.