Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2006
1968 grad to speak at commencement
Rivers was an official at Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami in 1999.
YOUNGSTOWN Sanford Rivers, a 1968 graduate of Youngstown State University and current member of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, will address graduates at YSU's fall commencement at 2 p.m. Sunday in Beeghly Center.
Rivers, who made his mark as an official in the National Football League, also will receive an honorary doctor of the university degree during the ceremony.
Michael Shaffer, a Youngstown native who will receive a bachelor's degree in business administration, will be the student speaker at the ceremony.
Rivers, who graduated from South High School in 1962 and played football for YSU, was inducted into the YSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993. He played one year in the Canadian Football League, then joined Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in 1970. He went on to serve in a variety of leadership roles at CMU in enrollment and admissions.
He is on leave from CMU after being appointed as a commissioner on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board by Gov. Ed Rendell in 2004.
Rivers retired as an NFL official in August 2004 after 16 years of service. Recognized as one of the league's best officials, Rivers officiated several playoff games and Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami in 1999.
In 2000, he established the Sanford Rivers Endowed Scholarship at the YSU Foundation. The scholarship is awarded annually to a student-athlete from the city of Youngstown.
Shaffer, a 1980 graduate of Chaney High School in Youngstown, came from what he calls "a typical blue- collar family."
His father worked in the steel mills until 1979, when the mills closed in Youngstown. After graduating from high school, Shaffer went directly into the work world, got married and had his family in place by age 22.
For more than 20 years, he worked at different jobs in the Youngstown area, mostly in management positions, but he soon found out how important a college degree is to career advancement.
In 1993, after a divorce, Shaffer began attending YSU. After a year, he realized that rearing two children, working two jobs, and going to college full time was not possible, and he took a job out of state.
By 2002, his children were on their own, but he still had to confront the fact that a college degree was the key to the business career he sought. So, Shaffer returned to Youngstown and to YSU, and he is now the first person in his family to earn a college degree.