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Eye on our future With the right people and plans in place, the outlook is bright

Recent renovations to venerable Francis Hall have transformed the historic structure into a striking campus destination for the arts, academics, administrative offices, and for strolling in the sun on a fine spring day!

2 Alvernia University Magazine

Summer 2012



New dean, science institute debuts, Earth Day commemorated



Hockey success, coach remembered


Arts & Culture Fall events, artist profile


Great Expectations Q&A with President Flynn and Board Chair Judge


10 to Watch

Ten Alvernians poised to make a difference


Miracle at the Motherhouse St. Joseph saves the day


Tragedy & Triumph

Lessons of Kindertransport


Held Hostage

Students get real-world experience


Farewell Furry Friend

Mourning your pet


Alumni Class Notes On The Cover: Eye on Alvernia’s future. this page, left: Dan Z. Johnson; Back cover, Theo Anderson

Alvernia Magazine is a publication of Alvernia University. Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. For more information, contact Alvernia University Magazine


President’s Message

President Flynn spends a few minutes with students Jennifer Toledo, left, and Zack Elmarzouky.

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worked with the South Reading Youth Initiative and the Salvation Army, at GoggleWorks and the Pagoda, during a busy week of service. Transformation is also so very evident in the stories of the 10 Alvernians — students, faculty and alumni — profiled in this issue. They come from all walks of life and are working to make our world a better place, one step at a time. Their stories remind us that before we can contribute to social transformation, we must embrace personal transformation. And that process, at Alvernia, involves the influence of caring, committed, and competent faculty who challenge and support our students in their life journeys, even as they make their own significant professional contributions beyond the classroom and the campus. Our faculty members’ scholarship and diverse professional contributions enhance our students’ learning and Alvernia’s reputation nationally, while also making a major impact on their fields. A sparkling example is Professor Dolores Bertoti, chair of the Allied Health and Human Services Department, who is featured on page 62. She has quite literally written the book when it comes to kinesiology. She co-wrote the latest edition of Clinical Kinesiology — a textbook used at universities around the globe (including Alvernia) that is considered the gold standard in the area of study. Dare I say she has helped transform her field? Consistent with our mission, many faculty members participate in scholarship directly related to community-centric work connected to ethical issues, like Di You, assistant professor of psychology, and Takele Tassew, assistant professor of economics. You can read about both in this issue. Together, these Alvernia teachers are helping transform our world by developing: Broadly educated, life-long learners; Reflective professionals and engaged citizens; And ethical leaders with moral courage. That is — after all — our mission. Peace and All Good,

Thomas F. Flynn President

Theo Anderson (2)

Transformation has become a popular word at Alvernia. Longtime and recent alums are amazed at the recent “transformation” of Francis Hall, just as a few years ago they were amazed by the dramatic impact of the new green space that now defines the center of campus. Progress on the new Campus Commons prodded a student leader recently to comment that it will transform student life, for commuters as well as resident students. Yet transformation at Alvernia is, as it always has been, more about people than about places. Our vision statement guides us in becoming a “Distinctive Franciscan University committed to personal and social transformation.” We seek to positively influence our community, our nation, and our world. Sometimes that transformation happens through ideas, sometimes through actions and sometimes by inspirational example. As president, I am privileged to see and hear about so many examples, but none perhaps has had a deeper impact than the servant leadership of Jerry and Carolyn Holleran. Our dear friends were recognized not long ago with a prestigious national philanthropy award from the Council of Independent Colleges for their contributions to independent higher education. You can read more about it in this issue of our magazine. The Hollerans’ sense of personal and social responsibility and their generous hearts have made a transformational impact on our university and on all fortunate to know them. Countless current and former Alvernians cite one or more of the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters as having a long-lasting impact on their lives. Certainly, the bold vision of our foundresses and the contributions over the years of so many Sisters continue to shape the Alvernia of 2012. Their living legacy comes alive in the article that recounts an unforgettable event, some would call it a miracle, that occurred on a winter day long ago. That’s the day St. Joseph paid a visit to Reading and fed hungry Bernardines and children snowed-in at the old Ridgewood Motherhouse. Is it a myth, a legend, or an example of divine intervention? Read the story and decide for yourself. Certainly the work of our students continues to be transfor­ mational, evidenced by the dozens of students and faculty/staff advisors who took part in Alternative Breaks this March and May. In Washington, D.C., for example, students worked with the homeless (and toured the White House with alumna Emily Berret ‘11); in Niceville, Florida, they worked with the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance to clean up the environment. And in Reading, a team

Thanks to the generosity of two former trustees and a dedicated alumna, the Franco Library Learning Center is being seen in a brand-new light. Glenn Miller and his wife Carol, along with Chester (Chet) Winters and his wife RoseMarie ’82, made generous contributions to the Values & Vision campaign. Through their philanthropy, a stunning custom-made stained glass window celebrating the university’s 50th anniversary was created and installed prominently in the Franco Library. The window exemplifies the philosophy, values and celebration of Alvernia’s 50th anniversary and transition to university status. It includes an image of an angel dropping pearls of wisdom down from the heavens. Each pearl contains the names of authors, composers, artists and scholarly symbols. The design also depicts an image of Francis Hall, the original and only building on campus when Alvernia was founded in 1958, and the Student Center, which opened in the year 2000 and represents the growth of Alvernia. The Millers’ gift was made in honor of their relatives, Jane Louise Miller and Warren and Gladys Smith. For information on how you can make a gift to the Values & Vision campaign, contact Michael Pressimone in the Advancement Office at 610-796-2862.

Alvernia University Magazine


Campus News The Who, What and Why of Alvernia University

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Bishop Barres, Dr. Michael Baxter honored

Bishop Barres, center, with Dr. Michael Baxter, left, and Alvernia President Thomas F. Flynn at the spring commencement ceremony.

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Aracena named Dean Following a national search, Dr. Beth Keating Aracena has been named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Alvernia, effective July 1. A graduate of Vassar College, she completed her master’s and doctoral work at the University of Chicago. In addition to her teaching and administrative experience, Dr. Aracena is a scholar in ethnomusicology. “This is an exciting step for Alvernia’s College of Arts and Science,” said Provost Shirley Williams. “Dr. Keating is an outstanding leader who will move the college and its programs into the next stage of its growth. She is committed to providing the direction for the College of Arts and Sciences that will strengthen the importance of the liberal arts to our students, programs and community stakeholders.” Aracena is currently associate dean for curriculum/general education and cross cultural programs at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, where she is also an associate professor of music. Prior to her role as associate dean, Dr. Aracena served as a full-time faculty member and chair of the music department. Previous to her work at Eastern Mennonite University, she was an instructor of violin and piano at Levine School of Music in Washington, D.C.

Dan Z. Johnson

More than 480 Alvernia seniors walked across the stage in May at the Sovereign Center, capping their college careers with the coveted degrees they worked so hard to achieve. As part of the ceremony, two distinguished individuals, commencement speaker Michael Baxter, M.D., and The Most Reverend John O. Barres, received honorary doctorates of humane letters. Currently serving as the Fourth Bishop of Allentown, Bishop Barres has dedicated his life to the church and leading the faithful in a number of key parish and diocesan roles. Pope John Paul II named Barres a “Chaplain to His Holiness” in 2000. Pope Benedict XVI later named him a “Prelate of Honor” in 2005. Dr. Baxter is chair of the Family and Community Medicine Department at Reading Hospital. He is also president of the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians and the Berks County Medical Society. A clinical associate professor at Temple University School of Medicine, his professional interests include public health, preventive healthcare and geriatrics. “The wisdom and caring touch of Bishop Barres and Michael Baxter have helped countless individuals,” said Alvernia’s President Thomas F. Flynn. “Their commitment to the community exemplifies the caring spirit we seek to emulate as a Franciscan university and inspires our graduates, indeed us all, to be better people.” Allison Toczylowski of Mantua, N.J., delivered the student address before crossing the stage to receive her degree. In addition, Marissa Regina De Lucia, Bethel, Conn., served as the ceremonial tassel turner. De Lucia was the Student Government Association president during her senior year.

Campus News Science Institute debuts

Benefactors receive national honor Jerry and Carolyn Holleran, two of Alvernia’s most generous patrons and dear friends of the university for more than 25 years, were recognized with a national distinction when they received the 2012 Individual Award for Philanthropy from the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). The award was presented for their exemplary service, support and inspiration to independent higher education. “The Hollerans are role models, heroes and good friends of private higher education, and they are both admired and beloved for their passionate championing of academia along with their generous philanthropic leadership,” said CIC President Richard Ekman. Actively involved with Alvernia since 1986, both Hollerans are emeritus members of Alvernia’s Board of Trustees, with Carolyn having served as its Board Chair and Jerry as Vice Chairperson and Chair of the Trusteeship Committee. In addition, they led a successful campaign to build a new student center at then Alvernia College in 1995. “We are grateful for the Hollerans’ support of our Franciscan ideals and commitment to Alvernia as an outstanding educational resource for the community,” said Alvernia President Thomas F. Flynn. “There are few donors in the country who have demonstrated their belief in the value of higher education and it is rewarding to see that generosity recognized at this level.” Currently Jerry and Carolyn serve as honorary chairs of Alvernia’s first-ever comprehensive Values & Vision campaign to which they made a significant monetary commitment in 2008, creating the highly successful Holleran Center for Community Engagement. In 2009, they again made a generous gift to the university by providing their historic Cedar Hill Farm as a president’s house and conference/retreat center.

Alvernia named to President’s Higher Education Honor Roll

The Corporation for National and Community Service has again named Alvernia to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, with Distinction. The Honor Roll recognition comes from the highest levels of the federal government, for the university’s commitment to service and civic

engagement on campus and in our nation. President Obama has pledged to make service a central cause of his administration and wishes to commemorate the significant role that higher institutions, their students, staff and faculty play in helping to solve pressing social problems in the nation’s

Thanks to the support of Carpenter Technology Corporation, area middle school students will have a chance to hone their scientific abilities during a free, week-long science institute this summer at Alvernia. Organized by the Holleran Center for Community Engagement and the Alvernia Science Department, the annual camp will provide hands-on educational activities and coursework in physics, applied math, chemistry and ecology. The institute will include field trips to the Environmental Exploration Center at Angelica Park and the Franklin Institute. Alvernia faculty and a team of Carpenter scientists will teach the students. “This is a tremendous program for students to develop a stronger sense of applied science and work with experts in their various fields, courtesy of Carpenter,” said Jay Worral, director of the Holleran Center. “Partnerships like these serve to reinforce our community outreach efforts and offer great opportunities for young students in the area to get involved in the sciences.”

communities. As one of only eight higher education institutions in Pennsylvania to earn this recognition with distinction, Alvernia recognizes that student programs continue to make a difference in the community and the nation as a whole.

Alvernia University Magazine


Campus News

Former top Rendell advisor to lead O’Pake Institute A top advisor to former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and executive at Bucknell University was selected to lead Alvernia’s O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Public Service. David Myers will direct the institute’s work to serve as a regional nucleus for dialogue on contemporary ethical issues, particularly as they involve leadership, public service and the integration of teaching and scholarship into service-leadership for a sustainable future. In addition, he will lead efforts to link members of the Alvernia and surrounding communities to foster civic leadership and public service while highlighting the university’s emphasis on ethics education. Myers has held a number of leadership positions in higher education and state government. Most recently, he served as executive director for external relations and economic development at Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pa., where he also was chief of staff for the office of the president. While there, he helped create the Bucknell Entrepreneurs Incubator, managed sponsored research programs and guided the university’s economic development activities. Prior to that, Myers was deputy chief of staff for Governor Rendell, where he oversaw management and operation of the governor’s office. Among his other leadership

responsibilities was serving as the governor’s liaison with the state’s system of higher education and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Myers has also served in several positions in the state legislature and the administration of former Governor Robert Casey. During the Casey administration, he was instrumental in creating the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which served as the model for the national program providing health insurance coverage for children from low and moderate income families. Named after long-time Alvernia board member Sen. Mike O’Pake who died in December 2010 after serving nearly four decades in the Pennsylvania State Senate, the O’Pake Institute commemorates the senator’s personal commitment to ethics and leadership. “Senator O’Pake was an impressive and influential statesman who embodied the best in public service,” said Alvernia President Thomas F. Flynn. “He understood that the future of our democracy requires us all to become, in the words of our university mission statement, ‘engaged citizens and ethical leaders with moral courage.’ Dave Myers is extraordinarily well suited to carry on that vision and lead the institute that bears Sen. O’Pake’s name,” said Flynn.

More than 120 people participated in Alvernia’s 2012 Earth Day of Service in April. Students, faculty and staff spent the Day of Service learning more about Antietam Lake and the Gravity Railroad, while taking on projects at the Pagoda, improving hiking trails and cleaning up Antietam Lake Park. Buses of Alvernians arrived at service sites before 10 a.m. Afterwards, participants learned more about the history of Reading’s Pagoda and surrounding areas.

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BOTTOM: Carey Manzolillo

Service with a smile

Campus News

Spring Fling Students kicked off this year’s Spring Fling celebration with Quad 2012. A highlight of the spring semester, the event featured music, games, and a hotly contested battle to name Alvernia’s Ultimate Athlete.

TOP: theo anderson

Kingman named Newman Civic Fellow Jennifer Kingman, a junior secondary education and biology major at Alvernia, was honored as a 2012 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact. The national award recognizes inspiring college student leaders who have demonstrated a personal commitment to changing their communities. Kingman was among 162 college students from 32 states chosen by member college and university presidents. Kingman is a leader on campus and a peer tutor in the university’s Learning Center, where she helps other students with writing, statistics and chemistry. She also serves on committees and student groups on campus. She is the event planning chair for Students Teaching Others Peace, an Orientation Day of Service leader and Planning Committee member for the campus-wide Earth Day of Service. Kingman was also a leader for Eco Fun Day at Angelica Park, an annual event that brings sixth-grade Reading School District students into the field to learn about natural habitat. According to Campus Compact, Newman Civic Fellows make the most of their college experiences to better understand themselves and root causes of some of the most pressing social issues. “This is a tremendous honor for Alvernia and Jennifer,” said Joe Cicala, vice president for University Life and dean of students. “Jennifer demonstrates the type of civic engagement that sets an example for others, on our campus and within the community.”

Interfaith dialog: behind the veil

As the makeup of society continues to become increasingly diverse, interest in gaining a deeper understanding of different faiths and cultures has also grown. That’s been especially true of the Muslim faith and community. And one of the most misunderstood aspects of the Muslim faith tradition is the veil worn by some Muslim women. Veils range from the hijab, which covers the hair, to the burqua, which cloaks the entire face and body. Dr. Tiffenia Archie, a director in the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership at Temple University, says the choice to wear a veil in the Muslim community is exactly that: a choice. Parents and husbands may encourage a woman to cover, but it is ultimately a decision made between that woman and God. Archie and her mother Karima were part of a “Voices in the Veil” panel discussion at Alvernia, sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Initiatives. Students and community members packed Bernardine Lecture Hall to hear their views and ask compelling questions. “It’s so interesting that for Muslim women, the veil is more than a piece of cloth, it’s a state of mind,” said Alvernia senior Allison Pierce. Archie explained that in ancient times, only women of high status were allowed to cover, and that the veil was a symbol of faith that protected them from molestation. Some researchers actually argue that Muslims adapted the practice of veiling from Christians. Today, the veil still symbolizes their religion, but it inspires more than it protects.

Alvernia University Magazine


Sports The Who, What and Why of Crusader Sports

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Ice hockey slides to success The 2011-2012 Crusaders ice hockey season stands out as the program’s most successful season in its 10-year history, with an outstanding overall team record of 23 wins and seven losses, two occurring in overtime. The Alvernia team made its fourth appearance in five years to the conference playoffs and fell just short of a championship.

Alvernia’s softball team claimed the Commonwealth Conference title and earned a trip to the NCAA D-III championships.

Spring teams sparkle

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Winning on the field and off While Alvernia’s women’s field hockey team brought to close a successful 15–8 season with a tough loss to Lebanon Valley in the ECAC championship game, off the field they were claiming victory. The team was recognized by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) as one of the top five academic teams in Division III. This is the eighth consecutive season the Crusaders have earned the distinction. The National Academic Team Award recognizes institutions that achieve a minimum grade point average of 3.0 during the first semester of the 2011-12 academic year. This year’s NFHCA Division III top five academic field hockey teams and their GPAs were Vassar (3.52), Wesleyan University (3.52), Clark University (3.51), Alvernia University (3.48) and Johns Hopkins University (3.48). In addition, 11 individuals were named to the NFHCA Division III National Academic Squad for achieving a minimum GPA of 3.30. Seniors Katy Eby, Sam Landis, Tonya Rutt and Mary VanKirk have earned this individual academic honor all four seasons of their collegiate field hockey careers.

Photos by Jon King

Crusader pride was rampant this spring as Alvernia athletics teams sparkled. The men’s golf team won the Commonwealth Conference title by one stroke over cross-town rival Albright, earning the right to represent the conference at the NCAA D-III national championships in Orlando. Not to be outdone, the women’s golf team took home the Middle Atlantic Conference golf crown. The Lady Crusaders’ softball team defeated rival Messiah twice in the championship round of the double-elimination tournament to win the Commonwealth Conference title for the very first time, giving the team a trip to the NCAA Championships. Following suit, the women’s lacrosse team defeated Marywood University to win the ECAC Mid-Atlantic Championship. And despite falling in the Commonwealth Conference title game, the Crusader baseball team’s strong 30-12-1 record and third place ranking in the Mid-Atlantic Region was enough to earn an at-large bid as the #3 seed in the NCAA Championships.

Coach McCloskey remembered Jack McCloskey, head men’s basketball coach at Alvernia from 1991-2004, passed away in April after a five-year battle with cancer. McCloskey remains the Alvernia career leader in wins for men’s basketball with 227. His .671 career winning percentage (227-111) ranks in the top 50 among Division III coaches. For his accomplishments on the court and his contributions to the university, he was recognized as a member of the inaugural class of the Alvernia Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008. In 2004, the same year he retired, McCloskey was honored as an inductee into the Berks County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. During his 12 years as head coach at Alvernia, he coached the Crusaders to an ECAC Title (1995) and two PAC Titles (2000, 2003). He guided the team to four NCAA appearances (1997, 2000, 2002 and 2003) and was named the 1997 PAC Coach of the Year. In 1992 McCloskey led Alvernia basketball into its membership in the NCAA and the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference (PAC). He helped put the school and the city of Reading on the map in 1997, when his team advanced to the NCAA Division III Final Four. He coached teams to six 20-win seasons, including the ‘97 team. “A true family man, Jack had a great capacity for friendships, many of them with former players and coaching colleagues. We are so fortunate that Jack considered Alvernia his second family,” said Alvernia President Tom Flynn. “His passion for his beloved Alvernia was matched by his passion for basketball. He was a Hall of Famer, both on and off the court.”

Zach Lutz ’08 takes a swing as a New York Met

Major league legacy Alvernia’s baseball program has been highly successful on several fronts, but none more so than serving as an effective training ground for the major leagues. Anthony Recker ‘05 is a catcher for the Oakland A’s this season, while Zach Lutz ’08 was briefly called up from the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons this spring to play for the New York Mets. At the time, the two were part of just

top: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

10 Division III athletes in major league baseball. The newest addition to Alvernia’s coaching squad, Wade Miller, sports a big league legacy himself. The former Alvernia pitcher just rejoined the team as a coach following a nine-year career in the majors with the Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. The team’s leader for the past 26 seasons, Coach Yogi Lutz was named the 10th King of Baseballtown this spring by the Reading Phillies organization. Coach Lutz has earned six Coach of the Year Awards and received the Louisville Slugger Coaches Award twice. Alvernia University Magazine


Periscope Alvernia’s faculty making a difference

q College of Arts and Sciences

Spencer S. Stober, Ed.D. Professor of BIOLOGY

Dr. Stober was appointed Alvernia’s second Neag Professor. The award recognizes excellence in scholarly work and distinction in classroom teaching.

Tim H. Blessing, Ph.D. Professor of History and Political Science

Dr. Blessing presented “The Theoretical Implications of Partisanship and Ideology Among Expert Rates of United States Presidents” at the American Politics Group at Oxford, delving into theoretical implications of work performed by Drs. Anne Skleder (Cabrini) and Di You (Alvernia) on political and ideological bias found in a survey of expert presidential raters.

Elizabeth Matteo, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Psychology

Dr. Matteo presented “The Value in Assessing Moral Education: Aligning Institutional Mission,” involving research on students’ perceptions of mission identity, at the Association of Moral Education Conference, Nanjing, China.

For more news, visit

q College of Professional Programs Karen S. Thacker, Ph.D., RN, CNE

Karen S. Thacker, Ph.D., RN, CNE

Associate Professor of Nursing,

Associate Professor of Nursing, Dean of the College

Dean of the College of Professional Programs

of Professional Programs

Dolores Bertoti, MS, PT Dr. Thacker worked with Grant Director John Luvisi to win a federal grant for $334,000, to fund the “SUCCESS” nursing project. The SUCCESS Project increases baccalaureate-level nursing education opportunities for economically and educationally disadvantaged individuals.

Mary B. Schreiner, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Education

Dr. Schreiner, along with student co-presenters Samantha Wolfe and Sharon Alessi, presented “Effectiveness of Faculty, Peer and Technology-based ADA Accommodations in Higher Education” at the Council for Exceptional Children conference.

Allied Health and Human Services Department Chair

Ellen Engler, MA Former Education Department Chair

Edgar J. Hartung, M.A., JD Criminal Justice Department Chair

Mary Ellen Symanski, Ph.D., RN Nursing Department Chair

This group of Alvernia leaders authored “Academic Leadership Strategies to Foster Personal Responsibility in Students,” which serves to untangle the myriad of issues faced by department chairs related to maladaptive student behaviors and to offer tested strategies that support consistent processes among faculty, students and administration.

Peggy Bowen-Hartung, Ph.D., CTS Dolores B. Bertoti, MS, PT

Associate Professor of Criminal Justice

Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy

Chair, IRB Chair, Department of Psychology and Counseling

Dr. Bertoti authored Brunnstrom’s Clinical Kinesiology — a clinical, functional approach to learning the application of Kinesiology in clinical rehabilitation practice. The book focuses on function and emphasizes assessment, intervention and prevention in the management of individuals in need of clinical rehabilitation.

Ana Ruiz, Ph.D.

Edgar J. Hartung, M.A., JD Associate Professor and Chair of Criminal Justice

Drs. Bowen-Hartung and Hartung were interviewed about the psychological and sociological reasons people join gangs for a documentary: “A Safer Society,” part of a four-hour presentation to be aired on PBS channels in the U.S. and El Salvador.

Professor of Psychology

Judith R. Warchal, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology

Drs. Ruiz and Warchal presented “LongTerm Impact of Service-Learning on Alumni Volunteer Service Activities” and “Reflections on Connections” at the Fourth International Symposium on Service-Learning: Connecting the Global to the Local, held in China.

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Rosemarie Chinni, Ph.D.

John A Rochowicz, Jr., Ed.D.

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Professor of Mathematics

Dr. Chinni’s article “A Simple LIBS (LaserInduced Breakdown Spectroscopy) Laboratory Experiment to Introduce Undergraduates to Calibration Functions and Atomic Spectroscopy” was accepted for publication in the Journal of Chemical Education.

Dr. Rochowicz published “Bootstrapping Analysis, Inferential Statistics and EXCEL” in the journal eJSiE. When assumptions are not or cannot be addressed or when a certain statistic has no known sampling distribution, this paper provides bootstrapping techniques in EXCEL for making valid inferences.

q My Turn

Theo Anderson

Faculty awards given Several faculty members received awards during Alvernia’s annual Honors Convocation this spring. Deborah Greenawald, Ph.D., RN, assistant professor of nursing, was awarded the Sister Mary Donatilla Faculty Award for a full-time faculty member who has given long service to the university in teaching, advising, service and support. After many years as a Certified School Nurse, Dr. Greenawald joined the Alvernia faculty in 2004. She shares Deborah Greenawald, Ph.D., RN, assistant profesher commitment to sor of nursing, was awarded the Sister Mary academic excellence Donatilla Faculty Award. through exemplary teaching in a wide range of courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She has served on countless committees, connects students with Sisters through the Bernardine Buddies program and supports many facets of the university — including environmental, theatrical and musical programs. The Saint Bernardine Faculty Award is given for excellence in part-time teaching. Recipients included Dr. Carole Ney (Graduate & Continuing Studies division), Heidi Reuter (Arts and Sciences division) and Robert Schurr ’04 (Professional Programs). As a student teaching supervisor at the Schuylkill Center, Dr. Ney has a rich history in teaching and mentoring students, leaving a legacy of qualified and compassionate teachers all across the country. Heidi Reuter is an internationally recognized artist-photographer and an innovative, dedicated teacher. She has developed several new photography courses, managed the university darkroom and has also served as an instructor and advisor in the First Year Seminar program. Robert Schurr ’04 has served as a criminal justice adjunct faculty member since the fall of 2008. He is Chief of Police for the North Coventry Township Police Department and graduated from the FBI National Academy in 2005. In addition, Michael Kramer, M.Ed., instructor of communication, was awarded the Holleran Center’s Faculty Award for Exemplary Service-Learning, given to a full-time faculty member who demonstrates excellence for incorporating service-learning pedagogy into their curriculum. Kramer’s dedication through the South Reading Youth Initiative and the Alvernia Reads program have been instrumental in the success of the two initiatives.

Parenting and school reform

Fair or not, you can’t help hearing that our schools are failing. The outrage is everywhere and the blame is being placed squarely on teachers, administrators and what is perceived to be a dysfunctional system. While teachers and administrators bear the brunt of that criticism, parents Steven A. seemingly have no role or responsibility Melnick, and remain unscathed Ph.D. in those contentious Professor of Education, debates. But parents set Chair, expectations, provide Education support at home and Department have a responsibility to assure their children are at school on time and ready to learn. How can we continue the discourse on improving our nation’s schools without talking about the role of parents? There is no question many of our nation’s schools are troubled, particularly in rural and urban areas. Consider that the Baltimore Education Research Consortium (February 2011) identified four predictors at grade six of future dropouts: chronic absence, failing grades, over age for grade and suspension from school for three or more days. They report the class of 2007 had a chronic absence rate of 32.4% … nearly 1/3 of all students missed at least 20 days of school. Although that rate has fallen since 2007, we’re talking about kids in grade six — 12-year-olds. Where exactly are 12-year-olds if they aren’t in school? In other cities, some high schools report daily absentee rates of 30% or higher for students in grades 9 through 12. What role do the parents play in assuring that children are in school and ready to learn? Increasingly, parents report less free time for parenting. At the same time, there are Continued on page 60

Alvernia University Magazine


Arts & Culture Happenings around campus

Fall brings world-class events This fall’s Greater Reading Literary Festival that begins in October at Alvernia is punctuated with appearances from nationally acclaimed, award-winning authors. “The festival is filled with literary giants who will intrigue a broad range of diverse audiences,” said Susan Guay, assistant professor of English and communication, who has chaired the literary festival committee for the past eight years. Devoted to education and social justice in America, Jonathan Kozol is one of the authors in this world-class line-up. His 1995 best-seller, Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation, is the featured summer reading for this year’s incoming freshman class. In his book, Kozol documents his visits to New York’s South Bronx region, one of the

poorest areas in America, and chronicles the challenges of those residents who face tremendous poverty. First-year students will discuss the book in their seminar classes and will attend the Oct. 10 event at 7 p.m., in the Physical Education Center. Kozol’s book will also be used in the course “Poverty in America — Culture, Causes and Consequences,” which will be taught in the fall. An international bestselling author for medical thrillers, Tess Gerritsen is also featured in the festival line-up. Gerritsen will appear at Alvernia, Oct. 15 at 6:30 p.m., in the McGlinn Conference Center. A retired physician, Gerritesen has a national following and her works have been recognized with numerous awards. For more information on all fall events at Alvernia, visit

Pop goes Alvernia

Best selling author Jonathan Kozol will be on campus in October.

Rapper Sean Kingston

Pop artist Andy Grammer

right: Dan Z Johnson

Alvernia’s Physical Education Center was packed on April 28. But instead of students cheering on their beloved Crusaders, it was filled with fans of the popular singer/rapper Sean Kingston, who made history with his song “Beautiful Girls.” Kingston headlined this year’s Spring Fling event along with pop artist Andy Grammer, known for his first single “Keep Your Head Up.” Kingston and Grammer played in the PEC for an overflowing crowd who rocked out to their heart’s content.

Artist Profile

Rachel Krall Art has been an important part of Rachel Krall’s life since she was very young, despite the fact that she’d never had a formal art class before enrolling at Alvernia. A junior English major pursuing minors in art and digital media, Krall is quickly making up for her prior lack of art education. During her first three years as an Alvernia student she’s completed seven art courses, and has no intention of slowing down. Krall is particularly drawn to digital photography, but also enjoys graphic design and drawing. Her work was featured recently in a student art exhibit in the Miller Gallery. “Of all art mediums, photography comes the closest to conveying an exact representation of reality, and yet it’s still possible to transform that reality into a personal expression,” Krall said. The ability to express herself through art is what the 21-year-old from Shillington, Pa., enjoys the most. “Art allows me an outlet to represent the world as I see it,” she said. A homeschooled student before enrolling at Alvernia, Krall received encouragement from her family. She said the chance to interact with her instructors has provided opportunities for her to greatly improve her work. “The art classes here have enabled me to receive feedback on my work,” Krall said. “That’s important, because critique is absolutely necessary in order to improve, and it’s emphasized in the classes here.” With plans to pursue a career in the publishing industry, Krall is for now embracing her time at Alvernia, particularly the art classes. Those classes challenge her, she said, and she has become better able to focus and immerse herself in her artwork. “When I’m working on a time-consuming project, I love the way that time becomes irrelevant,” she said. “I can escape to a peaceful state of mind because my whole focus in on my work.” Krall looks forward to taking additional art classes during her senior year that will enable her to continue learning and creating. It is in creating and sharing her work, Krall said, that she finds joy. “Instead of simply consuming others’ productivity, creating art enables me to give back,” she said. “I can take ownership of the work I create, but at the same time I don’t want to keep my art to myself; I want to share it with the world.” When not busy pursuing her creative passions, Krall can be found giving back in other more traditional ways — helping with the children’s ministry at her church, and volunteering at the Mifflin Community Library.

Alvernia University Magazine


Photography by Theo Anderson

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An eye on Alvernia’s

future For more than 50 years, Alvernia has been making its mark, first as a small college serving the local community, now as a successful and growing comprehensive university attracting interest from across the nation as one of just 22 Franciscan schools in the country. It’s a mark that can be recognized in our graduates, our students, our faculty members and our foundresses, the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters. All Alvernians are empowered to shape and transform the world around them. They are men and women of character and ideals, prepared for lives of purpose, personal fulfillment and professional success. However successful our past, our combined eyes are on Alvernia’s future. Never before has the institution been poised for such greatness — or faced such challenges. The following pages chart a path for Alvernia’s future, first through Great Expectations, an article which shares perspective from University President Tom Flynn and Board Chair Joanne Judge about the institution’s recently updated strategic plan and vision for ensuing years. The Ten to Watch section profiles a handful of the best and brightest examples of Alvernians who are poised to make an impact in the future. Enjoy the ride…it offers quite a view!

Alvernia University Magazine


Building on Eye on the future

Great Expectations

“Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.” — Charles Dickens, Great Expectations


s Alvernia charts a course for its future, it is building on the considerable “evidence” of recent progress and increasing prominence. As President Flynn noted in last fall’s State of the University Address, the entire Alvernia community now has good reason to have “even greater expectations for the university’s future.” In the spring of 2007, Alvernia’s Board of Trustees approved a bold new strategic plan that plotted the direction of the university for the next decade. Guided by revised mission and vision statements, and accompanied by a campus master plan, it included the first comprehensive fundraising effort in the institution’s history — the $27 million Values & Vision capital campaign. The plan was designed to be implemented in two parts: Phase I, which stretched to 2013, and Phase II spanning 2013-2018. Alvernia’s progress since that time five years ago has been remarkable by any measure. Improvements in enrollment, educational quality, financial strength, external engagement and institutional reputation have contributed to the university’s prosperity. Most prominent among many highlights was the achievement of university status in the fall of 2008, an action that confirmed the school’s significant momentum. That progress also validated Alvernia’s evolution into a comprehensive institution with a significant commitment to post-graduate education, particularly at the doctoral and master’s levels, and a greatly enhanced undergraduate residential community. Today, signs of continued advancement abound. Major upgrades have been made to teaching and learning

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“Alvernia’s progress since that time five years ago has been remarkable by any measure.”

facilities in the Franco Library Learning Center, Bernardine Hall, Francis Hall, and at the Philadelphia and Schuylkill centers. These serve to complement expansion of student residences including development of Founder’s Village, which features four large apartment-style buildings (two that will open this September). Gains in undergraduate enrollment and improvements in the academic profile and diversity of incoming students have followed, and the success of the Values & Vision campaign has helped provide necessary resources. A vibrant arts and culture program has also emerged, enhanced by the addition of the Miller Gallery and renovated Francis Hall Theater and Recital Hall as well as new rehearsal spaces. And a spectacular new campus-side entryway to Francis Hall has transformed a timeless campus treasure into a contemporary jewel for the university’s future. Most importantly, significant investments have been made to expand the faculty and strengthen academic programs. The faculty has grown from 55 in 2001 to 104 in 2012, with 19 additional professors hired in the last five years in areas such as theology, vocal music, business, psychology, philosophy, nursing and occupational therapy, serving to broaden academic offerings for students. Faculty members scholarly work and other professional contributions have been greatly enhanced by a new grants program and other sources of support. This progress is even more noteworthy because it happened during one of the most dramatic economic collapses in our nation’s history. And it has been followed by a period of uncertainty that has caused many organizations — for-profits and non-profits alike — to struggle. And so, while many other organizations stagnated

or declined, Alvernia was making what President Tom Flynn described modestly as “prudent progress.” Mindful of the economic conditions and Alvernia’s considerable momentum as well as the approaching midpoint of Phase I of the strategic plan, President Flynn made a timely, forward-looking decision. Early in 2010 he called for a process both to reassess the changing landscape of private higher education and also to update the university’s direction for the remaining years of the plan (2011-2018). Just a few months ago, in December of 2011, following an intensive process of campus-wide deliberations, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved an updated strategic plan. It is a stronger and better-focused plan that identifies key goals and articulates aspirations for the university’s future. Dr. Flynn and Board Chair Joanne Judge recently sat down to discuss several key aspects of Alvernia’s progress, updated plans, challenges and vision for its future.

Building on Eye on the future

Great Expectations


Students relax in the new Francis Hall entryway.

How has Alvernia managed to fare so well and even flourish during the current economic climate when many other organizations have struggled? Dr. Flynn It has been a combination of factors, but perhaps the key has been our reaffirmation of a business model that has kept our price affordable and made us an appealing value in a market that has become increasingly price sensitive. While many other institutions were increasing tuition costs dramatically to fund campus projects and far greater expenditures, Alvernia resisted this temptation and relied on a strategy that combined modest undergraduate growth, careful limits on expenses, targeted use of debt and unprecedented fundraising to finance new facilities and other necessary improvements. This has allowed us to maintain a tuition cost below the national average for private institutions and provide an affordable alternative to students seeking a high-quality education at a more competitive price. At the same time, faithful to our Franciscan mission, we have remained committed to providing financial aid to ensure access for low and moderate income students. A second major factor has been our determination to accelerate the move to become a more residential campus and fulfill one of the major goals of the 2007 strategic plan. This has allowed us to appeal to Berks County students interested in an outstanding college experience close to home, but who also want to live on campus, as well as to students from out of the region who are attracted by our programs, our strong campus community and our beautiful surroundings. Only seven years ago, Alvernia was still mostly a commuter college, with about 500 students living on campus. By fall 2013, we expect to have over 1,000 students living on campus with almost one third hailing from outside of Pennsylvania. Another key factor in our recent success has been an enhanced commitment to graduate education, an inspired initiative begun in the late ‘90s under the leadership of former President Mazzeno. Offerings

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include the region’s only doctoral program (a doctorate of philosophy in leadership) and a range of master’s degrees and certificate programs that appeal to adults who want to switch jobs as well as to those who seek to advance their careers. And we have expanded our commitment to serving the life-long learning needs of our area, especially through programs like Leadership Berks, which provides leadership training to managers from throughout the community, and through the well-established Seniors College. Speaking of expansion, by this fall, our faculty will number over 100, with half hired in the past seven years, many in new positions. This past year alone, we hired 19 new faculty members, both promising individuals early in their careers and senior professors attracted to the opportunities available at Alvernia. It is invigorating to hear this group talk about their delight in being part of this university. And we are fortunate also to have longtime faculty with an impressive array of scholarly and professional achievements that complement their dedication to our students and our community. Of course, none of this would have been possible without unprecedented philanthropic support from generous donors linked directly to our strategic and campus master plans. In spite of the state of the economy, our first comprehensive fundraising effort, the Values & Vision campaign, has been very successful. Most notable have been the extraordinary gifts to establish the Holleran Center for Community Engagement and the O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Public Service. But many alumni and friends have contributed, and our trustees — current and former — have been leaders in this effort. Our trustees and alumni recognize that greater expectations of Alvernia to become a “Distinctive Franciscan University” will require higher expectations of all of us in our financial support of the university and our students.

“As we proceed, we do so with the understanding that all of us have increasingly higher expectations for our university.” – Dr. Thomas F. Flynn Question

How will you continue the university’s momentum? Dr. Flynn The key will be strategic focus, whether it is on major capital projects or academic initiatives, and expanded fundraising support for major priorities. We will need to invest in top programs in each of our colleges, some carefully selected new programs and key cross-university academic priorities such as distinctive general education and honors programs. So we will continue to expand the faculty, with particular emphasis on those who have a passion for teaching first and secondyear students or who can be leaders in graduate education. We need to broaden our expertise with on-line learning and accelerated degree formats for adults and support the faculty’s growing interest in interdisciplinary offerings. The Holleran Center and O’Pake Institute will be catalysts for much creative work, by faculty and students alike, as well as invaluable resources for the local community. Key to all of this will be expanded campaign support for faculty endowments, building on the Neag Professorships, our Faculty Excellence Awards, and Innovation Grants. Guiding our efforts must always be our Franciscan mission, rooted in the Catholic and liberal arts traditions.

Joanne Judge Ensuring the vibrancy of Alvernia’s Franciscan identity is without question essential to Alvernia’s future, and that requires intentional focus. We’ve launched a range of initiatives to deepen the academic community’s commitment to our Franciscan heritage. As an important step forward, the Board of Trustees undertook an ongoing program of mission education and jointly established a Sponsorship Learning Community with the Bernardine Congregation’s Leadership Team. In addition, the Franciscan Learning Community, made up of faculty and staff representatives, developed a detailed set of recommendations in a report to the campus that directly addresses the on-going integration of our mission into the fabric of our curriculum and campus life. To strengthen our efforts Alvernia now has several individuals with expertise in Franciscan studies. A new leadership model was put in place last fall that named Sr. Roberta McKelvie as special assistant to the president for mission to coordinate all mission education and integration plans in collaboration with a campus-wide leadership group. One of Alvernia’s great strengths is the universal dedication across campus to living Franciscan values.


What has contributed the most to your increased reputation and visibility? Joanne Judge Certainly expanded community engagement efforts have played a big role in raising our profile and reputation. The Holleran Center has made a major impact locally and helped attract regional and even national recognition. The Ethics, Leadership, and Community Lecture Series, the new Arts and Culture Series, and the university’s membership (and great initial success) in a prestigious Division III athletic conference have significantly raised our visibility and reputation. I think that even the trustees are surprised at the amount of regional and national attention Alvernia has garnered. National and international initiatives we’ve hosted, like the Blessing Exhibit and the John Updike International Conference, attracted a great deal of attention from the media. And the university is now regularly recognized as a state and national leader in civic engagement. The designation of Alvernia as a national model for Community Engagement by the Carnegie Foundation and our selection for several consecutive years for the Presidential Honor Roll for Community Engagement offer evidence of our expanded reputation. And we know that the reputation of programs like nursing and occupational therapy and the success of our athletic teams has been a major factor in attracting students from the wider mid-Atlantic region. It’s also clear to me that Tom’s past and current work on national boards for organizations like the American Council of Education, Council of Independent Colleges and the Association of Catholic

Lectures and performances have played a key role in elevating Alvernia’s profile. Colleges and Universities has contributed to expanding Alvernia’s reputation in a very positive way. In addition, his vision and leadership of the university and contributions to the local community reflect well on the institution.

Dr. Flynn Let’s also not forget two groups who represent Alvernia well beyond the boundaries of the campus. Our faculty’s increasing profile for scholarly work and their many professional contributions both locally and in their fields is a major factor in Alvernia’s growing academic reputation. And the prominence of our trustees, individually and collectively, has built great local credibility. The Alvernia board is now widely recognized as one of the top boards in the area. I have come to believe that our trustees are the unsung heroes of Alvernia’s renaissance. Alvernia University Magazine


Building on Eye on the future

Great Expectations A vibrant student experience is at the core of Alvernia’s future.


What role does enhancing the student experience play in your future evolution? Dr. Flynn Today’s students, regardless of age or program, are right to have high expectations for their overall “experience” as well as for their formal academic work. At a place like Alvernia that promises to develop women and men of character and competence, nurtured by Franciscan values, we must continually find ways to meet and even exceed this expectation. First-rate advising and other student services, personalized attention to students’ financial planning, wide ranging opportunities for students to grow and develop as leaders are just some of the critical elements. We also have a fine tradition at Alvernia of offering a myriad of ways for students to learn beyond the classroom — in clinical settings and internships; through service projects, academic research activities, and athletic competitions; on international study or Alternative Break mission trips. The creation of a University Life Division several years ago sparked a transformation of campus student life, while the expansion of residential and recreational facilities has enabled us now to offer campus housing to more than 1,000 students. Living-learning communities and a greatly expanded co-curricular programs complement our well respected intercollegiate athletic program and our expanded fine and performing arts offerings. At the same time, the quality of the student experience depends foremost on first-rate teaching and learning spaces, like the O’Pake

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Science Center and Bernardine Hall, which is undergoing major renovations that will soon be completed.

Joanne Judge The learning spaces Tom mentions are critical to ensure that the educational experience extends seamlessly across campus, from the Franco Library to the residence halls, within classrooms and in the physical and virtual worlds alike. Appealing places for students to gather and socialize are also essential, especially for indoor and outdoor recreation. So in response to the strategic plan’s call for an expanded and improved residential experience, we’ve made major investments. Multiple new residence halls have been built as part of Founders Village, and existing units were renovated; a new Campus Green and renovated Student Center were completed, along with an all-weather athletic field and running track and a new baseball and softball complex. By late next fall a new Campus Commons will be opened, featuring a multi-million dollar fitness center, dance and aerobics studio and a large new campus living room with space for informal relaxation as well as student programs. Our future plans include a significant expansion of the library and the creation of an East Campus that will feature a field house, an outdoor practice field, and additional tennis courts along with some town housestyle housing and the always popular parking lots!

“Ensuring the vibrancy of Alvernia’s Franciscan identity is essential to our future…” – Joanne Judge Question

How might Alvernia look different in 2018? Dr. Flynn Most notably, we will have a glorious, new campus entrance on St. Bernardine Street, shared with the Bernadine Sisters, that will welcome visitors to Alvernia in grand style and enable them to enter the front door of a renovated Francis Hall. Hopefully, we will have completed the expansion of the library and begun the development of the East Campus we spoke of earlier, stretching down below the Sisters’ property to Angelica Park. Alvernia’s full-time undergraduate enrollment will be more diverse and will have grown, but probably not as dramatically as it has in the past. We will have developed targeted new programs. Some will build on areas of academic strength; some will take the university in new directions. In all cases, we’ll need to ensure that our programs and delivery systems are highly competitive, especially by increasing use of on-line and blended (classroom and on-line) delivery methods. And of course, if we continue to expand enrollment and programs, we will have a much larger faculty.

Joanne Judge

The Board is quite excited about the potential expansion of the library and development of an East Campus, and we recognize that we will need significant fundraising to make the projects come to life. By 2018, we will likely be talking about another additional academic building, possibly a much larger academic center in place of the Business/Communication building opposite Bernardine Hall. We will also need to continue to adapt existing learning spaces to support the needs of our signature programs, but trustees also agree that student learning, especially for graduate and other post-baccalaureate learners, will depend on an effective technological infrastructure to support e-learning. Continued on page 56

Dr. Flynn and Joanne Judge admire the new Francis Hall entryway with a group of students. Alvernia University Magazine


Saving an American


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List Kin ening g Dre ’s “I h to Dr. a via m” s ave a p Wi -Fi? eech

Robert Balthaser Vice President of Development Trust for the National Mall Washington, D.C.  Alvernia Class of 1991  B.A., English  Member of the Alvernia President’s Advisory Council  Raised more than $120 million for the scholarship campaign at the University of Maryland


7.5 ed a $ to Secur ift g n o milli racks in c repair hington as the W ent. m monu

Workin g to install a under n g irriga round t syste ion m on the tional NaMall.

hen Robert Balthaser ’91 jogs on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., he sees much more than grassy esplanades and spectacular monuments. He sees a healthier, smarter vision of America’s most popular, pivotal park. Balthaser is vice president of development for the Trust for the National Mall, a non-profit partner of the National Park Service, the Mall’s monitor. He’s leading a $350 million drive to improve the distressed, antiquated commons all the way from the U.S. Capitol building to the Jefferson Memorial. He says that for 30 years “America’s Front Yard” has been overrun by tens of millions of visitors and hundreds of thousands of dollars in budget cuts. Unfortunately, it has resulted in a troubling state of affairs for the storied site of presidential inaugurations and family reunions, civil-rights marches and marriage proposals. But that is all about to change thanks in part to his work for the Trust. In February, he helped secure the Trust’s first major gift when David Rubenstein, the billionaire financier, philanthropist and history buff, announced he would donate $7.5 million toward repairing the Washington Monument, which was closed to the public after being cracked by last summer’s earthquake. In addition, Balthaser has been working with the country’s largest landscaping company on a plan to install an underground irrigation system to prevent the Mall’s lawns from becoming dirt brownfields during the dog days of summer. A native of the Reading suburb of Laureldale, Balthaser polished his people skills while working in his family’s fourth-generation meat business. Behind the beef counter he discovered that good salesmanship often depends on good listening and humble confidence, valuable tools for a future fundraiser. “You have to remember it’s less about you and more about your mission,” he says. “One of the basic principles of fundraising is: Do not argue with donors. That’s just common sense.” It was at Alvernia that Balthaser cut his teeth as a fundraiser. An English major who wrote a thesis about playwright Oscar Wilde, he received a $500 donation from Sister Dolorey, then the university’s president, to produce a program of one-act works with a community theater company. The successful campaign boosted his belief that “if you really believe in something, it’s not fundraising — it’s a mission with passion.” Balthaser insists the National Mall job fits him like flesh. He gets to draft major gift strategies; match visions to visionary donors; make a magnetic, historic hub even more so. He convinced the Dr. Scholl Foundation, for example, to help underwrite a Mall Wi-Fi system. And so now one day millions of middle-schoolers may be able to tap apps about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech as they stroll by his memorial. “We are defining the voice and the future of a place that truly represents who we are, for better or worse,” says Balthaser. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” There are once-in-a-lifetime perks, too. This winter Balthaser couldn’t wait to telephone his mother to tell her that he had just been photographed with his arm around former First Lady Laura Bush, the Trust’s honorary chairwoman. The memorable moment fulfilled his creed “to mix with people from all walks of life and do good deeds too.” — Geoff Gehman Alvernia University Magazine


Kevin John Student  Hometown: P  ottstown, Pa.  Graduation: 2013  Major: Social Work A  ctivities: Resident Assistant, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Olivet Boys & Girls Club

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A not-so-straight path to discovery


uring his first two years at Alvernia, junior Kevin John discovered his true love: community. “I’m fascinated by the uniqueness of people and their circumstances; I have a passion to be with people where they are,” John says. As his strengths and true desires became more evident to him, John decided to change his major from occupational therapy to social work. He has not looked back. John says, “Every person, no matter what his or her situation, is valuable and worthy of care.” A far-reaching love John’s love for community already stretches throughout Alvernia’s campus and beyond.

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On campus, he provides support and care as a resident assistant in Veronica Hall, where he “has watched 13 freshmen who didn’t know each other slowly build friendships and create a wonderful atmosphere to learn and grow with each other.” John is also heavily involved with Alvernia’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, where he co-leads a small group bible study that meets in the Veronica Hall Chapel. “My journey with God really took off as my college life began,” he says. Off campus, John recently began fieldwork at Olivet Boys and Girls Club, where he works with two programs — DREAM, an initiative for adolescents who have had problems with the law, and MAP, a mentorship program that

teaches adolescents to paint and draw under the direction of a commissioned artist. Self-discovery through musical meditation To balance his hours of working with others, John likes to grab his guitar and head outside on a nice day. “There is something about being close to nature while I play — it’s both energizing and relaxing,” he says. John began teaching himself how to play the guitar through videos on the Internet a little over a year ago, and he hasn’t put it down since, using it as his “method to recover; a sort of meditation and therapy.” He particularly likes playing Christian worship music, and he often plays for Campus Ministry on Worship Nights.

Concerning his plans for the future, John says, “my journey is very much incomplete. I love learning about social work and everything that comes with it, but I am still searching for a definite career path. I have so many options in front of me — it is difficult to choose just one.” John admits he has had numerous shortcomings and failed attempts during his college years thus far, but he tries to always move forward with faith. “I’ve learned the most from myself through the heartache and failures,” he says. “And I’ve also made a commitment to take advantage of all the opportunities that arise for me at Alvernia, and through my experiences, I discovered my desire to serve.” — Elizabeth Shimer Bowers Alvernia University Magazine


Banking on student


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alk into the sparkling Lake Ridge Academy in quiet North Ridgeville, Ohio, and you might be in for a shock. There, on the 88-acre wooded campus, you’ll find third graders leading parent teacher conferences, lockers lining the halls without locks, students busy managing the school’s solar panels, and local community members studying rocketry. But Carol (Lawlor) Klimas ’84, would have it no other way. For five years the former bank executive who now invests in innovative education has been the vibrant, visionary president of the impressive academy, an independent K-12 school where community service is viewed as a commitment to way of life, not a school requirement. She’s helped launch everything from pre-med and entrepreneurship studies programs to a student jazz initiative and an alumni hall of fame. Klimas began planning a financial career in her hometown of Shillington, Pa., where she worked summers as a bank teller. She majored in banking and finance at Alvernia, where she was mentored by Gwen Williams, professor emerita of business. She spent the next 23 years in banking, rising to the rank of chief fiduciary officer of KeyCorp Wealth Management and Trust Services. At the same time she served as a volunteer for health-based non-profits, eventually serving as board chair of the National Arthritis Foundation. Klimas made the unusual leap into education largely because she was attracted by Lake Ridge’s mission to teach life skills and global citizenship. Third graders, for example, use PowerPoint presentations to rate their quarterly performances for teachers and parents. Environmental-studies students use the woods on the

Carol Klimas President, Lake Ridge Academy, North Ridgeville, Ohio  Alvernia Class of 1984  B.A., Business Administration in Finance and Banking  Served as a banking executive for 23 years before joining Lake Ridge Academy

campus as a laboratory. Community members use the Center for Creative Thinkers to study topics that span rocketry and sign language. Lake Ridge’s customized, cross-cultural approach appealed to Klimas, who has four children with her husband, Daniel, president and CEO of the Lorain (Ohio) National Bank. In 2007, when she became Lake Ridge’s president, she stood at a career crossroads. “There was no more direct client contact in banking. I really needed the stimulation of working closely with dynamic people. And I liked the challenge of education, of learning a whole new industry.” One of Klimas’ most industrious challenges was making Lake Ridge a solar-powered campus. After students convinced her of the economic and ethical benefits, she found a donor to fund the acquisition and installation of 400 solar panels. Today, students manage the solar program online, deciding when the panels need to be shifted for optimal performance. The panels generate 18 percent of the school’s power. Under Klimas’ leadership, Lake Ridge, with its 375 students, has become a more vibrant educational haven. Before Klimas became president, Lake Ridge had lost money for a decade; now, it is back in the black. On her watch the school has started a green society, an entrepreneurial-studies program and a pre-med curriculum with courses in anatomy and forensics. Of course, like any education executive, Klimas has bad days. Her surefire cure for the blues is reading to first graders. Even better is when they read to her. “Let me tell you,” says Klimas, “it doesn’t get any better than that.” — Geoff Gehman

art of the State ent is m n equip motio o t y e k . design

Tools of the high-tech new design shop.

Tra too ditio n des ls of t al ign he tra de.

Magic in



top by the lab in Alvernia’s new Media Center and you’ll see the future unfolding before you. It’s the future of graphic arts and it is taking campus by storm, led by a creative academician who is as accomplished in creating cutting-edge furniture as he is leading the next generation of multi-media designers. “Today’s graphic artists have to know about more than flat paper media,” says the always energetic Peter Rampson, assistant professor of graphic art. “It’s not a twodimensional, static world anymore. Even billboards have moving graphics. Multi-media devices are everywhere and graphic artists skilled in motion design have bright futures.” Using a digitized “green screen,” digital recorders, a suite of iMac computers and other state-of-the-industry equipment, Alvernia students are involved in animation, time-lapse sequences, motion design and other fascinating pursuits. It’s all part of the new creativity and verve Rampson has brought with him to campus since arriving last fall. The impact of this brave new world is so profound and demand for professionals skilled in the field is so strong that plans are moving forward to develop it as a full academic major. The Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in graphic motion design could be available as early as 2013-14. “This major is being developed not only because it delivers a marketable skill set for artistic students to pursue exciting careers but also because it serves to attract new students to the university who may have not previously thought that Alvernia had something for them,” says Rampson, who was recruited to the university to lead the charge in developing a graphics arts program. “In Alvernia’s peer group in this region, a group of 28 schools, not many offer actual fine art degrees and none have graphic motion design programs. Our program will

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distinguish us in this growing field.” Rampson has developed two courses now offered (and creating a stir on campus): motion design and digital design. His classes are held in the Media Center’s computer lab with 18 fully-loaded Mac computers, projectors, screens and a smart board, allowing Rampson to take his students from basic principles to wild creativity. “Animators must understand the fourth dimension of time and Alvernia art students are grasping this quickly,” he says. It’s not just classroom learning. Downstairs in the media lab, Rampson works with students in off-hours using hi-tech equipment to create story boards, the main component of motion design, to bring creative concepts to life. With the backdrop of a “green screen,” students can do “Chroma key compositing,” replacing the seamless green backdrop with any digital video clip, graphic or still image. “Here, experiential learning is happening at a high rate of speed,” he reports. “Students learn the technical aspects and then they bubble over with ideas that they can try. The equipment in the Media Center has made the new field of motion design possible.” A talented creative himself, Rampson enjoys designing furniture, and working in traditional and digital media. When he’s not in the lab or classroom, you can find him in the Miller Gallery, organizing student and faculty exhibitions. “The gallery is a tremendous resource for our program and a great showplace for the creative energy on our campus,” he says. He philosophizes about how today’s graphic artists, including students, represent a new creative renaissance. “It’s the birth of a new creativity, and my goal is to give them the analytical and technical skills they need to participate,” he says. — Jane Scheirer Jones

Peter Rampson Assistant Professor of Graphic Art  BFA, Rhode Island School of Design  Master’s of Industrial Design, North Carolina State University  Solo Exhibition, P&M Gallery, Kansas City, Mo.  Peter is a practicing artist who works in traditional and digital media and designs furniture

Alvernia University Magazine


Soldier of

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Good Fortune

ol. Deborah Geiger ’83 has spent much of her U.S. Army career investigating crimes and protecting criminal investigators. She’s been dedicated to guarding the safety and sanity of her subordinates whether they’re searching for the remains of soldiers or the remnants of terrorists. “If you take care of your people, they’re going to take care of you,” says Geiger. “That just goes hand in glove.” Geiger’s military background is hand in glove, too. Growing up a mile from the Alvernia campus, she was attracted by the physical, mental and familial challenges of serving her country. In her office she keeps a photograph of her maternal grandfather, an Italian immigrant who cooked for the Army during World War I. “He didn’t go by recipes,” says Geiger. “He added seasonings and ingredients to his meals. His chow line was very popular.” A natural leader, Geiger was Alvernia’s first commissioned ROTC scholarship student. Sixteen months after graduating, she headed a military-police platoon. In 1990-91 she served in Saudi Arabia and Iraq during the first Persian Gulf War. By 2001 she had earned the role of battalion commander for the Crime Investigation Command (CID), which examines allegations of legal violations involving Army members. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it was Geiger who sent CID agents to identify the remains of victims of the Pentagon bombing. According to Geiger, the 9/11 attacks intensified homeland security within Army units, and she

encouraged agents to Skype family members, confide in chaplains, and take online courses. “That’s my responsibility as a leader: to help my subordinates perform a mission while giving them balance and some quality of life,” says Geiger. “They will do anything for you, but you have do everything you can for them, too.” Later assignments ranged from hunting for evidence of Osama bin Laden in Afghan caves to searching for the remains of U.S. soldiers. Geiger is proud that her former CID superior, Maj. Gen. Donald Ryder (Ret.), praised her efficient, ethical leadership. Even more so, she’s thankful that none of her soldiers died as a result of operations or combat. “I never had to bury one of my own,” she says. Geiger distills her many skills in her current post as a teacher at the Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pa. Her courses include Nation Building and Peacekeeping. One of her academic specialties is the Posse Comitatus Act, passed in 1878 to prevent soldiers from abusing duties as civilian police officers during emergencies. In some ways, Geiger is a military model of her Alvernia mentor, Sister Pacelli. She recalls the late professor as popular, profound and practical — a rare trinity of virtues. “I liked her matter-of-fact manner, her depth of knowledge, her spirituality, her willingness to give,” says Geiger, a daily communicant whose faith has shaped her view of life as much as anything. “Most of the criminal justice majors she taught were males, yet she considered me one of her boys.” — Geoff Gehman

Col. Deborah Geiger U.S. Army  Alvernia Class of 1983  B.A., Criminal Justice Administration  Alvernia’s first commissioned ROTC scholarship student  Received letters from the late Sister Pacelli while serving in the first Persian Gulf War

“That’s my responsibility as a : to help my subordinates perform a mission while giving them balance and some of life.”



Alvernia University Magazine


Playing to win

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Off The Field

“I think college is the time for you to really find out who you are as an individual, and the best way to do that is to get involved around campus.”


hen Jonathan Lozoskie chose Alvernia for its relative small size, he never imagined the hugeness of his eventual college experience. During his time at Alvernia, he has been an academic standout in the school’s five-year Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program, and has been an integral part of Alvernia’s lacrosse team. He also acted as a role model for incoming students as a head orientation leader and counseled freshmen as a peer mentor. “I think college is the time for you to really find out who you are as an individual, and the best way to do that is to get involved around campus,” Lozoskie says. “I am very happy with my college choice because of all of the friends and different connections I have made here,” he says. Making for a smooth transition Lozoskie looks fondly upon the first few days that kicked off his college career. “I had a really great experience during my orientation weekend,” he says. To help make other incoming students feel just as welcomed and enthusiastic about the transformative four to five years that lie ahead, Lozoskie acts as head orientation leader. “I really just want to show incoming students how welcoming Alvernia is and introduce them to all that the university has to offer,” he says. Once incoming students settle in, Lozoskie continues to guide them as a peer mentor. “I help freshmen

with any problems that may arise in their classes or just with their transition during the first semester,” he says. Another factor that made Lozoskie’s transition to Alvernia so smooth was his position on Alvernia’s lacrosse team. “I believe moving from high school to college was so much easier because of lacrosse; I met new people who eventually became not only my teammates, but my good friends,” he says. “Plus, playing lacrosse at Alvernia has given me a lot of skills I will be able to use when I graduate — determination, hard work, communication, teamwork and leadership.” Hands-on career training Off the lacrosse field and in the classroom, Lozoskie has benefited from Alvernia’s small class size and hands-on opportunities in his chosen career of occupational therapy. “The OT curriculum has built-in fieldwork experiences that allow students to observe professional occupational therapists for two semesters during our junior year and then treat patients for 24 weeks during our senior year,” Lozoskie says. “All of these experiences have helped train me for my ultimate goal: to work as a traveling occupational therapist, either within the United States or abroad.” Lozoskie’s advice for the undergraduate students he welcomes and mentors: “Try everything at Alvernia. You never know who you may meet or the experiences you may have.” — Elizabeth Shimer Bowers

Jonathan Lozoskie Student  Hometown: Fallston, Md. G  raduation: 2013, master’s degree (currently a fourth year occupational therapy student)  Major: Occupational Therapy  Activities: Head Orientation Leader, lacrosse player (midfield), peer mentor

Alvernia University Magazine


above the trees


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ot being able to see the forest for the trees sometimes occurs in life’s journeys. It challenges us all to not overly obsess about small details at the risk of failing to understand larger plans and the bigger picture. It’s a proverb known well to Di You. The assistant professor of psychology often references it to guide her work in moral sensitivity and moral reasoning. A Chinese native and graduate of Inner Mongolia University of Technology, You’s approach guides her teaching and influences her research work that is shedding light on how moral makeup effects decisionmaking. “In order to see the forest, you have to rise above the trees,” she says. “For instance, in research, I don’t just look at situational factors (the trees). I try to rise above the trees to understand how a person behaves morally.” Dr. You loves digging into what makes us tick, especially when it comes to moral development and professional ethics. That interest started when she was a young girl. “I would hear a story of a person who made a poor decision, often an immoral choice, and threw away their entire career, such as a doctor who lost their medical license,” she remembers. “I would wonder how they could have possibly made that choice.” What shapes the moral development of Alvernia students? You was itching to

“As an Alvernia professor, it was reassuring that what we’re doing at this university matters.”

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Di You, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Psychology  B.A., Inner Mongolia University of Technology, China  Ph.D, University of Minnesota  Research: Moral sensitivity, Moral reasoning, Professional ethics with concentration on teacher education

find out, especially eager to determine the effects of a values-based education. Working with Alvernia Associate Professor Neil Penny, You gathered data on Alvernia students in 2007 and again in 2009, using a standard value test. She examined findings with regard to how many philosophy and theology courses and how much community service students had performed, doing exact comparisons on specific students when possible. The results? Students who took more than the basic philosophy and theology courses and who did more than Alvernia’s minimum requirement of community service hours were significantly more sophisticated in terms of moral reasoning. “Even more dramatically, students who did more than the basics had a decrease in personal interest; they were less self-centered,” You reports. Last summer, using a Faculty Excellent Grant, You studied her data to prepare and present “The Impact of Taking Theology and Philosophy Classes as well as Engaging in Community Service on Undergraduates’ Moral Reasoning Development” at the Association for Moral Education annual meeting in Nanjing, China. In February, her article “Assessing Student Moral Reasoning of a Value-Based Education” appeared in the journal Psychology Research. “As an Alvernia professor, it was reassuring that what we’re doing at this university matters,” Dr. You says. “Freshman might arrive with an ‘all about me’ attitude but the values-based education we provide can and does have a significant influence.” The energetic and personable researcher continues to delve into the subject, currently exploring intervention strategies that can impact students’ moral reasoning. “With my research about moral development and professional ethics, I like to see it as a continuum, not to compartmentalize,” she says. “And to do that you have to rise above the trees.” — Jane Scheirer Jones

“The amount of


eorge Rice, Jr. ’85 is a one-man worldwide web of public safety. He’s battled an international heroin ring, persuaded doctors to promote gun control, and even headed an agency that trained search-and-rescue dogs. It’s a background that has well prepared him for his current role as Executive Director of the Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCert). As iCert’s top executive, a post he assumed in 2011, Rice has taken his one-man mission to improve public safety to the next level by working to enact government policies to help the cause. In February, diligence paid off when Congress legislated the inaugural interoperable wireless broadband network for first responders. Now police officers can download photos of crime suspects before they arrive on the crime scene and ER surgeons can receive EMT information before they operate on accident victims, thanks to technology access made possible by the legislation. “First responders can have up-to-date, in-the-moment knowledge about important information, even the location of wiring in burning buildings,” says Rice.

Sentinel of

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and delivered will be just amazing.” “The amount of time saved and justice delivered will be just amazing.” Relieving systematic stress is part of Rice’s position as an information broker for iCert, a seven-year-old intermediary for public-safety companies, government emergency communicators and public policymakers. One of his quests is reducing the overload of national 911 calls, which have increased 37 percent since 1999. Protecting people is in Rice’s blood. He was introduced to law enforcement by his father, who patrolled post-World War II Europe as a member of the U.S. Air Force Police. His natural curiosity about crime was nurtured by Alvernia instructor Tom Morakovicz, a Pennsylvania state trooper who impressed Rice with his “slow and


George Rice, Jr. Executive Director, Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies Washington, D.C.  Alvernia Class of 1985  B.A., Criminal Justice Administration M  ember of Alvernia’s board of trustees  Has served as a drug enforcement agency agent and private investigator

time saved

steady” manner. Careful caution served Rice well as a licensed private investigator and as a special agent for the Drug Enforcement Agency battling the trafficking of heroin from Nigerian tribes. Later, Rice worked to educate families about the risks of storing guns at home for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. In 1999, Rice became director of community safety for The Enterprise Foundation, where he helped to change East Palo Alto in California from the country’s per-capita murder capital to “quite a nice place to live.” A natural networker, Rice wants to align his employer with his alma mater. He’s currently working with Alvernia teachers and administrators to produce public-safety research for iCert that could benefit municipalities and businesses. He is also looking for a few good men and women to widen his worldwide web — as his first Alvernia criminal justice interns. — Geoff Gehman

Alvernia University Magazine


Aw kno ise ‘ O hel ws ho WL’ p tou stud w to gh e tim nts in es.

a day ture A pic ole year! h for a w


Perfect F

or Erin Solley, this year is shaping up to be one that is picture perfect, quite literally. The junior sport management major is documenting her 2012 college experience, one frame at a time, one day at a time. As part of her “365 photos” project, which started New Year’s Day, Erin is uploading online one photo that summarizes the essence of each day of her life for a full year. “So far, I have photos of the things I do in my daily activities and of my family and friends,” she says. “The day I got my wisdom teeth out, for example, I took a picture of my dog resting his head on my lap, looking up at me with a sympathetic expression.” Considering all of Erin’s extracurricular activities, the photos of her upcoming days will likely capture her wearing a myriad of different hats. “I am trying to get the most from my time on campus — to meet and connect with as many people as I can, hear a wide range of viewpoints, and put myself out there in personal relationships,” she says.

Field ho

One o ckey: f many Erin’s passio ns.

Erin Solley Student  Hometown: Reading, Pa.  Graduation: 2013  Major: Sport Management  Activities: Field hockey, Alternative Breaks program, Campus Activities Board, student government representative

Strong work, on and off campus One of the many things that attracted Erin to Alvernia in the first place was Alternative Breaks, a program that organizes weekend and week-long service and immersion trips for students to help the underserved. This summer, as part of Alternative Breaks, Erin and six fellow students and a staff site leader will don construction gear and head out for a week-long retreat in rural Appalachian West Virginia, where they will help impoverished homeowners whose houses are in need of repair. “In preparation, we are asking how much experience we all have with power tools, because we know we definitely will be doing some hands-on

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construction work,” Erin laughs. Erin does a lot of hands-on work on Alvernia’s campus as well. As special events committee chair of the Campus Activities Board, she attends the National Association of Campus Activities conference and helps select the coffeehouse singers, comedians, novelty speakers and other specialty acts that perform for students. She also plays field hockey, has helped educate first-year students on preventing sexual assault through a new health and wellness peer sexual assault prevention group and represents the class of 2013 as a student government class representative. All while juggling a part-time job at a local restaurant. “Goals” for a bright future The secret to Erin’s success? Effective time management. “There are a lot of things that interest me, and in order for me to get a chance to do all of them, I need to be organized and stay on top of it all,” she says. “I work ahead of time, and I would be lost without my planner, where I write down all my plans and assignments.” After her 365th photo has been snapped and her rich college days at Alvernia come to a close, Erin plans to take her zest for life into a career in the communications aspect of sport management, possibly after attending graduate school. “I would like to do public relations or event planning in the sport field; I really want to work in the National Hockey League,” she says. “I am a huge Flyers fan. I play field hockey, and I wish I could play ice hockey.” Erin’s advice for young students aspiring to build an undergraduate resume as impressive as hers: “get involved with as much as you can outside the classroom,” she says. “You will learn so much more.” — Elizabeth Shimer Bowers Alvernia University Magazine



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Rolling Stone


f the ancient and oft-cited proverb “a rolling stone shall gather no moss,” is to be believed, then Takele Tassew is most certainly its poster child on Alvernia’s campus. The assistant professor of economics who joined the ranks of the university’s faculty in 2008 has an insatiable intellectual curiosity that impresses even the most hard-working of scholars. It’s led him to pursue a range of research projects that cut across traditional curricular boundaries to examine data for new areas of understanding that fascinate students and colleagues alike. “It’s easy to work across disciplines here,” he says. “That’s a huge advantage to a researcher and it doesn’t happen at every university.” And the proof is, as they say, in the pudding. Tassew is partnering with Alvernia History Professor Tim Blessing on a research project that examines voting behaviors of citizens during U.S. presidential elections. With the 2012 election nearing, the duo is hard at work, gathering data, analyzing patterns and trends, and interpreting results that may offer insight into who our next president may be, well before November ever rolls around. His work with Tufan Tiglioglu, director of Alvernia’s Ph.D. program, in conjunction with the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry, is examining the economic impact of the proposed Reading Downtown Streetcar Project. Drs. Tiglioglu and Tassew already presented one paper on the topic at the Pennsylvania Economics Association’s annual conference in June 2011. “Using new data, we are analyzing the socioimpact viability of the proposed project on Berks County,” Tassew reports. “Reading is not considering this project simply because other cities have it. City leaders want information about how the return on

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investment will impact employment, house values and more critical budget issues.” Originally from Ethiopia, Tassew considers himself a “development economist” and as such he is conducting research to discover the economic impact of foreign aid in Africa and has presented on the topic at a recent conference in England. “I have a huge interest in the continent of Africa,” he says. When he’s not immersed in research projects, he’s got his sleeves rolled up helping to build Alvernia’s economics program, contributing to enhancements that will further distinguish it in the academic community. “Starting in the fall of 2012, the study of economics will reside within the Department of Humanities,” says Tassew. “That’s unusual for a college. Most schools have economics organized within their business studies. But this is a new and proper home that will help our program stand out. “In addition to math and statistical learning, students studying economics will also receive the Franciscan perspective, enabling them to examine poverty, prosperity and other economic components within the framework of social justice,” he continues. “It’s yet another distinction for our university.” Since joining Alvernia, Tassew has sought to morefully develop the economics program, including its move to humanities. “This idea did not originate with me,” he says, “but I definitely had a passion for the task.” Thanks to the hard work of Tassew and others, an economics minor is now available for students. Tassew designed eight new courses to construct the program, such as ECON 390: Economic Justice and Judo-Christian Conscience. Tassew’s next goal — putting the finishing touches on a full-blown economics major, which he hopes to make happen within two years. Indeed, he truly is Alvernia’s rolling stone. — Jane Scheirer Jones


“It’s easy to work across disciplines here. That’s a advantage to a and it doesn’t happen at every university.”


Takele Tassew, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Economics  BA, Daystar University, Nairobi, Kenya  MA, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Ind.  Ph.D. Mississippi State University  Research: Voting behaviors in U.S. Presidential elections, economic impact of foreign aid in Africa, socio-economic impact of Reading’s street car project.

Alvernia University Magazine


miracle AT THE Motherhouse

By Peggy Landers 44 Alvernia University Magazine

From the very beginning, “God will provide” was Mother Veronica’s mantra. On Oct. 16, 1894, at the age of 51, without knowing more than a perfunctory word or two of English, this foundress of the Bernardine Sisters in the United States, flanked by Sisters Frances, Catherine, Gertrude and a tertiary, Barbara Jasinska, arrived at New York Harbor. They disembarked the German steamship EMS and Father Jakimowicz from St. Joseph’s Parish in Mt. Carmel, Pa., retrieved them the next day. He had written to their motherhouse in Warsaw, Poland, asking for Sisters to teach young children of the Polish immigrants in his parish. The nuns were game for their new assignment, but culture shock barely describes what they experienced after leaving

their cloistered Polish convent. After a year at St. Joseph’s, a conflict developed between the type of religious life they were used to living in Poland and Father Jakimowicz’s expectations. After conferring with the Bishop in Harrisburg, Pa., the Sisters decided that returning to Poland was best. A missed train connection from Harrisburg, however, landed them in Reading, Pa., then a growing industrial hub with machine shops, iron and steel foundries and a strong textile trade. Without a place to stay for the night, Divine intervention interceded. A couple of Sisters of Mercy whom they met at the station offered to put the Polish nuns up at their convent. The next day they were introduced to Father Malusiecki, the pastor of nearby St. Mary’s Parish. He offered the Bernardines teaching jobs at St. Mary’s,

Images Courtesy of Bernardine Franciscan Sisters Archives

When St. Joseph paid a visit to the Bernardine Sisters one snowy winter day in the early 1900s, he brought to Reading with him a sled full of food for the near-starving nuns, and left a legacy that is recounted in Alvernia history to this day.

LEFT: The Bernardine Sisters and Aspirants at Ridgewood in 1902. Mother Veronica Grzedowska (Superior General) is pictured 4th from left in 2nd row from bottom. BELOW: Before becoming the Bernardines’ Motherhouse in 1898, Ridgewood was promoted as a “sanitarium resort.” This picture was used in advertising to attract honeymooners.

which kept them in the States, and within a few years Bernardine nuns were teaching in parochial schools from Reading to Manayunk! Their openness to the path put before them and unblinking belief in Divine Providence led to the founding of the Franciscan Order’s first American motherhouse. Called Ridgewood, the dilapidated 70-acre estate sat high above the Schuylkill River (near today’s Animal Rescue League offices off route 724) about three miles outside of Reading. Orphaned children, or children whose parents could no longer afford to care for them, found their way to the Sisters’ convent, and they were welcomed. To feed their brood in lean times, the nuns were sometimes reduced to standing outside factories on paydays with their hands outstretched, or begging for food at the Farmers’ Market. But they remained undeterred. “The Lord will provide.” Not long after, a severe snowstorm left the Sisters, and the 24 orphans in their care at Ridgewood, stranded. Huge snowdrifts hampered efforts to walk or ride into town for food, and the cupboard was nearly bare. Though worried — and definitely hungry — Mother Veronica Grzedowska calmly reminded her fellow pioneer sisters, “The Lord will provide.” At her urging they prayed to St. Joseph, a particularly cherished saint in Polish communities. Catholic teachings and stories about St. Joseph frequently stress his patience, persistence and hard work, qualities that certainly resound with the Bernardine Order. (He is also patron of the universal Church and social justice.) A short time later, as author Katherine Burton relates in her book The Bernardines, an elderly man “who looked like a farmer, but whom they did not know, came to the door, pulling a sled full of bags of rice and flour. He smiled as he gave them the load, and walked away before they could thank him and ask who he was. Sister Colette ran out calling ‘Saint Joseph, Saint Joseph!’ hoping to catch him. When she returned her face had a look of amazement.

“‘There was no one in sight,’ she told the sisters. ‘And there are no footprints or tracks of a sled in the snow!’” Sister Colette was convinced the stranger was St. Joseph. Others agreed with her. “Though this was not a matter of faith,” Burton writes, “still it was true that later inquiries in the neighborhood failed to reveal who the pleasant-faced old man could have been.” Sister Rosemary Stets, a general counselor for the Bernardine Franciscan Congregation, loves to retell this story, which she readily acknowledges as an “urban legend,” unprovable, but popular. For years she included it in the university tour she conducted for new employees. It’s a worthwhile story to share, she says, “because it opens hearts and minds to a bigger reality.” Anyone who believes in Divine Providence, that God is actively involved in the life of His creation, understands the possibilities at play in the story. Was the old man actually St. Joseph? Or was he a thoughtful and generous neighbor nudged into action by a whisper from God? Either way he was an answered prayer and, like St. Joseph, a manifestation of the pater familias, the father who takes care of his family. “It is an important story for the Bernardines,” says Sister Rosemary. Its underlying message: “God will not fail you. Though it may seem like a dark hour, cling to that little bit of faith. People have done that and seen miracles happen.” Continued on page 60

Alvernia University Magazine


By Lini Kadaba

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old Gernsheimer, a long-time Bernville, Pa., resident who moved a few years ago to The Highlands, a retirement community in Wyomissing, Pa. That’s why the shy, private woman who prefers bridge to public speaking makes a point of telling any takers her story of survival. “I think it has to be told to make people aware how terrible it is to separate and divide people because of their race, color, religion, whatever. … The story has to be kept alive, because it should never happen again.” In March, Gernsheimer visited Alvernia as part of its celebration of Women’s History Month. It was an opportunity for the university to honor “a local treasure,” as Vice President for University Life Joseph J. Cicala put it. Her story also serves as a stark reminder — especially to a younger generation — of the evil that can and does flourish so easily, he notes. “Vigilance is 

Photo by Reg Speller/Fox Photos/Getty Images


wo numbers are stunning in size — one for its hugeness, the other for its smallness. By the end of the Holocaust, more than one million Jewish children had perished at the hands of the Nazis. But in the months before World War II broke out, about 10,000 Jews — a number that might seem a pittance — escaped the Third Reich. They were the children of the Kindertransport, a British program that offered refuge from persecution. Leaving behind parents and siblings, these boys and girls traveled on their own by train and then boat to the shores of England. Hildegard Simon Gernsheimer was one of them. The Kindertransport saved her life and that of her two older sisters. Thirty-nine of her relatives — including her parents and younger sister — were not so fortunate. “It was terrible, terrible,” says the 86-year-

Triumph Tragedy becomes

Six million Jews were exterminated

in the Holocaust. Hilde Gernsheimer survived thanks to a little-known program called Kindertransport. Her moving story was recounted for Alvernia students this spring, so the events “should never happen again.”

LEFT, FACING PAGE: A camp leader ringing the dinner bell at the Kindertransport at Dovercourt Bay near Harwich, England, in 1939. TOP, THIS PAGE: Hilde, Ilse, Edith and Ruth celebrate their father, Karl Simon’s birthday in 1934. ABOVE: Hilde and her family circa 1937.

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“I was born in Germany, in a small community of 15,000 people — Cloppenburg. I was one of four girls, the second youngest. My parents were Karl and Selma Simon,” she begins, the words flowing slowly, deliberately, her English laced with a Northern German accent. This petite, whitehaired woman does not make a show of emotion. She lets the facts — atrocious facts — speak for themselves. That’s the power of her presentation. “Every time I hear it, it becomes a little more horrific,” says Jake, a graphic designer and co-owner with his brother of Partners Design in Bernville. “When we learn about the Holocaust in school, it’s easy to say it happened, but that it was just a part of history,” said Jen Kaucher, a junior communication major. “Hearing Hildegard’s story was eye-opening and for me makes history more personal to what really was happening in Europe during the time of Hitler’s reign.” Beginnings As a young child, Gernsheimer remembers a comfortable, carefree life. Karl Simon (pronounced ZEE-mun) was a well-respected, successful businessman who raised and sold workhorses. The children had a nanny, lived in a well-appointed home and attended a private Catholic school. Twice a year, a dressmaker visited the home. “We had a good life,” she says. In 1933, when Hitler was elected on a platform to eliminate all Jews from Germany, Gernsheimer was seven years old, and life would soon spin out of control like a car that plunges off a cliff. “I remember hearing the worry in my parents’ voices,” she says. “I think my father always felt that Hitler could not get away with destroying a whole group of people. He would always say, ‘As long as I have a dry piece of bread in Germany, I’m not going to leave.’ That was his Continued on page 58

Theo anderson

Hilde Gernsheimer

required,” Cicala says. “We have to stand in the way of that kind of evil, because if we don’t, who will?” Gernsheimer’s story of tragedy and triumph reaches across one of the darkest periods of world history. She and her family were directly affected by the terror of Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass in 1938, when SA Storm Troopers and civilians attacked Jews and destroyed Jewish businesses and synagogues. They were also there for the despair on the infamous SS St. Louis, full of Jewish passengers headed presumably for safety in Cuba only to be turned away at the last moment; the crimes of Sobibor, a German extermination camp in Nazioccupied Poland; and of course, the promise of the Kindertransport that continued for nine months until World War II broke out. “It’s an amazing story that she’s part of the SS St. Louis and the Kindertransport,” says Victoria Williams, an Alvernia associate professor of political science and director of the Honors Program. “It’s always important for us to remember these historical events are not impersonal but really do affect the lives of people.” On this day, Gernsheimer recounts her story for a visitor to her bright apartment, where the walls are covered in precious, black-and-white family photos and a mural of dates, including the birthdays of her parents and grandchildren. Her twin sons Jacob and Jeffry, 65, listen nearby and, on occasion, add details heard all their lives. “There is only one subject; that is my past,” she says of the topic of her many presentations to local schools, colleges and the Reading Public Museum, among others. “I don’t make up a story. I tell it as I remember it.

Alvernia University Magazine



“We’ve got a hostage situation.”


The message crackles over the walkie-talkie in Alvernia’s Office of Public Safety on a pretty spring day in May, breaking the tranquility of a campus readying itself for graduation and summer. It is the message you never want to hear. But Joe Thomas, director of public safety, is as cool as an iced mocha latte. “It made my heart race just a bit,” confessed Thomas as he learned that a bus full of students en route from the Upland Center to main campus had just been taken hostage, apparently at gunpoint. But the veteran safety director has been there before and without so much as a flinch, begins to mobilize his team, contacting the Reading Police Department and locking down the campus as safety precautions. Of course, it helps that Joe had been in touch many moons before with Professor Edgar Hartung, the two plotting along with a small, hand-picked group of administrators to plan a crisis drill that would give the 16 students in Hartung’s Crisis Management class a lesson they would never forget. Hartung, a retired FBI Agent, U. S. Air Force pilot and Vietnam vet who heads up Alvernia’s criminal justice program, Professor Hartung works with regularly puts his Ryan Hermany ’12. students through an intense, three-hour hostage negotiation exercise called the Grand Final Scenario. It’s experiential learning at its best and makes an indelible mark on participants. Just ask recent graduate Ryan Hermany ’12, a straight-A student whom faculty member Rosemary C. McFee calls the “star of the criminal justice” program. It was only a year earlier that it was his turn to foil a hostage situation on campus. “The Grand Final Scenario is basically the pinnacle of a criminal justice education at Alvernia,” says Hermany, who served a sixmonth internship with the U.S. Marshals in Washington D.C., and recently presented a research paper at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences in New York City. “It takes all of the things that you’ve learned in your criminal justice training and asks you to use it in a nerve-racking, close-to-real-life

50 Alvernia University Magazine

hostage situation. “I didn’t sleep at all the night before, because I was running through potential situations in my head and how I’d react. But nothing can prepare you for what you’ll face that day. Nothing.” That’s because Hartung, 70, spent half of his life “breaking down doors and arresting bad guys,” so he’s able to tap into a rich archive of experiences to invent a different scenario each semester. “We’ve done bank robberies, kidnappers taking over a school or taking over an embassy,” says Hartung. “No matter what the scenario, I make it as realistic and as stressful as possible. We deliberately and continually pump up the stress in these exercises to approximate the real terror and stress you go through when someone’s life is in jeopardy. Because when you are in a real hostage situation, people’s lives are in your hands.” When students arrive for Hartung’s Grand Final Scenario, they are given a brief script, told their roles and are given 15 minutes to respond to the situation. For Hermany, that scenario was a robbery/hostage situation at a fictional bank where a teller has triggered a silent alarm and local police officers have responded. A hostage situation quickly develops. As the scenario unfolds, it is learned that the police department has a mutual aid agreement with the area’s tactical SWAT team and the crisis negotiation team. For this exercise, those teams are made up of Alvernia students. Hermany’s role is to supervise the negotiation team and a mental health consultant. The students set up a command post — complete with a field commander, intelligence officer, two recorder/status board officers, a public information officer and a five-person tactical team — and quickly get to work trying to negotiate a settlement with hostage takers. Hartung posts public safety personnel all around the area, so that anyone accidentally walking into the scenario understands it is just an exercise. To add realism, local law enforcement leaders, members of Reading’s hostage negotiations team and fellow criminal justice faculty members participate in grand final scenarios as terrorists, hostages and advisors. “We believe that you learn by doing,” says Barry Harvey, an assistant criminal justice professor and regular participant who was “killed” as a hostage a few years back in one of these exercises. “Our job is to teach our students what they’ll need to succeed and then hone their ability to use what they’ve learned by putting them in different, real-life scenarios. “These Grand Final Scenarios are as close to Continued on page 60

Criminal justice students get their hands dirty dodging bullets, chasing terrorists and rescuing hostages — all en route to earning their stripes in the world of law enforcement.

By Bill Doherty

Farewell furry friend

Marianne Sharon, M’11 followed her Franciscan instincts to form a community support group that is helping pet owners cope with the loss of their beloved animals.

By Susan Shelly

52 Alvernia University Magazine

theo anderson


merica collectively wept out loud when Marley, John Grogan’s ailing and aging yellow lab, was euthanized in the hit film (and best-selling book) Marley & Me. In fact, our combined national attachment to furry friends has grown so strong that coping with the loss of a cat, dog or any pet can lead to serious grief, despair and even depression. “Animal lovers are a special breed of humans, generous of spirit, full of empathy, perhaps a little prone to sentimentality and with hearts as big as a cloudless sky,” said Grogen in his book. Undeniably, Americans love their pets. We buy them expensive food, apparel and accessories; provide top-rate health care; assure that they’re properly socialized; and take them with us when we travel. When our pets get sick, we seek treatment and provide comfort. And when our pets die, we mourn. For years, historians, scientists and anthropologists have studied the important relationships between humans and animals, trying to better understand their interactions and influence upon one another. Marianne M. Sharon, a 2011 graduate of Alvernia’s Master’s program in community counseling, is someone who has great appreciation for the special bond shared between humans and animals. She also understands the pain and sense of loss that occurs when a pet passes away. That, coupled with a commitment to give back to a community that has supported her, inspired Sharon to start a free support group for people who have lost pets. The animals we keep, Sharon affirmed, contribute significantly to our lives. “Animals give us some of the most wonderful, most unconditional love we ever get,” she said. “Animals bring out the best in us because they make us trust and show us how to love.” Sharon said the greatest value of a support group for people who have lost a cherished pet is that it validates their grief and allows them to express it in a non-judgmental setting. Pet owners often feel that they’re discouraged from mourning for

a pet — that somehow they are not entitled to do so. “The assumption is that if you lose a pet, you should feel bad for three or four days and then get over it,” Sharon said. “And if you don’t, people think there’s something wrong with you. It’s very hard for people who aren’t attached to an animal or don’t particularly like animals to understand the connection we have with our pets, or the pain we feel when a pet dies.” Pat Shipman, a noted anthropologist and author of The Animal Connection, explains that what began as a relationship necessary for survival evolved into a unique bond between humans and animals — evidenced today by our desire to keep pets. “Humans are the only species on Earth to have one-to-one relationships with a member of another species,” said Shipman. “It is a unique human attribute. We get so much from animals, much more than we appreciate.” In reality, the sense of loss for a pet can

mirror that for a human, especially for people for whom the loss invokes unresolved issues or results in extreme loneliness or a sense of purposelessness, according to Sharon. Pet loss can be particularly trying for those who decide to have an animal euthanized. “Then you might be dealing with a lot of guilt and wondering if you did the right thing, and you have to figure out what to do with that while you grieve the loss of the pet,” Sharon said. “It can be very, very difficult.” The pet loss support group is Sharon’s passion, and her way of giving back to a caring Berks County, Pa., community. She also works as a behavioral specialist consultant/mobile therapist. And, one day a week, she provides therapy for clients with dual diagnosis of drug/ alcohol and mental health problems. Her decision to establish a pet loss support group was motivated by a loss of her own. Miss Pumpkin, Sharon’s much-loved beagle had died, and she was troubled by the loss. When she needed to come up with an idea for a senior project during the last year of her master’s degree, a support group seemed to be a good solution. She queried some local veterinarians to see if they thought people who had lost pets would attend a support group with others experiencing the same loss. Their answer was a resounding “yes.” “So, I did some research and put together a lot of information on pet loss,” Sharon said. “And, before too long I was meeting with people who needed a safe place to share their feelings about losing their pets.” Meeting once a month in a local library, the group fluctuates in size and makeup of attendees. Some are parents who want to be able to help children cope with the impending loss of a pet, while others are people who live alone and are badly missing an animal that has died. Couples without children, whose pet may have taken on the role of a child, also depend on the group. Sharon is not concerned with how many people show up or who they are, only that they get the help they need and find some solace. “I’m trying to help people to heal, and often, this is the only place they can go to do Continued on page 60

Marianne Sharon, M’11 says it’s OK and even helpful to mourn the loss of a cherished pet. Alvernia University Magazine


Alumni Class Notes ▼1970s Dr. Patricia (Werner) Savage ‘71 of Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries (ALSM), was a guest at the White House on October 28 as part of a daylong event with other leaders from Lutheran health and human service organizations across the country. The leaders traveled to Washington to receive briefings from Obama administration officials and attended issuespecific sessions with policy makers. They also raised questions, concerns and recommendations about social service provisions. Sr. Carol Ann Nawracaj, OSF ‘71 was featured in an article for M-U-M magazine, which is a publication for the Society of American Magicians. The article discussed how Sr. Carol Ann uses magic to motivate and inspire others. She also uses her magic at the Villa Maria, a prestigious school for children with learning disabilities where she is the principal.

Joseph A. Bryniarski ‘76 passed away on February 8, 2012. LTC Claude C.J. Focht, Jr. ‘76 passed away on December 7, 2011. After his retirement from the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army, Claude was employed at Alvernia as the Assistant Program Director of Criminal Justice (1976-1981), Registrar (1982-1986) and Criminal Justice Director (1987-1992), retiring in 1992. Kim Emes ‘79 and his wife Millie Paisley-Emes ‘81 were featured in the Reading Eagle in an article about the beginning of Reading Area Community College (RACC). Kim was one of the first students at RACC, where he met his wife Millie. Upon graduating from RACC, both continued their studies at Alvernia, and today they are partners at KRE Security/ Investigations, Inc.

▼1980s Madeline C. Nicholas ‘80 passed away on December 8, 2011. Steven Keiser ‘80 was elected to

will organize the checkpoints and patrols. Amy E. Weber ‘98 married Frank LoTorto on December 3, 2011, at St. Catherine’s Church in Middletown, N.J. The couple resides in Middletown.

Jennie Criswell ‘02 and Jonathan Roth ‘04 were married on Lime Tree Beach in St. Thomas on January 14.

a fourth term as president of the Real Estate Investors Association of Berks County, Inc. Steve is also a mentor of Alvernia’s Alumni Council.

homeless pregnant women and their children.

Alice (Swist) Orlando ‘81 was featured in the Reading Eagle’s “In Our Schools” section. Alice teaches kindergarten at Sacred Heart School in West Reading.

Lori (McIntosh) DiGuardi ‘90 is a board member for 2012 at OneVoice. OneVoice’s mission is to promote peace and cultural awareness among children through music and multimedia expression.

Christine (Roland) Folk ‘86 was featured in the Reading Eagle’s “Faces in the News” section. Christine is the Executive Director of Mary’s Shelter in Reading, Pa., where she guides the nonprofit in its mission to provide temporary housing and social services to

Follow Alvernia alumni on

54 Alvernia University Magazine

▼1990s Joseph T. Murphy ‘90 passed away on June 29, 2011.

Sandra (Croll) Woodworth ‘90 of Reading, Pa., passed away at her residence. John Baskeyfield ‘91 passed away on October 23, 2011. Carl Solarek ‘92, M’11 was inducted into the

Exeter Township High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Carl was a standout in soccer, basketball and baseball while at Exeter. He is also a member of the Alvernia University Athletics Hall of Fame. Michelle (Taddeo) Bainbridge ‘93 was featured in the Reading Eagle’s “Faces in the News” section for her volunteerism and staying active in the community. Michelle is the Chairwoman for Pennsylvania’s Outstanding Young Woman program. David Bentz ‘94 is the new local coordinator for the North Central Regional DUI Enforcement Program. David

Dianna Alpini ‘99 joined Century 21 Gold, in Exeter Township as a Realtor.

▼2000s Kevin DeAcosta ‘00 was named Interim President at The Highlands of Wyomissing. Kevin will continue in his role as Chief Financial Officer, a position he has held since 2004. Angela (Capers) Bosket ‘01 passed away on March 13, 2011. Denise E. Murray ‘01 is a Clinical Supervisor for Gaudenzia, Inc., where she supervises a community rehabilitation program. Emily Takach ‘01 is engaged to Kith Solomon. Judy (Schwenk) Johnson ‘01 passed away on

Larrie Summar Thomas ’04

February 9, 2012. Cynthia Crispin Smith ‘02 passed away on February 16, 2012, from pancreatic cancer. Cynthia is survived by her husband Richard and her two children. Grafton D. Johnson, Jr. ‘02 passed away on May 7, 2011. Jennie Criswell ‘02 and Jonathan Roth ‘04 were married on Lime Tree Beach in St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands, on January 14, 2012. Jonathan completed a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice with a Computer Forensic concentration at DeSales University in September 2011. Lisa (Schultz) Padovani ‘02 and Mark Weeast were married July 9, 2011, at Beverly Hills Tavern, Spring Township, during a double-ring ceremony officiated by the Rev. John Dawson. Kevin Calabria M’03 was inducted into the Berks Basketball Hall of Fame on February 15, 2012. Kevin has coached 23 seasons as head women’s basketball coach at Alvernia, has won more than

400 games and has reached the NCAA Tournament six times. Shannon (Stonelake) Martin-Murray ‘03 has two children, Xander who is 6 and Kolten who is 20 months. Shannon married Brian Murray on September 17, 2011. Tethina (Hayes) Chambers ‘03,’11 is a registered nurse at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. John Hosendorf ‘04 passed away on August 16, 2010. Shawnmarie Gardner ‘04 was featured in a Reading Eagle article on the growing trend of teaching teams. Shawnmarie co-teaches an eighth grade language arts class at Twin Valley Middle School. The past two years, the teachers have shared both students and a classroom as part of a growing trend in education that favors inclusion rather than the separation of those with learning disabilities. Brian Eckroade ‘05 married Dana Johnson on November 6, 2011, at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in South 

Remembering Larrie:

Scholarship fund keeps her spirit alive While many of us struggled to get through the rigors of one of the many academic programs at Alvernia, few have endured the battle Larrie Summar Thomas ‘04 fought and ultimately lost — and that is her fight with colon cancer. She was diagnosed at the age of 19 and she courageously attended classes while undergoing cancer treatments. Nick Donohue ‘03 shared many classes with her and was continuously amazed by her optimistic attitude and great sense of humor. After graduation, Larrie and Nick both worked at the Berks County Youth Detention Center. It was there Nick got to see firsthand how her kindness and good spirit affected those around her. She often received letters from students after they moved on from the detention center. It meant the world to her to get updates and to know that she made a difference in the lives of these kids. Over the next few years she continued to undergo cancer treatments, sometimes having periods of remission lasting months. Time after time she fought over and over again, never

giving up, and doing it always with a positive attitude. In January of 2007, the cancer was so extensive that Larrie was given only three months to live. She passed away two weeks later in February at the age of 24. Nick was so inspired by Larrie that he created the Larrie Summar Scholarship to keep the memory of Larrie alive and to honor her tenacious yet loving spirit that represents so many who enter into the Criminal Justice field. She left this world too soon and he would like nothing more than to educate future generations about the courage and determination of his friend and classmate. Please consider joining Nick in this effort. The more money we secure, the more scholarships we are able to award. Gifts of any amount will help criminal justice students in need of financial support but also honor the memory of Larrie. If you’re interested in supporting the Larrie Summar Thomas Scholarship fund, you can do so online at or call Thomas Minick ‘98, M’10 at 610-790-2862 or email him at

D e g r e e

P r o g r a m s


The Alvernia Online MBA Our flexible, online ethics-driven program provides an innovative education in business to help you get ahead. ■ Small cohorts mean personalized attention ■ Accelerated 8-week modules let you focus on one course at a time ■ Faculty members have real-world expertise ■ Accredited by the ACBSP August cohort is forming now! Contact Mark Snyder at for more information. To show our ongoing support to Alvernia alumni, we provide a 25% discount off the graduate tuition rate. Great Expectations | Cont. from page 23

Q: Do you envision your role within the Reading community evolving?

Q: Will Alvernia continue to expand its reach beyond the local area?

Q: How different will your graduates be in 2018?

Joanne Judge Our role in providing advanced degrees and specialized certifications to those who are looking to develop their careers will continue to be a cornerstone of Alvernia’s contributions to the quality of life of Reading and Berks County. And so will our longstanding commitment to providing access to underserved populations and first generation college students. But we also see the university building on current efforts to ensure that the community becomes part of our curriculum by making community-based research and servicelearning essential elements of our offerings. Creative partnerships, like an expanded South Reading Youth Initiative, sustainability programs with the Angelica Park Environmental Exploration Center, and an expansion of our current health care education efforts will further reinforce Alvernia’s value as a community resource. We also envision that the university will become a well-established cultural and artistic resource locally, with the O’Pake Institute and Holleran Center helping expand our national reputation for community engagement. And I know that Tom and others are already planning an expansion of our Montessori School and Seniors College programs and envision Alvernia as becoming a leading area resource for interfaith dialogue.

Joanne Judge By 2018, we foresee that our growing reputation regionally and even nationally will be supported by alumni chapters across the East Coast and in other targeted locations. We really feel that our alumni volunteers can become major partners with academic departments, career services, and admissions. They’ll also provide expanded leadership as trustees and faithful supporters of fundraising efforts.

Dr. Flynn Certainly they will be influenced by changes in society and the world. And as we discussed earlier, technology will continue to alter how students learn. By then we will have many more students with international experiences of study and service. Those now who study abroad or participate in our terrific alternative breaks program are transformed by these experiences. But over the next 5-6 years, I think we will see more continuities than dramatic differences in our graduates. Like those from other fine schools, our students will have been prepared to be critical thinkers and creative problem solvers. But unlike at most universities, our undergraduates leave Alvernia with both first-rate professional preparation and a fine liberal arts education, ready to be reflective professionals and engaged citizens. Our Franciscan values also shape their personal as well as professional growth. Imbued with the Franciscan core values and the ideal of “knowledge joined with love,” open to the world and its diversity of peoples, our graduates will continue to be ethical leaders with moral courage. Alvernia graduates will in 2018, as today, do well and do good.

56 Alvernia University Magazine

Dr. Flynn We envision that “Alvernia Nation” will reach far beyond our current boundaries by 2018. The study abroad and international mission programs will have expanded, building on work begun recently, likely to include annual programs in the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and of course in Assisi, in partnership with the Bernardine Sisters, to complement sites in Europe, Africa and Australia. And global perspectives will be far more integrated throughout the curriculum and co-curriculum, as the diversity and cross-cultural plans currently in place will have spawned a range of additional improvements, including increased enrollment of underrepresented groups. We have a great foundation for this work already, with a large number of current faculty members possessing international backgrounds and/or interests. It’s quite likely we will need to hire others in key fields.

Read Alvernia’s strategic plan at

Alumni Class Notes Philadelphia. Their wedding reception was held at Cescaphe Ballroom in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia, and their honeymoon was in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Brian was promoted to foreman at the Philadelphia Gas Works in September 2011. Katharine Griffith ‘05 recently accepted a voluntary transfer to the northern border, northeast of Lake Ontario, as a United States Border Patrol Agent. She is now stationed in Massena, N.Y., and is engaged to Tyler Harnish. Maryemma (Butler) Gregory ‘05 teaches 3- to

5-year-olds at the Milford Head Start in Milford, Del. Michael Hoshour ‘05 and his wife had twin girls on February 13, 2012. Alexandra Joy and Lea Elizabeth entered the world at 4:07 p.m. and 4:09 p.m. Alexandra weighed in at six pounds, and Leah weighed five pounds, seven ounces. Both girls were 19 1/4 inches long. Patricia Cupitt ‘05, M’06 and her family were honored by the American Heart Association in Philadelphia as the top community fundraiser in the Philadelphia region for 2011. The Cupitt

family raised money in honor of their daughter Alexa, who suffers from the congenital heart defect known as tetralogy of fallot. Daphne Latham ‘06 passed away on November 20, 2011. Daphne is survived by her daughter Talisa, and her fiancé Justin R. Barnes. Priscilla Hole ‘06 and her fiancée Christopher Mummolo tied the knot on September 24, 2011, at Grace Fellowship Church in Shillington, Pa., followed by a reception at the Scottish Rite Cathedral in Wyomissing, Pa. The couple’s two sons were ring bearers.

Mark Your Calendar! 2012 July 14 Alumni Day at Knoebels Grove

July 20 Alumni Night at the Lehigh Valley IronPigs

Aug. 3 Alumni Night at the Reading Phillies

Sept. 20 Alumni fall foliage cruise to Canada and New England

Visit Alvernia’s online calendar for more information: Join Alvernia on

Yasuo Taniguchi ‘06 passed away on August 3, 2011, after a battle with lung cancer. After graduating from Alvernia University, Yasuo returned to Japan. He taught classes in Japanese colleges about business in the United States and Japan. He enjoyed spending time with his family and friends and, of course, playing golf. Anastasia Lawrence ‘07 was featured in the Reading Eagle for her job as an AP biology and honors human anatomy and physiology teacher at Exeter High School. Beth (Soja) Callen ‘07 and her husband Patrick had a baby girl, Riley Alexa Callen, on July 7, 2011. Conor Delaney ‘07 is now the Senior Financial Advisor and Managing Partner with The Good Life Financial Group in Wyomissing, Pa. Conor is a member of Alvernia’s Alumni Council. Jarrod Emes ‘07 is now the director of the security division of KRE Security/ Investigations, Inc.

Jarrod has been an employee of KRE Security since 1998. As director, Jarrod will be responsible for sales, scheduling, site supervision, employee relations and training. Jessica (Stewart) Fino ‘07 was named manager at Metro Bank in Spring Township. In her new position, Jessica is responsible for generating, managing and servicing deposit relationships. Sarah Jones ‘07 is a forensic scientist at Atlantic Diagnostic Laboratories in Bensalem, Pa. She is engaged to marry Adam Shoemaker in May 2013. Ashley Hoke ‘08 welcomed daughter Sadie Caroline into the world. Ashley is a member of Alvernia’s Alumni Council. Jason Deitz ‘08 and his wife Heather welcomed Drew Joseph Deitz into the world on Saturday, October 22, 2011, at 12:38 p.m. Drew was seven pounds, nine ounces, and was 20 inches long.

Stacey Breneman ‘08 and Kurt Royer were married on September 10, 2011, at Cameron Estate Inn in Mount Joy. Amber (Landis) Shirk ‘09 is an occupational therapist for the Lancaster-Lebanon IU13. Charlette Drexel ‘09 is engaged to Jonathan Hall. Jay Worrall ‘09 is the president of the Antietam Valley Community Partnership. The group is trying to improve the quality of life in Antietam Valley and hoping to build a sense of community in the area. He is employed at Alvernia as Director of the Holleran Center for Community Engagement. Margaret CookeBurgess ‘09, M’11 passed away on October 31, 2011. Nicole (Stoyer) ‘09 and Matthew Carley were married on December 11, 2010, during a candlelight doublering ceremony. Samson Gausch ‘09 is engaged to Kelly Steber ‘11. An April 2013 

Just another way to stay connected Alvernia University Magazine


Alumni Class Notes tragedy becomes Triumph | Cont. from page 48

wedding is planned.

▼2010s Brandi (Grubb) ‘10 married Timothy M. Hoffman at Blue Falls Grove on September 10, 2011. Kayla Oliver ‘10 has been employed with Berks Counseling Center since August 2010 as an addictions treatment therapist. In February 2011, Kayla accepted a position with Berks Counseling Center as the Community Re-Entry Counselor at Berks County Prison. She hopes

to return to Alvernia to begin graduate work in the fall of 2012. Susan Pollack ‘10 and Jasen Esposito are engaged. Jennifer (Greth) Nied ‘11 was elected to a twoyear term to the executive committee of the Greater Reading Young Professionals. Kathryn Gallagher ‘11 was featured in the Reading Eagle’s “In Our Schools” section. Kate is an

eighth grade math teacher at Southern Middle School in the Reading School District. Kelly Steber ‘11 is engaged to Samson Gausch ‘09. An April 2013 wedding is planned. Kelly is an occupational therapist at Orthopedic Associates of Allentown. Maria A. D’Alessandro ‘11 is engaged to Craig T. Starr. The couple resides in Reading, Pa., and a May 2012 wedding is planned.

Save the Date

Homecoming Weekend October 12 & 13, 2012 Live music and good times with alumni, faculty and staff make this a favorite event each fall. Visit for details on all alumni events.

58 Alvernia University Magazine

homeland. My mother was more of a worrier. She was apprehensive.” The Simons’ successes made them doubt the worst. An aunt, not as well off, left for America in 1935. “They had nothing to lose,” she says. “You know when you own things, you don’t give up right away.” “Mom, didn’t you hear Hitler speak in a market square once?” asks Jeff. “Oh, he screamed, and you had a fear of the uniformed men with guns,” she recalls. Still, daily life went on. Then one day, Jews could not employ non-Jews in their homes. “The maid had to be let go,” she says. Then in 1936, the girls’ Catholic school contacted the Simons. Jewish children were no longer allowed to attend. “The [Catholic] Sisters were absolutely as sad as you could imagine.” Her oldest sister, Edith, was in her last year. “They let her graduate. They took a chance with that.” The three other girls — Hilde, Ruth and Ilse, the youngest — were pulled out. Hilde and Ruth went to far-off Oldenburg, where a rabbi had established a tworoom school in the synagogue for the expelled children. (Ilse, too young for the rigorous commute, stayed home.) “We left at 6 a.m.,” Gernsheimer says. “We rode our bicycle to the train station, about 25 minutes, then took the train, an hour ride, then walked to the temple, about 20 minutes.” The curriculum focused on English. “We were all hoping that we would eventually leave Germany,” she says. All of the Simons had papers for America but had to wait for their quota numbers to be called. Horror at the doorstep On Nov. 10, 1938, Hilde, then 12, was at home recovering from surgery when she and Ilse heard a commotion. Their mother

insisted the girls stay upstairs. “We looked out the window and saw two uniformed men taking my father away,” she says. “They didn’t give him a chance to tie his shoes.” Hitler had ordered all Jewish men and boys as young as 16 to be arrested — some 30,000 people — and sent to concentration camps. From Nov. 9 to Nov. 10, infamously known as Kristallnacht, 91 Jews were killed, hundreds of synagogues were attacked and more than 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed. “That was the last time I saw him,” she says of her father. She is quiet — the words hang in the air. When Ruth, then 13, arrived at school, the synagogue was ablaze and covered in swastikas. “Someone said, ‘Go home and hope your family is still there,’” Gernsheimer says, picking up the story again. On the train back, Ruth sat among Storm Troopers. “Things changed that quickly,” Jeff says. Gernsheimer makes a point of noting that the Gentile neighbors snuck over to check on the Simons. “There were a lot of compassionate people,” she says. But Kristallnacht made clear that Germany was no longer safe for Jews. Karl Simon had managed to mail a postcard with word that he was at Oranienburg. “Send the children on a trip,” he wrote. In other words, get out of Germany. Their mother, desperate to save the girls, sent Hilde and Ruth, with one suitcase between them, on a transport to England. It was one of the first Kindertransports. At the port of Hamburg, the children were taken to see the sights. “And all anyone was doing was crying,” Gernsheimer says. “All these children separated from their families.” The night crossing of the rough English Channel

Hilde and Ruth Simon, Harrogate, England circa 1940

Solly and Hilde Gernsheimer on their wedding day, March 31, 1946.

was “a nightmare of a voyage, between seasickness and homesickness.” Seeking safety In England, Hilde and Ruth lived at an Orthodox Jewish hostel in Harrogate. “We thought if we went to a religious home, maybe God would help us,” she says. The Kindertransport was supposed to be temporary refuge until the children would reunite with their parents. Instead, Hilde and Ruth would never see their mother and father again. In January 1939, Karl Simon was released from Oranienburg. (An uncle, however, was killed for saying Kaddish, a Jewish prayer, over a dead inmate.) The Simons, along with Ilse and Edith, bought passage on the SS St. Louis in May 1939 full of optimism as they headed for Cuba and later expected to immigrate to America. But the 937 passengers were never allowed to disembark because of paperwork issues, and despite appeals, the United States would not accept the vessel. “They were absolutely distraught,” she says. The “Voyage of the Damned” headed back

to Germany. Some passengers committed suicide rather than return. Before the ship reached German shores, England, France, Belgium and Holland offered to take the Jews. The Simons ended up in Holland; later that year, Edith boarded a last Kindertransport to England. On Hilde’s 17th birthday, she received a letter from her mother. “Don’t worry about us. God will help us,” it said. But for her parents and Ilse, safe haven in Holland was only a short reprieve. Hitler invaded on May 10, 1941, and “all these people who thought they had escaped the Nazis were once again under the Nazi regime,” Gernsheimer says. Her parents and Ilse, just 15, were eventually sent to Sobibor — where they perished on May 21, 1943. International Red Cross documents list the cause of deaths as asphyxiation. Finally, their quota numbers were called for; Edith and then Hilde and Ruth; they came to America. The sisters worked (Gernsheimer was a hairdresser), married, had children (besides the twins, she also has a daughter, Sharon) and made good lives. Gernsheimer still keeps in touch with

“several of the girls” from the English hostel, now scattered around the globe. For most of the 60 years that she lived and raised her family in Bernville, few knew she was a survivor. No more. “When we learned about the Holocaust in class it was easy to say it happened, that it was just a part of history,” said Jen Kaucher. “But hearing Hildegard tell her story brings the atrocities to life, and that makes you confront the horror head-on.” Gernsheimer’s story is oft repeated and includes her trips back to Cloppenburg. Recently, she visited the sites where her 11 Jewish neighbors had lived, now marked with brass plates. “We went to the homes where young families lived with children the age of my great grandchildren, and they were all sent to camps and killed,” she says. “For what? Just for being Jewish. The reality hits you so tremendously.” Lini S. Kadaba writes for a variety of publications, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and Privacy Journal. She lives in Newtown Square, Pa. Alvernia University Magazine


miracle | Continued from page 45

my turn | Continued from page 13

A few years after the visitation, they took possession of 10 acres of hilltop farmland, a location Mother Veronica had long admired from the window of her rented convent in Reading and secretly called Mount Alvernia. On that hilltop in the ensuing years a new motherhouse was built, an orphanage, a high school and a college that blossomed into a university. Sisters who took their vows there left for missions in South Dakota, Michigan, Virginia, Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, Brazil and Africa. “The story of St. Joseph at Ridgewood is a tiny slice of the bigger miracle of Alvernia University and the transformation of lives that it has generated,” says Sister Rosemary. The story of that astounding and varied

success is not as succinct as the tale of a Saint Joseph-like figure appearing one cold winter’s day with much-needed food. But the denouement is the same. A few years after the mysterious food delivery incident, Mother Veronica inscribed the following words on the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that she placed at the entrance to her new convent (known today as Francis Hall): “In Hoc Signo Vinces” (In This Sign You Will Conquer). Just another way of saying “The Lord will provide.” Peggy Landers, a former Editor with the Philadelphia Daily News, is an award-winning journalist who specializes in writing about religion, food, fashion and travel.

The Last Meow | Cont. from page 53

that,” she said. “I encourage people to talk about their pets and share memories about them. When that happens, they’ll be crying and laughing at the same time, and it’s a very healing sort of thing. That’s when they start to work through the loss.” Sharon, who received support during her time at Alvernia from university

personnel and community members, said she was encouraged to reach out to the community by her Alvernia professors and the school’s Franciscan tradition of giving back. “I just had so much support from the Sisters and others here,” she said. “And, now I’m looking at what I can do to give back to the

President Thomas F. Flynn, Ph.D. Vice President, Marketing & Communications Brad Drexler Creative Director Steve Thomas Contributing Editor Carey Manzolillo ’06, M’07 Contributing writers Elizabeth Shimer Bowers; Bill Doherty; Dr. Thomas F. Flynn; Geoff Gehman; Carly Glasmyre ’12; Audrey Hoffman ’09, M’10; Jane Sheiner Jones; Lini Kadaba; Peggy Landers; Carey Manzolillo ’06, M’07; Susan Shelly Contributing photographers Theo Anderson; Carey Manzolillo ’06, M’07; Jon King ’04; Dan Z. Johnson Alvernia Magazine is a publication of Alvernia University. Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Correspondence should be addressed to 540 Upland Avenue, Reading, PA 19611, or email:

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community.” It is her wish that other Alvernians will do the same. “I hope that as people graduate from Alvernia, and from my program (community counseling) in particular, that they’ll find ways to give back to the people who supported them and helped them along,” she said. She also hopes that others will take to heart the work of St. Francis, whose love extended to all of God’s creation. “St. Francis believed that God entrusted us to be stewards of the earth, and that means we don’t just throw our trash out, and we work to conserve our resources and we stop to enjoy the beauty of a flower,” Sharon said. “It also means that we must appreciate all creatures, because we have an obligation to them. St. Francis cared for humans and the human soul, but he also took time for animals.” Susan Shelly has written more than 30 books and is a frequent contributor to area newspapers and magazines. She lives in Shillington, Pa.

many interactions parents can easily have with their child(ren), setting the stage for student success in school and life: setting high expectations, involvement in extracurricular after-school activities, being a role model by reading to/with their child(ren) regularly, providing and using technology, helping with homework, eating meals together and perhaps most importantly, simply talking with their child(ren) on a regular basis and providing rules and discipline. Teachers and administrators are certainly influential in a child’s education and can provide high-quality curriculum and instruction along with a positive learning environment. However, until parents share responsibility equally with teachers and administrators, true school reform is destined to languish. Held Hostage | Cont. from page 50

real life as possible, and they give our students an opportunity to practice what they’ve learned in a stressful, but simulated situation.” Despite an ultra-competitive job market — a market where the Pennsylvania state police receive 8,000 plus applications for a class of 50 cadets — Hartung believes that Hermany and his fellow criminal justice classmates have been uniquely prepared between real-life exercises, internships and the expertise that Alvernia’s professors have imparted on them from their days in the fields of law enforcement, terrorism, probation and corrections. “Textbooks, at times, can be dry, so I try to intersperse some real-life stories into the classroom — whether it’s telling them about a particular kidnapping case or serial killer case that I worked on — or putting them in real scenarios and getting them to solve the problem,” says Hartung. “Plus, we hire professors who have been there and done that, because I believe that experienced law enforcement professionals make the best teachers and that students, like Ryan, literally leave here prepared for anything.” Bill Doherty is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in widely-read magazines such as Better Homes & Gardens, Best Life, ESPN the Magazine, and The Sporting News.

Give & Get Give to Alvernia, and we’ll give you crispy green thank you notes in return. In today’s financial environment, you’re probably looking to make every dollar go a bit further. If you’re considering a gift to Alvernia, why not make one that pays you income — for life? Consider a Charitable Gift Annuity.*

Single-Life Charitable Gift Annuity* Rates Age Gift Amount 60 $10,000 65 $10,000 70 $10,000 75 $10,000 80 $10,000 85 $10,000

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Age Gift Amount 60 $100,000 65 $100,000 70 $100,000 75 $100,000 80 $100,000 85 $100,000

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*Charitable Gift Annuities provide an initial tax deduction and guaranteed income for life, a portion of which is tax free. For more information, contact Zane Gizzi at 610-796-8430 or Alvernia University Magazine


“There is no such thing as making the miracle happen spontaneously and on the spot. You’ve got to work.” Martina Arroyo


olores Bertoti has looked at this quote many times during the past four years and found solace. Martina Arroyo, an internationally acclaimed singer who rose to fame in the mid 1960s, was part of a group of black performers who were instrumental in breaking down the barriers of racial prejudice in the opera world. Bertoti, an associate professor of occupational therapy and athletic training, has been working on her own miracle, co-authoring the 50th anniversary edition of Brunnstrom’s Clinical Kinesiology. In 2006, publisher F.A. Davis approached Bertoti and another colleague, Peggy Houglum, a professor at Duquesne University, for the revision and update of the classic kinesiology text, first written by Swedish clinician Signe Brunnstrom in 1962. The accomplished Alvernia faculty member herself learned on the second edition and says F.A. Davis’s invitation was “the most distinguished I have ever received. This book is regarded as the gold standard kinesiology text.” Bertoti did not accept the invitation just for the distinction; she explains in the acknowledgments of the textbook that “images of her students’ eager faces” motivated her. Brunnstrom’s Clinical Kinesiology is a natural extension of her teaching, of Bertoti herself. “Students tell me when they read it, they can hear me talking,” said Bertoti. “Peggy and I worked very

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hard to make the text palatable for students.” Houglum and Bertoti also endeavored to make the text more comprehensible for instructors as well. They completely updated the book’s glossary and artwork, and provided an instructor’s guide, syllabi, test banks and PowerPoints for instructors, as well as animated learning modules of key content on the Web. Universities and instructors have adopted the text around the globe. “Peggy and I really hope this can be a wonderful tool in teaching therapists of the future and impact lives all around the world,” said Bertoti. Completion of her work on the book marks another miracle in Bertoti’s life, her 25th year as a breast cancer survivor. In her office, she proudly displays a picture of her class donning pink hair and pink ribbons to show their support. With Bertoti’s infectious laugh and genuine passion for everything she does, it is easy to see why students are so devoted to “Saint Bertots” as she is known to some. Senior Samantha Boone says “Mrs. Bertoti has such a welcoming presence. She is always willing to help when there is a need. Her dedication to her students’ educational experience is overwhelmingly contagious!” Though Bertoti’s work on Brunnstrom’s Clinical Kinesiology will help her touch lives around the world, she is always focused on the lives right in front of her. “I feel so blessed to be with my students. I truly love what I do, where I do it and who I do it with.” Carly Glasmyre is a freelance writer and proud Alvernia graduate from the class of 2012.

Theo Anderson

By Carly Glasmyre

By the


“I really hope this can be

a wonderful tool in teaching therapists of the future and impact lives all around the world.� Dolores Bertoti

Alvernia University Magazine


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Changing the World Robert Balthaser ’91 stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial, just one of our nation’s treasures he is fighting to save. He also stands as one of Alvernia’s “10 to Watch.” See story page 24

Alvernia Magazine Summer 2012