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ARTIST Illustrator makes his mark in Pittsburgh

The California University of Pennsylvania Magazine

CAL U REVIEW SUMMER 2017 • VOL. 45 - NO. 2 The Cal U Review is published by the Office of Communications and Public Relations and is distributed free. Third-class postage paid at California.


Our welcome mat is getting a workout here at California University — and that’s just the way we like it. Academic events during the spring semester brought more than 3,000 middle school and high school students to Cal U for science and robotics competitions, hands-on learning activities and a variety of other presentations. We’ve revamped our campus visit experience to give it a more personal touch, and held the largest Open House event on record for prospective students and their families. Athletic contests and alumni events bring a steady stream of visitors to California. And in the first six months of 2017, an estimated 59,000 visitors came through the doors of our Convocation Center, including Cal U families and friends who filled every seat in the house for our spring Commencement ceremonies. I’m always pleased to see guests on campus, whether they are families engaged in a college search, alumni revisiting their alma mater, individuals here on business, or community members out for a stroll on the Quad. Our University shouldn’t be a “hidden gem.” We want visitors to experience our hospitality and see for themselves all that California has to offer. When was the last time you were on campus? Why not plan a visit — and introduce a friend or family member to Cal U? California is especially beautiful in autumn, when the trees in our nationally recognized arboretum are wearing their fall colors. Homecoming 2017 is October 14, but you are welcome any time. Revisit your favorite places on campus (or see how they’ve changed!). Grab a bite to eat in the recently remodeled Natali Student Center. Watch the Vulcans play, or watch a play in Steele Hall. And don’t forget to stop at the Kara Alumni House, where our Alumni Relations staff can share news or answer your questions. If you see me on campus, I hope you’ll say hello. Our welcome mat is always out for you! With warm wishes,


Frank T. Brogan


Cynthia D. Shapira, chair David M. Maser, vice chair; chair, Finance, Administration and Facilities Sen. Ryan P. Aument Rep. Matthew E. Baker Audrey F. Bronson Secretary of Policy and Planning Sarah Galbally, governor’s designee Rep. Michael K. Hanna Shaina Marie Hilsey Donald E. Houser Jr. Jonathan B. Mack, chair, Academic and Student Affairs

Daniel P. Meuser Barbara McIlvaine Smith Thomas S. Muller, chair, Audit Guido M. Pichini Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera Sen. Judith L. Schwank Harold C. Shields, vice chair; chair, Human Resources Brian Swatt Governor Tom Wolf Two vacancies


Geraldine M. Jones, University president Dr. Bruce Barnhart, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs Robert Thorn, vice president for Administration and Finance Dr. Nancy Pinardi, vice president for Student Affairs


Annette Ganassi, chair James T. Davis ’73, vice chair Roberta M. Betza Sarah R. Cassin ’97 Sean T. Logue Larry Maggi ’79

Michele M. Mandell ’69 Robert Miner Jr. ’78 Thomas Uram Ellen “Mari” Boyle, student trustee/secretary Frank T. Brogan, chancellor, ex-officio


Jesse Hereda ’04, president Ashely (Baird) Roth ’10, ’12, vice president Dante Morelli ’02, secretary Justin Binion ’11, treasurer Lynne (Moltz) Stout ’94, immediate past president Alisha Carter ’06, ’11 Robert Crall ’10, ’12

Shelly (Fetchen) DiCesaro ’94 Mindi (D’Auria) Fisher ’07 Brendan Garay ’15 David Gwyer ’65 Erica McDill ’92 Melissa McKean ’07 Marc Quann ’88 Bryan (Tolle) Schuerman ’09, ’16 Tim Susick ’76, ’78


Paul Gentile ’62 Anthony Lazzaro ’55

Michael Napolitano ’68 George Novak ’55


Geraldine M. (Johns) Jones ’72, ’80 Annette Ganassi Anthony Mauro ’92, ’93

William Flinn II ’68 Barbara Hess Leslie (Berdar) Fleenor ’08


Cody Ambrose, undergraduate Ellen “Mari” Boyle, undergraduate Nathan Connolly, undergraduate Hope Cox, ’00, ’01, alumna Jessica Crosson, undergraduate Anthony D’Agostino, undergraduate Jonathan Hershey, undergraduate

Ryan Jerico, ’09, alumnus Emily Moyer, undergraduate Ashley Roth, ’10, ’12, alumna Bryan (Tolle) Schuerman, ’09, ’16, alumnus Two vacancies


Dr. Nancy Pinardi, ’94, ’96, ’98, vice president for Student Affairs Leigh Ann Lincoln, chief financial officer for SAI Larry Sebek, ’90, ’94, associate vice president for Student Affairs


Geraldine M. Jones President, California University of Pennsylvania

William R. Flinn II ’68, president Harry E. Serene ’65, vice president Donald J. Thompson, secretary Paul L. Kania ’87, treasurer Armand E. Balsano ’74 William R. Booker ’74 Therese J. Gass ’77 Jesse G. Hereda ’04 Alan K. James ’62 Zeb Jansante ’82, ’91

Robert E. Lippencott ’66 Reginald A. Long ’81 John A. Lorenzi ’15 Larry Maggi ’79 Frederick A. Retsch ’62 Anthony J. Saludis Linda H. Serene ’64 William G. Stough Lynne Stout ’94 Deborah E. Takach ’05


Geraldine M. Jones ’72, ‘80, University President Anthony Mauro ’92, ’93, associate vice president for Development and Alumni Relations



Christine Kindl

Zach Frailey Greg Sofranko Kelly Tunney Joshua Richardson


Wendy Mackall Bruce Wald ’85 @CalUofPA @CalUofPA

PAGE 9 CUTV’s award-winning broadcast team makes a big play by live-streaming sports.











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CAL U GETS OUT THE VOTE Cal U has been named a Voter Friendly Campus, one of only seven Pennsylvania universities recognized by the nonpartisan organizations Campus Vote Project and NASPAStudent Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Nationwide, just 83 campuses in 23 states were recognized for practices that encourage students to register and vote. Cal U’s plan to engage students throughout the 2016 general election season made it a standout. As part of that plan, the campus chapter of the American Democracy Project organized events to educate students about the election process, the issues and the candidates; promoted voter registration; and worked with student government to get Cal U voters to the polls.

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Portrait of an artist

Illustrator Joe Mruk’s colorful posters and album art enliven Pittsburgh’s music scene.

Visits with a purpose

A blend of academics and hands-on fun brings dozens of school groups to campus.

Ambassador of fun

Our popular Vulcan mascot, Blaze, makes the rounds of campus and community events.

A dream no longer deferred The road to a diploma took decades, but now she has her degree.

Hooray for ‘Hockeyville’ A student’s essay sparks a big win for sports clubs’ home ice.

A NOTE TO OUR READERS The Cal U Review is published three times a year to keep you updated with alumni news and information from all four Colleges at California University. Both the current edition and back issues, along with Cal U Review “extras,” are available online at To stay updated, alumni may send their email address to Email Milestones items to



ARTIST Illustrator makes a name for himself in Pittsburgh


Joe Mruk ‘10 owns Red Buffalo Illustration, based in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood.


f you’re a fan of the Pittsburgh music scene or a CityPaper reader, you’ve probably seen Joe Mruk’s illustrations. The 2010 graduate of Cal U’s Bachelor of Fine Arts program is one of Pittsburgh’s most prolific artists — and his reputation is growing. The website for Mruk’s home-based business, Red Buffalo Illustration, displays his imaginative woodworks, paintings and mixed-media pieces. But his intricate, colorful posters and album art have let Mruk make illustration a full-time career. He’s drawn posters for dozens of bands, illustrated CD covers and liner notes, and created posters, fliers, programs and T-shirt designs for music festivals throughout the region. Food trucks and foundations have commissioned Mruk’s work. Tröegs, an independent brewery in central Pennsylvania, used his art in a promotion for its January ale.

Last winter, Pittsburgh CityPaper asked the Lawrenceville resident to illustrate its “Most Listable City” front page. “Joe has a unique illustration style, and his work is everywhere around the city,” says Cal U graphic design professor Greg Harrison. “It’s become his profession — and he’s certainly arrived.”

Finding his tribe

Mruk grew up in Plum Borough, Pa. “I used to trace and draw my own Sunday comics when I was a little kid,” he says. “But I didn’t understand what graphic design was, or that it was a thriving industry. “Not until I went to Cal U did I end up meeting creative people. The first real artists I ever met were hanging out in Vulcan Studio.” An “apathetic” student in high school, Mruk blossomed academically and artistically in the fine arts program’s small classes, where he studied painting and graphic design.

He thrived on interactions with Cal U faculty who also are practicing artists. And he became friends with students who shared his creative ambitions. “College was awesome,” he recalls. “I was finally doing stuff that was relevant to what I wanted to do in my life.” After class, Mruk helped to organize student art exhibitions in Cal U’s Vulcan Gallery. He made himself “the go-to guy for promotional materials” representing students’ work, and he was gallery director in his senior year. Since graduating he’s stayed in touch with Harrison, who owns “at least a dozen” pieces by his former student, and with Cal U alumni who are active in the region’s art scene. His business relies heavily on word of mouth, and Mruk says he’s grateful for both the skills and the connections he made at Cal U. “Good design is a skill set that feeds art and illustration, and I learned that in school. Color theory embedded itself in my mind in ways I never realized until I began doing this in earnest. “And Cal U gave me the connections and opportunities that led to new experiences I couldn’t previously imagine.”

From paper to pixels

Mruk’s illustrations evoke a mood and tell a story, often with animals as stand-ins for humans. Drooling wolves, toothy warthogs and hipster raccoons, all in bright colors, populate his designs. “They’re a lot more fun to draw than anything else,” says Mruk, whose Red Buffalo brand alludes to his colorful creatures. Stray bits of culture — from sci-fi movies to historical architecture — find their way into his work. When he’s designing band posters, Mruk immerses himself in the music. His drawings pick up imagery from songs and reflect the band’s genre, whether it’s heavy metal, indie rock or psychedelic pop. “I try to show the feeling you get from the music. Anger or sadness, humor or something jovial … the entire spectrum of emotions. I like to challenge myself.” Mruk’s artwork emerges first in pencil, growing more detailed as his fantasy takes shape. Then he goes over the sketch in ink, creating clear, firm lines with a fine-tipped pen.

When every element has been carefully outlined, Mruk scans the drawing into his computer and layers color onto the digitized image. “I learned to use (Adobe) Illustrator and Photoshop at Cal U,” he says. Now technology is an integral part of his process. Mruk has screen-printed his designs, but most of his clients prefer digital images they can post on a website, share on social media or print on demand. A band might refresh its poster supply just before a concert. A festival may use Mruk’s artwork on T-shirts, coffee mugs, web banners and newspaper ads. In the meantime, fans share his illustrations on Facebook and Instagram. “I typically deliver a digital product to the client,” Mruk says. “It’s highly detailed, so it can be printed at any size. The client can handle the printing. … I’m off to the next project.”

Shop talk and music

When he gets up from his drawing board, Mruk seldom stands still. He’s taught drawing to kids at the Wash Arts community center in Washington, Pa., and coordinated art lessons at a summer

camp on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He organizes events, as he did at the Vulcan Gallery, to showcase the work of Pittsburgh musicians and artists. He uses Facebook and Instagram to advertise his business, and maintains his website at Once a month he talks shop in Lawrenceville with fellow “editorial artists” in the National Cartoonists Society. He’s also editing and illustrating a book series under the Young Rabbit brand. Fight Stories, Ghost Stories and Medicine Stories collect tales by regional writers. Six more books are planned. And he never stops networking. “The music community in Pittsburgh is very tight-knit. I go to their shows. That’s part of my job, and I enjoy it,” he says. Harrison sees his former student’s reputation growing, in Pittsburgh and beyond. “No one is going to get tired of seeing his images,” he says. “Joe’s done so much work; he knows everybody in the city. “He is fast becoming a famous illustrator — and he’s already doing what he loves.”  By Christine Kindl, communications director at Cal U




Cal U welcomes young students to learning events





t’s hard to top an event headlined by a princess, a knight and a dragon. Cal U threw a celebration in honor of St. George’s Day — a Spanish feast day celebrating the legend of a brave knight who slew a dragon, saved a village and rescued a princess — and invited high school students to join the festivities. Hosted by the Art and Languages Department, the celebration was expanded to include Arabic culture and a student art exhibition of medieval-themed prints, paintings, drawings, jewelry and ceramics. Sixty students from Fort Cherry, Burgettstown and McGuffey high schools in Washington County, Pa., took it all in during an educational field trip to campus.

Burgettstown students in teacher Kelly Cadarette’s Spanish III class had just finished a research assignment on Spanish holidays, so the timing was perfect. “I like the opportunity to visit a college campus,” says student Elka Hoelsken. “We live in what’s called a ‘rural fringe (area)’ and there’s not always a lot of opportunity for us to experience different cultures. Any time there’s an opportunity to visit a college or a bigger city, it’s fun.” “This provides a broad education for students,” says Dr. Razak Abedalla-Surrey, who teaches in Cal U’s Arabic language programs. “We see a lot of the ‘hot zones’ in the Arab world in the media, but we don’t get to see or experience daily Arabic culture.”

Going inside of a college classroom was a new experience for me. It connects to what I’m learning at school, because we’re learning how to write fiction stories. DEVEN FREELAND, LAUREL HIGHLANDS MIDDLE SCHOOL

PRIME time

During the spring semester, Cal U held a wide variety of events that brought more than 3,000 middle school and high school students to campus. They included a Harry Potter literary conference; a 3D computer animation workshop; FIRST® Robotics, BotsIQ and National Robotics League competitions; a statistics and data science poster presentation; a Scholastic Art & Writing Awards program; the Pennsylvania Science Olympiad; and a presentation by a worldrenowned anthropologist. Many events were funded by a new University outreach called PRIME, the Provost’s Recruitment Initiatives Mobilization Effort, which supports enrollment efforts and highlights faculty expertise. “The intention of PRIME is for faculty to develop different ways to recruit students into their academic departments,” explains Dr. Tracey Sheetz, dean of Undergraduate Admissions. Community members are also welcome at PRIME — and many other — University events. “We want to demonstrate that we have outstanding faculty at Cal U and tap into that expertise. We want to showcase programs, the campus, and the overall Cal U experience to high school and middle school students as often as possible,” Sheetz says. One approach is to take something children love, such as the Harry Potter book series, and blend it with expertise from Cal U professors and other scholars on topics such as career choices, gender roles and learning communities. The result was a spell-binding day on Cal U’s campus for more than 260 students from six school districts. Organized by English professor Dr. Christina Fisanick, Cal U’s Harry Potter conference introduced them to the University — and made an English degree seem pretty cool. Alexandra Junko, a student at Laurel Highlands Middle School, was especially taken by a session on “Fantastic Beasts and

Where to Find Them,” presented by Dr. Sarah Downey, another member of the English Department. “Going inside of a college classroom was a new experience for me,” says Deven Freeland, who’s also from Laurel Highlands. “It connects to what I’m learning at school, because we’re learning how to write fiction stories.”

One busy weekend

On a Saturday in late April, visitors to the Natali Student Center experienced a Trip Through Time, a journey through history from the medieval age through World War II. It featured a military-style Civil War encampment, demonstrations by Cal U’s Fencing and Medieval clubs, and a panel discussion among faculty in the Department of History, Politics and Society. Zack Lynch, a student at Greater Latrobe High School, came specifically to see the Civil War era displays with his sister Megan and grandparents Glenn and Carol Boyd, of Greensburg, Pa. Lynch acknowledges there was extra credit for his social studies class involved, but he loved the day anyway. “I learned how they treated wounds and amputations,” he says, with a slight grimace. “They used hot irons and maggots!” “We learn so much talking to the reenactors,” says Glenn Boyd. “We’re history buffs, but there is always something we didn’t know.” The same day, different location, found Delaney Martino, a student at Punxsutawney High School, trying to get one of her school’s two robots back in action at the finals of the Southwestern Pennsylvania BotsIQ competition. A cascade of mechanical issues doomed the ’bot, but the competition in the Convocation Center was a great learning experience for the 20 students on the Punxsutawney team, one of more than 60 teams at the contest. “I’ve become more of a leader,” Martino says. “I learned teamwork, better writing skills for the documentation that we are

required to provide, and I know basic circuitry because of an electronics class I took because of robotics.”

Looking ahead

A 3D animation workshop, held on two Saturdays during the spring semester, may provide a “what’s next” model for the University’s outreach to middle and high school students. One idea: “Work closely with teachers. They can tell us what kinds of skills their students need, so Cal U faculty can build content around their input,” says workshop organizer Dr. Aleksandra Prokic, of the Department of Applied Engineering and Technology. On-campus learning experiences let teens and ’tweens picture themselves as future college students. “We need to be thought leaders,” Sheetz says. “The 3D workshop was all about exposure to the fun side of technology. “We want to go beyond the campus tour and introduce students to our wonderful faculty and the exciting learning opportunities that Cal U has to offer. “If they a have good experience, that’s a win for them and for the University.”  By Wendy Mackall, assistant communications director at Cal U





History buffs don their Revolutionary War-era costumes for A Trip Through Time, sponsored by the history department.

Beth-Center High School students Annabelle Larosa (left) and Nicole Hicks learn about swords and sword fighting at the St. George’s Day celebration.

Ohio-based teams the Flying Circuits (left), of Cleveland, and the Mavericks, of Milan, react as their practice match winds down at the Greater Pittsburgh Regional FIRST® Robotics Competition.

Nathan Mohr, of Alliance, Ohio, works on wiring a robot at the FIRST Robotics regional.



Mascot Blaze embodies school spirit


al U’s biggest fan is a sport management major who loves working out at Herron Recreation and Fitness Center. He was voted “best smile” in his class by fellow Cal U students. He always wins at arm wrestling. He loves eating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and watching Chariots of Fire. He’s also got an enormous head and sandaled feet the size of swim fins. He’s Blaze, Cal U’s fierce-but-fun mascot and community ambassador. And he has a secret. “I’m a 130-pound girl,” says Victoria Kuntz, a senior business administration major who


puts her experience as a personal trainer to good use when she wears the Blaze costume. “I’m actually looking out of Blaze’s mouth.” Mostly, it’s fine. However, things turned a bit rambunctious at the end of last year’s Coal Bowl victory over IUP at Adamson Stadium. In a burst of enthusiasm, the football team swarmed Blaze, all 6-feet, 2-inches of him, not realizing who was inside. “Blaze held it together,” Kuntz says, rather proudly. “I love being Blaze and also talking about Blaze. I feel like he’s his own person!” Technically, he’s a cartoon-style Vulcan, the Roman god of fire who, in various forms, has been a symbol of California pride since the 1930s. With a Facebook page — www.facebook. com/calublaze — and an email account,, he does seem to have a life of his own. He is definitely getting out more. There’s Blaze at California Riverfest. At Kennywood KidsFest. At Take Your Child to Work Day. At the California Volunteer Fire Department fish fry. At the Kraft Hockeyville™ USA event at Rostraver Ice Garden. The Cal U mascot shows up for community events free of charge and full of enthusiasm, explains Jamison Roth ’04, director of

Recreational Services and mascot manager. “We seem to add more requests each year,” Roth says. “A lot of it is word of mouth — people see Blaze at one event, and then they want to add him to their own event. “We had a Harry Potter literary conference on campus in the spring, and the high school students were so excited to take selfies with Blaze.” As Blaze branches out from his traditional role as chief cheerleader at athletic events, he spreads even more school spirit. Prospective and newly admitted students sometimes see him at open houses and orientations. “I absolutely love our mascot,” says Dr. Tracey Sheetz, dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Cal U. “If you’ve been accepted to Cal U as a future Vulcan, Blaze gives you a way to identify with the school. Everyone relates to characters — just look at Disney or the Geico Gecko. “Blaze also relates to our region’s identity, with steelworkers and coal miners and the rugged grit that you have to have to succeed. It’s a cool tie-in.” Blaze would probably agree, but like most mascots, he doesn’t speak when he’s on duty. A big thumbs-up will have to do.  By Wendy Mackall, assistant communications director at Cal U

e v i L At home or away, CUTV has school sports covered


he hosts of CUTV’s High School Roundup weren’t at the 77th National Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) Conference in New York when the show won the Best Sports Program award. Instead, the California University Television team was busy broadcasting women’s basketball as the Vulcans played in the PSAC Championship’s Final Four. CUTV is the only school in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education that regularly broadcasts road games. The station airs football, men’s and women’s basketball, soccer and club hockey games live on YouTube or In all, CUTV broadcast more than 70 sporting events during the 2016-2017 athletic year. Gary Smith ’98, ’01 is CUTV’s longtime director of operations and now the adviser for campus radio station WCAL. “The live-streaming has really brought CUTV full circle since we started filming football games in 1987 with two people running cameras and then editing for the next two days,” he says. “I don’t know of many school television stations doing multi-camera sports productions live on the road. We are basically fulfilling a mission that we set 31 years ago.” This spring, CUTV pulled off a marathon production, broadcasting all seven games of the 2017 NCAA Division II Women’s

Basketball Atlantic Regional competition. Four games were played on the first day of the eight-team tourney in Hamer Hall, and CUTV aired every game. Under NCAA rules, a regional host may not live-stream an event unless the service is offered to all competing schools. So CUTV crew members delayed their spring break to broadcast the regionals nationwide. “I’m really blessed with great students,” Smith says. “We had fans from other schools … telling us how friends who could not attend were watching from all over the country.” During the four-game day, the CUTV crew performed a variety of tasks. Ideally, each game was staffed by two students each on camera and radio, two TV announcers, and two replay and graphics specialists in the CUTV truck. “Working well together is so important,” says junior Steven Ruffing, a communication studies major and a High School Roundup host. “The games just keep coming, but your adrenaline takes over. It was tiring but fun.” At his director’s post in the media truck, Smith is an oasis of calm. His work ethic and sense of humor have a big influence on the students, says Pam Delverne ’01, ’09, director of technology services for the Student Association Inc., which operates CUTV. “Gary knows CUTV inside and out, and he keeps up with the industry’s constant changes to give our students the best

possible experience. He inspires them to love television and producing shows.” Senior Anthony D’Agostino, a communication studies major, is WCAL’s station manager. His resume includes freelance production and camera work for sporting events that have appeared on ESPN3 and Fox Sports-1. “I am already using what I’ve learned from CUTV in the real world,” he says. “My experience here has been incredible.”  By Bruce Wald ’85, information writer at Cal U

MORE WINNERS CUTV’s award-winning High School Roundup complements the station’s High School Football Game of the Week. Fred Ryan ’02, now a producer for Root Sports in Pittsburgh, began the show in 2000. Cal U also brought home the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System’s Best Sports Play-by-Play award, for the broadcast of a Vulcans volleyball game. CUTV was a finalist in the Best Newscast category, and radio station WCAL was a finalist for Best Football Play-by-Play.


Matt Lokay, la ndscape architect with Mackin Engineering Co ., di plans with Cal U scusses parks an recreation stud d ents.

Justin Cal U student oks Celommi Jr. lo the of ap m a er ov . rk Pa t or np Alle

PArKin PROGRESS Students provide input on Allenport project


efore play comes work. Students in parks and recreation management classes at Cal U put in three semesters’ worth of mental labor as they partnered with the nearby borough of Allenport, Pa., to develop plans to redesign Thomas Reid III Memorial Park. “We’ve always wanted to do something with the park,” says former Allenport Council member Dennis Martinak, director of municipal services for borough engineer Mackin Engineering Co. “I met (Cal U faculty member) Dr. John Confer through another project, and we discussed whether there were aspects of a redesign that students could take a look at.” When Allenport received funding from the River Town Program to create a site plan for park upgrades, he reached out to Cal U. The River Town Program, a statewide initiative of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, is locally administered by the National Road Heritage Corridor and supported by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. The program promotes community and economic development in towns along four Pennsylvania rivers, including the Monongahela. Students in classes taught by Confer, Dr. Thomas Wickham and Dr. Candice Riley applied what they had learned to propose upgrades to park equipment and suggest new features. “They met in small groups on this design project,” Confer says. “They used their knowledge from site visits, the classroom,


textbooks and websites to render sketches, drawings, pictures, presentations and textual descriptions.” Those ideas were shared with Matt Lokay, a senior landscape architect for Mackin Engineering. “We looked at the demographics of the community, did a needs assessment, took note of existing equipment at the park, and made recommendations on funding sources,” says senior William Brazill, a parks and recreation management major. Many of the students’ ideas are part of the final site design proposal. “The walking trail was a student idea and is one of the major components of this park project, because a neighborhood loop would tie the community to the park,” Lokay says. “I appreciated the students’ interest in ‘green’ infrastructure, and we incorporated some of their ideas, like a treehouse, into a nature-play area.” Cal U students also provided insight into

what younger people want to have in a park, such as a basketball court. “There have been some delays involving rightof-way issues with the basketball court and an issue with the grade of the walking path, but that’s part of the process. It’s a real-world example for students of what you’d like to do morphing into what can actually be built,” Lokay says. Park upgrades are planned in three phases, beginning with the walking trail and improvements to parking and restroom access. Potential sources of funding for the $275,000 project include a grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “It was good for them to see how Matt (Lokay) approached the project, what he looks at as he puts a plan together,” Martinak says. “The students took a great approach to the project from the very beginning and offered us some very cool ideas.”  By Wendy Mackall, assistant communications director at Cal U

I appreciated the students’ interest in ‘green’ infrastructure, and we incorporated some of their ideas, like a treehouse, into a nature-play area. MATT LOK AY, MACKIN ENGINEERING


Mentor Amanda Andrews, a Cal U student, helps with homework and guides after-school activities.

Alumnus, students extend learning beyond the classroom


ducation specialist Tim Miller ’97 and Cal U students are helping Charleroi middle-schoolers continue learning after class. Through an agreement with the Washington Family Center, three Cal U students spend one day a week at Charleroi Middle School, where they assist Miller with the WFC’s LEARN (Linking, Educating and Renewing Neighborhoods) after-school program. Funded by the 21st Century Community Learning Center and part of Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services, the program offers mentoring opportunities for older students and adults. Mentors assist LEARN teachers and help children build various skills. They assist with homework, guide hands-on activities, and strengthen students’ math, reading and computer skills. Cal U completed its third year with the WFC’s after-school program in Charleroi and expects to take part in the program again this fall. During the spring semester, students Amanda Andrews, Lindsey Rush and Leighann Wharton mentored LEARN students. All three also worked in the University’s Center for Volunteer Programs and Service Learning. Under Miller’s guidance, the after-school program adopted a STEAM-based curriculum, focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and math. After a day of listening and learning in school, the children enjoy the hands-on activities and “engineering thought processes” the program provides. “I’m not a guy who likes to have kids sit down and listen to me lecture them. And if you talk to my kids, they don’t enjoy that either,” Miller says. “Put a computer or a tablet in their hands and they’ll figure out how to do something, because it comes so naturally for them. Sometimes they’re learning things I did not expect them to learn — and a lot of times, they’re teaching me!” The Cal U mentors sometimes bring in activities of their own. Wharton, an anthropology major, once brought a plastic cast of a

skeleton to teach the children about human bones. The middle-schoolers “think the Cal U students are the coolest things in the world,” Miller says, and he enjoys talking to them about changes and activities at his alma mater. “I wish I was still in college at times,” Miller jokes. “The Cal U mentors bring a lot of energy, really perk things up. It’s a nice connection.” If their schedules allow, all three Cal U students will return to Charleroi and the after-school program this fall. Andrews, a secondary education major who plans to teach math, has been working with students in grades 6-8 since fall 2015. “I plan on student teaching, and being able to tutor these students, especially in math, really helps,” she says. “Watching their skills improve over these past two years has been rewarding.”  By Bruce Wald ’85, information writer at Cal U

Educational specialist Tim Miller ‘97: ‘The Cal U mentors really perk things up’ at the after-school program in Charleroi.





enior Shaina Hilsey, president of Cal U’s Student Government Association, has been appointed to the Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. The board establishes the broad fiscal, personnel and educational policies that govern Pennsylvania’s 14 public universities. Its 20 members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. Three student members of the Board of Governors are chosen from among the 14 state universities’ student government association presidents and serve until they graduate. Hilsey is enrolled in Cal U’s professional golf management program, with a minor in business administration. After graduation she plans to earn a master’s degree in business and build a career in sports at the corporate level. This summer Hilsey interned at the U.S. Golf Association, where she assisted with major events such as the U.S. Open, the U.S. Women’s Open and the U.S. Senior Open.

Rangers Association honors professor Dr. Michael Hummel, of the Department of Criminal Justice, has been named a Distinguished Member of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade of the National Rangers Association. The brigade annually honors a class of distinguished members for their exemplary service and contributions to enhancing Ranger training. A retired military officer of 23 years, Hummel served in combat with the elite Army Ranger unit and was a U.S. Army Ranger School instructor. A decorated combat veteran, he also served with the 101st Airborne Division. In addition to his past service, the award recognizes Hummel’s expertise in homeland and international security and his current service as a police officer. Ranger training started in 1950 with the formation and training of 17 Airborne


Ranger companies by the Ranger Training Command. A decade ago, the National Ranger Association was founded, in part, to recognize the contributions of the unit’s most renowned and influential members. Inductees are nominated by active-duty members of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade.

Cadet earns commission in National Guard Continuing a proud Cal U tradition, ROTC cadet Benjamin McCurdy ’17 was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army at the Department of Military Science’s Reserve Officer Training Corps commissioning ceremony. McCurdy earned his bachelor’s degree in sport management and received a National Guard commission as a transportation officer. On his first assignment, he will serve as a platoon leader in the 1067th Transportation Company at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa. Family members pinned the gold bars to McCurdy’s uniform at a ceremony in the

Kara Alumni House. He then followed the Army custom of giving a silver dollar to an officer in exchange for his first salute. Guest speaker at the commissioning ceremony was Robert Prah ’06, ’10, a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve and director of Cal U’s Office of Military and Veterans Affairs. McCurdy was a student worker in the office for three-and-a-half years.

Attorney addresses Presidential Scholars Cara Davis ’00, founder and principal of the Davis Legal Group, addressed the University’s top students at the annual Honors Convocation, where nearly 300 undergraduate and graduate students were recognized as Presidential Scholars. The honor is awarded to students who maintain a grade-point average of 3.25 or higher as undergraduates, or 3.75 or higher as graduate students. Davis’ law firm, based in Belle Vernon, Pa., specializes in oil and gas law. The multi-state practice also has institutional hedge funds and global land management companies as clients. After playing two years for a NCAA Division I college basketball team, Davis transferred to Cal U, where both her parents — University Trustee James Davis ’73 and Martha Davis ’74 — had graduated. The attorney credits California with giving her both the education and the

confidence to start her own firm. She also is an instructor in Cal U’s Department of Professional Studies, where she teaches in the legal studies and land management programs. “We often dream of fortunes or success to be made elsewhere. Instead, we ought to be open to the opportunities that are right around us,” Cara Davis told the scholars. “Continue to build on the foundation you’ve received at Cal U, and never lose your love of learning.”

Conservation champion on state advisory board Jose Taracido, director of Partners for Fish and Wildlife at Cal U, has been appointed to Governor Tom Wolfe’s Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation. Established in 1985, the council “provides a forum through which a distinguished group of outdoor recreation and conservation-minded citizens can provide recommendations about Pennsylvania’s wildlife and natural

Marching for science Students and faculty march across campus to announce their belief that science matters. About 65 people joined the march, one of many organized across the country on and around Earth Day. The nonpartisan event, coordinated by students in the Cal U Geology Club, emphasized the role of science in everyday life and celebrated current and future scientists at Cal U.

resources, and on ways to protect, promote and enhance our outdoor heritage,” according to the governor’s website. The 20 volunteers selected for the council perform a variety of advisory functions, including recruiting, screening and recommending nominees for the boards of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Based at Cal U, Partners for Fish and Wildlife is a cooperative effort among many agencies to restore agricultural and other lands, and to improve wildlife habitat and water quality. A recent Partners project involved the restoration of Pike Run in the vicinity of Rotary Park in California, Pa.

Student teams join Frederick Douglass debates No debate about it, four Cal U students learned rhetorical skills that will last a lifetime when they competed against students from other schools in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. For the first time, the Frederick Douglass Institute at Cal U took part in the Douglass Debate Society Tournament. Two teams attended the third annual event this spring at East Stroudsburg University. The competition encourages firstgeneration college students of color to think deeply and critically about contemporary issues. Students Donnett Henderson, Yareli Lara, Aaryn Smith and Tynisha Taylor prepared arguments on both sides of the proposition “PASSHE should adopt a system-wide policy prohibiting hate speech on campus.” Student Omobukola Inegbenenijie helped the team with debate practice and research. Faculty members Dr. Sheri Boyle, chair of the Department of Social Work, and Dr. Loring Prest, of the Department of Library Services, accompanied the students. “It comes down to critical thinking, extemporaneous public speaking and information literacy,” says Prest, a former debater himself. “Collegiate debate is all about evidence-based argumentation, so it was fun to see the students really dig in and do research.”


CAMPUS C L I P S Hip-hop lyricist headlines conference Grammy-award winner Big Daddy Kane gave students a glimpse of his revolutionary hiphop career at Cal U’s Photo by 12th annual Hip-hop Joshua Richardson Conference. Kane, along with Pittsburgh radio personality Mike Dean from WAMO-FM (100.1), answered questions and bantered about music at “Hip-hop Don’t Stop: The 40-Year Evolution of DJing, Emceeing and Radio,” held in Morgan Hall’s auditorium. Noted for his groundbreaking lyrical style, Kane has collaborated with A-list artists including Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Heavy D and Patti LaBelle. His credits include a 1991 Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for Back on the Block, several gold albums, and a VH1 Hip Hop Honor in 2005. Dean was a board operator at WAMO before becoming an on-air personality. The Pittsburgh native has interviewed a who’s-who list of celebrities for the station and is a popular host of events in and around the city.

Ahead of the pack Cal U student and Army National Guard member Nicholas Miller (right) races against the clock in the 1,000-meter sprint, just one of the physical fitness tests required to earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge. This spring Cal U’s Office of Military and Veterans Affairs hosted the testing for a fifth year. The proficiency tests give U.S. service members from across the country a rare chance to earn the badge, one of the few foreign awards that military members are permitted to wear on their uniforms.

Lavender Graduation celebrates LGBT students Nine graduating students, all members of the University’s LGBTQA community, were honored at Cal U’s fourth annual Lavender Graduation. The ceremony recognizes the achievements of graduating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and asexual students and their allies. “We celebrate their accomplishments and all they have added to our inclusive

Together for Lavender Graduation (from left): Andrea Ceja; Sheleta Camarda-Webb ‘89, ‘94; Jan Zivic ‘64; and Brandon Weasenforth.


campus community,” says Sheleta Camarda-Webb ’89, ’94, director of the Lambda Bridges LGBTQA Program Office. “They have made Cal U a better place to work and learn and grow.” Each student received a certificate and lavender honor cords to wear at Commencement. Andrea Ceja, who studied sociology, and Brandon Weasenforth, a graduate student in social work, received the Jan Zivic Outstanding LGBTQA Leadership Award, which recognizes exceptional leadership and service. Jan Zivic ’64, a staunch supporter of Cal U’s gay and lesbian community, sponsors the annual award, as well as an endowed scholarship for undergraduates involved in LGBT organizations. She returned to campus as the ceremony’s featured speaker. “It is so thrilling to come back (to Cal U), to sit with my friends and to see all the changes,” Zivic says. “They are all for the better … but there is still more work to be done.”

Research showcase strikes a spark Building on the momentum of its first two years, Cal U’s third annual Strike a Spark Conference featured enhanced participation by seniors presenting their thesis projects. The event is organized by the Center for Undergraduate Research and the Faculty Professional Development Center to showcase the research, scholarship and creative activity of students and faculty. “The planning committee gave a lot of thought to evolving this year’s conference without losing the elements that have been successful,” says Dr. Gregg Gould, director of the undergraduate research center. “It’s encouraging that more and more students and faculty are seeing this as a great place to have their hard work recognized.” Dr. Rick Oches, chair of the Department of Natural and Applied Sciences at Bentley University, in Massachusetts, discussed intractable “wicked” problems in the

conference’s keynote address. He assured students that their scholarship can make a difference. “The skills that many of you are developing through the research and creative works you are presenting today will let you … make a valuable contribution in addressing the grand societal changes we are facing.”

Fab four recognized as Women of the Year The President’s Commission for the Status of Women honored four individuals for their work on behalf of women at Cal U and in the community. Recipients of the 2017 Women of the Year awards were: • Graduate student Cherie Sears ’81, ’17, president of The Village Early Childhood Education Center in California, Pa. Under her direction, The Village provides scholarships for free child care to support single parents, many of them mothers, while they are taking college classes.

Women’s History Month speakers Dr. Sam Richards and Dr. Laura Mulvey.

You can’t say that? Well, think again … “Black Lives Matter.” “Blue Lives Matter.” Write those phrases on a chalkboard and people in the room may have different reactions. Unpacking those varied responses and emphasizing how compassionate conversations can lead to broader thinking on social justice issues was the goal of Dr. Sam Richards and Dr. Laura Mulvey, featured speakers at a Women’s History Month event. Richards, a sociologist, teaches a Penn State University course in race and ethnic relations that attracts hundreds of students each semester. Mulvey, his wife, is executive director and co-founder of the World in Conversation Center for Public Diplomacy, a cross-cultural dialogue program at Penn State. Their presentation at Cal U, “You Can’t Say That,” was designed to challenge preconceptions and promote thoughtprovoking, sometimes uncomfortable conversations, “because that’s what a university education is all about.” Dr. Marta McClintock-Comeaux, director of the women’s studies program at Cal U, says she hopes to hold more “facilitated dialogues” on campus. “The wonderful thing about higher education is we get to open our minds in new ways, meet new people, experience new cultures and engage in critical analysis,” she says.

• Undergraduate student Jaclyn Boehnke ’17, who was an active work-study student in the women’s studies office. She earned her bachelor’s degree in social work while helping to plan events such as the Audrey-Beth Fitch Women’s Studies Conference and performances of The Vagina Monologues.

(From left) Cherie Sears ‘81, ‘17; Dr. Melanie Blumberg; President Jones; Jaclyn Boehnke ‘17; Sheri Anderson.

• Staff member Sheri Anderson, a secretary in the Department of Psychology. She was honored for her tireless work behind the scenes in her nearly 30-year career at Cal U. • Faculty member Dr. Melanie Blumberg, a professor in the Department of History, Politics and Society. She was recognized for encouraging women to be active participants in the political arena.

Big play Vulcan football players (from left) Luke Hrapchack, Devonte Suber and Tristan Williams remove old bricks from the patio at the California Area Public Library during The Big Event. Nearly 300 student volunteers from various clubs and organizations worked at more than 30 community locations as part of the annual student-led service project. Cal U’s Student Government Association and the University’s Center for Volunteer Programs and Service Learning have been teaming up since 2007 to encourage student volunteers to lend a helping hand to neighbors and community organizations in and around California Borough.



no longer deferred

Judith Hough ‘17

Decades after she started, a student earns her degree


udith Hough did a lot in 40 years — raised a family, developed a career as a classroom assistant who helped young children with developmental disabilities, and so much more. But one thing was unfinished: her college degree.


On May 13, during undergraduate Commencement at the Convocation Center, she checked that off the list, too, receiving her Bachelor of Social Work degree. “I got two years in,” Hough says of her experience at Cal U from 1977 to 1979. She started as an early childhood education major and then changed her major to biology. “I did OK, but I’d skipped my last year of high school at Ringgold to enroll in college and just wasn’t ready for the college experience.” The incomplete degree stuck with her. Unfinished business. “I came to campus … and decided to stop in at Academic Records just to see what it would take to come back,” Hough says. “They said all of my previous credits would count.” So, in 2014, she picked up where she left off. She received a Rutledge Family Scholarship, which is awarded to nontraditional students, many of them with families. And she did well enough academically to be recognized as a Presidential Scholar at Honors Convocation this spring. She has been accepted into the Master of Social Work program at Cal U.

“I think I’m a better student now,” Hough says. “I know exactly what I want, and I don’t want to waste any time.” Hough has words of wisdom for today’s college students, who, like herself all those years ago, may find the road to a diploma difficult: “Don’t stop. Do anything you can to finish your degree. People will help you. I’ll help you — I’ll be your study buddy. But don’t quit. Stay in school.” She has some advice for their parents, too: “I’d tell them that it’s never too late to go back.”

‘Acknowledge people’s strengths’

Hough was one of nearly 1,300 graduate and undergraduate members of the Class of 2017, many of whom attended ceremonies May 12 and 13 in the Convocation Center. “I am proud of you, our graduates, for your hard work and the sacrifices you made to get to this point,” University President Geraldine M. Jones told them. “I encourage you always to discover and acknowledge people’s strengths, and to utilize those strengths on behalf of the greater good.

University President Geraldine M. Jones ‘72, ‘80 applauds the new graduates.

Commencement speaker Thomas Bakaitus Jr. ‘83 tells graduates to ‘find your swing.’

Antonio Deshields, of Philadelphia, raises his arms in victory after receiving his communication studies degree.

Commercial music technology students in the Hear Tonight band perform at undergraduate Commencement.

“No matter what career path you choose, those special moments you spend taking time to understand, help and mentor others will shape you into an even greater human being.” Before undergraduates received their diplomas, senior class envoy Chelsea Keenan presented President Jones with a check for more than $14,000 contributed by graduating seniors and their families. With this gift, more than $184,000 has been raised for an endowed scholarship since 2010, when the first senior class donation was delivered. President Jones acknowledged Kelsee Emma Cox, Leah Marie Seader and Juliana Marie Lapek for earning bachelor’s degrees while attaining a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. “Please recognize that your education is not done,” she told the Class of 2017. “I have always believed in the power of lifelong learning to enrich our lives. “May you find happiness and satisfaction in the days and years ahead.”

‘Find your swing’

Black and red competes with black and gold for Pittsburgh Penguins fan Bryan Miller, a sport management major.

The Legend of Baggar Vance tells the story of a golfer who is having a difficult time. He attempts to recover his game, and his life,

with help from a mystical caddy who tells him to “find his swing.” Commencement speaker Thomas L. Bakaitus Jr. ’83 used the story as a metaphor when addressing the graduates. “Inside, each and every one of us has our own authentic swing, something that’s ours and ours alone,” said Bakaitus, a certified public accountant, partner and operating officer at Herbein + Company Inc., a CPA firm employing more than 180 people in eight offices in Pennsylvania. “As you stand on this threshold today, knowing the quality of education you have received … you are ready and equipped to begin your journey. “Class, it’s time to play your game with your true swing.” Before the ceremonies, Bakaitus reflected on his Cal U experience. “I developed relationships that have endured,” he says. “I met my wife (Beth Bershok ’84) at the (WCAL) radio station in 1981. “You don’t always think about your education. It’s like your right hand — always there, always has been. But when you think about how important your right hand is,

Balloons add a festive touch to the day for Maya Jefferson, of Greencastle, Pa., who received her business degree on her birthday.

you realize the impact. “I was the first in my family to go to college, and I thought I was going to learn the business side (so I could) work at our construction company. But in my second semester I walked into an accounting class, and my life changed forever.” He’d found his niche: Between 2010 and 2017, Pittsburgh Magazine recognized Bakaitus six times as a Five-Star Wealth Manager in Individual Tax, and in 2015 the National Academy of Public Accounting Professionals named him one of the top 10 in his field in Pittsburgh. Bakaitus’ words resonated with Harry Wietrzykowski II, who was forced to make a career change after 30 years in the workforce. He regained his swing by earning a master’s degree in legal studies, with a concentration in law and public policy. The Global Online student traveled from Green Cove Springs, Fla., to take part in Commencement. “Cal U has been a blessing to me,” he says. “The education, the professors — it’s all been great. I’m proud to have had the chance to earn a degree here. I would recommend Cal U to anybody.” 



House to the From the Kara Alumni ere’s always Convocation Center, th Cal U! Alumni something going on at rsity events, are welcome at Unive mber of and we’ve planned a nu ifically for special occasions spec e you soon! graduates. I hope to se

Retired educators reunite Returning to campus and sharing stories from their undergraduate years are (from left) Dr. George Tjiattas ’49, Rosalie (Caserta) Schreffler ’49, Eunice (Sproul) Randolph ’49 and Louise (Cushey) Durinzi ’47. Tjiattas is a former school superintendent, and the others are retired teachers. The group gathered in the Convocation Center for the 2017 Alumni Awards luncheon.

Leslie Berdar Fleenor ’08

Director of Alumni Relations

KEEP IN TOUCH Submit a first-person account for "My Cal U Story," send us a Milestones item or update your contact information at

Home of the Braves Cal U alumni from the Atlanta, Ga., area meet at Sun Trust Park to watch the Atlanta Braves play the Pittsburgh Pirates. Showing off their Cal U gear are baseball fans (from left) Jim Caley ’72, Armand Balsano ’74, Robert ’67 and Carol Brown ’67.

Fab foursome

Tee time

Golfers hit the links June 12 at Cal U’s 36th annual golf outing. Among those on the course at Uniontown County Club were (from left) Tom Jameson, George Clendaniel, University President Geraldine Jones ’72, ’80, and Cal U’s first gentleman, Jeff Jones.

Alumni and University friends came from near and far for the 2017 golf outing, which supports the Athletic Scholarship Fund. Enjoying the sunshine are (from left) Dennis Cope ’65, Jim Will, Tom Klein ’71 and Thomas Uram, a member of Cal U’s Council of Trustees. Cope traveled from Orlando, Fla., and Klein from Hilton Head, S.C., to take part in the outing.





Share an evening of good food, and even better conversation, with your fellow Cal U graduates. We’ll meet from 5-7 p.m. at Bakn, the Carnegie, Pa., restaurant owned by chef Randy Tozzie ’89. (Check this magazine’s Milestones section to see which Food Network show recently featured Chef Randy’s creations!) For details, directions or to RSVP, contact Staci Tedrow in the Office of Alumni Relations at 724-938-4418 or




14 HOMECOMING “Be our guest! Be our guest!” at Homecoming Day festivities with a Disney theme. The annual event includes a picnic at the Kara Alumni House, the traditional parade of floats and bands, and Vulcan football at Adamson Stadium. Share the day with friends old and new! Here’s the schedule:

8:30 a.m. Alumni Board of Directors meeting, Booker Great Room, Kara Alumni House.


Alumni who were members of ROTC at Cal U are invited back to campus for a reunion. Make new connections and catch up with other former cadets at this informal gathering in the Kara Alumni House. For information, contact Robert Prah ’06, ’10, director of the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, at 724-938-4076 or

10 a.m.–noon Pre-parade activities for kids of all ages, throughout campus. 10 a.m. African American Alumni Society annual meeting, Multipurpose Room, Carter Hall. 11 a.m. Picnic on the Patio, refreshments for alumni and friends, Kara Alumni House. Noon Homecoming parade, Third Street. 1 p.m. Vulcan Huddle tailgate party, Roadman Park.




Retired female schoolteachers are invited to this semi-annual luncheon in the Kara Alumni House. Socialize with friends and find out what’s new at your alma mater! To learn more or to RSVP, contact Staci Tedrow in the Office of Alumni Relations at 724-938-4418 or




Members of the Class of 1967 celebrate their milestone 50th reunion at the Kara Alumni House. Formal invitations will be sent for this special event. 5p.m. Reception for the Class of 1967 Relax with fellow classmates at a casual reception with appetizers and other light refreshments. 5:45 p.m. 1967 Pioneer Reunion and Dinner Enjoy a plated dinner followed by a program to honor the members of the Class of 1967. Members of the class are admitted free; cost per guest is $30.

3 p.m. Kickoff: Cal U Vulcans vs. Clarion Golden Eagles, Adamson Stadium.

HUDDLE UP Were you part of club or organization as a student at Cal U? Band, athletics, Greek life, student government, etc.? If so, call your friends and meet us at Roadman Park for a Homecoming tailgate starting at 1 p.m. Oct. 14. We’ll save you a space — first come, first served — and print up a sign with your club or organization’s name. Post it outside your own 10’ x 10’ tent and bring your own food and beverages. There’s no cost, but registration is required. To reserve a tailgate spot or find out more about our 2017 Homecoming activities, contact the Alumni Relations Office at or 724-938-4418.




Joe Lutz ’68

Gene Steratore ’88

A standout linebacker and team captain on the Vulcan football team, Lutz organizes football alumni gatherings before each home game at Roadman Park. He also is active in organizing the Joe Howard Golf Outing, which has raised thousands of dollars for football scholarships. Lutz retired in 2005 as principal of Central Cambria (Pa.) School District.

A football official since 1983, Steratore has officiated for the National Football League since 2003 and was promoted to referee in 2006. He has refereed many playoff games, including two NFL conference championships. Steratore also officiates NCAA Division I men’s basketball games, primarily in the Big Ten Conference, as well as NCAA and conference tournaments.



Dr. Diane Nettles

Mark Camillo ’76

Chair of the Department of Childhood Education, Nettles has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in literacy education, advised hundreds of students, and served on numerous University and department committees since coming to Cal U in 1989. The professor also serves on the board of directors at The Village Early Childhood Education Center in California, Pa.

Camillo is internationally recognized as a law enforcement and security professional, with expertise in emergency preparedness operations. He has directed security operations at critical locations around the world. Camillo currently is senior vice president for strategic planning at Contemporary Services Corp., which specializes in event security and crowd management.



Alan K. James ’62

Greg Smith ’94, ’05

After 22 years of service to Cal U, James retired in 2007 as dean of Student Development and Services. Previously he worked at U.S. Steel and was a public school teacher and administrator. James was an Alumni Association board member for many years, and he held the office of treasurer. He now serves on the board of directors for the Foundation for California University.

Smith is the founder and senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Pivot Physical Therapy. For 21 years he also has been a head athletic trainer in professional hockey, spending the past 17 seasons with the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League. Smith was the head athletic trainer for Team USA Hockey during the 1998 and 2004 world championships.



Spencer Lynn ’14, ’15

Kimberly Snyder ’84

Lynn was an all-conference and Academic AllAmerican linebacker for the Vulcan football team before playing one season of pro football with the Osnabruck (Germany) Tigers. Now a second lieutenant and infantry officer in the U.S. Army, he received many awards during basic training and Officer Candidate School, including the Distinguished Honor Graduate Award.

Snyder is president and chief executive officer of Panavision Inc., one of the film industry’s most innovative companies. As CEO, she leads Panavision as it expands its global business and serves the needs of cinematographers, production companies and studios around the world. Before joining Panavision, Snyder was president and general manager of Kodak’s Entertainment Imaging Division.

Each year since 1967 the Cal U Alumni Association has recognized outstanding individuals with its Awards of Distinction. These 2017 award recipients were recognized June 3 at a luncheon in the Convocation Center.



PRESIDENTIAL AWARDS Recipients of the Presidential Distinguished Merit Awards are introduced at Honors Convocation, where they receive medallions to be worn at spring Commencement. In addition, a scholarship is awarded to a student in each recipient’s discipline. This year, both recipients are members of the Department of History, Politics and Society.

Dr. Cassandra Kuba,

a biological anthropologist, is the 2017 honoree for excellence in teaching. The associate professor’s work focuses on osteology, the study of the human skeleton. She regularly consults on forensic and archaeological cases, and she frequently provides expert advice to novelists and television writers, as well as area schools and communities. Because she loves expanding her Cal U students’ knowledge and skills, she involves them in as much of her work as possible. In 2013, Kuba received the Presidential Merit Award for Excellence in Service.

Dr. John Nass

is this year’s honoree for excellence in service. An expert in North American prehistory and a former senior archaeologist for an archaeological consulting firm, the professor directs Cal U’s anthropology program. In addition to teaching undergraduate archaeology and anthropology courses, Nass is the adviser for the Anthropology Club and for Cal U’s chapter of Lambda Alpha, the national anthropology honor society. He also leads student field trips to regional archaeological sites and conducts training in forensic archaeological excavation.

FPDC AWARDS Recipients of the FPDC Merit Awards are chosen by faculty committees, recognized at Commencement and honored at a luncheon each spring. Each recipient receives a monetary award that can be used for professional development. The funds are intended to enhance the recipients’ expertise in order to provide a high-quality education for Cal U students.

Dr. Marcia Marcolini Hoover,

an associate professor and field coordinator in the Department of Secondary Education and Administrative Leadership, was recognized for technology. She has consulted with faculty on the use of instructional technology, developed technology training, assisted in the conversion of traditional courses to online formats, and served as the technical writer for an online courseware package. Hoover also works with teacher candidates as they learn to select appropriate technology and integrate it into the learning experience.

Dr. Leandro Junes,

an assistant professor in the Department of Math, Computer Science and Information Systems, was honored for teaching and learning. He aims to quash the fear of math by creating a comfortable environment in his undergraduate and graduate-level courses. Junes is the founder and director of undergraduate research groups in mathematics at Cal U and at two universities in Colombia. All three groups prepare undergraduates for graduate school and academic careers in math disciplines.

Dr. Mark Tebbitt,

an associate professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, was recognized for research. He collaborates with an international team of researchers focused on plants found in South America and in the local area. He is one of a very few botanical researchers with an active grant-funded field research program in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Argentina. Tebbitt also has supervised 22 independent research projects and six honors addenda research projects involving Cal U undergraduates.




laurel highlands



ared Bundy ’10 turns the kaleidoscope for the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. As the director of interactive marketing, it’s Bundy’s job to showcase the activities and locations — parks, ski and leisure resorts, amusement parks, historic sites, world-famous architecture — in Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland counties in southwestern Pennsylvania. “I had a great experience growing up in this area,” says Bundy, who’s originally from Derry, Pa. “I worked at Idlewild (amusement) park at age 15, went to the Westmoreland County Airshow, my dad was in the pit crew at the Jennerstown Speedway.

I feel like my MBA put the pieces of the puzzle together. I wanted to understand marketing more, get more of the theory behind decisions. Now I can conceptualize, plan and budget, in addition to execute. JARED BUNDY ’10

“It’s very cool to be able to give back and spread the message about all the things going on in the area on the (bureau’s) website and social media.” After earning his bachelor’s degree, Bundy possessed photographic and video skills but wanted to strengthen his resume with a master’s degree in business administration from Cal U. “I feel like my MBA put the pieces of the puzzle together. I wanted to understand marketing more, get more of the theory behind decisions,” he says. “Now I can conceptualize, plan and budget, in addition to execute.” Plus, he adds with a smile, “I met my wife, Anne ’10, when we both worked at the radio station, WCAL. You can’t ask for a better college experience than that.” Bundy also served in student government and was a graduate assistant at the Cal Times student newspaper. “Today, I write radio ads, and I’m a little better at that because I worked at the radio station. And with the Cal Times, we were kind of on the forefront of using social media to break news. “You have to have a lifelong love of learning,” Bundy says. “You have to evolve — have a specialty, but develop a side set of skills. “I’m reading about my field every day; it is always changing. You have to embrace the idea that the thing you once did has changed, and that’s very exciting.”  By Wendy Mackall, assistant communications director at Cal U




s a kid, Ryan Minutello ’12 sometimes would go on assignments with his dad, Rick, a news operations director in Pittsburgh, Pa. So when it came time to “interview” a college to see if it offered the right degree for a career in TV news, he knew what he wanted to hear. “When I toured the (Cal U) campus, I had a very nice conversation with Professor James Carter,” Minutello recalls. “He said, ‘I can show you the latest and greatest pieces of equipment, but if you can’t do the basics, there’s no point to it.’” That was a wrap. “A lot of people are all about the equipment; nobody says you have to know the basics to be a photographer. That really said to me that Cal U was where I needed to go.” As a communication studies major, Minutello got involved with CUTV, which provided hands-on experience with news and sports coverage. “The ability to go out and learn from and be with my peers in a controlled environment was key,” he says. He also was hired by PCN, Pennsylvania Cable News, as a freelance photographer. “I was able to travel with them for experience while I was still in school. My professors were great. They’d say, ‘Where are you going today?’ And if I was going to cover Punxsutawney Phil, for instance, they’d make sure I had my class assignment.” Today, Minutello is a news photographer for WPXI-TV, in Pittsburgh. He previously worked at Ohio stations WTOV-TV in Steubenville and WCMH-TV in Columbus.

He creates video for news reports, of course, and when a reporter isn’t assigned to a story, he becomes both interviewer and cameraman. “It’s very complicated — you have to think about the composition of the shot, what you are going to ask, the people around you if it’s a live shot. I run the camera in the news helicopter, too, and that’s a whole different set of skills. “It takes a lot of time to come to a market like Pittsburgh,” he says. “You have to pay your dues. You don’t automatically get hired. There is a lot of hard work and sacrifice.”  By Wendy Mackall, assistant communications director at Cal U



ucie Fremeau ’13 works in the space where science and creativity converge.

She’s an account supervisor at BGB Group, a New York City agency that provides scientific communications, strategic consulting, market research and promotional support for some of the world’s best-known names in the pharmaceutical industry.

“It’s such an incredible company,” says Fremeau, who earned her Cal U degree in communication studies with a concentration in public relations and a minor in political science. “We truly become our clients’ partners as we connect pharmaceutical companies with patients and physicians.” Fremeau’s career path pointed her repeatedly toward the Big Apple. As an undergraduate she interned at the Fox News Channel’s New York headquarters, and she briefly returned to its digital division,, after graduation. Next came a series of roles at Merkle, a Pittsburgh-based performance marketing agency where Fremeau honed her skills in social media, search engine optimization and digital advertising. A “new business” assignment introduced her to a pharmaceutical client — “and I fell in love with doing something creative, yet grounded in science.” Before long, Fremeau found herself back in New York, as Merkle’s on-site representative in the pharmaceutical client’s office. Her 2016 move to BGB Group’s Manhattan headquarters was a wonderful next step.

Some of her BGB colleagues have advanced degrees in medicine, biology or nursing; others are top artists, copywriters, or digital marketing specialists. “I work with a broad range of people who are so, so smart,” says Fremeau, whose portfolio focuses primarily on diabetes, the blood disorder hemophilia, and rare diseases. “I love doing creative work that also involves some scientific thought.” Fremeau’s Cal U studies didn’t focus on science, but a strong background in writing and communication skills prepared her to take on the challenge. And “one class in particular, Communication Research, taught me to conduct in-depth research and be analytical.” Now she thrives on a career she describes as “fast-paced and exciting.” She especially enjoys market research and her work with advisory boards. “We recruit top doctors from across the United States and around the world. It’s wonderful to hear firsthand how our work affects them and their patients.”  By Christine Kindl, communications director at Cal U


roll on

Students add tunes to a rehab device


he foam roller, a simple athletic rehabilitation device, is only effective if it’s used properly. The enhanced roller developed by a team of Cal U students may help athletes get the most out of their rehab or exercise session — and enjoy a little music along the way. Mario Gencarelli ’17, who earned his Cal U master’s degree in athletic training, knows that athletes frequently use foam rollers to massage and strengthen their muscles. In addition to this “self myofascial release,” the device often is used in rehabilitation. “Any setting where there are athletes, there’s some form of foam rolling being done,” he explains. “But often athletes do not use the rollers on each muscle for the recommended time.” Gencarelli’s capstone research project showed that incorporating music therapy into the rehab protocol makes it more likely that athletes will use the roller properly, increasing the treatment’s efficacy. So he collaborated with undergraduates from the Department of Applied Engineering and Technology to add audio speakers and a wireless Bluetooth connection to the foam-covered cylinder. The enhanced foam roller connects to a smartphone or mp3 device for a specific period of time. The music serves as a cue, letting athletes know how long to keep rolling. Dr. Shelly DiCesaro, director of Cal U’s graduate athletic training program, and Dr. Joe Schickel, chair of the applied engineering department, introduced the collaborators. “I thought it would be a good opportunity to connect some of our innovative students with a real-world project,” Schickel says.

watch it work See video of the athletic rehabilitation device invented by Mario Gencarelli ’17 and a team of students from the Department of Applied Engineering and Technology. Watch the musical foam roller work at


With guidance from faculty member Dr. Brenton Wilburn, Gencarelli began meeting with applied engineering students Koty Davis, Zachary Knight, Jeff Sokira and Kiki Yawsarpong. After extensive research, measuring, mechanical drawing and coding, the undergrads used a 3D printer to create a model. Then they designed circuits, mounted electronics and speakers inside the roller, and activated the prototype’s Bluetooth connection. “I found it very rewarding, especially when you’re up until three in the morning but you finally have a working product,” Sokira says. “All I had was the idea, the goal and the reason why I was researching this,” Gencarelli adds. “These guys all have workloads of their own, but they put in endless hours to build something that’s the first of its kind. They’re really sharp.” The athletic training graduate sees a future for the invention. He has secured a one-year provisional patent license and is designing a marketing strategy. He plans to introduce the innovative foam roller to audiences on YouTube and KickStarter, as well as hospitals, fitness centers and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s annual symposium. The undergraduates who brought the invention to life “will always be a part of my team,” he says. “I’d like to create our own brand and be on (television’s) Shark Tank. This is a good innovation for any therapeutic setting.”  By Bruce Wald ’85, information writer at Cal U

It was incredible to see how many supporters came out to the celebration, and how much it meant to the community. CHRIS KOSTICK

for Student’s essay leads to big win for Rostraver ice rink


al U pride will be on display when the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins face off against the Saint Louis Blues Sept. 24 at the Rostraver Ice Garden near Belle Vernon, Pa. Home ice for the University’s three hockey clubs, the venue will host the National Hockey League preseason game — and receive $150,000 in upgrades — as the 2017 winner of the Kraft Hockeyville™ USA contest. Cal U senior Chris Kostick, the clubs’ equipment manager, nominated the Rostraver Ice Garden for the nationwide contest, which recognizes “America’s most passionate hockey community.” Kostick’s essay described the struggle to rebuild after heavy snow in 2010 collapsed the rink’s roof, leaving several high school programs and the Mon Valley Thunder youth hockey team, as well as the Vulcans, out in the cold. The Rostraver rink was one of 10 selected for the contest from among 1,300 nominations. Community members and hockey fans took it from there, voting online, via text and on Twitter through several rounds of the

contest. In the final round, Rostraver beat out the Bloomington (Minn.) Ice Garden. “I spend almost every night of the season at the rink and see firsthand just how much it means to the community,” says Kostick, a parks and recreation management major. “I decided I would take a chance and submit the nomination, and fortunately it was selected. The community took the reins from there and ran with it.” NBC, which will broadcast the preseason game on its sports network, had cameras rolling at “watch parties” in Pennsylvania and Minnesota as the contest winner was announced. The Ice Garden was packed with local hockey fans, including Cal U players and University mascot Blaze, when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman revealed the winner during an NHL playoff game. “It was so loud, I was afraid I wasn’t going to hear through the earpiece that the NBC crew had me outfitted with,” recalls Kostick, who was interviewed with rink owner Jim Murphy. “It was incredible to see how many supporters came out to the celebration, and how much it meant to the community.”

Derek Partsch ’10 can relate. The Cal U graduate is manager of sponsorship and group ticket accounts for the Johnstown (Pa.) Tomahawks of the North American Hockey League. And he served on the committee that helped the Cambria County War Memorial earn the Kraft Hockeyville title in 2015. “I could not be happier to see Rostraver win, and I’m proud of the Cal U hockey teams for their work during the contest,” says Partsch, who earned his degree in sport management. “I know how gratifying it was to be a part of Johnstown’s win in 2015, and knowing students from my alma mater are sharing the same accomplishment is a great feeling.” Kostick singled out Jamison Roth ’04, Cal U’ director of recreational services, for rallying the community for the contest and helping to plan for the Sept. 24 game. “I am proud to represent a University that puts so much effort into something that benefits the community and one of its student organizations,” he says.  By Bruce Wald ’85, information writer at Cal U




RUNNER excels in classroom, on track


fter an exceptional season in class and with the women’s track and field team, runner Summer Hill was named a College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) first-team Academic All-American, giving the women’s track and field program four such honors in the past five years. Academically, Hill claimed a 4.0 grade-point average for the spring semester and completed her degree in sport management. On the track, she placed 12th at the 2017 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships, earning second-team All-American honors in the 1,500-meter run.

This was Hill’s second time as an athletic All-American this spring. During the indoor track season, she earned second-team honors in the 1-mile run by finishing 10th at the NCAA championships. In addition, she was named the Outstanding Track Athlete at the PSAC Championships for the third time in her career, after winning both the 1,500- and 800meter races. Runner Julie Friend, a third-team CoSIDA Academic AllAmerican, also made a splash at the PSAC Championships, winning both the 5,000- and 10,000-meter events. She is the first woman in school history to win the 10,000-meter race at the conference championships.

Julie Friend

Summer Hill

Miki Glenn

Two earn honors for women’s basketball Two Cal U women’s basketball players have been recognized by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. Guard Miki Glenn was selected for a second time to the WBCA All-America team, and forward Seairra Barrett earned All-America honorable mention. Glenn is one of only 10 players in the country tabbed as a first-team AllAmerican. The two-time PSAC West Athlete of the Year averaged 19 points per game in her


senior season, ranked third nationally with 3.83 steals per game, and set a PSAC record with 724 career free-throws. She is one of only four players in school history to score at least 2,000 points. Barrett, an all-conference player in both basketball and volleyball, averaged 18.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting better than 55 percent from the floor. Under the guidance of Jess Strom, the 2017 WBCA Atlantic Region Coach of the Year, Cal U went 30-4 overall last season.

Courtney Sinclair

Golf teams reach regionals Both the women’s and men’s golf teams teed off at regional competition this spring. For the 10th time in 11 years, the women’s team advanced to the NCAA Division II Super East Regional Championships. The Vulcans ended in 11th place behind Carla Maestre’s 30th-place individual finish. Maestre competed at the NCAA regionals in each of her four years at Cal U, qualifying as an individual player in 2014 and 2015.

Carla Maestre

During the regular season, she won the first-place medal and led the team to a win at the Gannon Spring Invitational, with help from Rachel Lim, who finished in third place at Gannon. The men’s golf team made its 10th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division II Atlantic/East Regional Championships this spring.

Kirby Manown

Kirby Manown and Tyler Robinson led the team to a 13thplace finish by tying for 35th individually.

Softball player named Champion Scholar

Before the post-season, the Vulcan men won team titles at Cal U’s own Coaches International Classic and at the Gannon Spring Invitational. Robinson and sophomore Jerome Landry were the top two finishers at Gannon.

This spring Courtney Sinclair became the second Cal U softball player to receive the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference’s Champion Scholar Award. Modeled on the NCAA’s Elite 90 Award, the PSAC Champion Scholar Award honors the student-athlete with the top GPA competing at the site of each of the conference’s 23 team championship finals.

Baseball duo earn top PSAC honors

Sinclair, a psychology major, owns a perfect 4.00 cumulative grade-point average heading into her senior year.

Headlining the baseball team’s six all-conference honorees were first-team selections David Marcus and Levi Krause. A first baseman, Marcus earned his fourth allconference honor and led the league in doubles with 22. He also led the team in batting (.403), RBI (49), on-base percentage (.514), and slugging percentage (.669).

She’s also a versatile student-athlete who plays both second base and outfield. This season she had a .321 on-base percentage and tied for second on the team with 11 walks while hitting in the bottom of the order.

Krause batted .382 and ranked third in the conference with 19 doubles, 107 total bases and fourth with a team-leading nine home runs.

Sinclair is the 16th Cal U student-athlete to win the PSAC scholar award since its debut in the 2011-2012 academic year.

David Marcus

Men’s relay team takes PSAC title

Tennis team nets four wins

The men’s 4x400-meter relay team of Jae’Len Means, Brett George, Aaron Morgan and Joe Vendilago won the PSAC title and helped the men’s team match its highest-ever finish at the conference championships.

Cal U’s women’s tennis team finished the season with a 4-8 overall dual-match record.

Means also placed second in the 200-meter dash and fourth in the 100-meter event. Morgan, a CoSIDA third-team Academic All-American, took second place in the 400-meter hurdles. The Vulcans placed sixth in the team standings for the second consecutive year, with 55 points.

Alyssa Savill and Veronika Mikulis were Cal U’s top singles players, with final records of 11-3 and 10-4, respectively. Savill was named a CoSIDA third-team Academic All-American and received the Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year award from Cal U’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.




Every graduate has a Cal U story. To share yours, email

Campus circa 1980s


arbara Knisely Michelman ’88 specializes in “strategic storytelling.” She’s the owner of High Bar Communications, which helps organizations advance their mission and goals through carefully crafted articles, commentaries, blog posts and case studies. After serving as communications director for a variety of advocacy, membership and nonprofit groups in greater Washington, D.C., starting her own business was a natural step. But the Alexandria, Va., resident wasn’t always the confident communicator she is today.


I grew up in Claysburg, in white, working-class Bedford County, Pa. Attending Cal U opened up a world far beyond the one that I had access to via my public library card. So many of my Cal U peers were kids like me: We had dads who lost their jobs to trickle-down economic policies and globalization. I can still remember standing awkwardly in the kitchen of my friend Randy’s family home, in a town near California, while his mom was crying. Randy’s dad was long-term unemployed, and his mom was so embarrassed that Randy had brought his friends home when her house “wasn’t as clean as it should be” because she couldn’t afford to buy “proper” cleaning supplies. I graduated with my degree in journalism and went on to receive my master’s degree at Temple University. (Sumner Ferris encouraged me to pursue graduate school. How I wish I could thank him!) My education at Cal U, thanks to professors such as Ferris, Alan Natali and Fred Lapisardi, was truly life-changing. I went from crying every night … because I was a scared, lonely, homesick rural kid, to making lots of friends and embracing my college experience. … I credit my strong writing and research foundation to the skills I learned from those professors. No one ever made me feel “less than” at Cal U, and I was expected to work hard, really hard. … I attended California because I could afford to pay for it, but I have never regretted my decision. It was the right school and the right professors at the right time in my life.



40s Margaret Randolph ’45, of Carmichaels, Pa., celebrated her 100th birthday in June with a party at Mount Macrina Manor in Uniontown, Pa. Margaret received her degree in elementary education and was an elementary school teacher for 35 years at Crucible Elementary School in the Carmichaels Area School District.

60s Nancy Behrendt Feuster ’67, a former education major, lives in Freehold, N.J. Kathy Marraccini Kraynack ’69 is retired. She earned her degree in secondary education with a history concentration. Kathy and Bruce Kraynack ’71, a retired teacher, live in Irwin, Pa.

70s Phyllis Rega ’71 retired after the 2016-2017 school year, closing a long career as a teacher. Most recently, she worked at Charleroi (Pa.) Area Middle School as an English and reading teacher. In April, Phyllis married Derek Pokol. Harold Siskind ’71 is retired. He studied elementary education at Cal U. Harold and Lonna Siskind live in California, Md. Thomas Jones ’74, of Berlin, Pa., was a candidate for Berlin Borough Council. He is a retired educator from the Rockwood Area School District. Thomas studied Earth science at Cal U. David Dyky ’74, of Monessen, Pa., is a retired third-generation steelworker from the WheelingPittsburgh Steel Monessen Works’ Base Oxygen Furnace Melting and Emissions units. He also worked at various metallurgical coal and coke facilities in southwestern Pennsylvania. Nancy Ellis ’74 was seeking election as mayor of Charleroi, Pa. She was mayor of the borough from 2010-2014.

BIG ON BACON Chef Randy Tozzie ’89 (right) welcomes Food Network host Josh Denny to his restaurant, Bakn, in Carnegie, Pa., for an episode of Ginormous Food that featured his restaurant’s signature fare. Randy studied business administration at Cal U and was involved in Student Government, serving as president in 1988 and 1989. He also was active in Greek life. In 2013, Randy received the W.S. Jackman Award of Distinction from the Cal U Alumni Association.

Robert Hughes ’74, of Brownsville, Pa., is a retired educator/school psychologist with Intermediate Unit 1. David Nichols ’74 is an ordained deacon and retired from Ferro Corp., based in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a Vietnam War veteran who credits “the G.I. Bill and a lot of hard work” for his success at Cal U, where he studied business and economics. Donald Dyky ’76, of Charleroi, Pa., has retired. For 36 years he was a strategic sourcing specialist of longwall equipment procurement and rebuilds with CONSOL Energy.

80s David Reynolds ’81, of St. Louis, Mo., is retired from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, where he was employed for 29 years as a geospatial-intelligence analyst. Prior to his employment, he served in the U.S. Air Force. David earned his bachelor’s degree in geology and was a member of the Gamma Theta Upsilon Earth science fraternity. He earned a second degree in information systems, in 2001. David plans to return to the Pittsburgh, Pa., area in 2018. Beatrice Ferguson-Murphy ’83 is a retired educator. She majored in psychology at Cal U, where she was involved in student government, the Psychology Club, theater and the Black Student Union. Terri Ozegovich ’84, of Gaithersburg, Md., works for AstraZeneca. She studied medical technology at Cal U. Jessica Nicholls ’86, a former elementary and early childhood education major, is a teacher in the School District of Philadelphia. She and Norman Brown live in Philadelphia, Pa. Jessica, who was a track and field athlete, is a member of the Cal U Athletic Hall of Fame.

COUNCIL CHAIR Annette Ganassi has been elected chair of the University’s Council of Trustees. A resident of Champion, Pa., she is a Realtor with the Ligonier office of Howard Hanna. Annette has been a Cal U trustee since 2009, and most recently served as the council’s vice chair. She also was a Cal U trustee from 1994-2000. She succeeds Washington County commissioner Larry Maggi ’79, who remains a member of the Council of Trustees after completing two terms as chairman. Vice chair of the council is Uniontown attorney James T. Davis ’73.

90s Amy Holzer Garris ’90 is a victim-witness service coordinator for Westmoreland County, Pa. She majored in social work at Cal U. Kara Lynch ’91, of Reisterstown, Md., is a supervisor of business and computer science education for Baltimore County (Md.) Public Schools. She studied business administration at Cal U and was a member of Sigma Kappa. Wayne Miller ’91, who graduated with a master’s degree in business administration, is retired. He and Margaret Miller ’96 live in Madeira Beach, Fla. Joe Marin ’92 is vice president of education and training for the Printing Industries of America. He studied graphic communications at Cal U. Barry Niccolai ’93, of California, Pa., is executive director of Centerville Clinics Inc. His master’s degree is in community/agency counseling. Dave Mathies ’95, a board-certified nurse practitioner, works with the surgical team at Gifford Medical Center, in Randolph, Vt. Dr. Michele Papakie ’96 has been honored by the American Association of University Women. She is chair of the Journalism and Public Relations Department at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Michele also is a Brush Valley Township, Pa., supervisor and a lieutenant colonel in the 171st Air Refueling Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.


CAL U M I L E S T O N E S Paul Lancaster ’95 is the director of player engagement for the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL. He earned his master’s degree in counseling and also played basketball at Cal U. Lt. Steven Dowlin ’97 is commander of the Uniontown barracks of the Pennsylvania State Police. He earned his degree in parks and recreation management from Cal U and worked as a state park ranger at Steamboat Lake State Park in Clark, Colo. Colleen Murphy Arnowitz ’75, ’97 is a member of the Monongahela Woman’s Club, where she serves as chair of the education and senior tea committees. Colleen also is a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors at Cal U. Joyce Pigeon Morich-Cherok ’75, ’89, ’98 is a retired counselor. She earned her bachelor’s degree in social work, master’s in counseling and certification for K-12 school counseling, all from Cal U. She also was a sister in the Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity and worked on the yearbook staff. As a graduate assistant, she worked on a grant for high school students in Pittsburgh, Pa., to learn about technology at Cal U. She remarried after the death of her first husband, Randy, to David Cherok, a Bentworth High School classmate. She lives in Daisytown, Pa., and enjoys time with her granddaughter, Danisa, two cats, two ducks and a 138-pound black Labrador retriever. Keith Boback ’98, of Columbus, Ind., is a manager and funeral director for SCI Indiana Funeral Services. He earned a degree in mortuary science at Cal U. Brandon Cunning ’99 owns Rockabilly Rides, a company that offers tours of Memphis, Tenn., in classic cars. He majored in communication studies at Cal U.

PARK DEDICATION The 22nd annual Pike Run Fishing Festival opens with a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony for the newly restored Pike Run stream area near Rotary Park in California, Pa. Despite rainy weather, dozens of young anglers tried their luck during the popular fishing festival. Celebrating the collaborative effort to restore the stream and its surroundings are (from left) University President Geraldine M. Jones ’72, ’80; Jose Taracido, coordinator of the Cal U-based Partners for Fish and Wildlife; University Trustee Larry Maggi ’79, chair of the Washington County Commissioners; and Pat Alfano, president of California Borough Council.

Marie Ripepi ’98 has received an Advancing Excellence in School Nursing award from the Highmark Foundation. Marie, of Monongahela, Pa., is a nurse for the middle and high schools in the Charleroi (Pa.) Area School District. Jennifer Dixon ’99 is a teacher at Gulf High School in Tampa, Fla. During the summer, she teaches in China through Sino-American Bridge for Education and Health. She has been recognized as a distinguished alumna by Riverview High School in Oakmont, Pa.

ROAD TO THE NFL Rontez Miles ’12, a safety with the New York Jets, returned to campus to speak with students about his route to the National Football League. A two-time Associated Press First-Team Little All-American and PSAC-West Defensive Player of the Year, Rontez says he used football as ‘an outlet’ during a troubled childhood. ‘I knew from the age of 8 that I was going to play in the NFL,’ he told Dr. Kelton Edmonds’ African-American history class. Rontez made 257 tackles as a Vulcans player, the fifth highest total in school history, and holds the record for solo tackles by a defensive back. He signed with the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent in 2013. Rontez played with the practice squad before being promoted to the active roster and fought back after a serious leg injury in 2014. Last season he was the Jets’ seventh leading tackler, making 57 tackles while playing in all 16 Jets games.


00s Dr. Joseph Horzempa ’00 is editor of Proceedings of the West Virginia Academy of Sciences, the journal of the West Virginia Academy of Science. He is a member of the faculty at West Virginia University, Morgantown. Meaggan Wilton Pettipiece ’00 is an assistant softball coach with the Kent State Golden Flashes, in Kent, Ohio. Jessica Croushore Petko ’02 is an assistant professor of biology at Penn State York. She studied biology and psychology at Cal U. Erica Klima Miller ’03 is an aftermarket customer service director for Gardner Denver Nash. She majored in business administration at Cal U. She and Charles Eger live in Greensburg, Pa. Jarod Feathers ’05, of Davidsville, Pa., is an assistant principal at Conemaugh Township Area High School. He studied elementary education at Cal U. Andrew Hipple ’05 is the principal of Shawsville Middle School in Montgomery County, Va. Brad Geyer ’04 was installed as the 2017-2018 district governor for the Lions Clubs District 14-M. This district covers Washington, Greene, Fayette and Somerset counties and includes 44 clubs with more than 1,100 members. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Lions Clubs International, which bills itself as the largest service organization in the world.

Ben Moyer ’07 is an operations manager for Hershey’s Ice Cream. He majored in sport management and played baseball at Cal U. Ben and Jessica Moyer live in Harrisburg, Pa. William Mincer ’08 was a primary election candidate for school board in the Lock Haven (Pa.) School District. William, who studied sports administration at Cal U, has more than two decades of experience as a director of recreation programs. John Swank Jr. ’08 of Greensburg, Pa., a detective sergeant in the Greensburg Police Department, was named a 2017 Distinguished Alumnus at Westmoreland County Community College. John earned his master’s degree in law and public policy from Cal U. Todd Franklin ’09 is the head men’s basketball coach at Simpson University, in Redding, Calif. He earned his master’s degree in performance enhancement and injury prevention from Cal U. Ryan Ridder ’09 is the men’s basketball coach at Bethune-Cookman University, in Daytona Beach, Fla. Ryan earned his master’s degree in sport management from Cal U. Abby France ’09 is a member of the North Strabane Township (Pa.) Police Department. She studied political science at Cal U.

learning and military-to-military bonding, prior to their careers as officers in the U.S. Army. Maund was a team leader for the CULP group of more than 40 cadets that traveled to Lithuania and spent time in Vilnius and Klaipeda. Michael Spiegel ’11 oversees personal training at 24 clubs in three states for Crunch Fitness. He earned his degree in exercise science and health promotion from Cal U. Ashley Fisher ’12, of Erie, Pa., celebrated her fifth anniversary with MegaGrafix, a wideformat print company. Ashley, who majored in graphic communications technology and multimedia, is a market manager/sales associate with the company. Ben Porter ’12 was the keynote speaker at the Honors and Recognition Convocation at Ohio University’s Eastern Campus. Ben, who earned his master’s degree in educational leadership from Cal U, is superintendent of the Union Local School District, in Belmont, Ohio. Crystal Widmann ’13, of Bucks County, Pa., is a yoga instructor and certified personal trainer. She earned her master’s degree in exercise science and health promotion from Cal U.

INTERIM APPOINTMENT Aaron A. Walton ’68, a longtime member of California University’s Council of Trustees, is serving as interim president of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. Walton was appointed to the post by the Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, where he had been a member since 2005. He stepped down from both Cal U’s Council of Trustees and the Board of Governors to accept the position at Cheyney, the nation’s oldest historically black university.

Benjamin Thorn ’12 was honored as one of the top five members of the West Virginia State Police. With more than 650 troopers, it is the fourth oldest police organization in the United States. Ben earned his Cal U degree in criminal justice. He has been a West Virginia state trooper for less than four years.

As interim president, Walton will be Cheyney’s chief executive officer, with the same responsibilities and authority as a permanent president. He will serve until the successful conclusion of a national search for Cheyney’s next leader.

Louis “L.C.” Otto ’09 was a candidate for supervisor of German Township, Pa. He was running unopposed on the May primary ballot.

Brittany Swede ’13 is the children’s program coordinator at Herr Memorial Library in Mifflinburg, Pa. She has a master’s degree in early childhood education from Cal U.

Walton is retired from Highmark Inc., where he held progressively higher key management roles over his 40-year career with the healthcare company.

Dr. Richard Ruck ’07, ’09 is a professor of criminal justice at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania. He majored in legal studies at Cal U. Richard and Dr. Kerri Ruck live in Easton, Pa.

Cameron Cochran ’13, who studied political science, is a member of the field staff for Pittsburgh, Pa., Mayor William Peduto’s re-election campaign.

As senior vice president for corporate affairs, he was one of nine principle officers responsible for providing overall management and direction of all of the organization’s corporate activities. At various points in his career, he also had oversight of Highmark’s community involvement, foundation and strategic health initiatives, and its joint venture affiliate activities, including Gateway Health Plan.

Jenna Hartley Dompa ’09 is a counselor for Marshall County (W.Va.) Schools. She earned her master’s degree in school counseling from Cal U. Jenna and Nick Dompa live in Moundsville, W.Va.

10s Jeffrey Dietz ’10 is vice president of the web and specialty press division of KBA North America. He studied business administration at Cal U. Lauren Thomas Hammond ’10 lives in Garner, N.C. Jessica Lance Iglehart ’11, who earned her degree in sport management from Cal U, lives in Searcy, Ariz. Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Maund ’11, a career counselor and instructor for Cal U Army ROTC, recently spent three weeks in Lithuania as part of the Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency program. CULP gives Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets the opportunity to understand various cultures and customs of armed forces and civilians outside the United States, with a strong emphasis on English-

Michael Lash ’10, ’13 is a therapist for Gateway Rehabilitation. He earned his degrees in English and clinical mental health counseling from Cal U. He was in the marching, jazz and concert bands and Phi Sigma Pi, and he was a community assistant at Cal U. Michael and Crystal Lash live in Pittsburgh, Pa. Courtney Cochran ’12, ’13, who studied political science, has been promoted to associate director of the Campus Election Engagement Project, a nonpartisan initiative that encourages college students to register, volunteer in campaigns, educate themselves and cast their ballots. Dr. David Schwind ’14 is the assistant principal at Charles Boehm Middle School, in Yardley, Pa. He earned his K-12 principal’s certification from Cal U. Crystal Erb ’15 is a clinician for Joseph J. Peters Institute. Her master’s degree is in criminology, and she lives in Bristol, Pa.

Walton holds a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and audiology from Cal U and a master’s degree in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University. He has served on more than 35 community boards, for the August Wilson Center, The Pittsburgh Foundation and United Way of Allegheny County, among others. Walton had been a member of Cal U’s Council of Trustees since 1995 and served as chair from 1999-2003. Located near Philadelphia, Cheyney University serves about 750 students.


CAL U M I L E S T O N E S Kelly McGrew ’15, a former business administration major, is a special agent for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. At Cal U, Kelly was in the Finance Club and Economics Club, and she worked in the Financial Aid Office and the Theatre Department. Kelly and Jason Thompson ’15 live in Pittsburgh, Pa. Hunter Charneski ’15 operates a training facility in Jenison, Mich. He earned his Cal U master’s degree in exercise science and health promotion with a concentration in performance enhancement and injury prevention. Shawna Lupori ’15 was selected for the NBCC Minority Fellowship Program-Addictions Counselors. Shawna will receive an $11,000 counseling fellowship from the NBCC Foundation, an affiliate of the National Board for Certified Counselors. She is enrolled in Cal U’s master’s degree program in clinical mental health counseling and expects to graduate in 2018. The fellowship funding and related training will support her interest in serving transition-age youths and young adult minorities, especially those with addictive disorders. Shawna, who earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cal U, participated in a symposium in Atlanta, Ga., in May, where she met last year’s fellowship winners and networked with other professionals. Via social media, she stays connected with other professionals in her field for peer mentoring, and she has access to coaching from an advisory council of practitioners in the field.

Chelsea Selby ’15 is the director of membership for the Gaithersburg-Germantown (Md.) Chamber of Commerce. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cal U. Torrance Hill ’15 is the director of athletics and school operations for Madison (Wis.) West High School. He earned his master’s degree in sport management from Cal U. Kate Dellinger ’15 is the assistant women’s basketball coach at Trinity College, Hartford, Conn. Kate earned her master’s degree in exercise science and sport studies from Cal U. Angela McEwen ’11, ’15 is the assistant principal for North Allegheny Senior High School, near Pittsburgh, Pa. She earned her master’s degree in education with principal certification and then her superintendent letter of eligibility, both from Cal U. Francine Kubina Inman ’13, ’15 is a social worker at Mount Macrina Manor. She earned her degrees in psychology and social work at Cal U. She and Cody Inman live in Belle Vernon, Pa. Ariana Caldwell ’16, a legal studies graduate, has received a full scholarship to attend the prestigious Pritzker School of Law at Northwestern University. Jeff Hauswirth ’16 has recorded a song, “Too Many Names,” in honor of military veterans. A veteran himself, Jeff says he plans to support veterans charities with the proceeds from downloads, available on iTunes and similar music sites. He earned his master’s degree in exercise science and health promotion, with a concentration in performance enhancement and injury prevention.

IN PRINT Cindy Speer ’97, a staff member in the Department of History, Politics and Society, is the author of three novels and multiple short stories. Her latest, The Chocolatier’s Ghost, a romantic fantasy that includes a murder mystery, is a sequel to The Chocolatier’s Wife. For more information about her work, visit the website Dominic Bianco ’14 has written a second book, Apparition Saga: Rising Son, a sequel to The Apparition. The superhero books are set in and around Pittsburgh, Pa., specifically Dominic’s hometown of Bethel Park. After acquiring superpowers from an artifact, the books’ hero, college student Angelo Drake, learns to fight crime. Dominic’s works are available as audiobooks at and at Pittsburgh-area booksellers Rickert and Beagle, Penguin Bookshop, and New Dimension Comics. Robert Dvorchak ’72 is the author of Drive On: The Uncensored War of Bedouin Bob and the All-Americans, a journal he kept as a war correspondent during his time with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division before, during and after Operation Desert Storm in 1991. At the time of the first Iraq War, Bob was a New York City-based national writer with The Associated Press. The book is published by Tactical 16, a group of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans who encourage veterans to tell their stories as a way of healing from the physical and emotional scars of war. A U.S. Army veteran, the author is a native of Uniontown, Pa., and worked for nearly 50 years as a journalist, including 17 years with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


Michael Meketa ’16 is choir director at Bishop McCort Catholic High School, in Johnstown Pa. His musical Kalopsia recently was performed at the New Hazlett Theater, in Pittsburgh, Pa. Coast Guard Seaman Mary Lavery ’16 represented the United States at the Conseil International du Sport Militaire World Military Women’s Volleyball Championships in Jacksonville, Fla. Adisa Hargett-Robinson ’16 has graduated from American University with a master’s degree in broadcast journalism. A political science major at Cal U, Adisa’s internship experience includes work for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.” Bryan (Tolle) Schuerman ’09, ’16 received the National Association of Geoscience Teachers Eastern Section Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Award for West Virginia. Bryan teaches science at Lincoln Middle School in Shinnston, W.Va., and is chief meteorologist at WBOY-TV 12 News in Clarksburg, W.Va. He earned degrees in secondary education and science and technology at Cal U, where he is on the board of directors for the Student Association Inc. and the Alumni Association. Tanner Jesso ’14, ’16 teaches history at Union Park Middle School, in Orange County, Fla., where he also sponsors student government. His master’s degree from Cal U is in educational leadership. Carla Gardner ’17 is a self-employed fitness professional in Cottonwood, Ariz. She earned her degree in rehabilitation science and wellness and fitness from Cal U. Selina Alicea ’17, of Langhorne, Pa., is a teacher. She majored in early childhood and special education at Cal U.

Kirra Lent ’17 is taking part in the Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) program, the only teaching exchange program managed by the government of Japan. The United States is one of more than 40 countries to participate in the program, which provides opportunities for young professionals from around the world to live and work in cities, towns and villages throughout Japan. Kirra interviewed for the highly competitive program at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. She departed in July for her teaching assignment in Gifu Prefecture, in central Japan. Rachel Buettner ’17, of Pittsburgh, Pa., is a support teacher for Goddard School, an early childhood education provider. She earned an associate degree in early childhood education. Sarah Bowman ’17, of Dillsburg, Pa., is a police officer for the Department of Army. She earned her degree in sociology, with a concentration in social deviance, from Cal U. Therese Oliverio Lugar ’17, of West Mifflin, Pa., is a safety officer at UPMC Western Psychiatric Institute, in Pittsburgh, Pa. She majored in applied criminology at Cal U. Thomas Nicholls ’17 is a procurement technician for the Department of Veterans Affairs. He and Jennifer Nicholls live in Frederick, Md. Savanna Carroll ’17, of Grapevine, Texas, is a staff accountant/accounts payable coordinator for Oak Hill Advisors. She majored in business administration at Cal U, where she was involved with Habitat for Humanity, Alpha Lambda Delta, Gamma Sigma Sigma and the Student Accounting Association. She also was a Student Orientation Leader and Peer Mentor.

ENGAGEMENT Rachael Leister ’11, of Berlin, Pa., and Jeremy Romesberg are engaged. Rachael studied English education at Cal U and is a SNAP outreach coordinator for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. The couple is planning a January 2018 wedding.

WEDDINGS Kayla Hudak ’14 and Tyler Kerns were married Sept. 17, 2016, in Washington, Pa. Kayla is a speech-language pathologist with Crossroads Speech and Hearing. Devin Barto ’08 and Kristi Stoyko were married in September 2016 and live in Berks County, Pa. Devin, an organic farmer, graduated with a degree in history. Kristi is an artist.

BROTHERS IN ARMS Capt. Konrad Kearcher ’11 (left) and Capt. David Schott ’11 proudly display a Cal U flag on an airfield in Afghanistan prior to Kearcher’s redeployment to the United States. Kearcher is assigned to the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division’s Combat Aviation Brigade, Fort Riley, Kan. He was serving in Afghanistan as a TF Gunfighter’s Intelligence Officer in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Schott is assigned to the 704th Military Intelligence Brigade, Fort Meade, Md., and serves as the combat support team lead for U.S. Forces Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Both men were in ROTC at Cal U, were active brothers in the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity, and were work-study students in the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs. The office often sends the flag, donated by the Cal U Bookstore, to be signed by alumni who are serving in the military.

Allison Mical ’13 and Scott Hughes were married in June 2017. Allison works for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, and Scott works for the U.S. Postal Service. Karrie Kubina ’13, ’15 and Nickolas Eadie ’11 were married in July 2017. Karrie is a school counselor at Brownsville (Pa.) Area Middle School and the cheerleading coach for Brownsville Area High School. Nickolas teaches fourth grade at Brownsville Elementary School and is the assistant baseball coach at Brownsville Area High School. Michael Tressler ’89 and Amy King ’90 were married on Sept. 24, 2016, in their hometown of Connellsville, Pa. Michael majored in fine arts and is employed as a graphic artist by West Penn Media Group at the Daily Courier in Connellsville. Amy majored in elementary education and speech pathology and is the rehabilitation director and speech pathologist with Guardian Rehabilitation Services at Scottdale Manor. They live in Connellsville with three of their four sons.

BIRTH Elizabeth Wagner Marra ’12 and Andrew Marra ’13 welcomed their first child, Henry James Marra, on Feb. 4, 2017. Liz is a speech language pathologist at Houston Independent School District, and Andrew is a sales engineer in the oil and gas industry. The Marras and their dog, Schroeder, live in Houston, Texas.

ANNIVERSARY Judith Fulton Yagello ’64 and James Yagello ’66 celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in April 2017. Both are retired teachers living in Washington, Pa.

IN MEMORIAM Eileen B. Lenahan Baloh ’76 Thomas E. Baxter III ’67 Shirley Ann Johnson Bolz ’65 Beverly “B” Sue Brown Carpenter ’61 Jeffrey Alexander Curtis,* a student at Cal U Dennis J. Dyky ’86 Louise M. Fenton ’58 Burt Fettig,* former associate dean of men Donna M. Furnier ’90, ’93 Dennis R. Gimza ’75 Leonard James Hunter ’58 Geraldine M. Johns,* former custodian Emma Jean Gerbin Kovacs ’53 Sara Marie Kughn ’68 Rhonda D. Liggett ’71 Gail Hunter Marmie ’75 Robert McMillen ’73 Janet Beck Miralles ’59 Jean Kline Morton ’63 James Protin Sr. ’56 William M. “Mike” Shanaberger ’91 William Stanley Snyder III ’70 David E. Volchko ’85 Ernest “Ernie” Watson ’80 Francis J. “Bud” West ’61 Donald Wozniak ’87 *No graduation year available or on file



Have you included Cal U in

YOUR WILL? Recently, you should have received information about planned giving to Cal U. When it comes to making a long-term impact on education at California University of Pennsylvania, there are many giving options. As part of your estate plan, you can support Cal U through provisions in your will, an insurance policy, a trust or proceeds from your financial planning. Whether you want to put your donation to work immediately or design a plan that provides benefits after you’re gone, you can feel good knowing that you are helping to shape the future of Cal U and its students. People often assume that planned gifts are only for the wealthy, but this could not be further from the truth. In fact, several of California University’s most generous donors were people just like you — men and women who wanted to make a difference in the lives of our Cal U students, both now and well into the future.

What’s in your plan? If you’ve already included Cal U in your estate plans, we need to hear from you. As with any donation, we want to know your intentions, so your gift can be put to work according to your wishes. We also will talk with you about the best way to recognize your gift. So how can you know which avenue of support is right for you? To identify a charitable gift that best meets your family’s needs and supports California University’s vital mission for years to come, you need a plan — and we’re here to help. To learn more about how to include California University of Pennsylvania in your estate planning, contact the Office of University Development and Alumni Relations at 724-938-5775, or send email to

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Over the top Sport management major Gus Johnson reaches above the rim for a dunk during a finals week pickup game on the outdoor basketball courts along Third Street.


Summer 2017 Cal U Review  
Summer 2017 Cal U Review