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Canisius College Magazine WINTER 2015 VOLUME 16, ISSUE 1

President John J. Hurley

As Western New York endures an unusually brutal stretch of winter weather (even for us!), we are hard at work at Canisius preparing for our decennial reaccreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. As I have been stressing to our various boards and in multiple campus settings, accreditation needs to be taken very seriously. At a minimum, our eligibility for federal dollars for student financial aid and research grants, among other things, depends on us maintaining our accreditation. As part of this process, the campus community collaborated on the development of a lengthy self-study with multiple exhibits that attempts to tell the story of where the college finds itself and where we think we are headed. There is no question that higher education faces a number of challenges and Canisius College is not immune from these challenges. Students and parents are justifiably worried about the high price of a college education and increasingly want to know whether this investment in higher education will be worth it. Government officials demand to know whether their investment in student financial aid and other programs will result in graduates who are prepared to make real differences in the world. Employers in a global, digital marketplace are looking for students with skills in critical thinking, and oral and written communication in addition to cutting-edge technical expertise. Colleges are being put to the test and are being asked to prove – with data – that they can deliver on all of these counts. All of this is occurring while we here in New York State attempt to deal with the demographic challenge of a 16 percent decline in the number of high school graduates. We have been using the reaccreditation process to ask ourselves some of these essential questions about a Canisius education: what we are teaching, how we are doing it and how effective we have been. We have also developed a number of action steps that we intend to pursue in the years ahead to be even more effective and efficient. In my fall convocation talk to the campus, I spelled out a new vision for Canisius that attempted to address all of these challenges, a vision that can be summarized in three words: redefinition, revitalization and innovation. I called upon the campus community to join me in redefining what it means to be a student-centered university at this critical time. I asked the faculty to look at our entire academic program and commit to a revitalization of academics to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world. I stressed that we needed to pursue innovation in our business model and that the pursuit of true strategic alliances would be a part of that innovative future. We intend to use the reaccreditation process as a springboard for the development of the college’s next strategic plan that will pursue this vision of a new Canisius. Our self-study asserts, “The story that has emerged is one of an institution that is adapting to new conditions with thoughtful analysis and agility.” Onward!

Vice President for Advancement William M. Collins Director of Public Relations & Executive Editor Eileen C. Herbert Managing Editor Audrey R. Browka Director of Creative Services & Layout Editor Andalyn Courtney Art Director Cody Weiler Contributing Writers Allison Braun ’13 Kristin E. Etu ’91 Photography David Courtney Eric Frick Gesi Schilling Stanton Stephens Tom Wolf ’86 To Contact Us We are eager to hear your comments about Canisius College Magazine. Please send correspondence to: Canisius College Magazine 2001 Main Street, Lyons Hall Room 209, Buffalo, NY 14208 Phone 716-888-2790 Fax 716-888-2778

The historical images that appear on the magazine cover and on pages 11-16 of this issue, were obtained by The Associated Press, Corbis Images and the Rev. J. Clayton Murray, S.J., Archives and Special Collections at Canisius College.

Postmaster send change of address to: Canisius College, 2001 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14208

contents WINTER 2015

8 | Mission & Identity

11 | Cover Story RECALLING SELMA

PILGRIMAGE OF GRACE Jesuit novice Stephen J. Molvarec ’02 journeys outside his comfort zone to live simply through God’s grace.


Fifty years later, Canisius alumni reflect on how their commitment to the national Civil Rights Movement influenced their lives.


22 Alumni Spolights 20 | ABOVE THE NORM Norm Hitzges ’65 is a rare breed in the competitive world of broadcast media.

22 | HITS LIKE A GIRL Venzella “Joy” Williams ’10 keeps the beat for Beyoncé.

26 | BOLD AT HEART Through therapeutic recreation, Sheila O’Brien ’88, MSED ’05 helps specials needs individuals overcome their obstacles.

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Open for Business: START-UP NY Canisius College’s first START-UP NY partnership opened for business this winter, when Simply Natural Clothing moved its manufacturing work to Demerly Hall on Main Street. In partnering with Canisius, the eco-luxe apparel and accessories company will offer students who study fashion merchandising, business, marketing and accounting opportunities to work in the facility, assist in business development strategies, and learn how to operate 3D manufacturing machinery. START-UP NY is a statewide initiative that provides tax exemptions to new and expanding businesses that locate on or near college campuses. The idea is to spur economic development in the region while providing joint research opportunities for faculty and practical learning experiences for students. Simply Natural Clothing is expected to invest more than $1 million in the business and create 16 jobs over the next five years.

(l-r): Pat and Don McMahon, Ellen Conley, PhD, Veronica Maher ’02, Jénel Stevens ’04, MS ‘05

Sports Hall of Fame Inducts Three The Canisius Athletics Department welcomed three new members to its 2015 Hall of Fame class. Inducted on January 25 were Veronica Maher ’02 (softball), Jénel Stevens ’04, MS ’05 (basketball) and Ellen O. Conley, PhD, retired vice president for student affairs, former athletic administrator and women’s sports advocate. Don and Pat McMahon received the Rev. Paul J. Dugan, S.J., Award, which recognizes individuals for their significant contributions to Canisius athletics. The rich athletic history of this year’s inductees and their predecessors is now on display in the newly-renovated Sports Hall of Fame (photo, below). The 12-month, $200,000 upgrade houses key moments in Canisius’ athletic history, along with championship rings presented to conferencewinning teams and refurbished inductee plaques, now displayed by induction year. The Sports Hall of Fame renovation was made possible through generous contributions to the Canisius Blue & Gold Fund. WEB EXTRA

Visit to learn more about the Sports Hall of Fame inductees. More than 125 former Ice Griffs players and coaches gathered for a hockey reunion this winter. A pregame reception was hosted at HARBORCENTER. Prior to the Griffs’ faceoff against Mercyhurst, Canisius recognized the team’s hockey coaches from past and present, during an on-ice ceremony. Pictured (l-r) are Canisius’ “modern era” hockey coaches: Dave Smith (current head coach), Clancy Seymour ’97, MSEd ’99, Carl Koeppel, Brian Cavanaugh, Mike Kelly and David Dietz ’57, PhD, the former classics professor whose vision for a Canisius hockey team in 1971 grew into an NCAA Division I program.



blue&goldbriefs John and Maureen Hurley Make Gift to Science Hall Canisius’ first couple, President John J. Hurley and Maureen O. Hurley, recently underscored their commitment to Science Hall with a $250,000 gift, designated to the interdisciplinary science center project. Planning is currently underway to develop the next phase of Science Hall, which will include the departments of Biology and Chemistry, the Animal Behavior, Ecology and Conservation Program, and its companion graduate program, Anthrozoology. Canisius completed Phase 1 of the $68 million project in fall 2012. Renovations to the first and lower levels created new state-of-the-art space for the Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistics, and Physics departments, as well as for the Institute for Autism Research and the George E. Schreiner ’43, MD, Pre-Medical Center. A 1978 alumnus of Canisius, John Hurley became president in 2010. Maureen Hurley is executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Rich Products Corporation. To learn more about the Science Hall project or to make a gift, contact Dianna Civello, associate vice president for advancement, at 716-888-8220.

Commencement 2015 Two of the nation’s most dynamic business leaders will address the graduate school Class of 2015 during commencement ceremonies on Wednesday, May 13 at 7:00 p.m. in the Koessler Athletic Center.

Win-Win: Canisius, Xavier Partner to Expand Professional Development Programming Beginning in May, Canisius College and Xavier University will partner to provide expanded professional development programming to individuals in Western New York. The collaboration, between the Canisius Center for Professional Development (CPD) and Xavier’s Leadership Center (XLC), enables Canisius to add three new health care programs to its offerings: Influencing Without Authority for Health Care, Servant Leadership for Health Care and the Lean Certificate Program for Health Care.

Robert E. Rich Jr.

Robert E. Rich Jr. and Melinda Rich are chair and vice chair, respectively, of Rich Products Corporation, the nation’s largest family-owned frozen food manufacturer. Under their leadership, the company expanded into new and emerging markets, grew to more than $3 billion in worldwide sales revenue and distinguished itself for delivering high-quality customer service while nurturing an award-winning organizational culture. Catherine M. Burzik ’72, a leader in the life sciences industry, will return home to Western New York and alma mater in May to serve as commencement speaker for the Canisius undergraduate Class of 2015. Ceremonies are scheduled for Saturday, May 16 at 10:00 a.m. in the Koessler Athletic Center.

Melinda Rich

The CPD already offers extensive business certification and training courses in human resources, management, payroll and paralegal. The CPD’s popular mini MBA teaches business fundamentals while bolstering participants’ professional credentials.

Burzik successfully managed several major biomedical and biotechnology businesses throughout her career of more than 30 years. She is currently an operating partner at Targeted Technologies, a venture capital firm focused on medical devices, life sciences and biotech investments. Burzik is a former member and chair of the Canisius Board of Trustees and served an integral role in generating support for the college’s successful Legacy of Leadership campaign.

To learn more about Canisius College’s professional development program, visit Catherine M. Burzik ’72

Catherine Burzik, Robert Rich Jr. and Melinda Rich will receive honorary degrees during commencement ceremonies, as will Rev. David Hollenbach, S.J., professor of theology at Boston College; Hon. William M. Skretny ’66, chief U.S. District Judge for the Western District of New York; and civil rights legend Rev. C.T. Vivian.

facultynotes Giving Back: Estanek Awarded for Service The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) presented Sandra M. Estanek, PhD with its President’s Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes individuals for their service to Catholic higher education. ACCU honored Estanek for “significantly promoting Catholic higher education through public advocacy” and “advancing Catholic higher education through voluntary development activities.”

Sandra M. Estanek, PhD

Estanek is a professor of graduate education and leadership, and director of the College Student Personnel Administration Program. She founded the Association for Student Affairs at Catholic Colleges and Universities (ASACCU) and authored Principles of Good Practice for Student Affairs at Catholic Colleges and Universities. The publication provides a framework for planning, staff development and assessment for student affairs professionals at Catholic colleges and universities.

Koehneke Awarded for Contributions to Athletic Training Peter M. Koehneke’s contributions to athletic training and accreditation received national recognition. The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) presented the chair of the Kinesiology Department with its Bob and Lynn Caruthers Service Award. The organization recognized Koehneke “for not only leading by example but for leading with experience and thoughtful guidance.” A certified athletic trainer, Koehneke directs the college’s athletic training curriculum. Under his leadership, Canisius grew its athletic training major from a handful of students to more than 60, and became one of the first small, private colleges to receive national accreditation for its athletic Peter M. Koehneke training program.

In Print: Check out the newest faculty-authored books Canisius professors are advancing scholarly arguments and captivating readers with fictitious tales, in the latest round of faculty-authored books. History Professor René De La Pedraja, PhD traces the U.S. government’s efforts to shape the armed forces in The United States and the Armed Forces of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, 2000-2014. Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Margaret C. McCarthy, PhD chronicles the 2008 Apostolic Visitation in Power of Sisterhood: Women Religious Tell the Story of the Apostolic Visitation. Adjunct English Professor Ed Taylor’s debut novel, Theo, is a coming-of-age story about the 10-year-old son of a major rock star. Emeritus Philosophy Professor Stanley L. Vodraska, PhD addresses the idea of familial preference in Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Families. WEB EXTRA

Check out “In Print” at to read more about these books and other faculty-authored publications.

Head Games Karl Kozlowski, PhD says exercise may be the best medicine to treat post-concussion syndrome Physical and cognitive rest are traditionally what doctors prescribe for patients who suffer sport-related concussions. But a new approach to treating post-concussion syndrome (PCS) may actually help athletes get back in the game quicker, according to Karl Kozlowski, PhD, assistant professor of kinesiology at Canisius College. Kozlowski is pioneering a treatment program for patients who suffer from post-concussion syndrome (PCS). PCS is defined as three or more concussion symptoms that persist at least three weeks after the injury. Past treatments for the condition have failed to demonstrate success. Kozlowski’s, which prescribes a regulated exercise routine, is among the first to offer real hope to those who suffer. “We started out wanting to determine if athletes who suffer from post-concussion syndrome could exercise at a level that wouldn’t bring out symptoms but would allow them to stay conditioned while recuperating,” says Kozlowski. To do this, Kozlowski and his co-researchers tested patients’ thresholds for exercise. From that, they developed a low-level workout program (10 to 15 minutes) for each. Patients were asked to keep track of their symptoms and within three weeks, they reported feeling better. New regimens were tailored and after several months of this routine, concussion symptoms were significantly reduced or disappeared entirely for the patients. “We found that gradual exercise, rather than rest alone, actually helps to restore the balance of the brain’s auto-regulation mechanism, which controls the blood pressure and supply to the brain,” says Kozlowski. While confident the new treatment can help reduce concussion symptoms, Kozlowski emphasizes that it’s too soon to call the exercise treatment a cure, as some patients respond faster or better than others. C ANI SIUS COLLEGE M AGA ZINE • WINTER 2015 |


STORY: Audrey R. Browka PHOTOS: Eric Frick



Jesuit novice Stephen J. Molvarec ’02 journeys outside his comfort zone to live simply through God’s grace.

Stephen J. Molvarec ’02 stepped off a Greyhound bus at the Salt Lake City terminal and a sense of trepidation washed over him. He was new to the city, had no place to stay and virtually no money in his pockets. Unsure what to do, Molvarec simply walked the streets for hours. When night fell, he took shelter on the steps outside a small church. Tucked up against the doors to protect himself from the cold air, Molvarec wondered aloud, “God, I thought you were supposed to provide for me.” Molvarec’s night on the street marked the beginning of many hardships he would encounter during a month-long pilgrimage, which Jesuit novices make while discerning life in the Society of Jesus. The pilgrimage is one of six prescribed experiences for Jesuit novices, outlined by the Society’s founder, St. Ignatius Loyola. It instructs them to spend 30 days away, “without money … begging from door to door … to grow accustomed to discomfort in food and lodging.” The pilgrimage comes in the wake of a 30-day silent retreat, during which novices make the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. The Exercises

foster a novice’s trust in God and his deeper companionship with Jesus Christ. The pilgrimage tests a novice’s trust and sense of companionship further. Novices on pilgrimage are stripped of modern-day amenities. “No computers, cellphones or cameras,” explains Molvarec. They can bring with them only what they’re able to fit in a backpack. (Molvarec squeezed into his, a single change of

“ The four words that showed up in my prayers were solitude, community, poverty and providence.” Though each pilgrimage experience is different, all involve degrees of anxiety. There are the obvious concerns: money, food and finding a safe place to sleep.

clothes, a water bottle, a Bible, a prayer book,

There are also less discernable discomforts.

a journal and a pair of sandals.) On the day

Molvarec felt out of place in each strange

of their departures, novices receive $35 and one-way bus tickets to pre-determined destinations. Wherever the pilgrimage takes them after that depends on prayerful discernment and the graces each novice wants to seek while on the road.

with the counter-culture in some cities. He often witnessed homeless people using drugs in public – sometimes right next to him on park benches. “There were definitely days when I felt very alone and unnerved,” he recalls. For every instance of anxiety, however, Molvarec shares another of reassurance. There was the pastor who offered Molvarec a warm meal and place to stay in exchange for manual labor around the church. A college student, who saw Molvarec sleeping

new city, “not knowing anyone or anything.” He grew uncomfortable about his appearance, without being able to regularly shower or shave. “(Two) churches threw me out because of how I looked,” he recalls. Molvarec also became uneasy

“The four words that showed up in my prayers were solitude, community, poverty and providence,” recalls Molvarec. “These were the things I wanted to encounter during my pilgrimage and they served as compass points.”



outside, brought him a coat and sleeping

ill patient in a psychiatric ward, reminded

have to look for Him.”

bag to keep warm. Then there were the

Molvarec that we are all one in Jesus

parishioners who made a point to embrace

Christ. He and “Mark” shared similarities in

This unexpected grace and the many

the bedraggled Molvarec during the sign

their lives and as Mark shared his story, “I

of peace at Mass. Afterwards, they invited

thought none of us is as far or as separate

him to join them for coffee and pastry.

from the other as we think. We all belong to

“For me, the pilgrimage built a foundation

God and therefore to one another.”

of trust in my relationship with God,” says

Coincidentally, one of the darkest points

Molvarec. “When people offered their

during Molvarec’s pilgrimage also turned

generosity, I came to trust that this was

out to be the most enlightening.

God’s way of providing for me.”

It was May 3 (Molvarec’s birthday) and he

Loyola University Chicago.

This trust, amidst such uncertain circum-

just arrived in another new city with no

stances, unleashed a new sense of freedom

money and no place to stay. “I was really

Always, he keeps the lessons he learned while

in Molvarec. He rid himself of his fears

depressed and I remember thinking to

and chose instead “to view moments of

myself ‘What am I doing?’”

challenge as great liberations.” Throughout

He was reminded by Kyle.

the remainder of his travels (which took him from Salt Lake City to Berkley, CA and north to Portland, OR and Spokane and Seattle, WA), Molvarec welcomed discomfort - even sought it out - and found God’s will at work in the most unforeseen people and places. The young novice befriended a homeless man named Matthew, whom he tried to assist in his struggle for sobriety. Turns out, Matthew helped Molvarec, as well. “He always brought our conversations back

pilgrimage, endure as he continues on his path to the priesthood. Since returning, Molvarec has served the poor and marginalized in homeless shelters, hospitals and prisons. In August 2014, he pronounced his perpetual vows. Molvarec is currently engaged in his First Studies at

on the road at the forefront of his formation. He expects that’s where they’ll remain. “The pilgrimage taught me to live deeply, simply and freely; to be open, generous and

The homeless man sat down next to

available; and to meet people truly where

Molvarec and suddenly began to point to

and as they are,” says Molvarec. “I learned

each passerby. “That woman over there is

that when you seek the God of the ordinary,

God,” he said aloud. “That man, he is God,

you will find Him in people and places that

too.” Kyle continued to point out God with

are extraordinary.”

each passerby. “He reminded me that God is, in fact, everywhere and in all things,” says Molvarec. “This is the very core of Ignatian spirituality. God is always active in our world. We just

to the Bible,” says Molvarec. “It was striking at first but upon reflection I think Matthew saw me as a channel to God’s grace. He certainly was that for me.” Another encounter, this time with a mentally

“ I learned that when you seek the God of the ordinary, you will find Him in people and places that are extraordinary. ” – Stephen J. Molvarec

6 0| 1

others Molvarec encountered during his


THE BUS ARRIVED IN SELMA, ALABAMA at 8:40 a.m. on Sunday, March 21, 1965. As a parting shot to its passengers – 33 Canisius students, two Jesuit priests and the college’s dean of men – the driver dropped the group off nearly a mile past Brown Chapel AME Church, its desired location. Forced to walk back, the Canisius contingent faced jeers from crowds of white people, angry with the young delegation for its support of the voting rights movement sweeping through the South.



lthough the 15th Amendment granted African American men the right to vote in 1870, white politicians devised all manner of tricks to keep blacks from voting,” says Bruce J. Dierenfield, PhD, Canisius professor of history and author of The Civil Rights Movement.

Selma became ground zero in the white monopoly’s efforts to maintain political power. Here, 57 percent of the voting age population was black yet only one percent was registered to vote. Registrars imposed poll taxes and literacy tests to keep disenfranchised blacks away. When that didn’t work, they employed overt intimidation tactics. Civil rights pioneer Rev. C.T. Vivian was at the center of it all. As director of affiliates for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Rev. Vivian led the nonviolent demonstrations for fair voting practices in Selma. “Unless we could guarantee our fundamental right to vote, we had nothing,” recalls Rev. Vivian, who was a close friend and lieutenant to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “Our voices wouldn’t be heard and our votes wouldn’t be counted.” (See back cover) As the government sat idly by, civil rights supporters, under the leadership of Rev. King, devised a nonviolent protest to draw national attention to their plight. They organized an ambitious five-day, 54-mile march to the state capital of Montgomery to pressure Gov. George Wallace into action. It would take demonstrators three attempts to reach the state capital. With each attempt, the Civil Rights Movement climbed closer to its political and emotional peak. The raw images of the first attempt, now known as Bloody Sunday, made national news. The shocking footage, of state and local lawmen brutally attacking hundreds of civil rights marchers as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, “produced a tidal wave of indignation,” says Dierenfield. “Thousands of Americans flooded the White House with telegrams and signed petitions denouncing the police riot.” On March 21, nearly two weeks after Bloody Sunday, a group of 3,200 marchers – including the Canisius contingent – set out on a third attempt to reach the state capital. This time, they were armed with a court order permitting their peaceful protest and the protection of the Alabama National Guard. Marchers departed from Brown Chapel and safely crossed the now symbolic Edmund Pettus Bridge, enroute to Montgomery. By the time the group arrived in the capital, they were joined by more than 25,000 additional marchers. These citizen-activists came from across the country. They were comprised of people of all ages, races and faiths but united by a similar conscience that compelled them to force a nation to keep its promise of justice – for all. “The Selma march ultimately pressured both political parties to approve the Voting Rights Act, which President Lyndon B. Johnson signed in August 1965,” says Dierenfield. “The law enforces the 15th Amendment and confirms that blacks are full American citizens.” To commemorate the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and the historic march in Selma, Canisius Magazine invited alumni participants to reflect on their personal experiences from that time. Their stories exemplify how the search for justice can often change an individual as much – if not more – than the broader change he seeks to achieve. Excerpts from these stories appear on the following pages.

OVER THE FIRST WEEKEND IN MARCH 1965, TV networks shocked the nation with images of the brutal violence deployed by the Alabama State Police to stop a few hundred silent black Americans from marching from Selma to Montgomery to demand their constitutional right to vote. Mike Monin ’65 and I agreed that we should organize a Canisius contingent for the March 21 march. Rev. Edward Gillen, S.J., then vice president of Canisius, agreed to allow the Student Council to pay for the bus, provided a Jesuit faculty member went on the trip. We felt confident the trip would happen and whatever obstacles we might encounter, we expected south of the Mason-Dixon Line. We never expected that to support the right to vote for African Americans we would first need to overcome less obvious but no less potent obstacles at home.


When I told my ROTC faculty advisor that I would be leading the Canisius delegation to march for voting rights in Selma, he interrupted to declare that I could not go because as cadet captain, I had to command the Tactical Unit (TU) in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on the same weekend. I expressed confidence that any of the platoon leaders could lead the TU in my absence but he ordered me to command the unit. If I did not, he would have me cashiered from the Corps of Cadets for insubordination, which would preclude my being commissioned as an officer. I declared that I was not yet in the Army and if the Army was in the business of depriving people of their rights, then I did not want to be commissioned. I stormed out of his office in a rage without saluting and went to see Father Gillen.

Father Gillen and I had developed a congenial although somewhat confrontational relationship throughout my two years as editor of The Griffin. I recounted to him the still-fresh conversation I had with my captain. After asking one question to clarify, Father Gillen called the ROTC commander. He inquired whether it was true that I had been threatened with dismissal from the corps if I led the Canisius delegation to Selma. After some long delay or explanation or both, Father Gillen responded tartly: “If Yuhnke is not allowed to go to Selma, the days of ROTC on this campus are numbered.” The next day I learned that I would not be required to command the TU in the parade. That same night at the dinner table I announced to my family that I was helping to organize Canisius students to participate in the voting rights march in Selma. Mom voiced her concern. She feared I would be a victim of hate violence. Dad exploded, declaring that “No son of mine would do a thing like that! If you go, I don’t ever want to see you in this house again.”

<< Robert E. Yuhnke ’65



The vehemence of his reaction stunned me. It took me minutes to take in the import of this unexpected revelation of my dad’s attitude about an issue that was rending the nation and now my family. The situation did not lend itself to reasoning. I responded from my heart: “Dad, I feel that what is happening in the South affects us all and I feel called to bear witness. History is being made and I want to be part of it.”

to come to his office. Much to my surprise, he apologized on behalf of the Army for the way I was treated. He warned that if I made a career of the Army, I would encounter many people like the captain. “Don’t let them take you down,” he advised. “The Army needs leaders like you.” He gave me his second lieutenant bars and asked me to wear them in honor of the commitment I had shown to the principles for which America stands.

In retrospect, I can see that my response to these challenges was a declaration of personal independence. My commitment was to contribute to the building of a different future for America; different than the one in which my ROTC captain and father lived. We had to do better.

Years later I reconciled with my dad. He owned that he never would have chosen to live his life the way I lived mine but confessed pride that “You are your own man.” I always treasured that acknowledgment and that he respected me even though I did not fulfill his expectations for who he wanted his son to be.

Learning to take responsibility for committing myself to my truth has been rewarded many times in the last 50 years.

Thanks to Canisius, the Selma experience opened many eyes. And nearly four decades after graduation, without any premonition that he would die within days, I called Father Gillen to thank him for the integrity and strength that he modeled for me that day in 1965.

Two months after returning from Selma, the colonel who had returned to his post as commander of Canisius’ ROTC, asked me


IT HAS BEEN 50 YEARS SINCE I TRAVELED TO SELMA for the historic voting rights march with a busload of students and faculty from Canisius College. I was an 18-year-old freshman and one of thousands of clergy, students, citizen-activists and professionals of all races and creeds who joined the protest led by Martin Luther King Jr. Not everyone agreed with the march or that we should be going. A close friend and dormmate of mine threatened termination of our friendship if I were to go. We were never close again. The first evidence that geography had affected politics occurred when a new bus driver took over below the Mason-Dixon Line. While singing civil rights songs, someone noticed the heater was on high. Strangely, the outside temperature was quite moderate. Our driver was objecting in his own way to our participation in the march.


Up the highway from Selma, we shaved in a truck stop restroom and changed into coats and ties to counter the image in the conservative media of freedom marchers as slovenly troublemakers. The atmosphere at the rally was electric. Shivers rocketed up and down my spine as I stepped into the crowd. It was a righteous cause and a moment of unqualified conviction. MLK’s rousing remarks from the porch of the Brown Chapel galvanized the assembly.

Energized. No turning back. But this feeling did not stop a shock of fear from passing through me when I first saw the Edmund Pettus Bridge. I wager I was not alone in that feeling. What if the military was unable to quash the local rage? If the philosophy was nonviolence, were we to simply take a beating? The scene after the bridge was reassuring. More than 3,000 troops and marshals were there to protect us. They were on the north side of Route 80, shielding us from rows of counterprotesters who were hoisting "n----- lover" placards, shouting obscenities and telling white folks to go home. An occasional rock was flung into our midst from the hill but troops quickly quieted those disturbances. We responded to their insults and attempts to harm by locking arms tightly and neutralizing their animosity with choruses of “We Shall Overcome.” When the sun on our faces dropped closer to the horizon, all but about 50 of the thousands of marchers had to be shuttled back to Selma. By court order, only a small contingent could continue to Montgomery the next day. I rejoined my group at the church, a designated food and rest center for marchers. The pews were filled with sleeping bags whose owners had traveled from every corner of the nation. There was no sleeping that night, though. Fear of violent reprisals and people coming and going with news of the day kept me up until daybreak. The trip back to Buffalo the next morning was noiseless save for murmured conversations and the snores of exhausted young men. Seeds of change had been sewn in our lives for future germination. I have had 50 years to process the effects of Selma on our nation and my life. I was different after being the target of racism. Unequivocally. As a Gallaudet University dean, I pressed for the hiring of professionals of color, established the first diversity programs on campus and became a trainer for the National Coalition Building Institute, an organization with a goal of eliminating prejudice. This past year, I co-led diversity training with a deaf colleague at the Kentucky School for the Deaf. I also composed a chapter for a multicultural text about the status of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) deaf and hard-of-hearing students in our nation’s schools. The Selma march schooled us all in prejudice and discrimination. It was up to us to put what was learned into practice. <<

(l-r): Edgar J. Germain ’65, David A. Chank ’67 << The Canisius contingent included 33 students, Rev. Francis V. Courneen, S.J. (far left), Rev. Joseph F. Cantillon, S.J., and Donald A. Nair, PhD, dean of students.

IT WAS MID-MARCH 1965 WHEN A “FREEDOM BUS” pushed off the wall of Fort Canisius. I had to be on that bus and I didn’t know why. I didn’t weigh the pros and cons, follow advice, join the crowd, respond to rhetoric or consider the risks. I simply did what I could to get aboard. Success! Four days down and back, a quick trip that lasted a lifetime. We got off the bus in Birmingham near a church. It was a handsome church that would have looked in place anywhere back home. But this was not back home. This was a church in Birmingham where churches could be blown to pieces and little girls murdered. We then bused out of Birmingham and headed for Selma. Over the next hour my brain liquefied. Acid fear captured my imagination. The longest, straightest road in the history of roads and countless straight, slender trees, just wide enough to conceal spying eyes under pointy hats. Were those broken-off branches or shotgun barrels? And what was I doing in a window seat? I was scared. And then – Selma. “Okay, everyone out.” We’re on the side of the road. There’s a little kid, maybe there were two or three. They’re waving for us to follow. We do. Thirty-six men in Roman collars or coats and ties, men from another planet, following a short-cut trail that only kids could devise. Could there be anything more beautiful than this? I was no longer afraid. We were told to stay close and not get lost but Bob Pfohman ’66 and I headed off to see if we could get a look at Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. We found him. It must have been when the actual march was forming because my memory picture somewhat matches the now iconic photo of Dr. King, Ralph Abernathy, Ralph Bunche and the other leaders of the march. As for the march itself, I remember moving very slowly, in fits and starts. I remember unceremoniously finding myself on the bridge and as we rose up a bit the view opened and I felt a touch of vulnerability. But with 2,000 U.S. Army and 1,900 Alabama National Guardsmen on hand, I knew that violence was not at all likely this day. There is indeed strength in numbers.


The strongest memory I’ve taken from the march itself was the impression made on me by the marshals. Here were young students our age doing the real work of the Civil Rights Movement. They walked beside us and instructed us on what to do and what not to do in the event of active opposition. I admired them so much and trusted them completely. After nine miles and crossing the bridge, we left the march and returned to Selma. The next day as we headed home, the amorphous history machine was properly turning the Selma marches into a historical triumph. However, completely out of media range, I was unaware of this and so was just befuddled by the greeting we received back at school. Reporters and photographers. Friends and most happily a big bunch of my beloved family, all who could make it. My mom, three or four brothers and sisters, a brother-in-law, a niece and nephew or two, and even my dear, dear grandma. How did Selma affect the rest of my life? First, here’s how it didn’t. I didn’t come back from Selma and change my major at school and I didn’t spend a summer registering voters in Mississippi or in Buffalo for that matter. The attitudes I brought home, however, have proved life-defining. Selma had the effect of making me a citizen, a person with privileges and responsibilities. It made Martin Luther King Jr. a saint. It proved that passive resistance works. It gave me a world of people to love. WEB EXTRA Read more Memories of a Movement at

If you are a Canisius alumnus who participated in the Selma march, tell us your story. Essays can be emailed to They will be shared at Canisius Magazine online and with Robert E. Yuhnke ’65, who is compiling a collection of essays to commemorate Canisius’ role in the historic march.


Women in Medicine Canisius alumna leaves a legacy for the next generation


or nearly four decades, the late Mary Ellen Rybak ’71, MD, worked tirelessly to find targeted, effective treatments for cancer. Her goal was simple: to help others who needed a cure. Rybak also steadfastly advocated for women in medicine. “After Mary Ellen’s passing, I received notes from more than 100 women whom she influenced,” says Thomas Griffin, MD, Rybak’s husband of 37 years. “When she began her medical career it wasn’t – and still isn’t – a level playing field for women.” He adds, “Years ago, we held identical positions at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Mary Ellen’s salary was half of mine.”

Rybak specialized in oncology and hematology – the diagnosis and treatment for diseases of the blood, including leukemia. She was a dedicated researcher and developed new drugs for Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development. As a consultant for a biotechnology firm, Rybak implemented the long-term clinical strategy for MyVax® personalized immunotherapy, which helps the body fight cancer with its own cells. Rybak also developed targeted gene treatments using DNA cultivated in a laboratory to fight head and neck, colorectal, liver and ovarian cancers. Rybak worked as a medical oncology consultant for MultiVir Inc. at the time of her death in 2013. According to her husband, Rybak spoke fondly of her Canisius experience and how her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry prepared her for a career in medicine. “Mary Ellen was so grateful for her Jesuit education,” says Griffin. “The professors taught her to think critically and gave her a solid foundation for her studies at Harvard Medical School.” Rybak was one of only a handful of women to attend Harvard Medical School in the early 1970s. Yet she pioneered the way for a new generation of women in medicine and empowered them as a professor in the field. Rybak’s efforts will endure, even in her passing. An estate gift from Rybak’s husband now makes scholarships available to young women who study pre-medicine at Canisius.

Join the Rev. James M. Demske ’47, SJ, Society

“Mary Ellen would be pleased to be able to advance the cause of young women in medicine, in particular at her alma mater,” says Griffin. “She made great strides in the field during her career. Because of her generosity, the next generation can take it one step further.”



4,181 students. 4,181 different reasons to be thankful. One person to THANK.


From the scholarships and tuition assistance that make our education affordable, to the real-world work and service experiences that enhance it, your gifts to the Canisius Fund enable the most powerful aspects of a Canisius education â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and the lifetime of opportunity that comes with it.

To make a gift to the Canisius Fund, please return the enclosed envelope or visit

Bieler to be recognized at Regents Scholarship Ball The Canisius College Board of Regents will confer its Distinguished Citizen Achievement Award upon Scott Bieler at the 49th annual Regents Scholarship Ball on Saturday, May 9. The longtime president and CEO of West Herr Automotive Group is being recognized for his outstanding contributions to the economic and civic welfare of the Western New York region.

The company is a model of integrity and excellence – much like the humble and charitable man who spearheads it. Bieler has served as a member of many civic boards of directors throughout the years. He is currently co-chair of the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation’s capital campaign, for which Bieler helped secure $40 million for Phase I of its new Clinical Sciences Center. Under Bieler’s leadership, West Herr also provides substantial support to more than 700 local organizations, to help enhance the quality of life in the community. The Hospice Foundation and Kids Escaping Drugs are just two examples of the many organizations that have benefited from Bieler’s generous spirit.

Bieler began his career at West Herr in 1975. Hired as a salesman, he rose through the ranks – from manager to general manager and partner, and then majority owner in 2000. Since then, West Herr has grown to include 20 franchises in 20 locations. It is the largest automotive group in New York State with more than 1,600 employees, and ranked 24th in the Scott Bieler The Board of Regents Scholarship Ball is the country. West Herr is also award-winning: The principal fundraiser for the Canisius College Board of Regents Better Business Bureau recognized the auto dealer six times for its Scholarship Fund, which provides financial support to promising marketplace ethics, while Business First named West Herr a “Best students. Place to Work” for 11 consecutive years. The Buffalo News recognized West Herr as a “Top Place to Work” in 2014.

TICKETS TO THE 49TH ANNUAL REGENTS SCHOLARSHIP BALL ARE NOW ON SALE. Tables of 10 are available at the Leadership Level ($5,000); the Gold Level ($3,000); and the Griffin Level ($2,000). Young alumni pricing (classes of 2005-2014) and individual tickets are also available. To purchase tickets or learn about sponsorship opportunities, visit or contact Cecelia Gotham, assistant director of stewardship, at 716-888-8228 or at

Canisius hosted supporters of the men’s hockey program at (716) Food and Sport, prior to the Ice Griffs’ opening game at HARBORCENTER. The team is the primary tenant in downtown’s new hockey and entertainment complex. Pictured (left, l-r): Vito Cuddemi, John Christiano ’57, MSED ’75 and Vita Cuddemi; (above) Dave and Debbie Conacher. C ANI SIUS COLLEGE M AGA ZINE • WINTER 2015 |


Above the Norm Story by: Kristin E. Etu ’91 | Photography by Stanton Stephens


ORM HITZGES ’65 HAS LIVED AND BREATHED SPORTS since growing up in Dunkirk, NY in the 1950s. “I listened to Detroit Tigers’ games on the radio and wrote to the baseball players to ask for autographed pictures,” says Hitzges. He never imagined how far his passion would take him.

This August, the host of Dallas’ popular sports-talk radio program, “The Norm Hitzges Show” on KTCK “The Ticket,” will mark 40 continuous years on the airwaves. It’s the longest streak of any talk show personality in a major American market. “I love what I do,” says Hitzges, who has covered nearly every major sporting event, from the Super Bowl to the Kentucky Derby. “I love talking to people. I love sports, being at games and conversing with athletes.” Hitzges is a pioneer in both radio and television. He launched the first all-sports morning-drive talk show in America. And when ESPN began to televise major league baseball games in 1990, Hitzges became the first non-athlete to work as a network sports analyst, since Howard Cosell. “One of the highlights of my career was interviewing Cosell on air during the 1980s,” he notes. Hitzges “cherishes that moment” - almost as much as his Canisius education.

“The opportunity to attend Canisius on a scholarship was the greatest gift of my life,” says Hitzges. He credits Canisius for introducing him to his passion for traveling, which he did extensively as manager of the men’s basketball team. Hitzges also praises his advisor, the late Rev. J. Clayton Murray, S.J., for getting him to Texas from Buffalo. Hitzges planned to go to Columbia or Syracuse for graduate school but “this wonderful, short, snowy-haired man said ‘No, were I a young man again I would go somewhere I’ve never been.’” Hitzges walked out of Father Murray’s office “into about a foot of snow and started to reconsider,” he laughs. Hitzges studied journalism at the University of Texas and while there, broke into the broadcasting business. He interviewed CBS’ Eddie Barker, renowned for being the first to report the death of President John F. Kennedy. Barker later offered Hitzges a tape test, which led to his first sportscasting job at CBS in Dallas. “It was pure dumb luck,” recalls Hitzges, whose storied career includes stints announcing for the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Mavericks. Good fortune enabled Hitzges to get his foot in the door. Hard work made him a success. He learned to out-hustle other reporters and broke stories. Hitzges also acquired an encyclopedic knowledge


Alumni from the college’s Urban Leadership Learning Community (ULLC) gathered for a reunion at The Oakk Room, owned by Curtis McCutcheon ’06, MBA ’07. The ULLC provides socially and economically disadvantaged students, who are committed to developing their academic talents and leadership abilities, the opportunity to receive a Canisius education. To date, the ULLC has graduated 127 students. Ninety percent either work in their chosen fields or pursue graduate studies. Pictured (l-r): Bennie Williams ’11, MS ‘13, ULLC co-founder Kenneth M. Sroka ‘65, PhD, Ayana Harris ‘11, Phylicia Brown ‘11, ULLC co-founder E. Roger Stephenson, PhD, and Karen Williams ‘11

of sports, which he married with his infectious enthusiasm that continues to draw listeners today – even in a changing industry. “The business is increasingly entertainmentoriented,” says Hitzges. “Listeners can access so much more information online so their expectations are higher.” Hitzges always rises to the occasion. The National Association of Broadcasters twice recognized “The Ticket” with its Marconi Award for “sports station of the year.” The humble Hitzges uses his status and stature only to give back to the city that sustains his career. During his annual “Norm-a-thon,” Hitzges broadcasts for 18 consecutive hours to raise money for Austin Street Center, a faith-based emergency shelter for the homeless in Dallas. “I am grateful for all of the doors that were opened for me over the years,” he says. “This is a way for me to contribute to a place that truly changes lives.”

Big 4 basketball returned to Buffalo’s First Niagara Center in November and proved to be a must-see event for sports fans across Western New York. Nearly 100 Canisius alumni and friends gathered at HARBORCENTER’S (716) Food and Sport for a post-game party on Saturday, November 29, following the Griffs’ tilt with UB. Many then stayed to cheer on the Golden Griffins ice hockey team versus Air Force. Pictured above (l-r): Brian Almendinger ’13, MBA ’14, Anthony Kroese ’14, Joseph Modica ’13, Evan Morgan ’13 and Dan Radwan ’13 C ANI SIUS COLLEGE M AGA ZINE • WINTER 2015 |


Hits Like a Girl Story by: Kristin E. Etu ’91 Photography by: Gesi Schilling


ENZELLA “JOY” WILLIAMS ’10 DIDN’T KNOW WHEN it would happen but she knew one day she would showcase her passion for rhythm alongside superstar singer and performer Beyoncé. Williams’ faith, talent and eight-hour-a-day practices paid off in 2014 when she joined the “Mrs. Carter Show World Tour” as its drummer. As if this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity weren’t thrilling enough, Williams’ very first performance with the ‘Queen Bey’ took place at The White House for First Lady Michelle Obama’s 50th birthday party. “It was an overwhelming experience,” recalls Williams. It’s only the latest in this young drummer’s musical credits. Williams played in the house band for the Black Entertainment Network (BET) program “Black Girls Rock.” During her stint, she performed with music legend Patty LaBelle and singer Jennifer Hudson, among others. Williams also provided the beat for singer Nelly on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” The Lockport native picked up her first set of drum sticks at age 10, when she joined her elementary school band. Shortly after, Santa Claus brought the drummer girl her first shiny red drum set. “I remember banging away for hours because I was so excited.” Soon, Williams brought her bass to the church where her father was a gospel singer. Williams experimented with other percussion instruments while at Nardin Academy. When Williams came to Canisius, as an Urban Leadership Learning Community scholar, she played in the jazz band while studying music theory and criminal justice. “My mother was a woman of strong faith and believed that my musical dreams would come true,” says Williams. “But she also encouraged me to go to college and get an education.” Williams made her first national debut as a drummer during her junior year at Canisius. She competed on the MTV reality show “Making His Band.” Williams collaborated with Sean “Diddy” Combs and other music industry veterans, who ultimately helped her land the Beyoncé gig. “It was absolutely amazing to work with Beyoncé. I learned so much about her work ethic, her professionalism and her creativity.” Williams shares what she learned at drum clinics across the country. She explains, “I want people to leave my clinics encouraged to live their dreams.” Certainly, Williams is living hers. It’s the inspiration behind her most recent musical venture. “Live” is Williams’ first vocal single, available on iTunes. “The song is meant to inspire,” she says. “I want people to know they’re closer to achieving their dreams than they think.” Sounds like a hit! WEB EXTRA

Watch Venzella “Joy” Williams perform at C ANI SIUS COLLEGE M AGA ZINE • WINTER 2015 |


classnotes 1950s ’52 BA, MSED ’61 Angelo Prospero, retired professor of history and war veteran, was inducted into the Ring 44 Hall of Fame by the Buffalo Veterans Boxers Association. Prospero served as Ring 44’s historian until 2010.

1960s ’61 BA Joseph P. Kerr retired after 53 years of national service. He served more than 20 years in the U.S. Army and 30 years in national intelligence working in U.S. policy formation, treaty negotiations and monitoring treaty compliance. ’64 BA Donald R. Dean, retired chair of the Computer and Business Management Department at Villa Maria College, recently authored a book entitled Shadows on the Wall: Life is What You Make It. ’66 BA Paul B. Hurley Jr., PhD, retired president of Trocaire College, was elected vice president of the Rotary Club of Buffalo. ’68 BA Hon. Denise E. (Beiter) O’Donnell, a former U.S. attorney in Western New York, was nominated to become Buffalo’s first female federal judge.

1970s ’71 BA James P. Curtis, EdD, retired from Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia after 18 years as principal and 42 total years in education. ’71 LeRoi C. Johnson, attorney in the Law Office of LeRoi C. Johnson Attorney PLLC, received the Art Tour International Magazine “Timeless Award” for his art work, entitled “Electric Curiosity,” at the International Art Exhibition in Toronto. The award honors creativity and excellence in the arts. ’71 BS Thomas H. VanNortwick, retired assistant commissioner for regional affairs for New York State, was named to the Rotary Club of Buffalo Board of Directors. ’73 BA Anthony A. Kubera, director of business development at Russell Bond & Co. Inc., was elected president of the Professional Insurance Agents of New York. ’74 BS Stephen T. LoVullo, partner at Lumsden & McCormick LLP, recently celebrated his 40-year anniversary at the firm. ’75 BA Arthur M. Michalek, PhD, is a new professor of epidemiology and environmental health at the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions. He previously served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cancer Education.

’75 BA Stephen P. Scrivani, family practitioner at Limestone Primary Care, was elected public health and education chair for the Erie County Medical Society.

’81 BA Martin Burruano was promoted to vice president of pharmacy services at Independent Health. He previously served as director of pharmacy services.

’76 BA Lynn M. Steinbrenner, MD, clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University at Buffalo, received the Louis A. and Ruth Siegel Award for excellence in teaching in the preclinical program, during UB’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Science’s Faculty Appreciation Day.

’82 BA Peter F. Kowalski, MD, clinical assistant professor of family medicine at the University at Buffalo, received the Louis A. and Ruth Siegel Award for excellence in teaching in the clinical program, during UB’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Science’s Faculty Appreciation Day.

’77 MS Gayle L. Eagan, partner at Jaeckle Fleischmann & Mugel LLP, was named to the Frank Lloyd Wright Darwin Martin House Complex Board of Directors.

’82 BA Kathleen (Grisanti) Lillis, MD, chief executive officer at Pediatric & Adolescent Urgent Care of WNY, received the Women of Influence Award in the “creativity” category from Buffalo’s Business First.

’78 BS Raymond B. August is the new provider fraud analyst with the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General. He previously spent 33 years as supervising special auditor/investigator with the NYS Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. ’78 BS James R. Turski is a new customer service manager at Viatran, a designer and manufacturer of pressure and level transmitters. He previously served as channel operations manager for Baxter in Chicago, IL. ’78 BA, MBA ’85 Nancy (Wutz) Ware, president of EduKids Inc., received the Women of Influence Award from Buffalo’s Business First for her contributions to the community. ’79 BA Richard G. Battaglia, MD, director at Price Waterhouse Cooper LLP, was appointed to The Lions’ Vision Beyond Sight Foundation, which works to prevent, treat and cure visual impairments through support for the Ira Ross Eye Institute. ’79 BS David J. Nasca, president and chief executive officer of Evans Bank, was named to the “Power 250 List of Influential People” by Buffalo’s Business First. Nasca was also appointed to the Lifetime Healthcare Company’s governing board. ’79 BS Keith H. Waldron, owner of Schwabel Fabrication, was named chair of the Gateway Longview Foundation Board of Directors.

1980s ’80 BS Col. Timothy K. McNulty is a new account manager at U.S. Bank in Queensburg, NY. He previously served as the logistics management specialist at U.S. Transportation Command for the U.S. Army. ’80 BS, MS ’11 Jeffrey G. Nix is the new assistant general manager of the Detroit Pistons. He previously served as director of men’s basketball operations at Wake Forest University.

’82 BA Donna (Hoelscher) Suchan was promoted to vice presidentsenior real estate counsel at M&T Bank. She previously served as an attorney at Phillips Lytle LLP.

of Western New York, performed the first implant of a specialized endograph stent, at Sisters Hospital. ’88 BA Robert W. O’Connor III was appointed donor relations coordinator at The Salvation Army, Buffalo Area Services. ’89 BS Russell J. Matuszak was promoted to portfolio director of mandates and regulations for BlueCross BlueShield. He previously served as legal counsel. ’89 BS Thomas R. Rybarczyk, audit director at Deloitte & Touche LLP, was named chief volunteer officer for the Boys and Girls Club of Buffalo Board of Directors.

1990s ’91 BS Mary Jane (Bukolt) Miranda was promoted to finance supervisor at Eric Mower & Associates. She previously served as senior financial analyst.

’83 MBA Nancy M. Blaschak retired as chief executive officer for the Western New York/Finger Lakes Region of the American Red Cross following a 35-year career.

’93 BA Nina F. (Eucaliptus) Juncewicz opened her own practice, the Law Office of Nina F. Juncewicz, PC. She previously served as an attorney at Juncewicz Law Group PC.

’83 BA, MS ’98 Michael P. Ciechoski, assistant director of ticket sales for the Buffalo Bills, was named to the Buffalo Niagara Sales and Marketing Executives Board of Directors.

’93 BA Daniel P. O’Neill, president and chief executive officer of Beechwood Continuing Care, was appointed president of Leading Age New York’s Nursing Facilities Cabinet.

’85 BA, ’91 MBA Katherine M. Mohney, senior vice president at Morgan Stanley, received the 2014 Women of Influence Award in the “corporate executive” category from Buffalo’s Business First.

’93 MBA Michael J. Prendergast, relationship manager at M&T Bank, was named vice chair of the Food Bank of Western New York Board of Directors.

’86 BS Margaret A. (Dickinson) Gorenflo was promoted to portfolio director of operations at BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York. She previously served as communications manager. ’86 BA Thomas A. Wolf, adjunct professor of fine arts at Canisius, received the college’s Fine Arts Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award. ’86 BA Laura A. (Montante) Zaepfel, vice president for corporate relations at Uniland Development Company, received the Women of Influence Award in the “corporate executive” category from Buffalo’s Business First. ’87 James A. Cipriani, president of Systems Personnel Inc., and his wife, Martha, launched Hire Empire, which connects job candidates with companies. ’87 BS James G. Geisendorfer is the new president of Neapco’s Asia Division in Shanghai, China. He previously served as director of global sales. ’88 BA Paul M. Anain, MD, vascular and endovascular surgeon for the Vascular and Endovascular Center

’94 BS Henry Walter J. McWilliams was named chief financial officerchief operating officer for UBMD Internal Medicine and UBMD Family Medicine. ’94 BS, MBA ’95 Heath J. Szymczak, partner at Jaeckle Fleischmann & Mugel LLP, is a contributing author of a new book entitled Business Torts: A Practical Guide to Litigation. He authored Chapter 5, entitled “Motions Directed to the Complaint.” ’94 BA Thomas J. Tobin, coordinator of learning technologies at Northeastern Illinois University, authored a new book entitled Evaluating Online Teaching. ’95 MPA Richard C. Cleland was promoted to president, chief operating officer and interim chief executive officer at the Erie County Medical Center Corporation. He previously served as senior vice president of operations. ’95 MBA, MS ’00 Larry M. Cobado is the new lead project manager of complex construction at National Grid. He previously served 27 years as senior program manager for Verizon.



’95 AA, BA ’00 Sharon L. Hanson is the new executive director at Deaf Access Services. She previously served as director of government relations for Time Warner Cable. ’95 MBA Robert E. Rich III, president of ROAR Logistics, opened his sixth U.S. office in Tampa Bay, FL. ’97 BA Christopher J. Fiorello, partner at Employee Benefit Concepts Inc., was named secretary for the Boys and Girls Club of Buffalo Board of Directors. ’97 BS Steven P. Pierpaoli, information security senior manager at HSBC Bank, was elected to the St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute Board of Trustees. ’97 BA John S. Prizner III, assistant dean and director of development at the University at Buffalo, was named to Buffalo’s Business First “40 Under Forty” list. ’98 BS Kathryn A. (DiCamillo) Alterio was promoted to vice president at People Inc. She previously served as director of human resources. ’98 BS David P. Hilbert is the new head of marketing for Tide Point Capital. He previously served as a certified financial advisor at Man Investments LLC. ’98 BS, MBA ’02 Jason B. Krempa, vice president of commercial lending at Northwest Savings Bank, was named to Buffalo’s Business First “40 Under Forty” list. ’98 BS David A. Pula, MD, opened an orthopedic sports medicine surgical practice in Orchard Park. He previously served in the U.S. Army as a general orthopedic surgeon and was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. ’98 BS Jessica L. (Gernatt) Underberg, agriculture and competitive exhibits manager at the Erie County Agricultural Society, was named to Buffalo’s Business First “40 Under Forty” list. ’99 BA, MS ’04, MS ’10 Lorenda D. Chisolm was promoted to principal of Northtown Academy with Erie 1 BOCES. She was also named the Barbara L. Jackson Scholar for doctoral students by the University Council for Educational Administration and will be inducted at its annual convention. ’99 BA Kelley H. (Hayes) Szany, director of educational outreach and genocide initiatives for the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, was named a Carl Wilkens Fellow. For the next year, she will work alongside national leaders to create and strengthen the permanent anti-genocide constituency in the state of Illinois.

2000s ’00 BS Jamie L. Karek, partner at Commonwealth Law Group in Richmond, VA, was named to the Super Lawyers Rising Stars list. She was also named one of the top 100 injured workers’ attorneys in the nation by the Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group. ’00 BS Bree C. Kramer, MD, is the new attending physician at Women & Children’s Hospital, in the Division of


Pediatrics Critical Care. She was also named clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at UB Medical School. ’00 BS David Charles Wagner, senior vice president and branch office manager for Roosevelt and Cross Inc., was named to Buffalo’s Business First “40 Under Forty” list.

’05 BA Nicole L. Sullivan is the new executive assistant at ProNexus LLC. She previously served as the administrative sales assistant for Hart Hotels Inc.

’11 BS Ashley N. Serrano was promoted to art director at Advantage 24/7 Marketing. She previously served as a graphic designer.

’05 MS Jennifer L. Walter, corporate controller for Moog Inc., received the Women of Distinction Award from the Girl Scouts of Western New York.

’11 BA Julia L. Zenger is the new assistant sales manager for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

’01 BA, MSED ’03 Eileen A. (Kelly) Cartonia, business teacher at Depew High School, received the Lancaster Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business Award in the “cooperation” category.

’06 MSED Justin S. Booth, executive director of GObike Buffalo, received The Buffalo News’ Outstanding Citizen Award for his leadership of GObike Buffalo.

’01 BS Michael V. Lauria is the new principal at Silver Creek High School.

’06 BA, MBA ’10 Adam R. Guglielmi is the new assistant vice president, branch manager at FiveStar Bank in Amherst. He previously served as a branch manager at Citizens Bank.

’01 BA Lindsay A. Morrow-Lilly, corporate communications officer at Canandaigua National Bank & Trust, joined Leadership Rochester’s Class of 2015. The program provides established and emerging leaders with knowledge and access to resources that enable them to understand and respond to challenges in the greater Rochester region. ’01 BS Matthew J. Welsh is the new foreign service officer assigned to São Paulo, Brazil with the U.S. Department of State. He previously served as the foreign service officer in Kingston, Jamaica. ’02 MBA John B. Ende was promoted to executive vice president of sales at the New Jersey oral care start-up, Hello Products. He previously served as senior vice president of sales. ’02 BA Julia M. (Foy) Hilliker, partner at Hodgson Russ LLP and attorney of Business Litigation Practice, was listed in Buffalo’s Business First and Buffalo Law Journal as a member of the prestigious Western New York Legal Elite. ’02 MS, MBAPA ’08 Brian Moran was promoted to senior tax manager at Lougen, Valenti, Bookbinder & Weintraub. He previously served as a closing coordinator at First Priority Mortgage. ’02 BA Molly Short is the new cultural orientation coordinator for RSC (Resettlement Support Center) Africa. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, RSC Africa assists more than 12,500 individuals throughout sub-Saharan Africa undergo the process of becoming refugees in the U.S. resettlement program. ’03 MBA Michael R. Lorigo, president of Pillar Real Estate, was named to Buffalo’s Business First “40 Under Forty” list. ’03 BA Joshua J. Russell is a new faculty member at Canisius College in the Department of Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation. He previously served as a tutorial instructor at North University. ’03 BA Melissa N. Subjeck was promoted from senior associate to partner at Hodgson Russ LLP. She was also named to Buffalo’s Business First “40 Under Forty” list. ’04 BS Valerie D. Elberson, MD, is a new attending physician in the Neonatology Division at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo for UBMD Pediatrics. She previously served as a resident. ’04 BA John E. Turner was promoted to principal of Tapestry Charter School, K-8. He previously served as vice principal.


’06 BS Jennifer A. Sennett is a new real estate saleswoman at Hunt Real Estate ERA’s West Seneca Branch. ’07 BS Todd J. Burnett is a new graphic designer for The Bonadio Group. ’07 BA Christine A. Dombrowski, financial analyst for M&T Bank Corp., was named to Buffalo’s Business First “30 Under Thirty” list. ’07 BS Bryan M. Jamieson, founder and owner of Bryan Michael Photography LTD, is the new visual communications specialist at Ivoclar Vivadent in Amherst. He previously served as art director at Paragon Advertising. ’07 BA David J. Sicoli is the new client relationship manager at IDP Education Ltd. He previously served as an admissions counselor at Canisius College. ’08 BS Gregory A. Brown is a new financial advisor at L&M Financial. He previously served as a sales representative for Preferred Home Care Inc. ’08 BA Kevin A. Fields, seminarian for the Archdiocese of Washington, is in theology formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD. ’08 MBA Nora McGuire, senior vice president of marketing and chief marketing officer at Independent Health, received the Women of Influence Award in the “corporate executive” category from Buffalo’s Business First.

’12 MBA Justin M. Bennett, resident and member of Cayuga Nation and president of the Ongweoeh Corporation, received the Native American 40 Under 40 Award for outstanding leadership during the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s Reservation Economic Summit. ’12 MBAPA Xin Chen is a new internal auditor at the Bank of Akron. ’12 BA, MS ’14 Erin R. Cleary is a new resident director at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA. ’12 BS Lauren A. Daly is a new interactive developer at the marketing communications agency SKM Group. ’12 MBA Michael J. Edbauer, MD, chief medical officer at Catholic Medical Partners, received the Dr. Bernard L. Martin Award from the Richard J. Wehle School of Business at Canisius College. The award recognizes a distinguished alumnus/a of the college’s graduate business programs. ’12 BS Derek J. Zemla received a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from the University at Buffalo and is the new project engineer at Buffalo Pumps. ’13 BS Richard A. Lunghino is a new digital media producer at 15 Fingers. ’14 BS John A. Heck is a new quality control analyst at Sigma-Aldrich Fine Chemicals. ’14 BA William P. Freeman is the new district executive with the Las Vegas Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He is also an organist and assistant director of music at St. Anthony of Padua in Las Vegas, NV.

’08 BA Jason A. Zwara, executive director of Buffalo ReformED Inc., was selected a “Spotlight Professional” by Buffalo Niagara 360, the young professionals’ network of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. Zwara was recognized for his professional success, leadership qualities and community engagement.

2010s ’10 BS Christopher Schichtel, senior recruiter for Selectone Search LLC, was named to Buffalo’s Business First “30 Under Thirty” list. ’10 BS Ashley N. Williams is the new financial information systems analyst at Aspen Dental Management Inc. She previously served as an analyst for Intersurgical Inc. ’11 BS Maude Phillips is the new fixed income product strategist at BlackRock, an asset management company.

NEW ADDRESS? NEW JOB? NEWBORN? Visit and let us know!


Timothy D. Calkins ’02 and Bethany Calkins, MD, a son, Oliver Riley, born July 25, 2014

Renee M. Lefrancois ’10 and Michael D. Tunney ’05, a son, Patrick Michael, born April 26, 2014

James Difrancesco ’00 and Jeff Wiener, a son, Blake Ronald, born June 12, 2014

Jenelle E. (Kostran) Lukasik ’05 and Michael Lukasik, a son, Ryan Michael, born June 30, 2014

Lisa (Polovick) Flaherty ’04 and Kevin Flaherty, a son, Jameson Winslow, born September 13, 2014

Kathryn A. (Olmsted) McIntyre ’06 and Brendan McIntyre ’05, a daughter, Lilah Alice Margaret, born June 23, 2014

Tina M. (Colosimo) Harman ’01, MBA ’09 and Erik E. Harman ’01, MBA ’08, a son, Sean Edward, born August 1, 2014

Elizabeth (Knab) Turner '04, MSED ’08 and Jack Turner '04, a daughter, Josephine Helen, born October 11, 2014

T H I S I S S U E ’ S F E AT U R E D B A B Y G R I F F

Griffin Bender Colleen Schwab Bender MS ’11 and Thomas Bender ’08 June 29, 2014

IN MEMORIAM Kenneth J. Graham ’30 August 31, 2014

Donald F. Talty ’51 June 29, 2014

Joseph E. Bossert ’64 July 9, 2014

Donald H. Farr MSED ’71 August 20, 2014

Jeremiah J. Sullivan Jr. ’83 August 27, 2014

Ralph V. Degenhart ’39 October 1, 2014

John L. Burns ’52 October 27, 2014

James P. Dillon ’64, PhD July 9, 2014

Kenneth J. Herrmann Jr. ’72 November 2, 2014

James R. Boldt MBA ’84 October 13, 2014

Joseph R. Stillwell MSED ’39 July 5, 2014

Sister Mary Rosetta Kubista ’52 September 2, 2014

Patrick E. Joyce ’64 September 4, 2014

LTC Patricia A. Land ’72 July 10, 2014

Dennis M. Long ’85 October 4, 2014

John F. Nelson ’40 October 20, 2014

Sister Mary Felicity Wardzinski ’53 June 27, 2014

Charles N. Rodgers MSED ’64 August 14, 2014

Frank A. Lewczyk ’72 October 17, 2014

Dennis F. Lesinski MBA ’87 October 21, 2014

Eugene R. MacDonell ’65 July 11, 2014

Salvatore M. Schifano ’72 October 6, 2014

JoAnn T. Hersey MSED ’88 October 17, 2014

Joseph D. Flanigan MSED ’67 August 11, 2014

Joseph E. Campana ’74 August 10, 2014

Mary A. (Privitera) Howard ’89 September 7, 2014

Robert Haffey MSED ’67 September 4, 2014

Dennis A. Heuser MBA ’74 August 4, 2014

John W. Fronckowiak MS’89 October 7, 2014

Elizabeth F. Baker MA ’69 October 30, 2014

Louis R. Palma ’75 August 14, 2014

Rev. Michael J. Putich MBA ’90 September 16, 2014

William C. Lyons ’69 September 29, 2014

Edna N. (Sorendo) Keefe MS ’77 July 3, 2014

Henry Jones Jr. ’91 October 12, 2014

Shirley W. Martin MSED ’69 August 18, 2014

Joseph D. Tomani ’79 October 31, 2014

Edmund P. Tyszka MSED ’69 July 27, 2014

Jeffrey J. Mruk ’82 July 28, 2014

Cherita M. Johnson-Morrow MS ’98 July 26, 2014

Bernard J. Anibaldi ’70 September 11, 2014

Pamela (Heist) Knab MSED ’83 September 27, 2014

Stanley J. Cyran ’45, MD August 19, 2014 Irving J. Druar ’48 August 27, 2014 Joseph F. Ruh ’48, MD September 14, 2014 Thomas F. McNamara Jr. ’50 August 4, 2014 William J. Van Dewater ’51 October 21, 2014 Raymond W. Killian ’51 May 7, 2014 Charles A. McCracken ’51 July 12, 2014 Wayne R. Reilly ’51 July 14, 2014

Thomas A. Rollek ’54 August 10, 2014 John T. Blake ’55 October 28, 2014 Paul C. Scheier ’55 July 26, 2014 John J. DiPasquale Sr. ’58 November 3, 2014 Arthur (Anthony) J. Posluszny MSED ’61 July 10, 2014 Frank C. Slazyk ’62 August 20, 2014 Melvin Henry Kent ’63 May 2, 2014

Edward V. Regan HON ’05 October 18, 2014 Lisa J. Napieralski ’10 November 1, 2014



*Sarah A. Beiter ’07 and Joseph M. Roche ’07 June 14, 2014

*Christopher M. Hugar ’08 and Molly Daetsch October 18, 2014

*Laura A. Bishop ’11, MS ’13 and Benjamin J. Pietak ’11, MBA ’12 June 21, 2014

Bryan Jamieson ’07 and Nichole Giuseppetti October 18, 2014

*Camille A. Blum ’11 and Xavier Guterrez June 28, 2014

*Joy M. Judski ’99, MBA ’05 and Kyle McMann August 30, 2014

*Katherine A. Brobeil ’08 and Eric Graves September 20, 2014

*Keith M. Junik ’01, MSED ’13 and Emily Gioia June 21, 2014

*Susan E. Bund MSED ’08 and Michael Moretta October 10, 2014

*Colleen E. Kersten ’10 and Andrew P. Creighton ’10 June 7, 2014

*Lauren Canham ’12 and Connor M. Lewis ’11 July 26, 2014

*Alison LaMancuso ’11 and Mark J. Tortelli ’10 May 31, 2014

*Kathleen M. Coughlin ’06 and Jeremy Nevins May 3, 2014

*Kristin M. Leszkowicz ’11 and Justin P. Walck ’11 June 14, 2014

*Mary A. Dust ’04 and David T. Kingston ’01 September 27, 2014

*Christin M. Lofaso ’07 and Ryan Culligan May 30, 2014

*Nandor P. Forgach MBA ’15 and Ashley Maison May 3, 2014

*Stephanie A. Maher ’07 and Joseph Paterno July 7, 2014

*John J. Gagne ’07, MBA ’08 and Melissa Vollmer June 7, 2014

*Christina R. McMahon ’12 and Marc Gatti May 31, 2014

*Kelly Ann Garvey MS ’05 and Michael Amato August 9, 2014

*Carly N. Nicholas ’10, MSED ’13 and Vincent S. Walsh IV ’09 July 12, 2014

*Ryan M. Glaser ’06 and Molly DiBlasi September 27, 2014

Nicole M. Novak ’07, MBA ’13 and Joseph A. Roaldi ’08, MSED ’12 July 19, 2014 *Michele L. Pilozzi ’94 and Robert Stuart November 8, 2014 *Aidan T. Pursel ’03 and Jordan Collins November 1, 2014 *Megan E. Putich ’10, MSED ’12 and Kevin Fleck August 16, 2014 *Journey Catherine Rivenburg ’03 and James C. McDonald II ’03 August 30, 2014 *Michael R. Walsh ’06 and Stacey Olewnick June 6, 2014

*Indicates married at Christ the King Chapel



Bold at Heart Story by: Audrey R. Browka Photography by: Tom Wolf ’86


HERE ARE MOMENTS IN EACH OF OUR LIVES that impact us forever. For Sheila O’Brien ‘88, MSED ‘05, that moment occurred 20 years ago, when she attended SABAH’s Celebration on Ice.

“It was magical for me,” she recalls. “I knew then that I wanted to get involved with the organization.” Based in Buffalo, SABAH (Skating Athletes Bold at Heart) provides therapeutic recreation to individuals challenged by physical, cognitive or emotional disabilities. Through adaptive ice skating lessons, participants work to improve their balance, coordination and strength. “It’s grueling for them,” explains O’Brien. “They’re pushing themselves to the max physically. They’re true athletes.” But SABAH builds more than endurance. Athletes build friendships, with each other and the hundreds of volunteers who guide them in their journeys to achieve their goals. Along the way, “Athletes learn to believe in themselves. Their courage and determination grow. They discover their potentials.” O’Brien became a SABAH volunteer in 1995. She later joined its board of directors and in 2005, O’Brien left her job as a management recruiter to become SABAH’s executive director. She has since grown the organization in size and stature through a series of new and redefined initiatives. What began as SABAH’s recreational ice skating program on evenings and weekends is now a year-round adaptive sports program that includes soccer, volleyball, and track and field. SABAH’s new Fit and Fun program is geared specifically toward adults challenged with disabilities. O’Brien is particularly proud of SABAH’s revamped school-day program, which she describes as a classroom on ice. “It’s a structured educational ice skating program, which reinforces the lessons our athletes learn in school.” O’Brien notes that her Canisius education is “an invaluable resource” for her current endeavor to align SABAH’s school day program with state standards for individuals with disabilities. “My master’s degree in special education gave me the tools needed to build these SABAH programs, and to create goals and objectives based on best practices.” O’Brien’s efforts, along with those of SABAH’s 700 athletes and 500 volunteers, culminate later this month during the Celebration on Ice at First Niagara Center. It will be O’Brien’s 20th show but it’s still just as magical as her first. Only now, she is on the ice with the athletes. “The joy and pride on their faces as they perform are incredible,” she says. “Equally amazing is being able to look up into the crowd and see the same on the faces of their family and friends. It just doesn’t get any better.”

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EV. C. T. VIVIAN is a living legend of the Civil Rights Movement. At age 90, he continues his activism battling racism, poverty and violence. In 2013, President Obama presented Rev. Vivian with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, for his life’s work on behalf of civil rights. Canisius is proud to call Rev. Vivian a friend of the college. He has shared his story with students, under the auspices of the African American Experience program, created by History Professor Bruce J. Dierenfield, PhD. Rev. Vivian notes that like the Canisius students who traveled to Selma to join the march 50 years ago (see Cover Story), today’s young people must become involved. “It is the young people who need to continue the work. It is the young people who need to understand that they too can make a difference. They too can lift the world using the method of nonviolence. From that will come another great leader that is going to be the next Martin King of our time.” Canisius will confer an honorary degree upon Rev. C.T. Vivian during commencement ceremonies in May 2015.

<< Civil Rights Pioneer Rev. C.T. Vivian (left) leads a prayer during a nonviolent demonstration for black voting rights on the Dallas County Courthouse steps in Selma. Also pictured is the notoriously violent Sheriff Jim Clark, who led Selma’s campaign to block black Americans from registering to vote. Rev. Vivian’s nonviolent approach and his unwillingness to be intimidated by the sheriff ended with Clark punching him down the courthouse steps and arresting him after a now infamous confrontation. Witnessed and reported by the media, the event brought national attention to the voter registration campaign in Selma.

Canisius Magazine – Winter 2015