Gannon Magazine - December 2020

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December 2020

RISING to the future Work on Gannon's I-HACK building continues even as the rest of the world seems to be paused. Page 4


A look at what's happening on the Erie and Ruskin campuses. Page 2


Heightened social tensions across the nation bring reflection, new beginnings for Gannon. Page 6


A resolve to reopen campus mobilized our Gannon community in powerful ways. Page 16

particularly those serving as teachers and health care professionals. These difficult times have challenged us to persevere and I am grateful for these examples of our alumni and those of my colleagues who have our continued progress on critical campus initiatives. What an incredibly special loyalty we share as a Gannon family.

from the

Keith Taylor, Ph.D., Gannon president, volunteers alongside students, staff and faculty during GIVE Day.


We’ve heard it said that change is the only constant. As I reflect on the past several months, I am reminded of just how true that has become for each and every one of us. Our world shut down this past spring – a reality none of us could have imagined. Even now, we continue to wrestle with the adjustments COVID-19 is forcing us to make on campus and in our lives. But as we learned this semester, change can bring opportunities for growth and new approaches. I am moved by how the Gannon community embraced that truth with a spirit of tenacity and a boldness that led us to successfully complete our fall semester in person. Reopening for the fall semester was an intentional decision that we were confident could be done safely and would be the most engaging for our students. Faculty and staff from across the university come together to support each other and to create an environment that still reflected the best of the Gannon experience. When traditional methods of delivering education were disrupted, faculty innovated to give students the learning experience they needed to thrive. Others operated an in-house COVID-19 surveillance testing program to keep students healthy and cared for those who did become infected by delivering meals, social supports and other essential items. In our surrounding communities, our alumni generously contributed their talent and efforts to the frontlines –

Doug Oathout Chief of Staff and Director of Marketing and Communications

Vol. XXXVI, No. 1 • December 2020 Gannon University • 109 University Square Erie, Pennsylvania 16541 • (814) 871-7000

Brianna Mariotti Marketing and Content Strategist

We have continued to transform the Institute for Health and Cyber Knowledge, or I-HACK, as we anticipate a dedication and blessing ceremony in the early spring when students begin enjoying the facility. Erie Insurance and Gannon students and faculty will also launch collaborations this spring through a new partnership in I-HACK. Renovations to the Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel are also nearing completion with a rite of dedication and blessing planned for this winter. Gannon has evolved as an organization, yet this year has also been a humbling reminder that growth needs to happen on personal levels, too. When racial justice tensions heightened in Erie and across the nation, the university came together in meaningful reflection and to offer targeted efforts to address these issues. Already, we’ve been inspired by how students, faculty and staff have stepped up to share their voices and supported the initial work through academic and event programming, community-wide discussions, and listening and learning. Yet, we know we have far to go in planning and in action on this journey toward inclusion and justice. The following pages reflect the positive momentum we see happening all around us. My desire is that you will find hope and new perspective in learning about the incredible opportunities that can come from and happen through adversity. This year, I’ve seen our Gannon community come together in ways I never have before – encouraging and lifting up one another to continue to be the best versions of ourselves so we can transform the lives of others. I am honored to share these stories with you in this issue of the Gannon Magazine. Ever grateful for God’s and your blessings and support,

Keith Taylor, Ph.D., President

Gannon Magazine is published by University Marketing and Communications: Mallory Bottoni ’14 Haley Figurski Michael Gorski ’11M Laura Giannelli Matthew King Andrew Lapiska ’09M Nicole Lossie ’11 Raechel Miller Kristine Rilling

We value your input; please direct any comments, questions or feature ideas to

writing staff and guest contributors

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class notes and address changes Jana Hunt Assistant Director, Gift Recording • (814) 871-7469


Gannon Magazine December 2020


Coming Together for Social Change


In the News


Rising to the Future



A Way Forward

A look at what's happening on the Erie and Ruskin campuses.

Gannon’s bold vision for I-HACK can serve as a catalyst for Erie's transformation.


A New Kind of Competition


Class Notes

Leaders. Visionaries. Role-Models. The Stories of Our Deans.

Director of Athletics Lisa Goddard-McGuirk sat down for a wide-ranging interview to discuss the impact of COVID-19 and how the department continues to move forward.

Keep up with the latest news from Gannon Alumni.

For the first time in history, Gannon’s three colleges are each headed by female deans. We spoke with them about their personal and professional journeys.

On the Cover: Rising to the Future A global pandemic shook our foundations, but that hasn’t been enough to stop progress around Gannon’s I-HACK transformation. This exterior view of the facility provides just a glimpse of the work that is happening to develop the former Verizon call center into a global headquarters for academia and industry to design, integrate and protect cybernetic intelligence and data systems worldwide. To learn more, turn to page 4.

View the Gannon Magazine Online Edition To view the Gannon Magazine online edition, visit: To receive the Gannon Magazine online edition directly to your inbox or to manage your subscription preferences, visit @gannonu




An interior view of ongoing renovations to the Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel sanctuary.

MARY, SEAT OF WISDOM CHAPEL RENOVATIONS NEARLY COMPLETE The University is set to complete renovations this winter to its Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel, a longstanding place of worship and gathering for the Gannon family and community. The chapel closed in May 2019 when a gas leak was discovered below the chapel. Thanks to a lead gift by Monsignor Robert L. Brugger ’62, a $2 million campaign was launched to help fund its renovation. The project is well underway with the addition of a fellowship hall called Kraus Hall, named for Dean Gerald R. Kraus and his wife Beatrice, from a generous gift by Gerald A. Kraus, Ph.D. ’64 and Ann Kraus. The chapel will also include a narthex; a sanctuary with new pews, altar and other features; a stateof-the-art audiovisual system for interior and exterior events; a courtyard reflection garden; and new essentials including restrooms, a kitchen and parking lot. The rite of dedication and blessing of the chapel will be held this winter with more information to come. Make your gift today and join Gannon family and friends who have donated more than $1.9 million. Visit or contact Almitra Clerkin ’85, ’17M, associate vice president of University Advancement at

Gannon’s Women’s Lacrosse team saw 12 of its 19 players earn D2 ADA Academic Achievement Awards this year.

GANNON LEADS NATION WITH RECORD 219 D2 ADA ACADEMIC AWARD WINNERS For the second consecutive year, Gannon student-athletes led the PSAC for academic achievement and set a new standard at the Division II Athletics Directors Association Academic Achievement Awards. Gannon student-athletes led the entire country in D2 ADA Academic Achievement Awards for the 2019-20 academic year. With its 219 honorees, Gannon bested its previous year’s record of 144. In all, 15,214 individuals from 200 institutions were recognized this year.



SEVERAL NEW PROGRAMS LAUNCHED Gannon launched a series of new programs that are designed to prepare students to meet in-demand careers in a variety of disciplines. The College of Engineering and Business launched a master’s degree in biomedical engineering and an MBA in business analytics. The Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences is offering a new master’s degree in speechlanguage pathology and bachelor’s degrees in communication sciences and disorders, and applied exercise science. The College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences launched a master’s degree in strategic communication. Learn more at

(L-R) James Donnelly, chief officer at UPMC Hamot; David Gibbons, UPMC Hamot president; Charles Hagerty, Hamot Health Foundation President; and Walter Iwanenko, Ph.D., provost and vice president for student experience at Gannon. Reprinted with permission from Times Publishing Company, Erie, PA. Copyright 2020.

GANNON UNIVERSITY RANKS AMONG THE BEST Gannon University was recognized by a number of highly accredited national and global rankings. These recognitions include:

GANNON, UPMC PARTNER TO TRAIN REGISTERED NURSES Gannon University partnered with UPMC Hamot to operate a satellite campus of the New Castle-based UPMC Jameson School of Nursing on the second floor of the former Wayne School. Students in the program can graduate as registered nurses in 16 months, beginning in August 2021. The program is designed to graduate nurses more quickly than a traditional program to meet increasing demands for nurses in local and national health care facilities. Students will receive clinical instruction from UPMC Hamot and non-nursing courses from Gannon, and can earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing at Gannon following graduation of this program.

A TOP SCHOOL IN THE NATION Wall Street Journal’s 2021 College Rankings



U.S. News & World Report, America’s Best Colleges 2021


A 2020 GREAT COLLEGE TO WORK FOR® A new logo was introduced with the debut of Knight Nation.

KNIGHT NATION MAKES ITS DEBUT Gannon’s Athletics and Advancement departments in October announced the debut of Knight Nation, a rebranding and reimagining of the longstanding Gannon Golden Knights Booster Club. Knight Nation supports and promotes Gannon Athletics by providing resources for our nearly 700 studentathletes to excel at the highest levels in competition, in the classroom and in the community. Through the gifts and enthusiasm of alumni, former athletes and friends of the University, Knight Nation will continue to build on the pride and tradition of the Golden Knights.

Recognized in Three Categories: Facilities, Workspace and Security Professional/Career Development Programs Tenure Clarity and Process (4-year colleges only)




future 2


rising to the

First it was the new lights and then the words “Gannon University.” Slowly, the new look of the Institute for Health and Cyber Knowledge, or I-HACK, has taken shape. The building’s new entrance is almost done, capping an exterior transformation of a former Verizon call center into a cornerstone of Erie’s renaissance as a regional technology center.

But the real work is going on inside. A feverish hive of workers has expanded the first-floor lobby that features a glass-enclosed, student gathering space. 2 They also installed an iconic steel-framed staircase that extends through to the second and third floors. 1



The second-floor Pierre McCormick Cyber Learning Center – the academic heart of I-HACK – features classrooms and open collaborative spaces. In early November, workers were bringing shape to the Cyber Attack Lab, Cyber Defense Lab, and Cyber Innovation Lab, where students will learn to protect networks, databases and organizations from cyberattacks. 3 These floors are expected to open at the start of the Spring 2021 semester. Construction has begun on the third floor’s “Hatchery.” This is where, as early as the end of the spring semester, faculty and students will be working together with industry partners on real-world projects, enhancing the culture of innovation at Gannon and in Erie.

with I-HACK facilities and resources are being developed. In addition, Gannon announced its first partnerships in I-HACK this year. Extreme Networks – a leading provider of network infrastructure equipment and services for global enterprises, data centers and service providers – became the first company to commit to being housed in the Hatchery. Walter Iwanenko, Ph.D., Gannon’s provost and vice president for student experience, said working with “Extreme Networks’ level of expertise is a powerful and incredible opportunity.”

And for good reason. The partnership will elevate the delivery of the University’s newest undergraduate engineering and computing programs by embedding technical certification and training curriculum into Gannon’s existing Representatives from Extreme Networks and Networking curriculum Technologies joined Gannon to announce a new partnership beginning in 2021. in I-HACK.

Planning is well underway for I-HACK’s third phase, which includes developing the building’s fourth and fifth floors into commercial space and to house cyber businesses, creating new jobs and workforce development opportunities for the region. This should be complete in Spring 2022.

But the building is only the framework for the academic programing that will happen inside. New programs that will be housed in I-HACK starting in Spring 2021 include undergraduate degrees in cybersecurity and cyber engineering, and online graduate certificate programs in cybersecurity essentials and information systems security. Further plans to leverage health care, engineering and computing programs

As a result, students will gain a competitive edge for their careers by earning industry certifications as they complete their coursework – all at no additional cost. Extreme will also operate a regional training center in the Hatchery to train local and regional professionals. Gannon faculty can become certified Extreme Instructors and deliver training. Tim NeCastro ’83, president and CEO of Erie Insurance, called the Hatchery the “birthplace of big and bold ideas and a place where resources and meaningful connections come together to turn ideas into reality.”

Keith Taylor, Ph.D., Gannon president, leads Tim NeCastro ’83, president and CEO of Erie Insurance, on a tour of I-HACK.

He said that when his company announced a $2 million partnership with Gannon in July. The collaboration will lead to the Erie Insurance IDEA Lab, where Erie Insurance employees will work with Gannon students, faculty and other future corporate and research partners on projects that will impact the community. Erie Insurance will provide education, research and industry experiences for specific workforce development and student employment during their academic years and even following graduation. In return, Gannon will provide consulting services to Erie Insurance to support its innovation and training needs, establishing the $28 million I-HACK as a powerful community asset for economic development. “Gannon is proud to be a driving force for innovation in downtown Erie,” said Gannon President Keith Taylor, Ph.D. “The University is moving quickly to create a community asset that will be a catalyst for Erie's economic transformation and workforce training ground for design, integration and protection of the intelligent systems of tomorrow.”



By: John Chacona, guest contributor




he protests and other events of the summer of 2020 have stirred an examination of social and racial justice issues among individuals and organizations of all kinds. Gannon University and the members of the Gannon community have fully engaged in this dialogue.

For the university, this is a call to renew the promise of its Mission, which ends with these words: “... we offer a comprehensive, values-centered learning experience that emphasizes faith, leadership, inclusiveness and social responsibility.” Those are beautiful words, but they remain an abstraction until human action gives them meaning – the kind of action that the events of this tumultuous year have created with a heightened urgency. At Gannon University, that urgency was strongly felt, even as the university was confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic. The response was swift and intentional, and

it was taken up by all constituent groups within the Gannon community. While the results of their efforts will not be known immediately, the call to action has been answered. Before students returned to campus, a Justice, Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee of representatives from all colleges, divisions and campuses was chosen to create an institutional action plan to determine ways to involve all colleagues and students interested in supporting this work, and to coordinate ways to implement ideas for immediate action while formalizing the institutional plan. That last point is crucial. “The work doesn’t want to live in this committee,” said Becky Perry, director of the Center for Social Concerns and the committee’s co-chair. “It will be a collaboration of many, and actions are already underway by various groups across the institution.”



Alumni groups as well as community partners in Erie and Ruskin will have a seat at the table, and students nominated by a newly created Student Advisory Committee will be represented.

Yet, history shows that like many urban Catholic institutions of higher learning, Gannon has a long history of welcoming minority students. Parris Baker ’92 Ph.D. has been a witness to much of it since Perry called the committee a necessary arriving at Gannon College's campus and overdue response, but she added, in 1974 as a high school sophomore as part of the Upward “The actions of the Bound program. “Our whole community committee alone are

home at a university that was, after all, created to provide opportunities for economically disadvantaged students. Beginning in the late 1960s, two factors led to a slow decline in the number of Black and other minority students attending Gannon. One was competition from institutions that were beginning to enroll minority students. The other was the draft that diverted male students from campus to service in the Vietnam War. By the time of Baker's arrival on campus, changes in enrollment patterns at colleges and universities nationwide were underway.

not sufficient. Our must come together to “In the early ’70s, whole community life) was undertake this vital work, (campus must come together vibrant,” Baker said. to undertake this which is deeply rooted “We were constantly vital work, which being challenged to in our Mission.” is deeply rooted in question our Afro- Becky Perry our Mission. We centrism as well as Recapturing the dynamism of those recognize we are a predominantly learning the Eurocentric material we early years is an explicit goal for white institution and we have a lot needed to learn.” Baker remembers Gannon's Black Student Union. of work to do to ensure all of our when more than 50 Marian Collin students, especially those outside students of color “It was not what I Franco, the group’s majority identities, are included so would gather to expected from a black vice president, said: that they can see Gannon as a place watch the television “I joined BSU hoping they can call home.” news broadcasts and student union. So last stay to discuss what year, me and my president that I could get a Today minority students make up sense of community.” they had just seen. 14% of Gannon’s enrollment, a (Jade Hammerer), decided A junior legal proportion that has been increasing Through the studies major, Collin we’re going to be the since 2013 when it was just 9%. leadership of Franco found her Fifteen years ago, only figures such as Fred change we want to see.” community but 5% of Gannon students were from Thompson, Bonita - Collin Franco wanted more. “We minority backgrounds. Booker and others, didn’t put ourselves black students found a welcoming

The Black Student Union and Campus Ministry brought together members of the Gannon community for a Black Lives Matter prayer vigil in August. 8


If the world is going to change, leaders like Chris Frye ’10 will be the ones to change it. Frye became the youngest mayor of New Castle, Pa. following his election last November. Frye, an AfricanAmerican Republican in a majority Democratic city, knew he had to overcome a number of obstacles to win the executive post. But he explained that facing daunting challenges was nothing new for him.

Looking back on his days as a student, Frye remembers that “there was never a question about whether Gannon was open to diversity because it was all around you, and we knew the university’s commitment to diversity.” It's a commitment he hopes his university will keep and having ascended to a leadership role in his own city, Frye said he looks to Gannon to take a similar role in Erie. “With one of the poorest ZIP codes in the country close to campus and with the resources it has, I would ask what Gannon could do for its community,” Frye said.

“Honestly, attending college was an anomaly for me,” Frye said. “My mom had aspirations for me, but I had a lot of challenges growing “Gannon University up without my father. I needed to go to “My sister-in-law is a physical therapy accepted me when no one work, really. I wasn’t a mature 18-yearstudent, so family-wise we’re still old getting out of high school. I had connected. If Gannon continues to move else believed in me and tremendous life skills — I had to have in the direction of being accepting to a saw something in me that them growing up in the neighborhood variety of different people, focusing on maybe I didn’t see.” I did — but applying them to school diversity and inclusion and supporting and to living were a challenge. Gannon the surrounding - Chris Frye University accepted me when no one community, else believed in me and saw something in me that maybe I Gannon will go in the didn’t see.” direction of great success,” he said. Frye’s leadership skills quickly made themselves known as he plunged into a range of campus organizations. “I was a resident assistant, I joined Campus Ministry, the social work club and the leadership club, and that gave me the structure to succeed,” he said. Perhaps the most stalwart pillar of that structure was Parris Baker ’92, Ph.D., MSSA, who is the director and assistant professor of the social work, mortuary science and gerontology programs.

He should know. Chris Frye is headed in that direction himself. “Gannon University believed in my possibilities,” he said. “That’s the best theme line I’ve ever heard.”

“At Gannon, I was a lost boy,” Frye said. “I didn’t have the guidance that some kids have from father figures, and Dr. Baker became my family, friend, mentor, pastor and teacher. … I have to credit him with me staying at Gannon. I remember semesters where, returning to campus, I couldn't wait to learn from him again.” Even a decade after his graduation, the connection with his mentor remains strong. “I go back to him for his knowledge and expertise and he continues to deliver on a spiritual and mental level,” Frye said.

out there and did nothing for our “Marian came to me and said you Black community and Black students know enough people on campus, on campus,” she said. “It was not what and you are well rounded enough to I expected from a black student union. make a change,” Hammerer said. “We So last year, me and my president made a plan and we were on it, but (Jade Hammerer), decided we’re going coronavirus set everything back. I to be the change we want to see.” personally feel that I haven’t done

Chris Fye ’10, mayor of New Castle, Pa.

everything I wanted to do, but the coronavirus has made it hard.” Still, a BSU prayer vigil in August on Friendship Green attracted a crowd the size and diversity of which surprised Collin Franco. “It was an #GUPOSSIBILITIES


amazing event,” she said. “I thought it would be Black people coming together to pray and be in unity, but it was so heartwarming to see faculty and administration and students of all colors come together, sit on the green and listen to what we had to say.” Collin Franco and Hammerer bring unique personal qualifications to the struggle for equity that reflect the diversity that is within Gannon’s community of color. As a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Collin Franco had never lived in a place where she was an ethnic minority. “At first, I was scared to interact with people, because even though I consider myself an outgoing person, Caribbeans are different from African-Americans,” she said. “Although we share the same complexion, how we think and act are very different. So, I had to figure out how to make friends, how do I not be weird, and be who I am.” Hammerer attended a Jesuit high school, Cristo Rey, in Baltimore where

almost the entire student body was of color. “Cristo Rey was way more active with social justice than Gannon is,” she said. “Almost every day, we’d do protests, prayer vigils, 10 minutes of silence. It wasn’t the same here.”

Series with a lecture titled “From 1619 Virginia to 16503 Erie: The Constitutional Path to Black Lives Matter,” a chronicle of how racism was embedded in the founding of the United States and how historical events have led That might be “With recent events, to the current about to change, Black Lives Matter students have been just as the attitudes movement. of students have forced to deal with history evolved. “With The series, titled in a different way...This recent events, Racial Justice: Be the students have Change, is presented generation is saying been forced to by the College we’re going to be who deal with history of Humanities, in a different way,” we’re going to be, and I Education and Social Baker said. “This Sciences and is one hope Gannon University generation is saying of the most visible will become more we’re going to be ways the college is who we’re going tackling the issue. comfortable with that.” to be, and I hope -Parris Baker This summer, Lori Gannon University Lindley, Ph.D., will become more the college’s newly appointed dean, comfortable with that.” convened the CHESS Racial Justice While looking forward, Baker also stresses the need to critically examine the past. In August he began the university’s Fall 2020 Speaker

No one who lived through it will be likely to forget the tumultuous election of 2020, but for a dozen Gannon University students, the experience might extend beyond the merely indelible into the realm of the transformative.

task force, a collection of faculty who are committed to racial justice and to examining what the college is doing well and what can be done better.

Ohio, Manion is one of about 350 students nationwide selected as a fellow of the Campus Election Engagement Project, a national nonpartisan project to engage students at colleges and universities in federal, state and local elections. Manion has been conducting voter education events for students, including a voter literacy workshop co-sponsored by Gannon’s Center for Social Concerns that provided information on candidates and issues, and explained how and where to register and cast ballots.

“This year, we've stressed the importance of making a plan to vote,” Manion said, adding that ”voting to an outsider who isn’t politically engaged is already complicated, but more so during a pandemic when people might think not It certainly feels that voting is an easier alternative.” way to Nathan Emily Hall, Gannon's other CEEP fellow, was on the other Manion. end of the get-out-the-vote equation among a group A junior of Gannon students hired by the Erie County Board of political Elections to process ballots. science major from Columbus,

“You can’t overstate her impact,” Erie County Clerk of Elections Doug Smith said of her contribution. “You

(L-R) Nathan Manion, Jeff Bloodworth, Ph.D. and Emily Hall 10


“We have the broad goal of striving to be an anti-racist college and we’re looking at things like inclusive curriculum, how racial justice is integrated into the liberal core," Lindley said. "We’re looking at developing minors in diversity and justice studies, looking at student support and recruitment, faculty and staff recruitment, identifying professional development and community engagement opportunities." Lindley is also co-chair of the University's steering committee, a role she sees as vital to build the university of the future, "where students from every background would feel that it is their place and where they can see faculty and staff that they can identify with and feel understood by. I want Gannon to be a place where faculty, staff and students are all committed to improving inclusiveness and valuing people from all backgrounds,” Lindley said. “The environment of higher education and our world is changing and

we have to live up to our mission, “This also means that we must first which is grounded in Catholic Social listen to the experience of others, to Teaching. Our steering committee enter into meaningful relationship encompasses with them. The “According to the teaching language of our Justice, Diversity and Inclusion university Mission of Jesus, it is not for broadly, and racial must flow from us to ask who is my justice is central the demand of the to that,” Lindley Gospel: love God and neighbor, but rather to added. love your neighbor as become the neighbor to yourself. According This will be an to the teaching of the other in need.” undertaking as Jesus, it is not for massive as it is - Fr. Michael Kesicki us to ask who is my necessary. But neighbor, but rather to become the where to begin? neighbor to the other in need.” The answer, suggests the Very Rev. The parable of the Good Samaritan Michael Kesicki ’83, university was at the heart of Pope Francis’ chaplain and associate vice president October 2020 encyclical, “Fratelli of University Mission and Ministry, tutti,” where he called on us all can be found in our hearts. to act decisively so that “we may “Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, calls prove capable of responding with a us to take on the mind and heart of new vision of fraternity and social the Good Samaritan in the parable friendship that will not remain at the of Jesus in Chapter 10 of St. Luke’s level of words.” Gospel; to stop and pay attention to The rest is up to us. the person who is suffering and offer our friendship,” he said.

sometimes hear it said that younger people don’t get involved (in politics), but someone like Emily is the total antithesis of that. She’s very involved and has some pretty big dreams.”

“It’s easy to be cynical and say that students don’t vote...but [these students] are hungry to apply what they’re learning in class and do something”

Those dreams were nurtured in the university's new School of Public Service & Global Affairs. By bringing together the disciplines of history, languages, legal studies and political science, PSGA students get what the School's co-director Jeff Bloodworth, Ph.D., called “high-impact experiential learning that's injected into the academic qualities of these existing disciplines.”

[these students] are hungry to apply what they’re learning in class and do something,” Bloodworth said.

Nathan Manion said he hopes his experience in the historic 2020 election cycle can inspire other students to become politically engaged. He urged them to “set aside partisanship and find an issue to care about and become - Jeff Bloodworth invested in it. Politics makes you more aware of other people. Yes, politics is about electing leaders, but it's also a vehicle for you look out for your community in a way that you can’t do if you’re not engaged.”

Smith concurred. When the request for help came from Erie County “If you don’t get involved, you’re giving away a piece of your government, Bloodworth, the campus advisor for the CEEP personal power—and a piece of your freedom,” Smith said. program, said he had no trouble finding students eager to “It’s like letting other people order what’s for lunch, but you step forward. end up paying the bill.” “It’s easy to be cynical and say that students don’t vote, and that Gannon isn’t a hotbed of political activism, but


leaders. visionaries. role-models.

We’re honored to share their stories here.

is the dean of the Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences.


Gannon University’s three colleges are each headed by female deans for the first time in history. Inspired by their work, we got in touch to talk about their personal journeys and careers in academia, and what it is like to serve as influential leaders who create an environment where students and faculty alike can thrive in the mission of the university.

Ewing is the oldest of five children and funded her own college education, earning a bachelor's degree in biology from Penn State Behrend in 2001 as a University Schreyer Scholar and Excellence in Biology Award recipient, and a Ph.D. in comparative biomedical sciences from North Carolina State University in 2007.

Ewing said she found herself soulsearching during her final years as a graduate research assistant. “... I realized it was the one-on-one interactions with my professors that really had an impact on me. I wanted to be a part of that – helping students find and achieve their own educational and career goals.” She returned to Erie as a biology professor at Penn State Behrend in 2007. That’s when things became clearer. “My own recognition for the research that I had been doing wasn’t enough to drive me,” Ewing said. “Mentoring students and helping them to learn



research skills and determine how they might use them in their future career in the classroom and in the lab – that’s what drove me.” That assurance led Ewing to forge a career in academia, transitioning to Gannon in 2009 as an assistant professor of biology and director of pre-health professional programs. She advanced to chair of the biology department (2013), associate professor (2015), associate dean in July (2015), and interim dean (2017). In December of 2017, Ewing became permanent dean and has since established herself as a leader with vision and drive. “It was a series of administrative roles with growing responsibilities across the college,” Ewing said of her journey. “But it was also a willingness to say yes to opportunities and to not shy away despite fears, concerns or a personal need to gain confidence in my ability to take on new roles.” One of her initial goals was to

(L-R) Sarah Ewing, Ph.D., dean of the Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences; Lori Lindley, Ph.D., dean of the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences; and Karinna Vernaza, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering and Business.

OUR D the stories of EANS

The restructuring is helping Gannon develop strategic academic programming, promote even greater program collaboration, and support faculty, staff and students.

Ewing’s core goals now involve making Ruskin’s new academic building fully operational, achieving enrollment targets at both campuses, and developing strategic community and clinical partners. Ewing said she is proud of her role in students’ lives. While she’s not taught since becoming dean, she engages with students through campus events, research conferences and participating in three Alternative Break Service


For Ewing, what characterizes successful students is that they walk away from Gannon with a quality education, prepared to transform the lives of others.


restructure the college into five schools with a leadership council of five associate deans to oversee each school and Ruskin campus while supporting the dean and college operations.

is the dean of the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.

Lindley first realized her passion “The purpose statement of the for the humanities through classes university rings so true to me. My at the University of Notre Dame. hope is that we develop students She settled on a psychology who recognize their ability to major as a junior, completing her impact and transform the people bachelor’s degree in 1995. around them,” Ewing said. “I “I really just wanted to learn more feel as though Gannon does about people’s strengths and health an exceptional job developing and how to help people build on competent, kind, selfless and those,” Lindley said of earning a innovative professionals who are master’s degree in psychology in 1997 committed to lifelong learning, and a Ph.D. in counseling psychology social responsibility, and a in 2001 from Iowa State University. passionate pursuit of their goals.” #GUPOSSIBILITIES 13

what we’re doing to hire diverse faculty and staff,” Lindley said.

That’s when Lindley stepped into teaching as an assistant professor of counseling psychology at Louisiana Tech University while also working at a residential addictions treatment center and completing her psychologist licensure.

Her college’s recent Fall CHESS Speaker Series, “Racial Justice: Be the Change,” also featured national and local speakers who discussed racial justice topics to educate and inspire change.

Moving closer to family, Lindley came to Gannon in 2005 as an assistant professor. She was promoted to associate professor (2009), and chair of the psychology and counseling department (2011). Lindley recalls advice she received early on: “Surround yourself with people who are supportive and see your strengths. … When I was an assistant professor, I had a colleague who taught here for 40 years and mentored so many students. He was a rock and had just a huge impact in such a quiet way. He said, ‘Well Lori, you’re going to be dean someday.’” That prediction came true as Lindley advanced to associate dean in 2015 and dean in March of 2020. Since coming into the role, Lindley has established goals to position the university as a top regional liberal arts institution, strengthen graduate programs in the liberal arts, oversee the liberal core revision, and link the college to the community and world.

Lindley and key university members formed a Justice, Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee to develop an institutional plan and engage Gannon community members in addressing racial justice issues.

Lindley said her psychology background – which includes working with multi-cultural populations in counseling settings – has influenced her as a leader. “Everything I’ve learned in my own education about empathy, about listening to people and about considering their perspectives and other challenges they might be facing has helped me to become a more supportive leader,” she said. Lindley is focused on expanding this work through continued efforts of the committee, as well as developing a cross-disciplinary diversity minor that includes a community-based internship. A justice studies minor will also provide a broader look at social justice. For Lindley, her work is inspired by the value of a liberal arts education.


A year-long pre-doctoral internship at the University of Utah Counseling Center gave her further career insight. “It was so rewarding for me to work with so many different people. At that point, I decided I wanted to continue to train future counselors and therapists,” she said.

is the dean of Gannon’s College of Engineering and Business.

Her journey began in Panama City, Panama, coming to the United States Merchant Marine Academy to earn a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering systems in 1996. After graduating, she worked for a year as a ship manager in Braswell Shipyards in Panama.

A Project Latin America 2000 Graduate Fellowship by the Kellogg Institute and the CocoCola Company led Vernaza to the University of Notre Dame to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering in 2001 and 2003.

Vernaza began envisioning her career path during a graduate assistantship. “In graduate school I spent three years doing research in the labs without connecting with students. I just didn’t feel that is where I got my energy from,” she said. “The decision to go into teaching was more about where I got my satisfaction from.” A friend connected Vernaza to Gannon, where she took her first fulltime teaching position as an assistant professor in mechanical engineering in 2003, advancing to associate professor (2009), associate dean (2014), full professor (2015), and interim dean (2018).

Vernaza became permanent dean “I think that a well-rounded in 2019 after being described as a college education is so important “visionary leader for the college.” for students and young people Since then, Vernaza’s work has as they begin to take on their involved driving recruitment and adult roles and responsibilities in retention strategies, advancement of She’s also used her dynamic leadership the world,” Lindley said. “I would S.T.E.M. faculty and students, and skills to focus attention on increasing want our graduates to complete racial justice tensions. academic interventions to improve their degrees feeling that they’ve student success. “We started looking at things like grown personally through the diversity and justice issues in our Currently, she’s focused on creating process and that they have curriculum, the student experience, synergies between the School of accomplished something how we are being inclusive and Engineering and Computing and the significant.” welcoming to diverse students, and Dalhkemper School of Business to drive interdisciplinary opportunities for students. 14


“It’s about bringing the mindset of collaboration into our curriculum,” Vernaza said. “We want to engage students early on so they can understand the benefits of a crossdisciplinary type of engagement that they will experience in the workplace.” As part of that, Vernaza and her team recently launched an MBA in business analytics to give business students a competitive edge with essential computer information science skills. Looking ahead, they’re also developing new cross-disciplinary undergraduate programs that will be leveraged within I-HACK facilities. But for Vernaza, a hallmark of her work has always been connecting with students in ways that will advance them in S.T.E.M. fields. “I see my job as providing opportunities where others can distinguish themselves,” Vernaza said, explaining that she feels particularly inspired to support students of diverse populations, which she said can be gender, race, economic background, or level of experience. Notably, Vernaza has been involved with the Society of Women Engineers’ student chapter since 2004 as the faculty adviser and counselor to expose female students to S.T.E.M. opportunities beyond Erie and raise awareness of engineering as a career pathway. During her tenure as dean, she has also continued to be the principal investigator for Gannon’s Scholars of Excellence in Engineering and Computer Science program, providing a diverse student group with workshops, support services, lectures and invited speakers to prepare them for careers in S.T.E.M. fields and graduate education. Vernaza has taught courses in the program for 17 years, taking this year off only due

to COVID-19-related obligations. For Vernaza, having diversity is essential because “it creates a different environment for all of us. It’s not always the same type of voices that we hear when making decisions, and it allows for a deeper appreciation in people,” she said. She applies this value to her faculty, as well, encouraging them to pursue grant and research opportunities within the university and extending across the region and country. Between 2011 and 2016, Vernaza was the principal investigator for Gannon’s National Science Foundation ADVANCE: Organizational Change for Gender Equity in S.T.E.M. Academic Professions award. This institutional collaborative effort provided research funds and scholarly release time to Gannon recipients, four of whom have since achieved tenure and three of whom have moved into leadership positions at Gannon, including Dean Sarah Ewing, Ph.D. Vernaza also launched a project called CEB Ideas on Tap to connect faculty researchers to research opportunities through annual forums, and a James J. Duratz Research Grant to support other faculty who engage students in research.

“As someone who has moved through the academic ranks, I am an advocate for the need to provide clear pathways to success for faculty and students,” Vernaza said of her desire to do this work. “Making those connections and aligning resources are important to me. I measure my success via the success of the team.”


• Association of Schools Advancing Health Professions, Clinical Education Task Force and Interprofessional Education Task Force member • Northwest Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center, board member • United Way of Erie County’s Young Leaders Society, member • UPMC Hamot Patient Safety and Quality Committee, board member

LORI LINDLEY, PH.D. • Crime Victim Center of Erie County, secretary of the board • Journal of Career Assessment, editorial board member • Journal of Vocational Behavior, editorial board member


• American Society for Engineering Education Conference, reviewer; North Central Section Board of Directors, member • ASCEND: Advancing STEM Careers By Empowering Network Development Advisory Board, member • Erie Ambassador • Erie High Schools Occupational Advisory Board, member • Erie Technology Incubator Board of Directors, member • Experience Children Museum Board of Directors, member • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, reviewer

• Society of Women Engineers, volunteer


A Way


Alesha Griffo, a junior physician assistant major, admits to being nervous as she returned to campus in late July. “I was concerned with being with so many people,” she said. “One thing that helped me was being a transition guide and hearing everything the university was doing – masks and cleaning and even the new plan for Waldron (Campus Center). It felt like it was all thought out.” By mid-November, she said, “I don’t feel like this is an inconvenience to me whatsoever. Being here, I have no worries.” Griffo, like others, settled into a routine defined by precautions against COVID-19. Leading up to the semester, Gannon faculty and staff had mobilized to prepare for students’ safe return to campus, resulting in a detailed plan that outlined modifications around classroom learning, housing and dining, and social interactions. As part of those plans, students, staff and faculty wore their masks, kept their distance and submitted daily health screenings via the LiveSafe app. They also adjusted to temperature screenings in key buildings and offices. Some faculty elected to teach remotely, but more than 75% of all courses were taught face-to-face this fall, more than at most schools that opened. Each classroom featured COVID-1916


ward appropriate spacing, and some classes were moved to large open spaces to account for social distancing. But the diligent work of our university has extended beyond that. The following pages illustrate just what it took to reopen our university, by the numbers, as well as narratives of how our Gannon family has responded to the pandemic in meaningful ways. On campus, leaders have implemented a COVID-19 surveillance program that includes in-house screening and contact tracing to limit the spread of the virus. Others have taken innovative approaches to delivering education, like faculty who are using artificial emotional intelligence to bring student-teacher field work experiences directly to students’ laptops. When Gannon’s Small Business Development Center saw increasing economic challenges, it leveraged entrepreneurial resources to help local small businesses. Alumni are also humbly stepping forward, like Julie Kleber, a nurse in a New York City hospital who recently shared valuable insights with Gannon nursing faculty and students. But there is still much work to be done. The semester ended on a few weeks earlier than normal on Nov. 24. The hope is that faculty and staff will use the longer break to refocus after a unique semester that featured a compressed schedule with few days off. Everyone will have to rest up, too, because a similar plan has been made for the spring semester, which begins Jan. 25. Griffo said she is planning to be back in January. “I have a big level of respect for the university,” she said. “I feel safe.”

(Top left) Students wear their masks on campus as part of the university’s comprehensive safety measures. (Bottom left) A daily health survey via the LiveSafe app and digital thermometers are just two ways that Gannon effectively monitored health on campus this semester. (Above) Gannon's classrooms have been rearranged to allow for social distancing.


COVID-19 RESPONSE What it took to reopen our university, by the numbers

6 ft.



IMPLEMENTED ON-CAMPUS COVID-19 SURVEILLANCE AND CONTACT TRACING PROGRAMS Gannon processed 5,775 COVID-19 test samples from students, staff and faculty at its Erie campus and another 403 at the Ruskin campus. University employees had also actively traced all associated close contacts of known positives in the Gannon population. ADDED A DAILY COVID QUESTIONNAIRE TO LIVESAFE Our LiveSafe public safety app was upgraded to include a COVID-19 questionnaire and other resources related to the disease. In total, 205,764 surveys have been completed since the semester start date of Aug. 10. The campus Health Center followed up with 1,850 users in Erie and Ruskin who reported exposure to or were experiencing symptoms attributed of COVD-19 (fortunately, most of these proved not to be COVID-19). INSTALLED TEMPERATURE SCANNING STATIONS ON CAMPUS Thermal imaging temperature checkpoints were placed in key locations across the Erie and Ruskin campuses as a way to provide fast, accurate, no-touch measurements of body temperatures. In total, 68 volunteers logged a combined total of 3,904 hours to scan more than 6,000 employees and students for fevers. CREATED A WEBSITE FOR COVID-19-RELATED UPDATES Gannon’s COVID-19 webpage generated 43,341 pageviews since its launch on March 13. Seventy-three communications and 35 policy documents have been shared via the webpage, emails and social media to keep the Gannon and Erie communities informed. More than 650 questions and comments were received and answered via the COVID-19 question submission form. MOBILIZED FOR OUR GANNON COMMUNITY AND FOR ERIE Gannon’s Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences faculty donated 425 face masks, 93 goggles, 60 mask and shield combinations, 72 N95 masks, 36 cases of gloves, 728 pairs of surgical gloves, and 196 isolation gowns as well as offered and loaned ventilators and ventilator equipment and circuits to local hospitals. Gannon employees produced 6,000 3D-printed face shields with support from the Erie and Gannon communities to alleviate shortages of protective equipment among COVID-19 frontline workers. The university launched a campaign that resulted in nearly $20,000 in emergency funding from 249 donors to alleviate student needs associated with COVID-19. The funds supported 180 students in Erie and Ruskin with food and housing assistance, domestic and international travel expenses, and resources for remote learning. Gannon employees assembled and distributed more than 4,500 Welcome Kits containing essential supplies to students, faculty and staff upon their return to campus with support from 235 donors who provided $55,247. FACILITATED A CUSTOM SIGNAGE ROLLOUT The university printed 19,400 stickers, 5,414 vinyl decals, and 4,000 table tents that were custom-designed with messaging around social-distancing, practicing healthy behaviors and following new traffic patterns that help maintain low density. A significant portion of the signage is displayed in key areas across the Erie and Ruskin campuses. UPGRADED TECHNOLOGY IN OUR CLASSROOMS Gannon ITS installed 148 high-end web cameras in classrooms across the Erie and Ruskin campuses to permit simultaneous in-class and remote delivery options to our students. A total of 125 laptops, 34 webcams and 40 Verizon mobile internet hotspots were purchased for and/or loaned to employees and students in need of adequate resources for virtual work and learning. Gannon ITS also provided 772 basic Zoom licenses to accommodate for virtual meetings. In total, 529 work orders were completed by ITS in the last two full weeks of March alone. The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning facilitated 201 training workshops for 789 participants to focus on remote delivery of educations and assessments. GOT BACK ON THE FIELD Gannon Athletics devised a Return-to-Play plan that led to 691 student-athletes and 24 teams logging a combined 2,410 hours of practice, training and other team activities, despite limited opportunities for intercollegiate competition. *Data reported as of Nov. 13.


Gannon University is one of only a few schools in the nation to implement an in-house COVID-19 surveillance program as part of its approach to keeping students and employees safe and on campus.

Steven Mauro, Ph.D., vice president of strategies and campus operations at Gannon, recalled being mid-run when he realized Gannon had the necessary equipment and expertise to make both on-campus COVID-19 screening and contact tracing a reality. Mauro, who holds a doctoral degree in microbiology with a focus on virology, immediately set to work on establishing the program. “This involved many late nights in the lab doing proof of principle studies and then validating those results with clinically certified labs,” Mauro said. The machine he used to test samples was originally purchased by the university a few years back for classroom research. “I had over 20 of my own nasal swabs that I used during that time. Eventually, we generated enough positive and negative results that we felt the lab procedure was validated and ready to use,” Mauro said. And since students have returned in late July, the university has used those procedures to conduct extensive COVID-19 screening with results available in less than 24 hours. At the end of October, nearly 5,000 samples had been processed with the average of tests climbing above 400 per week and a positivity rate of only 1%, Mauro said.

“The experience I’m gaining here with this work is invaluable,” Hertel said. “I’ve gotten experience with molecular biology, virology and public health all while a pandemic is raging across the world.” - Austin Hertel

“A major benefit of us screening on our own campus is that we can get accurate, affordable results that are guaranteed to be returned in less than 24 hours,” Mauro said. “The faster turnaround time allows us to identify and isolate positive individuals very quickly. This has helped us keep contacts very low, which is part of the reason why our positivity rate has been so manageable.” Raechel Miller, an employee in Gannon’s marketing department, oversees the university tracing program and emphasized its role in monitoring the prevalence of COVID-19 on campus.

Austin Hertel, a senior biology major, tests samples in the lab as part of the university’s COVID-19 surveillance program.

“Gannon is being proactive in the fact that we’re going out looking for positives. We’re actively seeking people who may be asymptomatic positive and would not normally be caught any other way except through our surveillance testing of identified populations and random groups on campus each week,” Miller said. Miller said the COVID-19 program also involves screening employees and students who report symptoms through the



university’s LiveSafe app or through the Health Center. Miller also leads in-house contact tracing efforts to quarantine any close contacts associated with a positive case. “We definitely have an advantage doing our own internal tracing. Once we have a positive case, we’re able to get all close contacts into quarantine a lot faster than if they were being traced by the county,” Miller said. The university also implemented a care program to provide meals and other essential items to those students who are quarantining. Gannon’s COVID-19 surveillance program is not only keeping students safe, but it has given a few students invaluable hands-on experience, as well. Austin Hertel, a senior biology major, goes to the lab every afternoon to test the samples available that day. For Hertel, that involves extracting genetic material from the sample and cycling it through a machine to test for the virus. A computer interprets and displays the results. Hertel said he has always been interested in working with infectious diseases but had no idea what doors would open until his epidemiology professor, MJ Taylor, Ph.D., assistant professor of public health, connected him to Mauro. “The experience I’m gaining here with this work is invaluable,” Hertel said. “I’ve gotten experience with molecular biology, virology and public health all while a pandemic is raging across the world. I’ve gotten to see just how much work goes into managing a public health crisis from an institutional perspective.” Mauro said the university has purchased additional equipment, hired a laboratory technician and is applying for laboratory certification that would extend testing services to other community partners. “This will help not only keep Gannon safe, but our whole community,” Mauro said.

Erie’s Flower Kitchen was one of several businesses to receive funding as part of the CARES Grant to develop their digital presence.

The COVID-19 shutdowns forced many small regional companies to pivot to meet new consumer markets and ways of operating – and many with help from Gannon’s Small Business Development Center. Maggie Horne, director of Gannon’s SBDC, said the center recognized early on that it would be needed. “We began getting calls from businesses asking if we had any idea what would happen,” Horne said of just before the lockdown. “There was a lot of uncertainty and panic in the minds of many small businesses. Then the shutdown hit – and very quickly.”

The funds were also shared with Erie small businesses as direct grants of between $1,000 and $5,000 to use to develop their digital presence. The funding is just a portion of more than $2.2 million in COVID-19-related financial aid that the SBDC was able to help businesses obtain. Horne said she’s sees a broader opportunity for businesses as a result of the pandemic.

The SBDC remained open as an essential business, using its resources and some “Businesses will now have the ability government funds to support businesses to do business in more ways than one,” across Erie, Crawford, Mercer and Horne said. “Consumer behavior has Warren counties throughout the shifted online, and for businesses to be pandemic. able to serve those consumers, that is a The SBDC’s early initiative was to very positive area of growth from what connect businesses with state and is otherwise a pretty dire situation.” federal government resources. The Gannon SBDC is part of a statewide

“We fielded hundreds of calls in those first couple of weeks,” Horne said. “As a partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration, we are seen as a resource that can directly assist small businesses – but now more so in this time of disaster.”

network of 16 centers and more than 75 community outreach offices and a national network of more than 1,100 centers, providing educational programming and no-cost consulting to entrepreneurs and small businesses throughout Northwest Pennsylvania.

The SBDC also offered webinars with organizations like U.S. Small Business Administration to educate businesses in navigating the shutdown.

Horne said the COVID-19 crisis has really solidified the purpose of the SBDC.

Recently, the SBDC received a $300,000 CARES Grant from the Erie County government to assist Erie small businesses. The grant helped form a Tech Team to provide one-on-one assistance in website development, social media and other digital tools as businesses adapt to an online presence.

“We’ve really been able to showcase what the SBDC can do for the small business community and bring awareness of who we are,” Horne said. “We’ve been focused on our mission of helping small businesses in our communities, and we are hopeful that what we did assisted small businesses in ways that were impactful.” #GUPOSSIBILITIES 21

“The uncertainty of that time was, in a word, overwhelming,” Kleber said.

Julie Kleber ’11BSN, RN, BMTCN was working as a nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City when her Bone Marrow Transplant Unit was suddenly converted into a COVID-19 care unit.

Like many across the nation, Kleber found herself suddenly donning personal protective equipment to confront surging infections. “I had to own that (my patients) were not only being treated for cancer but now have acquired a virus during a pandemic, were not allowed to have visitors, and I was the only source of contact,” Kleber said. “That weighed heavily on my soul.” The experience has left a lasting impression that Kleber shared with Gannon nursing faculty and students during the virtual Villa Maria School of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Lecture Series on Oct. 1 in a presentation titled “Lessons from the Bedside: Adaptability and Intentionality.” “How you go about being intentional with others and how well you lean into adaptability will determine your ability to thrive, no matter what situation you’re thrown into,” Kleber told her audience. Intentionality, for Kleber, meant being careful about what she brought into a COVID-19 patients’ room or limiting her own risk of exposure. But it also meant recognizing her patient as a person. “We all know the numbers, the statistics, the bed counts, the ICU headroom,” Kleber said. “But as a nurse, we know that the bed occupies a person, and we treat them holistically as a person. That’s what we learn as a Gannon nursing student. Be intentional with your actions and treat your patients as people.” Kleber also encouraged students to be adaptable in their mindset and approach, walking them through a case study that positioned them as charge nurses on shift as the first patient in their unit tested positive for COVID-19. “No one knows how this has spread,” Kleber said. “This person has already been on your unit for days. Your nurse leader is out sick, and the entire country is going to close the borders. Things are changing every hour, especially the infection control protocols.” So, what happens then?



“As a nurse, you act,” Kleber said. “And you realize you were made for this. You learn to adapt. You actually learn that you’ve been adapting in your personal life, in nursing school and your early career. It’s now just apparent what that all means and why you had to go through it.” Kleber reflected on lessons learned from her patients. “We ask our patients every day what their goal is for the day. Sometimes their goals change as their situations change. You adapt and adjust to provide the best outcomes for all of your patients that day.”

“As a nurse, you act,” Kleber said. “And you realize you were made for this. You learn to adapt. You actually learn that you’ve been adapting in your personal life, in nursing school and your early career. It’s now just apparent what that all means and why you had to go through it.” - Julie Kleber

Kleber ended her presentation by encouraging students to consider their levels of intentionality and adaptability that would determine their ability to thrive as future nurses. Kleber also offered further insight into the nursing profession and her experiences amid the pandemic during a question-and-answer session with students. (Top left) Julie Kleber wearing full personal protective equipment as she confronts infections in the hospital. (Bottom Left) Julie Kleber (right) with her friends and coworkers, Jenny Tran, BA, BSN, RN, BMTCN (left), and Lilly Reilly, MSN, RN, OCN (middle).

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many things unexpected – and for some in Gannon’s education department that includes opportunity. Samantha Saur, an early childhood and special education major at Gannon, anticipated spending her junior year in education fieldwork placements at local Erie schools.

Students receive digital reports of their lesson performances, but faculty have also added a supervision component to provide student feedback just as they would in a standard fieldwork placement.

Instead, she’s among 40 Gannon students who are completing their fieldwork directly from laptops using artificial emotional intelligence technologies.

Pam Baldwin, a Gannon adjunct lecturer, monitors students’ lesson performances and meets with them regularly to discuss progress. Baldwin said that while simSchool is not the traditional classroom, it is still a valuable experience.

Janice Whiteman, director of the School of Education, said the pandemic created challenges to in-person fieldwork.

“If students look beyond just fulfilling their hours and approach like a learning “We were planning for the fall semester lab, then they are able to experiment since April and at that time school with how material is presented, how districts weren’t sure what they were they interact with students, and (how) doing, if they would be in-person or online,” Whiteman said. “We started our the students respond,” Baldwin said. “At the end of each class, they can see both semester on Aug. 10, and the earliest academic and emotional growth of the that any school district was back even students. They can evaluate the results doing remote learning was the very end and make adaptations for the next class.” of August.” For students like Saur, this has been a That is when Whiteman and her team great advantage. decided to use simSchool, a web-based virtual classroom environment where students apply classroom knowledge through online teaching experiences.

Whiteman explained that students using simSchool can practice teaching strategies by interacting with a classroom of “simStudents,” who use artificial emotional intelligence to respond in individual ways to Gannon students’ teaching by raising their hands, becoming frustrated and showing other positive and negative behaviors. Students can also customize their teaching experience by interacting specifically with simStudents of diverse backgrounds or who have individual learning needs, for example. A class can also be taught multiple times so students can modify teaching strategies while observing the impact on simStudents – opportunities Whiteman said “are not possible within a live setting.”

“I feel more confident with classroom behavior management through teaching the modules in simSchool,” Saur said. “SimSchool has given me the opportunity to practice my teaching strategies virtually, such as working with students in a diverse background, observing behaviors, and differentiating instruction to fit the needs of the students. All these skills are essential to teaching in a classroom.”

Samantha Saur, a junior in early childhood and special education, used artificial emotional intelligence technologies to complete her education "fieldwork." #GUPOSSIBILITIES 23

A NEW KIND OF COMPETITION By David Rung, director of athletics media relations

Like so many other areas, sports saw its world rapidly changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Athletics shut down with the rest of the country in mid-March, canceling the remainder of the Spring 2020 season and cutting short the postseason opportunities for winter sports. The effects continued through the summer, with the PSAC postponing fall sports until after the new year, and the NCAA canceling its Division II fall championship events. Gannon made the best of an imperfect situation though, crafting a Return-to-Play plan and looking at multiple avenues to provide a positive, healthy and meaningful experience during the fall semester. Student-athletes began returning to campus in late July, and all 24 Golden Knight teams were able to engage in practices, workouts and team activities. In addition, the men’s and women’s golf teams were able to compete in a combined six tournaments in September and October. Director of Athletics Lisa Goddard McGuirk sat down for a wide-ranging interview that covered not only the impact of COVID-19, but also the continuing growth of the athletics department and its future goals. 24


Gannon student-athletes continued to safely practice and condition during the fall semester.

Q: These past months have looked different, not just in athletics, but across the campus. What have you learned about the department, the staff and Gannon University as a whole?

A: I don’t know if it was something new that I learned, but instead just confirmed everything I already knew and felt about this University. I’ve had people reach out and share some kind words, and I always respond that truly everyone plays a vital role in making us successful, just like it does in a non-COVID year. It’s the collective good work of our department and the university as a whole. Adversity can do a few things. For us, it brought us together, stronger and more focused.

Q: How important is it to have the student population on campus and student-athletes able to practice — and in some cases compete — as close to normal?

A: Everyone is appreciative to be able to practice and participate in a sport that they love, which is so much a part of themselves that they’ve dedicated years of their life to hone their craft. To get to continue to engage in that is huge. To be able to do that – and be able to be in person for class – that’s so important to our student-athletes. Our student-athletes are being vigilant, they’re holding each other accountable, and lifting each other up. There is a deep appreciation for the opportunity that we’ve been afforded, and we need to preserve that, and we continue to build on that.

they’re all impactful. The amazing thing is we’ve gone from 399 student-athletes (in 2011-12) and now we are at 691. We’re recruiting and enrolling student-athletes from all over the country and across the globe. That’s a testament to the excellent work of everyone in our department. To continue to expand and grow as a department while simultaneously continuing to elevate our performance in all three of those aspects is truly remarkable.

Q: Gannon Athletics got to make an exciting announcement in October with the launch of Knight Nation, a reimagining of the Golden Knight Booster Club. How will Knight Nation tie into the direction the department is heading?

A: The supporters of Gannon Athletics have always been incredible. Similar to all of our athletic programs, we continue to look for opportunities to build, grow, expand and strive for excellence, and Knight Nation goes right along with that. We’re looking to expand in ways from the overall structure, to giving levels, to more ways to engage, and have people feel like they’re truly a part of the remarkable things we’re doing here. There’s a real connectivity between the excellent work that Knight Nation does and with the overall success of the department.

Q: The past three full seasons — Winter 2019-20, Fall 2019 and Spring 2019 — have seen incredible success, not only in competition, but academically and in community service. How did it get there, and where are things going from here?

A: The mindset of our coaches and student-athletes is that we’re not sacrificing excellence in one area for another. No, we’re going to move forward in all those aspects — academic, community and athletics — because

Lisa Goddard McGuirk, director of Athletics


JOSEPH J. GAETA is celebrating 55 years of volunteering at Gannon University with Knight Nation – formerly called the Golden Knight Booster Club – this 2020-21 season. He and his wife, Elaine, have supported all of the women's and men's teams and are very proud of all the accomplishments of Gannon's coaches and studentathletes.


DAVID R. FREW, PH.D. ’67M is collaborating on a fifth book with JERRY SKRYPZAAK ’94 about the history of Presque Isle. The book is titled Accidental Paradise: A Natural, Political and Social History of Presque Isle.






LUTHER R. MANUS, JR. ’71M is being honored in one of three new public art projects commissioned by Erie Arts & Culture. A mural – located near Manus Sunoco, 26 E. 12th St. in Erie – will feature images from the life of the retired 92-year-old Erie School District counselor and military veteran.













FRANK J. CARGIOLI ’70M AND JOANNE M. (KRAUT) CARGIOLI ’70 celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Oct. 17, 2020. They have been blessed with five terrific children and six amazing grandchildren. The couple had to cancel a celebratory Danube River cruise due to COVID-19 but hope to enjoy it next year.


JOSEPH R. MATTIS finished his seventh season as a volunteer assistant coach with Gannon’s Women’s Golf. The Lady Knights were outstanding during the fall portion of their most recent season, winning three of six tournaments – including the PSAC championship. Their championship win earned them an automatic berth in the NCAA Division II East Super Regional Tournament, which was unfortunately canceled due to COVID-19 closures.


DEBBIE A. BURBULES VMC, ’01M was named chief operating officer of the Barber National Institute. She will provide operating oversight and planning for the main campus and satellite locations in Erie, as well as facilities and services across Pennsylvania. Burbules first joined the

SHARE YOUR NEWS LET US KNOW WHAT YOU’VE BEEN UP TO! Submit a class note at Barber National Institute in 2018 as vice president for operations.


LORETTA (LEWIS) SEIGLEY, PH.D. VMC participated as a committee member for the Woman's Club of Erie Scholarship Committee, which recently awarded two scholarships to two local college students.


REV. WILLIE PULLIAM was appointed as the pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lockport, N.Y. ROSEMARIE "ROSIE" (BIRSA) SCHAAF VMC participated as a committee member for the Woman's Club of Erie Scholarship Committee, which recently awarded two scholarships to two local college students. Schaaf, a Millcreek Township resident and retired school nurse, has chaired the Woman's Club Scholarship Committee since 2012.


MARY THERESE “TERRI” BOHEN is drawing on her experiences as a student in Gannon’s theater and communications programs to enhance engagement in her third-grade classroom. Her roots with Gannon’s 90.5 WERG radio show is also reflected

Gannon Hosted Homecoming @ Home


Gannon University brought its annual Homecoming & Family Weekend to homes during an exciting series of virtual and livestreamed events on Oct. 1-4. Gannon and Villa Maria College alumni and Gannon family and friends from across the world joined in the weekend festivities, representing one of the largest participation numbers in its history.



SAVE THE DATES! Homecoming and Family Weekend Sept. 23-26, 2021

in her weekend work with LECOM’s WMCE 88.5 FM in Erie and WSRQ 106.9 FM in Sarasota. Aside from her professional career, Bohen enjoys living by the ocean in Vero Beach, Fla.


REV. SHAWN J. CLERKIN, AOJN is completing his 30th year of teaching at Gannon University and his 15th anniversary of ordination as an Episcopal priest. He is currently co-director of Gannon’s School of Communication and the Arts and vicar of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Fairview, Pa.


MARK J. GAETA is looking forward to having his son, Matthew, attend Gannon University this fall after graduating from Cathedral Preparatory School. Gaeta’s twins, Angela and Alexa, graduated from Gannon in 2014. Gaeta is celebrating 15 years of working at the university this November. ANTHONY C. SCHNUR was appointed senior managing director for Ankura Consulting Group LLC, a global business advisory and expert services firm. Schnur’s role will enhance Ankura's turnaround and restructuring advisory offerings in the energy sector. Schnur holds more than 30 years of experience in structured finance and commercial banking and has been active in the energy sector for more than 20 years. He has helped financially distressed oil and gas companies overcome challenges and reconstitute themselves as viable businesses for the past 15 years.


BRIAN G. BEMBENICK joined McDonald Hopkins LLC as Of Counsel in the firm's Cleveland office, where he will bring 30 years of experience to the firm's Intellectual Property Department. BRIAN F. DALTON, PH.D. ’93M joined Christian Brothers University as vice president for enrollment management. He most recently served as Alfred University’s vice president for enrollment management since

Gannon Announces Members to New to the Board of Trustees, National Alumni Board 1





Gannon University welcomed its newest members to the Board of Trustees and National Alumni Board. These members have achieved professional excellence and expertise that will guide the university and Alumni Association in enhancing and continuing forward our mission as a Catholic institution. The University also recognized the service and leadership of outgoing members. Thomas J. Loftus ’56, ’74M served on the Board of Trustees for 20 years. Hannah Kirby ’10, ’11M served on the National Alumni Board for seven years, most recently as president, and Danielle King ’16 served for three years. “I can’t thank these terrific alumni and friends of Gannon University enough for the dedication and service to our entire university community,” said Gannon President Keith Taylor, Ph.D. “It is their incredible service and heart for Gannon that makes this community so very special and makes it possible for us all to fully engage in the Gannon experience in the hope of transforming our lives and the lives of others for years to come.” New Board of Trustees members include: • Elisabeth “Betsy” (Roeback) Monsalve ’70VMC, director of McManis & Monsalve Associates of Erie. 1 • Howard Ward, Ph.D., associate vice president of auxiliary services at Rochester Institute of Technology. 2 New National Alumni Board members include: • Janae Butler ’11, communications specialist for the Erie City Public School District. 3 • Sidney Coupet, D.O. ’02, chief medical officer and physician at Coupet Quality Clinic, Pa. 4 • Bill Nacopoulos ’04, ’07M, insurance producer for Great Lakes Insurance.


To view all current board members, visit 2017. Dalton and his wife, Diana M. Dubik-Dalton ’88, are celebrating the graduation of their son, Ian Dalton, as part of Gannon’s Class of 2020. Ian joined the Peace Corps after completing an internship with the Peace Corps headquarters this past summer. REV. SCOTT JABO stepped down as president of Cathedral Preparatory School, Villa Maria Academy and Mother Teresa Academy. He began a

new ministry as the vice-rector of Saint Mark Seminary, associate director of Seminarians and co-chaplain to the Carmelite Sisters at Holy Family Monastery, as well as co-chaplain to the Serra Club of Erie. Jabo worked in Catholic education for 29 of his 30 years in the priesthood and first came to Erie as headmaster of Cathedral Preparatory School in 1999. He oversaw the 2009-2010 merger of Cathedral Preparatory School and Villa Maria #GUPOSSIBILITIES 27


Academy, was instrumental in the multi-phased construction of the Hagerty Family Events Center, and organized the Mother Teresa Academy to serve inner-city Erie children.

New Titles from your Gannon Family AHMAD SAAD AL-ADSANI ’96 Assistant professor at the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training “DC Wind Generation Systems” Springer Nature Switzerland AG This book presents the design and operation of DC wind systems and their integration into power grids. The chapters give an in-depth discussion on turbine conversion systems that have been adapted for DC grids and address characteristics of wind turbines when converting kinetic wind energy to electrical energy, components associated with DC systems, and the design and analysis of DC grids. Additionally, the performance of medium voltage DC array grid and high voltage DC transmission grid connected via an offshore substation with DC/DC converters are also addressed. The book examines multiphase hybrid excitation generator systems for wind turbines and discusses its design and operation for all DC systems. The book provides an insight into the state-of-the-art technological advancements for existing and futuristic wind generation schemes, and provides materials that will allow students, researchers, academics and practicing engineers to learn, expand and complement their expertise. FRANK GARLAND Program director of journalism and communication and faculty adviser of the Gannon Knight “Arky: The Baseball Life of Joseh Floyd 'Arky' Vaughan" McFarland & Company Inc. Publishers Bursting onto the scene as a 20-year-old rookie, Arky Vaughan quickly established himself as the next great Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop. In 1935 his .385 batting average eclipsed even that of the immortal Honus Wagner, who was a steadying influence for Vaughan during his 10 seasons with the Pirates. Vaughan never hit under .300 with Pittsburgh and his versatility later made him an asset to the Brooklyn Dodgers. One of the quietest men in baseball, the nine-time All-Star eschewed the limelight but received plenty of attention for his on-field performance, for his one-man mutiny against Brooklyn manager Leo Durocher, and for walking away from the game to take care of his family and his beloved ranch during World War II. Drawing on dozens of articles, personal writings, recorded interviews and his daughter's unpublished biography, this book covers the life and career of an often overlooked Hall of Famer who died in a tragic boating accident at age 40.



DARIN SUTTON was elected as senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in recognition of his professional standing with the board. He currently works for Wabtec Corp. in Erie through an embedded subcontractor, Quest Global, on its Independent Test Team as a validation and verification engineer. He works specifically as the senior lead engineer and helps to automate portions of the locomotive software testing process.


MARK S. ZAGORSKI was named chief executive officer of DoubleVerify, a leading software platform for digital media measurement, data and analytics. He will be responsible for managing and growing the company’s worldwide operations, which includes more than 550 employees in 18 offices globally. SHERRY A. MASOTTO-SWETZ ’97M is among those being honored as an oustanding alum at the Kennedy Catholic Gala. Masotto-Swetz is executive director of Joshua's Haven in Sharon, Pa., which she started in 2004 after being led to fulfill a vision from God. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph, providing outreach to the Spanish speaking community and serving in the Emmaus Soup Kitchen. Masotto-Swetz worked at St. Vincent Health Center as an X-ray technologist and later at Hamot Medical Center as a clinical instructor for Gannon University. She later earned a bachelor's degree in administrative studies and a master's degree in counseling psychology from Gannon.


MICHAEL J. DASHNAW, PA-C, PH.D. was recognized as the 2020 Rutland Community NP/PA of the year. Dashnaw is a physician assistant at Community Health Mettowee. JOHN R. SOMMERS, CPA and DENISE L. (LOMBARDO) SOMMERS, R.N. are celebrating the graduation of their daughter, Amanda, as part of the Gannon Class of 2020.

MARK T. SOBOLESKI ’03M was hired as the head football coach for Fairview High School. THOMAS A. SPAGEL ’97M, co-owner of Erie’s Stanganelli’s Italian Foods, had a successful debut on QVC earlier this year. The restaurant’s popular pepperoni balls were featured during an introduction to the scheduled show and was promoted a few times during the production. Stanganelli’s Italian Foods sold 18,000 pepperoni balls before the primary QVC spot even aired.


SEAN M. FADALE ’93M, ’03M assumed the new role of president and CEO of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home in Gloversville, N.Y. in October 2020. Fadale had served as president and CEO of Community Memorial Hospital in Hamilton since 2012.


RONALD S. HABURSKY assumed the role of senior vice president and chief investment officer for Erie Insurance. He joined Erie Insurance in 1991 and most recently managed its fixed income portfolio as vice president and senior portfolio manager. KAREN A. SURKALA addressed the Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville, highlighting the year in review for the Westfield Memorial Hospital. Surkala is president of WMH and holds more than 30 years of health care field experience. She most recently served as CEO of Select Specialty Hospital, a long-term acute care facility in Erie. Prior to that she spent three years as senior director of strategic agenda management at Cleveland Clinic. From 2012 to 2015 she worked as senior vice president at Saint Vincent Hospital and was an integral member of the C-suite team that oversaw the hospital's strategic, operational and business development performance. Surkala also served as vice president and administrator at WMH from 2007 to 2011, helping to lead the hospital through a multi-year restructuring process.

ERIC G. LAPRICE '99M accepted a temporary promotion to acting forest supervisor for the Gila National Forest in Solver City, N.M.


AHMAD SAAD AL-ADSANI coauthored a book, which is titled DC Wind Generation Systems. The book presents the design and operation of DC wind systems and their integration into power grids. Al-Adsani was an instructor with Public Authority for Applied Education and Training, or PAAET, in Kuwait City, Kuwait from 1997 to 1999. He later joined the Electrical Engineering Department as an assistant lecturer with the College of Technological Studies from 2001 to 2007. He was the head of the Electrical Unit in the College of Basic Education at PAAET from 2003 to 2007. He is currently an assistant professor with the CST, PAAET. Al-Adsani’s research interests include electro-magnetic powertrains for electric and hybridelectric vehicles, as well as design and control of multiphase electric and hybrid electric machines for renewable energy applications.


JONATHAN S. DEARMENT was elected as a member of the Manufacturer and Business Association in Erie. DeArment is president and chief operating officer of Meadvillebased Channellock, where he has worked for more than 20 years. As president and COO, he is proud to be part of the fifth generation helping to lead the family-owned company. He was awarded the 2016 Gannon University SBDC President’s Award and was a 2017 Pittsburgh Smart 50 Award honoree. He serves as the vice president for the Hand Tools Institute Board of Directors.


DEBORAH (ALLWES) LARGOZA, R.N., MBA, MPH was appointed as president for Amalgamated Medical Care Management. Largoza brings extensive clinical and business expertise to the role along with direct experience

marriage Jessica C. Ferris '16 married Giona DiMarco '17 on Oct. 5, 2019.

in key services including utilization management, care management and population health management. She most recently served as vice president of Clinical Operations at Agilon Health in Long Beach, Calif.


CHANEL MONET COOK joined the Board of Directors for The Nonprofit Partnership in Erie. G. JONATHAN LEWIS, D.O. used his expertise as an infectious disease specialist with UPMC Hamot to join Sen. Michele Brooks (R-50th Dist.) in a virtual town hall earlier this year to answer constituents’ questions regarding COVID-19. BRIAN S. ORRENMAA is the new principal for the Buckeye Valley West Elementary School in Ostrander, Ohio. Orrenmaa is returning to central Ohio after several years in Virginia, where he most recently served as principal of #GUPOSSIBILITIES 29

Rev. Michael Patrick Allison ’81, ’04M Lee Charles Anthony ’77 Margaret (Niedzielski) Baranowski ’64VMC Joseph Robert Barczynski ’61 James Anthony Belcastro ’79 George F. Bennett ’68M Carrie Ann (Burbee) Bongiorno ’02M Robyn Marie Brown ’05 Michael C. Buffalo ’93 Patrick Joseph Calabrese ’64 Julia Frances (Power) Campbell ’57VMC Joseph Richard Chessario, Sr. ’66 Robert Edward Conner ’71 Charles Joseph Costa ’96 Terry Harold Craig ’68, ’72M Ella L. (Ward) Crockett ’76 John “Jack” M. Curtis ’56 Norman Joseph Cutri ’53 Joseph J. Desser ’60 Anthony J. DiGiorgio ’63 Donald A. DiPlacido ’56, ’67M Timothy J. Dore ’98 David Earl Dundon ’62 Theron G. Earll ’07 Thomas “Tom” Edward Elchynski ’61 Matthew D. Enders ’62 Robert C. Erhart ’60 Sister Jerome Eustace ’54VMC

in memoriam

Alumni Sister Rose Anne Fedorko, SSJ ’58VMC Larry Jerome Feeney ’74 Timothy Stephen Gallagher ’83 Diane Marie (Goring) Gardner ’68 Ann Roberta Gargan ’84 William Victor Giacomelli ’68 Paul A. Gora ’59 Barry Gene Grossman, J.D. ’70M Robert Edward Hagedorn ’62 Donna E. Haughey ’71VMC Christine Frances Henke ’76 Frank John Herberg ’59 Robert Vernon Heverley, Jr. ’66 David James Houpt ’73M Phillip Joseph Hoydic ’69, ’78M Donald Gordon Hunter, D.O. ’60 Joyce Marie Izbicki ’72 John M. Jensen ’78 Sean Robert Jepson ’86 Paul L. Kalil ’61 Johnette R. (Noble) Kent ’74 Susan (Williams) Kingston ’74M Robert George Koller ’66 John “Jack” Joseph Konkol ’78M William Donald Koper ’77 Patricia Ann (Santone) Kopf ’65VMC Joseph T. Kownacki, Esq. ’73 Gerald “Jerry” Joseph Kozak ’67 Val Jeffery Leone ’72, ’80M Sister Elisabeth Lintsen, MSOLA '73M

Joseph Vincent Martone ’55 Darrell Ralph May ’70 James Wilson Mazick ’70 Mary Alice (Anderson) McAndrew ’45VMC William Hardman McCracken ’65 Kevin “Red” Michael McHugh ’58 Luanne Marie (Dohanic) McIntosh ’90 Sister Carol Ann McLaughlin ’65VMC David Neal McSweeney ’76 Sister Mary Arlene Menz ’58VMC Phyllis Elaine (Krahe) Merritt, R.N. ’86VMC Stephen Wayne Miko ’70 Robert Wesley Mills, Jr. ’75 Humbert “Bert” Michael Minnella ’68 Timothy “Tim” Michael Monahan ’78 Carrie Ann Mozdy ’87 Paul Michael Newell, M.D. ’77 Thomas Stanley Osiecki ’63 Hugh Percival Pabarue ’71, ’74M Bettylou Perkins ’79VMC John Michael Phelps ’70, ’87M Deacon David Arthur Pratt ’59 Michael John Pruvedenti ’75, ’78M Richard Robert Ranus ’61 Janet Ann Reiser ’67VMC

Richard G. Reusch ’56 Harrison “Harry” R. Rose ’49 John “Chris” Christopher Rouch ’77 Christine A. (Wisniewski) Rudolph ’82VMC Robert Raymond Rudolph ’57 Richard R. Rzodkiewicz ’62 Joseph Raymond Sacco, Jr. ’76 Joanne Louise (Loeffler) Schneider ’56VMC Leonard John Schwemmer ’74M Joan (Mather) Sexsmith ’83VMC Judith A. (Carroll) Simon ’65VMC Lt. Col. Jerome Robert Singer ’55 James Russell Smith ’63 Joseph R. Staahl, Jr. ’76M Robert Gerald Swanson, Jr. ’62 Theresa (Kuzma) Taft ’58VMC Stephen Ford Tempest ’75 Sister Ann Loretta Urmann, SSJ ’62VMC, ’72M William C. Viott ’73 Richard S. Wasielewski ’65 James K Webb ’70 Peter “Pete” J. Welsh ’64 Linda L. (Larson) Wittman ’90 Charles S. Wray ’86 James Martin Yadeski ’53 David Paul Ziccardi ’92

Agnes M. Flanagan, R.N. Rosemary “Pat” Flatley Paul M. Foust Thomas L. Gardner, Jr. John Mark Gehringer Elaine B. Glass William John Heard, Jr. Andrew Robert Hoch Janet Ann Kelly Virginia Mae Kochanczyk Mary Kolb Mark Stephen Lobaugh

Sharon Ann Lohan Jeffrey A. Manczka Erin Elizabeth McCarty Sister Mary Daniel Meahl, O.S.B. Bette Jane Merritt Jenne Ellenv Mobilia Kristan T. Mosley Tiffanie Anne Nelson Gary M. Parkin Carol J. Pastor Kevin Sean Peebles Timothy D. Reichart

Margaret “Peggy” Richardson James Robert Rion Mary Anne Rivera, Ph.D. Barbara Shapiro Joseph Martin Stevick JoAnn E. Streeter Steven R. Stroul Alexa Sulak Paul F Voisin Harry E. Wagner Constance J. “Connie” Weiser

Parents and Friends Rev. Msgr. Daniel K Arnold Michael A Bari Joan Elizabeth Blass Thomas Bernard Brennan Lewis Terrell Briggs, Jr. Marion Therese Brugger Richard Brugger Pasquale J. Bruno, III Michele Frances Bula Edward R. Czulewicz Donna Dalton, Ph.D. Herta H. Danowski

George Mason Elementary School in the Alexandria City Public School District.


MICHAEL J. NUNES is the senior vice president of current programming at NBC and has worked on seven shows including “This is Us,” “Brooklyn



Nine-Nine,” “Superstore,” and “Council of Dads.” He recently joined Gannon’s communication arts students in a virtual classroom to provide insight into the television production industry.


SIDNEY COUPET, D.O. joined Gannon University's National Alumni Board. Coupet is the chief medical officer and physician at Coupet Quality Clinic in Pompano Beach, Fla.


VASILIOS “BILL” A. NACOPOULOS ’07M joined Gannon University's National Alumni Board. He is an insurance producer for Great Lakes Insurance and a resident of Erie.


ASHLEY M. HORDUSKY-FISKE recently transitioned into a new role as the lease administrator for Northwest Bank after spending more than 13 years in the oil and gas industry. ZACHARY M. FLOCK ’19M is the founding artistic director of Dramashop and says it has been his pleasure to lead Erie's contemporary theater company through its first nine seasons. Flock and his team have adapted in

this challenging time to present their first livestream-only production, which was a staged reading of Lauren Gundersonn’s Silent Sky. Flock’s work at Dramashop draws on skills learned in Gannon’s undergraduate theatre and communication arts program and Master's in Public Administration program.

to 2020. He coached an American Athletic Union boys’ team at 43 Hoops from 2014 to 2017.



DEMONDI M. JOHNSON is the new head girls’ basketball coach for Prior Lake High School in Minnesota. Johnson was previously the head girls’ coach at 43 Hoops Basketball Academy in Hopkins, Minnesota since 2017. He was also the head coach of the Hopkins boys’ ninth-grade team from 2014 to 2016 and a varsity assistant from 2016


KELLY R. (FENNESSY) MEREDITH was nominated for the 2020 Community Champion of Pittsburgh award. Meredith is also the newly appointed secretary for Gannon’s National Alumni Board of Directors.


MEGHAN E. (HOPE) SRAJ is an intervention specialist for fourth-grade students. She is married and now has a one-year-old child and a three-year-old child.

A daughter (born Dec. 23, 2019) to Samantha E. Ruiz-Bueno ’19 and her husband, Jordan. 5


A daughter, Amelia Nielsen (born January 2020) to Stephanie M. (Bauer) Nielsen ’12M and her husband, John. 2 A son (born Feb. 20, 2020) to Christopher Michael O’Connell ’14M and his wife, Lea Renee. A daughter, Amelia Rose Wilcox (born April 6, 2020) to Rianna D. (MacWhirter) Wilcox ’12 and her husband, David L. Wilcox III ’13, ’18M. 4


A son, Ethan Staib (born April 24, 2020) to Matthew T. Staib ’05 and his wife, Stephanie. 7


A son, Wyatt Jeremiah Baker (born May 14, 2020) to Emily S. (Meyer) Baker ’15, ’17M and her husband, Jerry. 3 A son, Oliver Anthony Bottoni (born May 31, 2020) to Mallory (Hedlund) Bottoni ’14 and her husband, Jason. 6 A daughter, River Nicole Lossie (born Sept. 1, 2020) to Nicole (Dohoda) Lossie ’11 and her husband, Jared Lossie ’12 1






University School of Law in 2016. He was admitted to the California Bar in December 2016 and the Michigan Bar in August 2017.

14 Photography courtesy of Erie Reader

Alumni Honored with Erie’s 40 Under 40 Distinction Two Gannon alumni were recognized as part of the Erie Reader’s annual 40 Under 40 list of young professionals who, amid a year of challenges, have stepped forward in their professions and causes to transform Erie to become more resilient and better than ever. This year’s honorees include: Becky Perry ’11 (left) is director of the Center for Social Concerns and Global Exploration at Gannon University. She oversees programming for students including service and community engagement opportunities, advocacy and awareness building, and cultural immersion.


ROBERT “BOB” J. BARTLEY was promoted to regional sales manager of Leeco Steel LLC’s central region. In this position, he will develop and manage a unified sales strategy for Leeco Steel's central and east regions. DESTIN S. DEMARION is a rookie on the Bassmaster Elite Series. He shares his other athletic interests through his baseball-themed DuraEdge sponsor wrap on his boat. CARLY E. (LYONS) BIELER was hired as an interactive communications strategist at University Hospitals in Cleveland. In her role, Bieler will develop emails and create engaging and audience-relevant web content primarily for University Hospitals donors. JEFFREY T. SOLES ’11C was named as the new superintendent of the West Mifflin Area School District. Soles most recently served as superintendent of the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District.



Erin Q. Sekerak ’04, ’15M (right) is the executive director of Northwest Region, Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania. She is responsible for fulling the mission of the Junior Achievement by implementing educational programming and fundraising activities in Crawford, Erie, Lawrence, Mercer, Warren, Forest and Venango counties. AMY M. (STROKA) SWARTZFAGER, CPA ’11M was one of only 30 CPAs honored by the American Institute of CPAs as a member of the Leadership Academy’s 12th graduating class. Swartzfager is a manager at Maloney, Reed, Scarpitti, & Co. LLP in Erie.


JENNIFER HAYWOOD is the nurse manager at Hospice of Metropolitan Erie Inc. H.O.M.E. is the first hospice in Erie County and one of the first in Pennsylvania. H.O.M.E. is an independent, nonprofit entity that is proud to be celebrating its 40th anniversary.


PHILIP M. KUNKA, J.D. is a proud California litigator, who represents many government entities and others in San Diego. After graduating from Gannon University, he went on to earn his Juris Doctorate from Michigan State

ANGELA E. GAETA has continued her work as a support coordinator at Erie County Care Managament for the past five years. She recently became a new homeowner in Erie, where she grew up. ALEXA M. GAETA has worked at Erie County Care Management as an early intervention service coordinator for five years. She recently adopted a European Doberman puppy, who is now a year old and weighs more than 100 pounds. REV. JOSEPH A. PETRONE, JR.'14 '16 was ordained as a priest by Bishop Persico on May 29, 2020. Petrone earned bachelor’s degrees in biology from Gannon in 2014 and in philosophy from St. Mark Seminary in 2016. In May 2019, he earned his Master of Divinity from St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pa.


ANTHONY C. BICE is working at Mediacom Communications Corp. as a business quota representative. Mediacom is a telecommunications company based in the midwest. In his position, Bice solely assists the needs of corporate customers. JESSICA C. (FERRIS) DIMARCO, PH.D. received her doctoral degree in pharmacy and began her residency program at the Charleston Area Medical Center in Charleston, W.Va. DiMarco and her husband, Giona DiMarco ’17, met while volunteering at Gannon during the Get Rec'd event on St. Patrick's Day in 2014. KEVIN O. HOLLAND was ordained as a priest by Bishop Persico on May 29, 2020. Holland graduated from Gannon and St. Mark Seminary in 2016 with his bachelor’s degree in history. He recently earned his Master of Divinity from St. Mary's Seminary.

DANIELLE E. KING is a current graduate student in The Ohio State University's nutrition doctoral program and works as a graduate research associate for Carla Miller, Ph.D. King graduated from D'Youville College in Buffalo, N.Y. with combined bachelor’s and master’s degrees in dietetics in 2019. Her academic interests and research focus involve behavioral change through diet and lifestyle. KAITLYN E. KISSELL is working as a registered nurse for First Choice Care in Queensland, Australia. She is also playing as a professional soccer player for Souths United in Australia’s National Premier League, accomplishing two of her primary career goals.


ASHLEY E. MANN ’18M is working as an occupational therapist for Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center. She works in different charter schools in Buffalo, N.Y.


HAYLEY A. NEJMAN is the head acrobatics and tumbling coach at Chowan University. Nejman was recently featured on the Today Show in New York City when her boyfriend, Anthony Piglowski, proposed to her while skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center. JENNA D. HOFFMAN ’19M began her career in occupational therapy in October 2019, joining Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk, V.A. She works primarily with patients who are 40 and older and she has found the work to be incredibly rewarding.


RYAN W. HAMILTON accepted a full-time role as a sales development representative at Torch Technology in New York City. He enjoys working for this dynamic startup as a sales professional. JOSEPH D. WESTRICK was named a first-team CoSIDA Academic AllAmerican. Westrick also earned the PSAC's top academic honor. Westrick graduated with a spotless 4.00 cumulative GPA as an environmental engineering major. He was named a PSAC Top 10 award winner in each of his final two seasons of eligibility.


BROOKE M. CARR moved back to the Pittsburgh area to begin working for Mylan Laboratories Inc. following graduation. SAMANTHA E. RUIZ-BUENO is in the process of completing her master’s degree in occupational therapy.

Make a Big Impact with a Future Planned Gift to Gannon When you include Gannon University in your estate plan, your generosity provides a comprehensive, value-centered educational experience that is grounded in the Catholic faith. Visit our new and improved planned giving site at, and uncover giving options that work best for you through our interactive personalized planning experience.

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Thank you for ensuring that Gannon can prepare the next generation of leaders well into the future. I-HACK #GUPOSSIBILITIES 33

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Articles inside

A Way Forward

pages 18-25

Class Notes

pages 28-35

New to the Board of Trustees, National Alumni Board

page 29

Alumni Honored with Erie's 40 under 40 Distinction

page 34

New Titles from your Gannon Family

page 30


page 31

In Memoriam

page 32


page 33

A New Kind of Competition

pages 26-27

Leaders. Visionaries. Role-Models. The Stories of our Deans

pages 14-17

An Election Engagement Project

pages 12-13

Turning Belief into Possibilities

page 11

Coming Together for Social Change

pages 8-13

Rising to the Future

pages 6-7

From the President

page 2

In the News

pages 4-5
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