Gannon Magazine June 2017

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June 2017



ZAMBIA TO ERIE: A JOURNEY TO GANNON “Being here is a dream come true.”

TRANSFORMATION IN OUR WEST BAYFRONT A community comes together to revitalize our neighborhood.

CREATING CONNECTIONS BEYOND THE CLASSROOM Are our diverse ecosystems the new dynamic classrooms?

from the


This issue of the Gannon Magazine greets us at an exciting time of transition and success for our University. Our 2016-17 Academic Year has concluded with much enthusiasm from our students celebrating the great work they’ve accomplished in the classroom and community, and also with much eagerness from our graduates who are now entering the world to pave the way in their professions and their lives. This sentiment inspires us as we transition into preparing for the upcoming Academic Year and welcoming a new class of students into the Gannon Family. Certainly, the pace of the cycle of changes such as this – on campus and
in the world – seems to move faster now than it ever has. This past year has been busy with change, announcing new academic programs, seeing renovation and growth to campus
in both Erie and Ruskin, receiving regional and national achievements and recognition from the work of students and faculty, and forging new academic partnerships in China, Vietnam and around the world to continue welcoming a vibrant global family to campus.

Just as change is built on a foundation of continuity, our Mission continues to guide and inspire us as we move forward. To adapt to the ever-changing environment of higher education in our country and around the world, we are reflecting on our past and looking toward our future with a steadfast focus on the needs and aspirations of our students. Our Mission and Catholic Identity will undoubtedly continue to guide the faculty, staff and us all in this endeavor to build on our momentum and palpable positive energy. The deep and distinctive culture of care and unity found in our Gannon Family will continue to cultivate inspiration and well-founded optimism. Together, we are shaping our University and transforming the lives of our students. I hope that you enjoy the stories of our Gannon Family members in this issue of Gannon Magazine and welcome your feedback.

God Bless,

Keith Taylor, Ph.D., President

Keith Taylor, Ph.D. President Melanie Whaley ’95 Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

Vol. XXX, No. 1 • June 2017 Gannon University • 109 University Square Erie, Pennsylvania 16541 • (814) 871-7000

Mallory Hedlund ’14 Marketing and Communications Specialist

Gannon Magazine is published by the University Marketing and Communications Office:


John Chacona Haley Figurski Michael Gorski ’11M Laura Hinsdale Matthew King Andrew Lapiska ’09M Nicole Lossie ’11 Kristine Rilling


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contents Gannon Magazine June 2017


From Zambia to Erie: Lameck Kapupa’s Journey to Gannon



Transformation Underway in Our West Bayfront

Students’ Collaborative Research Reaches New Heights

August’s solar eclipse is the greatest show in the solar system, and Gannon University students are part of a NASA-funded project bringing it to you.


OT on the Move


Hats Off!


Uno Mas

The occupational therapy profession is 100 years old this year and both Gannon campuses are celebrating with scholarship and service.

Alstadt Environmental Center: Creating Connections Beyond the Classroom


Community of Purpose


Flying Finish

Faculty are passing the culture of Gannon down through the generations in their own inimitable ways.

Take a look back at the spring seasons of Golden Knights teams as they wrapped up a season of success.


Court Vision


Class Notes

Commencement 2017 was a day of celebration and creativity. Relive the excitement and elation.

A student recounts her highly personal journey of discovery on a service trip to Mexico.


Gary Miller ’72 has seen a lot of history made on the Hammermill Center court. Now he’s made some of his own.

Keep up with the latest news from your classmates.

View the Gannon Magazine Online Edition Look for this symbol for articles with exclusive video, photo galleries and expanded content found in the Gannon Magazine Online Edition. View on your phone, tablet or computer at To receive the Gannon Magazine Online Edition directly to your inbox, or to manage your subscription preferences visit #GUPOSSIBILITIES



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Innovation is launched at the intersection of different disciplines, of diverse experts and of open minds. Crossdisciplinary projects bring together students and faculty, such as the team working on a NASA-funded project to livestream the solar eclipse using a studentdesigned payload sent to near space.

team is part of a select group of 52 colleges and universities nationwide and one of three from Pennsylvania selected to conduct balloon flights from about 25 locations across the total eclipse path. Maia MacKellar, a junior electrical engineering major, is part of the Gannon University team that will travel to Hopkinsville, Kentucky, north of Nashville, for the Aug. 21 launch. MacKellar will man the team’s ground station to track the instrument package so that it can be recovered after the flight. She will also assist with the live video stream. “The plan is to see [the eclipse] from Oregon to the southern U.S. using multiple teams,” she said. “We can’t wait. We’re really excited about it!”

network of coverage spanning a continent. Totality, the amount of time that the moon’s disc will completely cover the sun revealing the sun’s tenuous atmosphere or corona, will last two minutes and 40 seconds, at the Kentucky location, the greatest amount of totality at any place in the continental U.S. A total eclipse is one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights. Roughly 12 million people live within the path of totality, and another 40 million within a few hours’ drive. Adding the millions more who will watch the livestream, will make the August eclipse one of the most witnessed natural events in history. And it will be brought to you as it happens from the edge of space by a package of instruments created by Gannon University students.

“The plan is to see [the eclipse] from Oregon to the southern U.S. using multiple teams. We’re really excited about it!”

How far will Gannon University students go to pursue a once-in-alifetime research opportunity? How about 80,000 feet.

The coast-to-coast project will return video images of the solar eclipse, something that has never been done live, nor in a

That’s how far above Earth’s surface a package of instruments will ascend via high-altitude balloon to record and livestream the solar eclipse in August.







The instruments were designed by a team of undergraduate students led by Wookwon Lee, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Nick Conklin, Ph.D., associate professor of physics, as part of a national project funded by a NASA Space Grant. The Gannon











zambiato erie:



Any Gannon University student who has participated in an Alternative Break Service Trip (ABST) will tell you that it is one of the most defining experiences of their time at Gannon. Lameck Kapupa is one of those students, but not in the usual way. Kapupa’s ABST experience wasn’t a defining chapter of his Gannon University career. It was the beginning.


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Lameck Kapupa, a 26-year-old native of Livingstone, Zambia, was working as a coordinator for Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village program with travel groups from Ireland, Canada and the U.S. when he was assigned to a group traveling on a Gannon University ABST that visited his homeland last year. The Gannon group built two houses for Habitat’s orphans and vulnerable children program, and Kapupa, who speaks English and two Zambian languages, facilitated communication between the students and the Zambians.

me to browse the Gannon website to look for a program I might like.”

Office of Global Support and Student Engagement.

Motivated by a longstanding interest in public health, Kapupa enrolled in the Masters in Health Communications program, and in January, he stepped off the train in Erie to begin his studies.

Appropriately enough, the same communications skills that led Lameck Kapupa to Gannon University are the skills he is honing in his master’s program in Erie.

“The first day I was here, I slept with my hoodie on,” Kapupa said with a laugh. “I bought some winter clothes when I arrived in New York City, but that wasn’t enough for Erie.”

“. . . if you ask a Zambian kid where he or she wants to go, they would say America. So being here is a dream come true.”

“I was so excited to work with a group from the U.S. I knew that they had so much to ask about Zambia and they looked forward to having a nice experience,” Kapupa said.

As it turned out, Kapupa himself had a memorable experience. “It was the best group that I had when I was working for Habitat,” Kapupa said. “They were interested and excited, and so was I.” One of the participants on the trip was Bill Edmondson, vice president for enrollment, who asked Kapupa, a recent social work graduate of the University of Zambia, about his future plans. “I told him that I was thinking of applying for scholarships or looking for a job, and Bill came to me and told

While the weather was cold, the welcome to Gannon was warm. “The ABST group had a welcome party for me here, and I was so happy to see them,” Kapupa said.

Other adjustments came a bit easier. “In Zambia, we eat the same food every day, but in America, you have all these different foods to try,” he said.

And though Kapupa had studied English beginning in fifth grade, he learned English the way it is written and spoken in Great Britain. “Adjusting to the language wasn’t all that difficult, but the way you pronounce some words is different,” he said.

Even more appropriately, those skills might someday return to Zambia in a career that began in service and ripens many thousands of miles away on a campus in the company of friends he scarcely imagined little more than a year ago. Kapupa is keeping his options open as he learns about his new country. “After I graduate, I’d like to see if there are opportunities in the U.S. I think that would be good for me.” he said. “I’m enjoying living here and meeting different people. Coming from Zambia, we have this perception of the U.S., and if you ask a Zambian kid where he or she wants to go, they would say America. So being here is a dream come true.”

Still, Kapupa’s sunny personality and natural warmth render most cultural barriers irrelevant. Both are assets in his position as a part-time ambassador for the #GUPOSSIBILITIES


Celebrating 100 Years of Providing Care to the Community When a really big anniversary comes around, it’s traditional to celebrate with a dinner or a party. Gannon’s occupational therapy (OT) students and faculty in both Erie and Ruskin did both this April for the 100th anniversary of their discipline. The party, sponsored by Gannon’s OT department and District 7 of the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association (POTA), included tables showcasing POTA, Gannon’s Student OT Association and Pi Theta National OT Honor Society, with games, music, activities, research posters and other academic presentations. At the Ruskin, Florida campus, the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) marked the anniversary by raising more than $500 for the Stay In Step initiative that assists those with spinal cord injury in their recovery. In Erie, several OT students collaborated with community partners at the spring portion of the eighth annual Purposeful Movement and Wellness Program for people with Parkinson’s disease in conjunction with Parkinson Partners of Northwest PA and at Erie Homes for Children and Adults’ Move Program.


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In service to their discipline, Gannon students and faculty were invited to present at the AOTA conference in Philadelphia. Five students and four faculty members from the Erie campus presented at the conference as did five students from the Ruskin Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program. Which brings us to that dinner, a singular event called Dining in the Dark, where more than 80 guests dined with their vision blocked by blindfolds. Sponsored by the Gannon University chapter of Pi Theta Epsilon honor society for occupational therapy, the event dramatized the challenges faced by individuals with vision loss with all proceeds benefiting the Sight Center of Northwest Pennsylvania. Occupational therapy is one of the largest majors at Gannon with 234 students enrolled in master’s-level and OTD programs across Gannon’s two campuses. As professional practitioners, they will focus on helping clients perform everyday activities to their highest potential.

Occupational Therapy at the Equator Before the excitement of the anniversary month began, two groups of Gannon University occupational therapy students traveled to Ecuador for unique and inspiring fieldwork experiences.

CRECER is an OT clinic that provides access to health care services in under-served regions of Ecuador through education, treatment and research. The OT students provided occupational therapy services to clients with physical disabilities in a group home, a skilled nursing facility and an outpatient clinic.


“Here we have so much equipment and resources available to us, but there, The groups were invited even without these by the Centro de things, I think we were Rehabilitación, just as successful in Educación, Capacitación, providing occupational Estudios y Recursos, Inc. therapy to the clients and (CRECER) the people of Ibarra.” in Ibarra, Ecuador, two hours by bus from the capital, Quito. “Crecer” means “to grow” in Spanish, and the Gannon groups, 11 Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) students from the Ruskin campus accompanied by Kristin Valdes, OTD, and Dianna Lunsford, OTD, both assistant professors of occupational therapy; and eight students from the Erie campus, along with Amy Brzuz, OTD ’98, assistant professor and Julia Hawkins, OTD, adjunct lecturer, grew in skills and compassion during the trips.

Even the faculty members came away with new knowledge. “Here we have so much equipment and resources available to us, but there, even without these things, I think we were just as successful in providing occupational therapy to the clients and the people of Ibarra,” Brzuz said. “The lesson that I took away from our trip is that less can be more.”

To view an exclusive video, visit #GUPOSSIBILITIES


Hats Off! With 8 a.m. classes and final exams behind them, the Class of 2017 finds a creative way to express their accomplishments.


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Capstone Events Pomp and circumstance mingled with elation, and awe with tears of joy for the recipients of the 902 degrees awarded at the Spring 2017 Commencement ceremony May 6. The day began when six Army ROTC cadets were commissioned as second lieutenants in a ceremony at the Schuster Theatre. At the baccalaureate mass at St. Peter Cathedral, the Most Rev. Lawrence T. Persico, Bishop of the Diocese of Erie, and the Most Rev. Robert Lynch, who retired in November as Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida, were among the concelebrants. After he was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa, Bishop Lynch, in a moving keynote address, exhorted the near-capacity crowd at Erie Insurance Arena to “Take care. Take care of faith, the environment and all of humanity.” ASSOCI


In his welcoming remarks, Taylor said, “Community is where humility and glory touch,” and there could be no better description of the joyous collision of emotions that was Spring 2017 Commencement. To view a video of the Commencement Ceremony, visit

Welcome, Class of 2017 Members of the Class of 2017 were welcomed to the Alumni Association at this year’s Senior Social hosted by Student Government Association and the Alumni Services Office.

Seniors enjoyed hearing from young alumna Danielle King ’16 about her positive mentoring experience at Gannon with Jim Ahearn ’61. Brian Collingwood, UNIV Gannon’s Director of Career Exploration and Development, shared with future alumni the different activities and involvement levels associated with mentoring, from resume review to job shadowing. Senior Shefali Amin spoke of her relationship with motivational faculty member and advisor Sue Sapone.












Senior biology/pre-med major Shefali Amin of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was awarded the Gannon University Medal of Honor for character, leadership and scholarship. President Keith Taylor, Ph.D. honored her spirit of service with the traditional proverb: “Rivers do not drink their own water. Trees do not eat their own fruit. Clouds do not swallow their own rain. What great ones have is always for the benefit of others.”


Alumni Association President, Greg Czarnecki ’89 shared with the seniors that the Gannon experience is not just a four or five-year commitment. Rather, once you enter the “Gannon Family” you are always a welcome member. GET INVOLVED #GUPOSSIBILITIES


UNO MAS Contributed by Samantha Griswold ’17

There are so many things that you should do before you graduate college, but I’ve learned one of the most important is to travel. Over spring break, I traveled to Merida, Mexico on an Alternative Break Service Trip (ABST), and I have to say, it was one of the most eye-opening and educational experiences during my time at Gannon.


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Traveling with a group of 12, we stayed at the Mision de Amistad, or the Mission of Friendship, a partnership of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie and the Archdiocese of Yucatan. The Mission runs many programs in Merida, such as the Los Amiguitos daycare center, a medical dispensary, Nueva Vida, which is an afterschool program for girls, and a family sponsorship program.

This was Father Felix’s catchphrase while we were in Yaxcaba. On every tour he took us on, Father Felix insisted on taking at least one, if not five group photos. “Uno mas! Uno mas!” he would shout. The phrase stuck with us and we came to understand a deeper meaning of those words.

“There is always one more thing that you can do to become a We were privileged better person. There is always enough to not only visit these locations, one more thing that you can do but also San Pedro to help others.” Apostol in the village of Yaxcaba—which is the sister parish of St. Joseph’s Parish in Warren, Pennsylvania—where the Rev. Felix and his parish welcomed us with open arms. Our main purpose in the village was to spend time with the girls at Nueva Vida. We spent time getting to know the girls at the program, eating lunch together, practicing their English and at the same time practicing our Spanish, too. Our last day was spent giving an English lesson to the girls. We read the book “Beautiful Hands,” then helped them trace their hands on colored paper and glue them onto a poster with the words “What will your beautiful hands do today?” in both English and Spanish. Our group’s experience in Mexico was so humbling that we began discussing how we could bring what we’ve learned back to Erie to implement in our own lives. We did just that at this year’s Celebrate Gannon event by giving a presentation titled “Uno Mas,” which is Spanish for “one more.”

We have aspirations to continue to serve in St. Joseph’s Parish and form connections like those we did in Mexico in our own country. Personally, I hope to continue implementing what I learned in Mexico into my everyday life.

I hadn’t really thought much of Mexico previously, but when I did I imagined people living in huts with no electricity or water. There are definitely people who still live like that in rural Mexico, but I never knew my ignorance until this trip. These people are just like us. They ride buses and drive cars just like us. They go to school and have jobs just like us. The little girls at Nueva Vida loved playing schoolyard games with each other, just like American children do. It was important for me to recognize this. Ignorance is the root of apathy, and this trip opened my eyes to that. There is always one more thing that you can do to become a better person. There is always one more thing that you can do to help others. There is always “uno mas.”


The West Bayfront neighborhood has been called Erie’s “greatest residential asset” by city planners. Residents and organizations, led by Gannon University, have been working for several years to capitalize on what the district has to offer, and in turn help to shape the direction of the City of Erie.



Like other urban universities, Gannon, through the ErieGAINS initiative partnered with neighborhood residents, employees and community partners, including Housing and Neighborhood Development Service (HANDS) and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center to form Our West Bayfront (OWB), a collaboration dedicated to improving the quality of life in the area.

Anna Frantz, Our West Bayfront executive director (left). OW including the City of Erie and the Erie-Western Pennsylvania and stakeholders on enhancements to Bayview Park, a prim While a final plan for the park’s improvements is targeted fo been made, including refurbished basketball equipment inst landscaping projects as part of Gannon’s Day of Caring. (rig

that position, she served for eight years in the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development where she worked to improve housing for thousands of lowincome New Yorkers.

“I’m looking forward to building on the work done over the last few years by residents and Gannon University, and to contributing to the revitalization of the West Bayfront neighborhoods.”

“This is an exciting time for Erie and for the West Bayfront,” Frantz said. “I’m looking forward to building on the work done over the last few years by residents and Gannon University, and to contributing to the revitalization of the West Bayfront neighborhoods.”

With a footprint that is home to roughly 13,000 residents and includes nearly 4,500 structures, the work ahead will take time, resources and a network of community partners. Following the appointment of Anna Frantz as its first executive director, and with an initial investment of $1.6 million from community partners including Gannon University, Marquette Savings Bank, UPMC Healthplan and Erie Insurance, OWB’s work has been launched. Frantz brings impressive credentials to the task. She came to OWB from Erie’s Emerge 2040 initiative, a public-private partnership that she served as executive director. Before


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A $1.6 million initial investment was made to Our West Bayfront on behalf of community partners including Erie Insurance, Gannon University, Marquette Savings Bank and UPMC Healthplan.

Photo: Our West Bayfront Community Plan

WB has begun collaborating with partners a Port Authority to gather input from park users me location in the heart of the West Bayfront. or 2018, some improvements have already talled by the City and ght).

OWB’s goals include addressing blight, improving housing quality, enhancing safety and security, and transforming public spaces. Its initial focus is on housing efforts and infrastructure improvements in the northeast quadrant
of the district, where access to the waterfront, downtown and to Gannon’s campus creates the opportunity to leverage private investments. OWB will carry out an action plan that promotes investment in the people and places that make this community unique. Initiatives include housing rehabilitation, parks improvements and streetscape enhancements.


To view an exclusive video, visit




Our West Bayfront is an 843-acre area bounded by the Bayfront Connector to the west, W. 12th St. to the south, Sassafras St. to the east and Presque Isle Bay to the north. #GUPOSSIBILITIES 13

ALSTADT ENVIRONM A generous gift from Judith Alstadt has established the Donald M. and Judith C. Alstadt Environmental Center, taking learning outside the classroom for many students and faculty.

Faculty representing the programs that will utilize this unique learning environment, such as freshwater and marine biology and environmental engineering, had the opportunity to meet and thank Judith Alstadt at the official signing of the gift to Gannon.


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The waterfront property, located on 3.57 acres of land on Brokenstraw Creek in Warren County, Pennsylvania, will create an array of opportunities to live, learn and conduct research in a setting that offers unparalleled access to diverse ecosystems.

MENTAL CENTER: “The Donald M. and Judith C. Alstadt Environmental Center serves as the cornerstone for current academic programs and a host for new ones,” said Walter Iwanenko, Ph.D., Gannon University vice president for academic affairs. “This will establish a permanent research facility of the type that is unique to our region.”

that such transformative learning experiences are being made possible by a long-time educator such as Mrs. Alstadt.” The Center’s unique location and facilities will also open the door to collaborations with government and nonprofit agencies, and primary and secondary schools throughout the region.

“Our goal at Gannon University is to provide an environment for faculty and students to partner in learning, and this extraordinary gift certainly achieves that goal.”

The property’s two lodges and extensive observation decks overlook the creek where Gannon students in biology, freshwater and marine biology, environmental science, environmental engineering and other disciplines will immerse themselves in hands-on field research, a signature component of Gannon’s undergraduate student experience.

“This new addition is an ideal location that opens a world of opportunities for interdisciplinary study and research,” said Keith Taylor, Ph.D., Gannon University president. “Our goal at Gannon University is to provide an environment for faculty and students to partner in learning, and this extraordinary gift certainly achieves that goal. It is fitting

The gift of the Warren County property was immeasurably aided by the work of Thomas J. Loftus, member of the Gannon University Board of Trustees and friend of Donald and Judith Alstadt.

Judith Alstadt’s late husband was chairman of LORD Corp and a great supporter of learning and of Gannon University, its students and programs.

Read how alumnus Mike Adams ’79 takes his job outdoors to protect our wildlife




of a university is its beating heart. At Gannon University we have been blessed with outstanding professors who have served their community, their faith, and above all, their students with generosity and selflessness. Now in its tenth decade of existence, Gannon University has undoubtedly evolved, but our Mission and our culture has remained remarkably steadfast and strong. While it may be difficult to pin-point a singular term that defines the experience of that culture, there is no doubt that it is 16

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overwhelmingly conveyed by each one of our professors, those who’ve served for decades and those who’ve just joined the Gannon Family. They provide the richly variegated connections that last a lifetime. They are also the vessels through which the values we all inherit by being a part of that Gannon culture are transmitted through the generations. They are the personification of Gannon University’s culture. To view videos with gannon's faculty experts, visit

A.J. Miceli '86M


A.J. Miceli was an integral part of the team that brought the idea of creating a School of Communication and the Arts to reality, an achievement he said, “embodies Gannon’s leadership in a variety of dynamic programs and cultural contributions to the community, and provides a platform for continued innovation and growth.” Miceli, now retired, is revered as an inspiring professor known for helping students reach their fullest potential. He was challenged to fill this role by a legendary figure in Gannon’s history. “Monsignor Nash, who hired me, once told me that ‘at Gannon, who we are in the classroom is as important as what we teach.’” With careers as a broadcaster, entrepreneur, businessman and educator, Miceli certainly knew his stuff. His experience lent to recognition among students that if you’re up for a challenge that comes with great payoff for your future, you take a class led by A.J. Miceli. As Michael Haas, a student of his, wrote in Gannon’s EDGE blog, “Professors like Miceli give us something more than tidbits of information and anecdotes from their history: they impart life lessons that will be remembered the most when our fundamental beliefs are shaken.”

Carolyn Baugh, Ph.D.


It’s fair to say that Carolyn Baugh, Ph.D. may be the only member of the Gannon University faculty to have won a gold medal at a pan-continental championship event (it was in the women’s four in the African rowing championships). That accomplishment is only one in a still-young career that has brought Baugh to Gannon where she is assistant professor of history and director of the Women's Studies Program. Baugh studied at the American University in Cairo, also at Duke University and the University of Pennsylvania, where she received her Ph.D. An accomplished classical pianist, Baugh has also published two novels drawn from her life in Cairo. As a historian and novelist, it’s clear that Baugh loves stories, and she’s transmitted that love to the students in her introductory history class through the Erie Voices oral history project. Students conduct and film interviews with families in Erie’s growing refugee communities from which senior seminar students finished videos, thus preserving stories of those who lack a voice. “Gannon has given an incredible amount of resources,” she said. “I’m so pleased by that because the effects on my students are life-changing. It’s a different way of experiencing history.”


Nancy Morris '03


What is it like for a Gannon graduate to return to the campus where she was once a student looking to establish a career alongside the very people who made that career possible? For Nancy Morris, instructor of education, it was an emotional and unforgettable experience.

“I wanted to seek out certain professors who made a difference in my life when I was here,” she remembered. “I specifically sought out Dr. DeSanctis. I have the utmost respect for him and the other faculty who are here. I’m sometimes in awe of the people surrounding me and I strive to reach the level that they are at.” Morris knew early on that she wanted to be a teacher. “Working in an elementary school with children with special needs was my passion, and I was able to do that for 10 years,” she said, “but the way life works you never know the road you are going to travel.”

David Kozak, Ph.D. '66

In Morris’ case, that road took her back to where she began. “When I walked on to Gannon’s campus 17 years ago, it felt like home, like where I was supposed to be,” she said. “That feeling of family and community is still there. It’s what I love about Gannon.”


If Gannon University, as so often has been said, is a family, then David and MaryAnne (Mandeville) Kozak ’67 might be the University’s first family – quite literally. “MaryAnne was in the first graduating class of women 50 years ago,” Kozak, who retired as professor of political science earlier this year, said. “When we were married, we became the first graduates of Gannon to marry each other.”

David Kozak, Ph.D., returned to his alma mater following his retirement with the rank of Lt. Colonel from the U.S. Air Force and an academic career teaching college-level political science at the U.S. Air Force Academy, the National War College of Washington, D.C. and as a visiting professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He also is an author, editor and academic in-residence where his expertise in politics and policy issues made him a frequent guest on C-Span, CNN and the BBC. Yet Gannon called David and MaryAnne and they answered, both enjoying fruitful teaching careers here. The call was heard by their children, too, all of whom attended Gannon. “All three are Gannon kind of kids and they’ve all done very, very well. As you get older, you realize your children are your treasure,” Kozak said. The many students who were inspired and mentored by David Kozak consider him a treasure, too.


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Susan Sapone


Until her retirement last year after a teaching career that spanned more than 30 years, Susan Sapone, assistant professor of biology, set an example for scholarship, research and academic excellence that left a deep impression on her grateful students at both Villa Maria College and Gannon University. The gratitude extended in both directions. “The students Gannon University recruits are not only academically qualified, they are also ones to readily show their appreciation for the contributions faculty make to their college careers,” she said. “I will always remember one student who enrolled in nearly all of my classes and conducted immunology research with me one summer; after which she gave me a beautiful fruit basket in appreciation of the experience. The bonds that are created between students and the Gannon faculty are strong, enduring and something I will always treasure. It was a rewarding career, and the students kept me coming back. The students were very polite and respectful and they were a joy to be around. They kept me young.”

"The bonds that are created between students and the Gannon faculty are strong, enduring and something I will always treasure. It was ,a rewarding career, and the students kept me coming back."

Scott Love, DPT


Scott Love, assistant professor of physical therapy, acquired a flesh-eating Acinetobacter from one of his patients, an injured soldier at a rehab center in Texas where Love was working as a physical therapist. He spent 67 days in a hospital, lost 75 pounds and, after 15 failed limb-saving surgeries, he lost part of his right leg as well.

"What drew me to Gannon was the strong Catholic heritage and the emphasis on community service."

Five years later, Love’s story of courage, dedication and faith brought him to Gannon’s Ruskin, Florida, campus. His experience, both personal and professional, is an invaluable asset to his students, but Love also found a thread that would bind him to the Gannon community, his family and his faith. “What drew me to Gannon was the strong Catholic heritage and the emphasis on community service,” he said. “Serving the needy and unloved people in this world abides by a biblical principle instilled in me by my dad. He reminded me from a verse in Hebrews that ‘Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.’ We should care for everyone as we might care for Christ if he was among us.”


Ted Yeshion, Ph.D.


“I consider myself a ‘pracademic,’ a practitioner and an academic,” said Ted Yeshion, Ph.D., professor of criminal justice. With the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Yeshion served as a forensic scientist with a specialty in DNA analysis, and worked on some of America’s most high-profile cases, including that of 1970s serial killer Ted Bundy. The decades of experience that have made him a sought-after expert witness and contributor to television true-crime programs pays off for the students he teaches in Gannon’s Forensic Investigation Center (FIC), a place he describes as “absolutely unique and valuable.” Yeshion’s long experience in crime labs led to enhancements to the FIC’s arsenal, including the creation of an impressions lab to identify and study footprints and tire tracks. “Here at Gannon University, I’m able to bring my real-world experiences into the classrooms, and my passions and the passions that I know my colleagues share,” he said. “We’re training the next generation of investigators to go out and do their jobs as best they can.”

Phil Kelly, D.A.


Retired professor of English Phil Kelly is an embodiment of legacy at Gannon University.

Kelly arrived on campus in 1968, when he was recruited for a position in English by the legendary John Rouch, Ph.D. “The warmth of John and the recognition that when he was hiring somebody he was hiring the whole family was perhaps the reason why I chose Gannon,” Kelly recalled. And he carried the tradition forward with the warmth and congeniality that would become hallmarks of Kelly’s career, as well. Kelly had a parallel career in administration dating to his earliest years at Gannon. Before his retirement last year, he held positions as a dean, as interim provost twice and even as interim president. “All the time I was in any of those professions,” he reflected, “I recognized that, first and foremost, I’m a tenured English professor and I get to go back to my teaching job.” It was a job he was made for, and his students were grateful for his wisdom and generosity. “The real treasure for me was working in the classroom. Working with students was clearly the payoff, the reward and the joy of the work that I did here.”


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Amy Brzuz, OTD '98


Unless you were enrolled in one of her classes, it would be easy to mistake Amy Brzuz, OTD for a student. Her enthusiasm and energy are instantly apparent. As a graduate of Gannon’s occupational therapy program herself, Brzuz, assistant professor of occupational therapy, effortlessly identifies with her students. “Because I’m new and fresh here at Gannon, everything is exciting to me, just as it is for the students,” she said. “So I think I can offer them my excitement.” She also offers them the benefit of her experience and expertise. Earlier this year, she accompanied a group of OT students from Erie on a service trip to Ecuador, a life-changing experience for student and professor alike. “I’m excited to be here every day and to help them. I care about them and their learning, and about what they’re doing outside of school, and I think it’s gratifying for students to know that I care . . . so that when they leave they can take that, plus everything they’ve learned in our liberal studies core, and go out and be good people–not just good OTs and PTs and chemists and mathematicians or engineers, but good people.”

"Because I'm new and fresh here at Gannon, everything is exciting to me, just as it is for the students."

Jerry Clark, Ph.D.


In the official records, it is known as FBI Major Case #203, but the title of the book co-authored by Jerry Clark, Ph.D., assistant professor of criminal justice, said it all: “Pizza Bomber: The Untold Story of America’s Most Shocking Bank Robbery.” Clark served as the FBI’s lead investigator on the infamous 2003 case, which was designated as one of the few major cases in the bureau’s history. Clark brings this one-of-a-kind practical experience to his students every day. This also led to the creation of another singular resource, the Forensic Investigation Center located in the former TKE house that is home to a forensic laboratory, firearms simulator and a mock crime scene. With multiple national television appearances, two books to his credit and a third on the way, Clark is a busy man, but teaching students, in person and on the wildly popular Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) he created, remains a priority. “It is extremely rewarding for me to use the knowledge and experience from my 27-year law enforcement career to help train future generations of crime fighters,” Clark said. “I am particularly thrilled to watch students graduate from Gannon University and go out and make an impact on the criminal justice community and their country.” #GUPOSSIBILITIES 21

Dave Gustafson '71, '73M


Dave Gustafson knew that as a freshman at Gannon he had found a place where he could ask the most challenging questions about life. It’s a life that the retired associate professor of biology has dedicated to family and to Gannon. Gustafson began his teaching career at Villa Maria College in 1971 and served in many roles at his alma mater through the years, including chairman of the biology department. He was the recipient of Distinguished Faculty Award in 1999 and the Bishop Persico “Veritas in Caritate” Award in 2014 for exemplifying faith, hope and love within and outside of the Gannon community. “This is what makes Gannon University a special place: the commitments that the faculty, the administration and the supportive staff and the friends of the University make to helping our students deal with the very important question of how they want to live their lives,” Gustafson said. For more than 40 years, Dave Gustafson has provided an answer to that question: selfless service, and that makes him a beloved professor and a role model.

Eric Dart '03, '07M


Eric Dart could scarcely have imagined as an undergraduate at Gannon University that he would someday return as an instructor of theology. An Erie native, Dart began his undergraduate career majoring in the sciences, but a life-changing encounter with a beloved professor changed the course of his career and life.

“As I began to do more work with the church, it was Father Wozniak who, when I was doing my master’s degree work here, asked me, ‘Have you ever thought about getting a Ph.D. in theology?’” The pivot to the liberal arts has borne fruit through Dart’s deep involvement with the annual Bishop Donald Trautman Lecture in Catholic Theology and the Thomas J. and Mary H. Loftus Lecture on Catholic Thought and Action. Working alongside Father Wozniak and other professors who influenced Dart’s life has been an indelible experience. “When I look back on my career in the Gannon Family, walking the halls is a reminder of the people who instilled in me a commitment to my education. To stand alongside them and call them colleagues is a reminder of the great gift that I was given when I came to Gannon.”


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Kristin Valdes, OTD


Kristin Valdes, OTD was one of the faculty members chosen to inaugurate the Ruskin, Florida, campus in 2015. She might be new to Gannon University, but within her profession, she is a well-known figure. Earlier this year, Valdes, an assistant professor of occupational therapy was named president-elect of the American Society of Hand Therapists, in acknowledgement of her leadership in her field. With more than 30 publications to her credit, Valdes has made her mark on the occupational therapy profession. Now she wants to do the same for her students at the growing Ruskin campus.

Though Valdes’ time at Gannon University has been fairly brief, she is a big-picture thinker, and she is already considering her legacy and how she will leave her mark on her students. “I would consider my legacy a success when Gannon sends out a dynamic group of occupational therapists that search for evidence to support their interventions with patients that have functional limitations. Gannon University emphasizes excellence and there is no better way to demonstrate excellence than by understanding the ‘why’ of the intervention you are providing to patients rather than the ‘how.’”



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A brilliant achievement for a proud team and a quick ascent to the elite level for two of Gannon University’s newest athletic teams are among the biggest stories of the spring season. The Gannon SOFTBALL team recorded their first regular season PSAC West title in the University’s nine-year conference history. The team, which was picked to finish last in the division in a preseason poll, advanced to the PSAC tournament in early May. In only the second year of competition, COMPETITIVE CHEER teams recorded top-five finishes at the finals of the National Cheerleaders Association Collegiate Cheer and Dance National Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida, in April. The co-ed team finished fourth while the all-girl team finished fifth, finishes that either tied or set new program bests. Gannon ACROBATICS AND TUMBLING advanced to the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association (NCATA) National Championships for the third time in the program’s four-year history. Gannon received the No. 7 seed at the Elite Eight for the second time in three trips. Gannon SOFTBALL coach Tom Jakubowski recorded his 200th career victory at Gannon. The win came in fine style as Jen Moran hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning of the first game of a doubleheader on March 29 against Lake Erie College. Gannon WOMEN’S GOLF team is on pace to receive an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. At press time, the team was ranked 11th in the latest NCAA Division II East regional rankings. Twelve teams from each of the four regions across the country will be invited to participate in the NCAA Division II Tournament. Gannon won six of nine events during the 2016-17 season, including a first-place finish at the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championships. The Lady Knights also captured five team titles. To keep up with the latest news on all Gannon athletic teams, visit #GUPOSSIBILITIES 25

From his front-row seat in the Hammermill Center, Gary Miller ’72 has witnessed as many buzzer-beating shots and conference championship celebration memories as anyone. Now Miller has created a Hammermill Center memory of his own. In honor of a gift of $750,000 to support the modernization of the Hammermill Center, the storied hardwood will now be known as Gary Miller Court. Through his gift, and others, the Hammermill Center will undergo a complete modernization which will include new locker room and training facilities for the Gannon teams that utilize the center. Expansion plans also include a permanent home for the University Athletics Hall of Fame.

The venerable building has many times been cited by opposing coaches as one of the toughest places for a visiting basketball team to win in direct recognition of Gannon’s storied

“To be able to give back to my alma mater in a meaningful way … was an opportunity Barbara and I could not pass up.” basketball tradition and devoted fans. Few can match Miller and his wife, Barbara, for devotion. “I have been very fortunate in my career and owe a great deal to the





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The Miller family joined (at center) Gary and Barbara Miller, President Keith Taylor, Ph.D. and Athletic Director Lisa Goddard-McGuirk for a symbolic presentation at a Golden Knights basketball game this past season.


education I received at Gannon,” Miller said. “To be able to give back to my alma mater in a meaningful way that supports a program that has meant so much to me and the Erie community was an opportunity Barbara and I could not pass up.”



Gannon’s men’s basketball team has won more than 800 games in the Hammermill Center and Gary Miller has seen many of those wins. Now he’ll have something else to see from his front-row seat, and it will be painted in big, bold letters: Gary Miller Court.






DAVID C. KOZAK, PH.D. gave his 14th and final Presidential election analysis on Nov. 2, 2016, before retiring in December, capping a distinguished 44-year career in the political science field. 1






COL. DENNIS D. MCSWEENEY, USA (RET.) recently commemorated his 75th birthday. Col. McSweeney, now retired from the Army, has worked for the Department of Defense for 33 years, currently in the Office of the Inspector General.








SISTER SUSAN HERZING, S.S.J. VMC celebrated her Golden Jubilee on Sept. 8, 2016. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph on Sept. 8, 1966 and professed her final vows on Sept. 15, 1974. Currently, she serves as director of the Agregee program for the Sisters of St. Joseph, assisting women and men entering into an intentional commitment to live a simple lifestyle, to choose ministry in light of the mission of the religious community and to support one another in their membership. Sister Susan taught at schools in the Diocese of Erie and for



ROBERT “BOB” J. DOBIESZ enjoys acting and filmmaking, performing in local productions and even had the opportunity to be an extra in “The Dark Knight Rises”, which was filmed in Pittsburgh. He has been cast in several films that were produced by fellow alumnus, Len Kabasinski ’97, including, “Warriors of the Apocalypse,” “Ninja: Prophecy of Death,” and “Wendigo: Bound by Blood,” and is currently preparing for his role in the film “Blood Prism.” He is Gannon University’s Archivist.


Trio of Gannon Alumni Sail the Caribbean


CHARLES A. PORA is in his 48th consecutive season as Gannon basketball statistician. During that time, he has kept Gannon’s statistics for approximately 1,500 men’s and women’s basketball games.

MELVIN WITHERSPOON was among the nominees for the Youth Leadership Institute of Erie’s three volunteer awards, The Charles Faulkerson Humanitarian Award, named after the late community advocate, the Luther Manus Trendsetter Award and the Antonio Del Rio Academic Impact Award, which were presented at the annual Gala to Salute Volunteerism and Service event held on Nov. 10, 2016.

20 years worked in several capacities with separated and divorced Catholics, a program of the Diocese of Erie. From 1982-85 she was the pastoral minister at St. Joseph Parish, Erie, and for 15 years, Sister Susan was a self-employed massage therapist and is renowned for her healing hands and heart. LEONARD I. JEFFERSON ’79M is a member of the Erie Times Old Newsies who collected donations for Erie’s Second Harvest Food Bank this year. Leonard was invited to join the Old Newsies by the late publisher of the Times, Ed Mead, and the late Vic Rotunda, and was one of the first African-American members of the Times Old Newsies. He is a retired outside plant superintendent for GTE.

Achievements by Gannon University faculty, staff and administration

In an effort to beat the Erie winters, these Gannon alumni have been taking sailing trips through the Caribbean for over 20 years. This February’s catamaran trip was to the British Virgin Islands with stops in Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and Norman. No celebrities were spotted on this trip; however, the group did run into Rolling Stones guitarist, Ron Wood north of Grenada in 2012.

Left to right, Bill Bleil ’63, Bill Steger ’66 and Larry Weldon ’67.


DAWN (COBURN) JOY, RN, MSN, CNE VMC has been named the Director of the Villa Maria School of Nursing at Gannon University. She had been serving as the interim director since July, 1, 2016, and began her full responsibilities in the spring of 2017.


CARL M. CARLOTTI, ESQ. was the featured speaker at the Manufacturer & Business Association’s November 2016 Eggs ‘n Issues briefing in Erie. During his presentation, “Energy: The Increasing Importance of Natural Gas,” Carlotti provided a detailed view of National Fuel and the benefits and challenges facing the natural gas industry and his thoughts on what the future holds for one of North America’s most abundant energy resources. Carlotti is president of National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation, Buffalo.


JON K. MILES has been named Chairman of the Board of Engle-Hambright & Davies, Inc. (EHD). Miles joined EHD in 1997 and previously served the company as branch manager, vice president/ shareholder, regional vice president, president and chief operating officer, and president and CEO. He is now chairman, president and CEO.


DENNIS J. DONOHUE ’79M is working with the Western Growers Association to further develop the Western Growers’ Center for Innovation & Technology (WGCIT) into a premier agricultural technology startup incubator. In this role, Donohue will drive agricultural technology initiatives, bolster innovation programming, further facilitate relationships between startup companies and growers and spearhead business development at the WGCIT in Salinas, California.


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Gannon University Alumni Association President Greg Czarnecki ’89 and his family enjoying their time together at the 2016 Homecoming Reunion Weekend.

A Message from Gannon University Alumni Association President I recently had the honor of speaking to more than 80 graduating seniors at the National Alumni Association’s Senior Social. It’s a wonderful event where we welcome the soon-to-be graduates to the Alumni Association and give them the opportunity to network with alumni from all over the country. I told them that while they’ll be leaving campus soon, they never truly leave Gannon. I know, because I never did. Today, nearly 30 years after graduating, I still return to campus to give lectures, participate in Alumni Association meetings and activities, for homecoming, and beginning this fall as a proud Gannon parent. The Alumni Association makes it easy to stay in touch with the University and the alumni family. You can start an online alumni profile so your friends, professors and fellow alumni can see what you’re up to. You can also serve as a mentor to a current Gannon student or even get involved in the National Alumni Board. I also encouraged them to continue participating in Gannon traditions, even if they can’t make it back to campus. GIVE Day is a great example. Alumni hold GIVE Day all over the country; and if you don’t have one in your area, you can start one! All you need is one or two people to carry on the tradition. If you’re an alumni who hasn’t been in touch with the University in a while, you can take advantage of all these options too! Visit to reconnect with your Gannon Family. Greg Czarnecki ’89 President, Gannon University Alumni Association


FRANCO R. REA, M.D. F.A.C.S. was featured in the Gannon Knight’s “Today in History” section in November 2016. As a senior biology major, Franco presented a cadaver in the Zurn Science Center during TriBeta’s annual Biology Day. Rea went on to become a thoracic surgeon. Gannon’s chapter of Tri-Beta, a national biology honors society with more than 670 chapters, was founded in 1966. Since then, the chapter has won the society’s annual Lloyd M. Bertholf award for outstanding chapter in the country four times. Rea, has joined the Thoracic Surgery team at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center.


CYNTHIA (RENO) BALKSTRA VMC has nearly completed a year of coursework for death and dying counseling through the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She is working on her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) project with an expected graduation date of June 2017. Following the DNP, she will focus on conducting a qualitative study with hospice nurses and caregivers as her dissertation for her Ph.D.


MARY ELLEN “MEG” ANDERSEN ‘88M retired as the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio’s director of social services and president/chief executive officer of the diocesan Catholic Charities Corp., effective Feb. 1, 2017. She began her career with

Catholic Charities, serving as executive director of Catholic Service League of Ashtabula County (1986-1990) and Family and Community Services of Catholic Charities of Portage County (1990-1993). In 1993, she was hired as diocesan director of social services, responsible for coordinating the delivery of Catholic social services throughout the six-county diocese. After a restructuring of Catholic Charities in 1999, Andersen assumed the role of president/CEO of Catholic Charities Corp. in addition to director of social services. WILLIAM J. DOAN, PH.D. has been appointed director of the School of Theatre at Pennsylvania State University University Park for a three-year term, effective July 1, 2017. Doan joined the College of Arts and Architecture as an associate dean in 2008. In 2013, he returned to teaching full time. A playwright, author and solo performer, his most recent play, “Drifting,” received a production at Dixon Place Theatre in New York City in March 2014 and has since been performed under a sponsorship from the Doctors Kienle Center for the Study of Humanistic Medicine with new productions scheduled for 2017. His newest solo performance work, “A Brief Anatomy of My Anxiety,” was presented as part of the Dixon Place Theatres Lounge series in October

2016. His co-authored book, “The Story of Naomi the Book of Ruth: From Gender to Politics” was published in 2016, and his third graphic narrative is scheduled for publication in “The Annals of Graphic Medicine/Internal Medicine” in December 2016. Doan is a Penn State professor of theatre and former associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Arts and Architecture.


RALPH J. PONTILLO retired as president and chief executive officer of the Manufacturer & Business Association (MBA) in Erie, effective April 1, 2017. The MBA is a professional employers’ organization that represents more than 3,000 member companies in the tri-state region. Pontillo joined the Association in 1987 as manager of member services and was responsible for marketing and communications. He was appointed president on April 1, 1990.


ELISA M. KONIECZKO,PH.D. was nominated by the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) public information committee, also known as Celldance Studios, to consult on the production of one of the research films presented at this year’s annual meeting. The film dramatized research on how cell membranes

Alumni Represent Gannon at Erie Homecoming Speaker Series Several Gannon University alumni participated in the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership’s 2016 Erie Homecoming Speaker Series. The speaker series features a talented group of experts who grew up in Erie, went to school or worked in Erie at some point in their careers. They shared their stories of success and insights in a variety of fields. Alumni who participated in the event included: Joseph M. Bione ’73, ’75M, president and founder of the Whitehall Group in Detroit, Michigan James J. Rutkowski, Jr. ’83, general manager of Industrial Sales & Manufacturing, Erie and a member of Gannon University’s Board of Trustees William J. Cerami ’84M, president, global aerospace and defense of LORD Corp in Cary, North Carolina

Jacob A. Rouch ’89, executive vice president of economic development for the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership Barbara (Smith) Warner ’89, a member of the Oregon House of Representatives from Portland John R. Manison ’98M, general manager, mining solutions at GE Transportation in Erie

Joseph G. Cacchione, M.D. ’85, president of Ascension Medical Group, St. Louis #GUPOSSIBILITIES 29

change their shape to move through the different pathways between tissues of the body. The research is being done in the lab of Roberto Weigert, Ph.D., in Bethesda, Maryland.


JOSEPH G. CACCHIONE, M.D. has been named as the president of Ascension Medical Group, the national provider organization for St. Louisbased Ascension. Cacchione joins Ascension from the Cleveland Clinic, where he served as chairman of operations and strategy for the Heart and Vascular Institute beginning in 2011. Prior to the Cleveland Clinic, he was executive vice president and chief of quality and operations at Saint Vincent Health System in Erie.


DOUGLAS M. TUTTLE, FLMI, FICF, ALHC has been named the chair of the 2017 Life Insurers Council Board of Directors. Douglas is the president and chief executive officer of the Loyal Christian Benefit Association (LCBA) in Erie. Tuttle’s career spans 27 years in the industry, beginning at LCBA in 1992 as a programmer/analyst. During his tenure at LCBA he has been in charge of underwriting, claims, member service, fraternal department, sales, marketing, product development and information systems.


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DAVID J. FRANCIS, USA was promoted from colonel to brigadier general in a November 22, 2016 ceremony in South Korea. Francis currently serves as deputy commanding general of support for the 2nd Infantry Division/Republic of Korea-U.S. Combined Division. He most recently served as deputy commander of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence. 2


V. JAMES FIORENZO ’90M has announced his retirement as president of UPMC Hamot in Erie effective June 30, 2017. Fiorenzo has worked at Hamot for 42 years.

LORIANNE FELTZ-UPPERMAN was the keynote speaker at the 2016 Youth Leadership Institute of Erie’s annual Gala to Salute Volunteerism and Service event held on November 10. She is vice president of the customer service division of Erie Indemnity Company.

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LYNN M. RUPP ’03M has been appointed vice president of operations of UPMC Hamot in Erie. Rupp will continue to serve as president of Regional Health Services, a position she‘s held since 2013. As vice president of operations, Rupp will oversee of the majority of Hamot‘s clinical service lines.



BRIAN F. DALTON, PH.D. ’93M has been appointed vice president for enrollment management at Alfred University.


KENNETH J. GAMBLE, ESQ. has announced he will seek a full fouryear term as the Erie County Clerk of Records. Gamble was appointed to the post in January 2015 when Clerk of Records Pat Fetzner retired in the middle of his term. Gamble had served as deputy for about 22 years. Gamble will seek the Democratic nomination for the position in the May 16 municipal primary.

As president of RHS, she will continue to direct the physician network for the northern region of UPMC and work directly with the orthopedic, trauma, radiology and neuroscience service lines. She also serves on the board of directors for the UPMC Hamot Surgery Center.


LORETTA (WUNCH) BRANDON ’92M is the author of “Lightkeeper’s Legacy: A Personal History of Presque Isle,” which details some of the park’s history and her memories of living in the Presque Isle Lighthouse as a child (1955-1964). She now lives near Savannah, Georgia, but regularly travels to Erie in the summer to serve as a volunteer for tours at the lighthouse. This past summer she worked on the republication of her book, which was originally published in 1997 by the Erie County Historical Society. The book is now in its second printing and available for purchase. Brandon served as assistant director of public information at Penn State Behrend from 1996 to 2005. She recently retired from Georgia Southern University, where she taught writing from 2005 to 2015.


SAM ASHBAUGH has been appointed by Mayor Bill Peduto to the role of chief financial officer for the City of Pittsburgh. He will serve on the mayor’s executive team and oversee the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Finance, and the Department of Innovation and Performance.

ERIC G. LAPRICE, M.S. ’97C, ’99M received the Book Publishers of Southern California Industry Recognition of Writers in the News Award for the Most Innovative Photo

GANNON ntinuing

Ring, Ring…It’s Gannon After ten years, Gannon’s Phonathon is returning to campus this fall. Students will be calling to invite you to campus, local and regional events, and assist you with your Annual Fund gift. Get ready, Gannon students will be calling YOU! Answer their call to make a difference this fall! Book of 2016 for his coffee table photo book, “Best Foot Forward.” This is the second award his book has received. 3 3

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Co the Momentum

Gannon University President Keith Taylor, Ph.D. has taken his show on the road this spring! “Gannon on Tour” events were hosted in Erie, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Cleveland. President Taylor shared the successes and accomplishments of the past few years and thanked guests for their contributions as active alumni and friends. He also unveiled future plans steered by Gannon’s new hit release (actually, the University’s new strategic plan!) “Continue the Momentum.”

BETH K. KNIGHT ‘95M recently joined the physical therapy staff at Tri-State Pain Institute in Erie. Knight, who is certified in both the McKenzie method and the Graston technique, has experience in manual physical therapy and the treatment of shoulder, knee and hip problems. She also has specialized training in golf rehabilitation. Knight has more than 20 years of experience and works closely with physicians in pain management, orthopedics and sports medicine.


BROOKE (CATOB) KICHURCHAK was the winner of the Addams Family Episode of the Food Network’s “Cake Wars” series. She is the proprietor of the Bees Knees Custom Cakes in Medina, Ohio. 4

AMY (NIEMEYER) ROE, PA-C has been nationally recognized for earning the specialty credential Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. The CAQ is a distinction earned by meeting licensure, education and experience requirements and then passing a national exam in the specialty. Roe, who earned a CAQ in Orthopedic Surgery, is employed at Upstate Orthopedics and the Syracuse, New York Veterans Administration Medical Center.


BRADLEY A. KUCH, MHA, RRT-NPS, FAARC was recently elected as the neonatal pediatrics section chair-elect of the American Association for Respiratory Care. Kuch is director, respiratory care services and transport for the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh unit of UPMC in Lawrenceville.


NATALIE NAPOLITANO, MPH, RRT-NPS, AE-C, CTTS, FAARC was recently elected as the vicepresident of internal affairs of the American Association for Respiratory Care. Napolitano is a research clinical specialist and director, tobacco dependence program in the respiratory therapy department at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.


Stay tuned to see when “Gannon on Tour” is stopping in your town! To view upcoming tour dates and a photo gallery of past events, visit



DENISE L. KOLIVOSKI ’08M recently participated in a presentation by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Erie County as part of Gannon University’s Greek Series 200 at the Zurn Science Center. The presentation discussed mental health and the resources that are available for Gannon students. She also recently attended the second annual Gannon Greek Ball, which benefited NAMI.

JOSHUA M. LAYHUE ’04M is co-founder of 3sixty5 Health Innovations, a health technology startup company at Gannon University’s Erie Technology Incubator. The first product the company hopes to launch is a smartphone application that will track nutrition and help people eat correctly, monitor their weight and track goals. 5


JORDAN P. BALENCIC, D.O. has been appointed to the advisory board of Turner Valley Oil and Gas, Inc., Houston. Balencic’s primary focus in an advisory capacity will be to assist management in executing planned acquisitions already under letter of intent and researching and



REBECCA A. STYN ’02M is the director of community investment with the Erie Management Group, LLC. In this role she will be overseeing all requests for funding and donations and working with other nonprofit organizations in the community.

BRIAN K. YORKGITIS, D.O. was appointed to the editorial board of the Journal of American Academy of Physician Assistants. Yorkgitis is assistant professor of surgery in the division of acute care surgery at the University of Florida College of Medicine - Jacksonville.


ALEXANDER OPIELA, III has been appointed Chief Operations Officer for Malvern Federal Savings Bank in Chester County Pennsylvania. Prior to joining Malvern, Opiela served as senior vice president, chief risk and compliance officer for Royal Bank America.


DARA M. ANDREWS is now counsel at the law firm Knox McLaughlin Gornall & Sennett, P.C. in Erie. Andrews will focus her practice on estate planning, business succession planning, and guardianship matters. Prior to joining Knox Law, she practiced in Illinois and also spent three summers as an intern for a U.S. trade office in Taiwan.


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ERIN Q. SEKERAK is the northwest region’s executive director of Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania. Sekerak spent more than five years as the associate director of alumni services at Gannon. She serves on the boards of Young Erie Professionals, Catholic Charities and Adoption Services and as an advisory panel member for the Athena PowerLink program. She has also served on numerous committees, such as TEDxErie and Friends of the Erie Community Foundation. She also serves as an Erie Ambassador.


MARK PETERSON earned his Ph.D. in fish, wildlife and conservation biology from Colorado State University. Peterson is a wildlife biologist for the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks in Rapid City.


TIMOTHY J. LESNIEWSKI was hired as the general manager at Movement Forever Fitness in Erie serving the baby boomer demographic.

vetting innovative businesses, products and opportunities that align with the company’s philosophies and longterm goals. He has founded numerous companies in the healthcare marketing, social enterprise, and medical product development areas and currently specializes in new medical technology and regulatory shifts in areas such as hemp and alternative medical products. AMANDA (FLICK) KOCHIRKA was a presenter at the Greenville (Pennsylvania) Area Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Growth interactive workshop series. The chamber hosts the series to help small businesses get insight on how to improve their businesses. Kochirka’s presentation helped businesses develop a web strategy. The seminar covered website best practices; when to use Facebook as a website; why a business may need both and some additional features available on Facebook. She is a business consultant with the Gannon University Small Business Development Center.







marriages 4

Lydia June Altimus ’14 married Scott Alan Tarasovitch ’13 on Oct. 15, 2016. 6 Kiera A. Boggs ’15 married Mark A. Malmquist ’16 on Sept. 23, 2016. Nicholas A. Emmanuele ’07 married Tien Pham on July 23, 2016.

Amber Lynn Morrison ’14 married Cody Allen Crosby ’14 on May 28, 2016. 4 Renee Danielle Pentz ’14 married Aaron Martin Davis ’12 on Oct. 8, 2016. 3 Amanda Linn Roche ’11 married Nicholas Arthur Paradiso on Aug. 27, 2016.

Kelly R. Fennessy ’08 married Steven E. Jessica S. Shirey ’14 married Shane A. Meredith on Oct. 15, 2016. 5 Cross ’13 on Oct. 29, 2016. 1 Rebecca Lenox ’13 married Scott Burrington on Oct. 17, 2015. 2 a daughter, Isabelle Grace Higley (born Aug. 31, 2016) to Angela (Fellows) ’01 and Brandon D. Higley ’01. She joins older brothers Jonah and Thomas. 3

births 1



A daughter, Naveah Aspen Peterson (born Nov. 8, 2016) to Mark ’06 and Alicia Peterson ’06. 1 twin boys, Geno Theodore and Ronan Patrick (born Nov. 13, 2016) to Danielle R. Petrozelle ’06, ’07M and Jim Griffin. 2 a daughter, Beatrice Rey (born Oct. 17, 2016) to Ian W. Pifer ’10 and his wife, Rachael. #GUPOSSIBILITIES 33

MARK E. NEEL works at PNC Bank and owns his own company Slick 6 Studios, a sports photography studio in Pittsburgh. JAIMIE A. PIERCE HEDRICK joined Carroll Health Group General Surgery as a physician assistant. She is seeing patients with general surgeon Sarah Lentz, M.D. in Westminster, Maryland.


ANTHONY B. DIPASQUA recently participated in a presentation by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Erie County as part of Gannon University‘s Greek Series 200 at the Zurn Science Center. The presentation discussed mental health and the resources that are available for Gannon students. DiPasqua is assistant director of Greek life and campus engagement at Gannon University.

HANNAH E. KIRBY was among five women featured in a Women’s History Month article published by the Erie Times-News regarding their careers. Hannah is a senior quality engineer at LORD Corp. KELLY M. MIELE ’14M was the winner of the Golden Apple Award given by Erie television stations WJET and WFXP and Miele is an English teacher at Fairview High School near Erie. 6 6


ANNLYN M. HARVEY ’13M has joined Stetson University in Deland, Florida as residential life coordinator. CASEY P. STROYNE is a high school teacher at Ambridge Area School District near Pittsburgh.

AMY (STROKA) SWARTZFAGER, CPA ’11M joined the accounting firm of Schaffner, Knight, Minnaugh & Co. P.C. in Erie as a tax associate. In May of 2016, she became a Certified Public Accountant.


MICHAEL P. GHILANI ’12C has been appointed as superintendent for the West Jefferson Hills School District, effective April 1, 2017. Since July 2015, he has served as superintendent of the Montour School District. Prior to that, he was an assistant principal and principal of Upper St. Clair High School for 14 years, during which he was named Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals Secondary Principal of the Year in 2013. He is also an adjunct professor at California University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches in the counselor education and administrative studies programs.


ANDREW M. MCGUIRE will be attending Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, in the fall to study nurse anesthesia.


LIAM L. NADLER will enter his first season in arena football with the Colorado Crush. Prior to joining the Crush, Nadler was a highly considered NFL prospect at quarterback, entering the 2016 season as an unsigned free agent. scouting reports listed him as “a highly intelligent QB and is the desired size of an NFL pocket passer.” The 6-foot, 6-inch, 232-pound quarterback was on the radar for multiple NFL teams before accepting an invitation to the New York Jets rookie mini-camp where he auditioned for the quarterback position under head coach Todd Bowles. Before signing with the Sharks, he was also invited to work out with the New England Patriots during quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension to begin the 2016 season. JOSEPH A. PETRONE, JR. will be attending St. Vincent Seminary, Latrobe, Pennsylvania, for the 2016-17 academic year.


ROBERT A. AEPPLI ’15M was named an environmental compliance scientist for Skelly and Loy, Inc., an engineering and environmental consulting firm based in Swatara Township near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. HEATHER M. CASPAR ’15M has been appointed executive director of the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network in Erie.

EMILY CLARE ’14C has been hired as the principal and director of curriculum for the West Middlesex Area School District in Pennsylvania.

Paying it Forward Robert H. ’63 and Dianne Morosky have been extremely generous to the students of Gannon University over the years. Believing in our students and the Mission of the University, the Moroskys have established a scholarship and in 2007, the naming of the Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences. “We prioritized Catholic education in our planned giving plan, so we made gifts for scholarships, the [Robert H. Morosky Academic] Center and a gift for the college,” Morosky said. “There has been a payback. There’s been growth, an increase in graduates, and overall it was a wonderful decision.” 34

gannon magazine

june 2017

As you plan your legacy, consider a gift to Gannon to ensure a quality education for our future leaders. One possibility of a planned gift is naming Gannon as beneficiary of your IRA. Thank you, Bob and Dianne, for your continued commitment to our students and, thank you to all the Villa Maria College and Gannon University alumni who have given back or are considering an estate plan gift to Gannon. You are the epitome of Paying it Forward. For more information visit

LAURA L. LONG ’15M is employed as a physical therapist for the Visiting Nurses Association of Northwest Pennsylvania. ALEK T. MICHALI joined the accounting firm of Schaffner, Knight, Minnaugh & Co. P.C. in Erie as an accounting and auditing associate. He is working to earn his CPA designation. KATE L. WIGGERS has joined Family Health Medical Services in Chautauqua County, New York, as a certified physician’s assistant.


JOHN A. HEPINGER will be attending St. Vincent Seminary, Latrobe, Pennsylvania, for the 2016-17 academic year.

BENJAMIN A. HYMAN was the organizer behind the pop-up artists bazaar held on February 4 at Basement Transmissions in Erie. Hyman is an Erie musician and is aiming to coordinate other pop-up shops to bring in as many people as possible, giving local artists a venue to share their creations. MARK A. MALMQUIST is an officer in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Hawaii.

in memoriam Alumni

George A. Adamson ’77

Thomas W. Henry ’80M

John D. O’Brien, Esq. ’65

Ernest H. Agresti, D.O. ’72 Michael J. Babulak ’59

Erica Rusiewicz Hower ’03M

Jayne Jetter Overmyer ’55VMC

Michael R. Brunner ’88

Jerome F. Jerge ’57

Scot B. Page ’04, ’06M

Tammy Alexander Burrous ’01M

Judith E. Jobes ’78

John C. Pistner ’77

Valerie Bithell Kaiser ’84

John C. Rezmerski ’63

John A. Charters ’78 Stephen E. Cieslak ’56, ’75M

Kathleen Karney-Macnabb ’83 Edith Mohr Robacker ’65VMC James R. Kaveney ’61

James R. Colasurdo ’73

Charles G. Knight, Jr. ’55

Stanley L. Sarnicki ’58

Donald O. Daurora, D.D.S. ’79

Robert O. Kraft, Sr. ’50

Rex A. Shoup ’81M

Margaret O'Neil Kraus ’81

James D. Soggs ’51

Charles W. Deaner, Esq. ’48

Edward H. Kuhar ’64

Lukasz J. Sperka ’14

Mark J. Delmaramo, Ph.D. ’83M

Richard H. Kuhn, M.D. ’57

Nicole Conway Stafford ’01, ’02M

Mary Fasenmeyer Didelot ’46VMC

William J. Lichtinger ’63

Robert F. Lengauer ’50

Thomas E. Dubik ’07

Greta A. Lindquist ’63VMC

William J. Emling ’51

Sister Bernadette Lorei ’59VMC

Andrew D. Fabrizi ’75 Fred V. Ferketic ’62 Rebecca Gray Fluegel ’73 Richard F. Flynn ’49 Robert D. Gallo ’68, ’71M Sister Leonella Gingenbach, S.S.J. ’50VMC Samuel L. Giordano ’53

ARMAGHAN T. RAEOUF was honored with a national award for excellence in research at the Beta Beta Beta national biology honor society national convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, this past summer. Raeouf, currently doing post-baccalaureate study at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) in Erie, received a third-place award, the Frank G. Brooks Award for Excellence in Student Research for his research, titled “Effects of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers on the Heat Shock Protein Profile of Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells.” The research was conducted with biology professor Mary Vagula, Ph.D.

Carroll R. Gittere, II ’64

KRISTEN M. SILBAUGH, PH.D. ’16M, ’11C was hired as the assistant superintendent of elementary education and curriculum at Pine-Richland School District in Pennsylvania.

Cathrine Hogrell-Goguen ’99 Thomas J. Golden ’61 Eleanor Muller Gross ’48VMC

Paul D. Stewart ’76 Raymond J. Strub ’53 Linda K. Thorr ’80VMC Sister Maureen Tobin ’56VMC

Krista DeFranks Lucas ’97

Joan Welte Tomczak ’58VMC

Silvio J. Mannarino ’49

Mark G. Toncini, D.D.S. ’77

Stanley T. Mason ’88M

James E. Trocki ’67

John H. Matthews ’89

George T. Vlahos ’63, ’75M

Myron L. McGarry ’69

James D. Walker ’72

Debra Homan McGovern ’77VMC

L. Daniel Weber, PE ’59

William R. McLaughlin ’55

Joanne Hetz Wiser ’91

Joseph F. Messmer ’48

Michael A. Young ’96

Lydia Mueller ’68VMC

Janet Strohmeyer Youngdahl ’75

Lemoyne R. Nelson ’93

Tracey H. Hall ’93M

Nancy Frazee Nicalo ’87VMC, ’94M

Michael D. Heberle ’79

Rickey A. Noll ’84

Michael J. Wernicki ’77

Margaret R. Zack ’61VMC

Parents and Friends Jeffrey L. Blakeslee

James P. Karle

Rev. Eldon K. Somers, Ph.D.

Suzanne Eckerd Britton

Mohamad Kiblawi

Eileen Hertzi Toner

Louis B. Close

Lawrence M. Kisko

Jesse M. Verga

Susan Wolfe DePaul

Earl H. LeTissier

John P. Wachter, D.C.

John L. DiTullio

Arline G. Mazeikas

Richard J. Weibel

Anita Georgeson Evans

Gregory J. Mello

Harry W. Honard, Jr.

Anthony J. Nania, Ph.D.

Edward P. Junker, III

William C. Schulz










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FEATURING A NEW HOMECOMING TAILGATE FOR ALL TO ENJOY! • Traditional tailgating • Kidzone activities for young “future alumni” • Live entertainment on the main stage SIGNATURE EVENTS: • Class of 1967 50th Reunion • Circles of Distinction Reception • Distinguished Alumni Dinner Honoring: Lisa Spiller, Ph.D. ’82, ’84 Scott Krall ’84 Daniel Daube ’84 Autumn Marshall ’09 Sister Mary Drexler, SSJ ’71VMC

• Heritage Society Luncheon • Mass and Brunch with the President • Villa Maria College Tea Register to attend and view a full list of events at PUT YOUR MEMORIES ON DISPLAY The Alumni Services Office is inviting alumni to donate Gannon and Villa Maria memorabilia to be showcased in its new Alumni Lounge in Old Main! To be unveiled during Homecoming Reunion Weekend, the Alumni Lounge will provide access to a conference room, soft-seating lounge and a business center. To share your history with us, and donate an item for display, please contact Nancy Bird, Director of Alumni Services, at

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