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By the time you read this, I will have been president of Robert Morris University for a year. I’ve spent much of that time getting my Ph.D. in RMU: learning about the culture and the people, the history, and all the nuances that you just can’t discover until you actually are doing the job. I’ve learned that RMU attracts many proud, hungry, and driven students who receive an excellent value for the cost of attendance thanks to our professionally focused curriculum and engaged learning experiences. They benefit from mentoring relationships with faculty who have strong workplace connections, so that after graduation they are positioned for professional success and personal well-being. Our alumni become CEOs, innovators, and civic leaders. Any university would be proud to claim as its own the women and men profiled in this issue of Foundations. That powerful alumni network — of which you are a part — includes tight-knit learning communities such as the Women’s Leadership and Mentorship Program. You’ll read about some of the professional mentors who make that program distinctive on page 16. I’m honored to join them as a professional mentor in WLMP this academic year. I’ve learned that RMU is big enough to matter, yet small enough to care. We offer the kinds of opportunities and facilities that you’d expect to find at a large university — such as the newly dedicated Scaife Hall and the upcoming UPMC Events Center, which you will read about in this issue. When I say Robert Morris stacks up against the best universities in the United States, it’s not just a president talking. Last year, the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education reclassified RMU from a master’s university to a doctoral university. One outcome of that change is that U.S. News and World Report no longer rates us as a regional university, grouping us with midsize schools in the Northeast. This fall for the first time, we entered the big list of 300 “national universities” — including all the ones you can imagine, from CMU to Penn State to Notre Dame to Princeton. We debuted at No. 188, better than most of the 33 universities promoted to the national list this fall. Of course, college rankings are not perfect. But some of the criteria they consider, like graduation and retention rates, are important data that every university should be judged by — and RMU compares favorably to many of our new peers in those areas. This reclassification makes RMU one of only 13 doctoral universities in the state. It is a testament to the hard work of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni and a significant milestone in the journey that has taken us from humble beginnings as an accounting school to a truly national university measured against the biggest and best. RMU has always been up to each new challenge, and with your support I am sure that will continue. Let’s go Bobby Mo!





Thinking Defensively p. 18 CREDITS EDITOR Mark Houser CONTRIBUTORS Joe Bendel, Michelle Emanuele ‘14, Charlotte Latvala, Jonathan Potts M’11, Adam Reger, Matt Sober ART DIRECTOR Amy Joy PHOTOGRAPHY/ILLUSTRATIONS Front Cover: Ross Bianco Architect/ RBA International Back Cover: Matt Dieterich Photography Other Photos/Illustrations: Joe Appel, Paul Bereswill, Jason Cohn, Elisabeth Dorosh, Dave Hahn, Holly Hampe, iStock, Mitch Kramer ‘08, Randy Montoya, Michael Will ‘08 PRINTING Heeter Direct FOUNDATIONS ONLINE RMU.EDU/FOUNDATIONS Alan Buehler ‘13 M’15 Foundations (ISSN 1934-5690) is published twice a year by the Office of Public Relations and Marketing in conjunction with the Office of Institutional Advancement and mailed free of charge to alumni, donors, trustees, faculty, staff, and friends of Robert Morris University. The opinions expressed in the magazine do not necessarily reflect the official policies of Robert Morris University. Contributions to Class Notes and address changes may be sent to: Office of Alumni Relations Robert Morris University 6001 University Boulevard Moon Township, PA 15108-1189 Phone: (412) 397-6464 Fax: (412) 397-5871 Email: It is the policy of Robert Morris University to provide equal opportunity in all educational programs and activities, admission of students, and conditions of employment for all qualified individuals regardless of race, color, sex, religion, age, disability, national origin, and/or sexual preference.

Kim Conroy Sawyer ‘79 used her computer skills to move from the corporate arena to national security.

It’s Official. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 He has been on the job for a year, but Chris Howard was formally installed as the university’s eighth president at an inauguration ceremony on Homecoming weekend.

New Home for Nursing. . . . . . 6 With the opening of Scaife Hall, students and faculty in the rapidly expanding School of Nursing and Health Sciences have access to suites of top-flight simulation technology.

Eyes on the Ball . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 He thought his future was on the pitcher’s mound, but Leroy Ball M’97 wound up in the boardroom instead as the CEO of Koppers. Now he is leading his company through a major transition.

Family Business. . . . . . . . . . . . 20 When Nick Papageorgiou ‘06 opened his first Greek restaurant, combined his immigrant father’s recipes with some tricks he learned studying abroad in Athens.

10 Questions . . . . . . . . 32 Rowing for Nelle Stahura ‘07 M’15 is more than a passion. For the former captain and now coach of the Colonials varsity crew team, it’s a way to honor a dear departed friend and mentor.



RMU debuted at No. 188 on a list of venerable institutions that includes Princeton, Harvard, Stanford, and Duke, as well as other Pittsburgh-area schools such as Carnegie Mellon, Penn State, and the University of Pittsburgh. The university offers doctoral degrees in information systems and communications (D.Sc.), nursing practice (D.N.P.), and instructional management and leadership (Ph.D.).

> 3+3 = Law


The University of Akron School of Law has joined Duquesne and Drexel law schools in offering an accelerated law degree partnership program with the RMU School of Business. Through the program, high-achieving students can earn both a B.S.B.A. and law degree from a partner institution in six years rather than the typical seven.

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The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education reclassified RMU from a master’s university to a doctoral university in 2016, based on the number of doctoral degrees awarded each year. RMU is now one of only 13 doctoral universities in Pennsylvania. Thanks to the change, RMU made its first appearance in the main list of national universities in the U.S. News and World Report rankings in the fall, rather than in the smaller North regional category of master’s universities.

> New Dean for the Business School Michelle Patrick, the new dean of the School of Business, impressed faculty and administrators in her interviews with her knowledge, enthusiasm, and collegiality, according to David Jamison, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs. Patrick is the former dean of West Chester University of Pennsylvania’s College of Business and Public Management, which enrolls 3,200 undergraduate and graduate students. A professor of marketing, she oversaw a recent redesign of West Chester’s online M.B.A. program, which resulted in it being ranked for the first time by U.S. News and World Report and led to increasing enrollment by 100 students in one year. Patrick also oversaw the accreditation process with AACSB International twice at West Chester and once at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where she was on faculty for eight years before going to West Chester in 2003. The RMU School of Business is also accredited by AACSB International, a designation earned by only 5 percent of business schools worldwide. “She brings to us a strong track record of leadership in business education, proven success in every aspect of a dean’s work, and a strong vision of how to build on the strength of RMU’s School of Business to take us to even greater heights,” said Jamison.


> Honorable Service

Three Colonial Theatre actors from the 2015 production of the musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost won national awards for distinguished achievement in acting in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival — Braelin Andrzejewski, Victoria Buchtan, and Robert Kowalewski. The musical, directed by professor Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre, was one of eight shows in the eight-state Mid-Atlantic region selected by contest judges to perform at the regional festival last January.

> Best and Brightest Sophomore Nolen Keeys, a biomedical engineering major, was named an Institute Scholar by the Institute for Responsible Citizenship in Washington, D.C., a distinction given to only 12 college students across the country. Along with Keeys, this year’s scholars include students from Princeton, the University of Southern California, and the University of Chicago. The institute, which aims to inspire and prepare the nation’s best and brightest black men to use their talents to serve others, selected Keeys to participate in the institute’s Washington Program. It takes place over two summers and includes internships in the scholar’s field of study, a seminar in constitutional and economic principles, private meetings with government and corporate leaders, and the opportunity to mentor high school students enrolled in the institute’s Youth Scholars Academy. Keeys holds a 3.9 GPA and plans to attend medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon. He is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers and a peer tutor at RMU, and has played intramural basketball and football. He also volunteers at the Veterans Administration hospital near his hometown.


> Superb Song and Dance Routine

Joshua Caskey ‘16, a history major and U.S. Marine Corps veteran who completed two tours of duty in Iraq, received the university’s highest undergraduate honor, the Presidential Transformational Award, at commencement. Caskey, a married father of four, made the dean’s list every semester and represented the School of Education and Social Sciences at the undergraduate research conference. An active member of the history club, Caskey was also a driving force behind the Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans Project, an oral history documenting the experiences of veterans of America’s recent wars. He will next pursue a master’s degree in instructional leadership and a teaching certificate at RMU, with plans to be a social studies teacher and ultimately a school principal.

> Leadership by Example Maria Kalevitch, the dean of the School of Engineering, Mathematics and Science, graduated from the Leadership Pittsburgh program for senior-level leaders in southwestern Pennsylvania. As part of her program, Kalevitch worked with Jim Guffey ‘89, the executive director of South Hills Interfaith Movement, to create a more reliable software system to track daily drop-off and pick-up of children at a day care center. Aradhna Oliphant, president and CEO of Leadership Pittsburgh, was the keynote speaker at graduate commencement in May and received an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

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Christopher Howard was formally installed as the eighth president of Robert Morris University in a ceremony in Sewall Center on October 7. Presidents and other official delegates from more than 70 colleges and universities attended, including Oxford, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and the three major military service academies. In his inaugural address, RMU’s eighth president drew parallels between two American stories of growth and potential: the university’s rise from its beginnings as the Pittsburgh School of Accountancy to a nationally ranked, doctoral degreegranting institution, and the Howard family history stretching from slavery and sharecroppers to middle class strivers and eventually a university president. “Opportunity and excellence — that’s the trade-off we’ve always faced in higher education,” Howard said. “Do we serve students with potential, but who come from backgrounds with fewer resources? The first-generation college students, the students who have to work 20 hours or more a week to pay for school? The veteran who served his or her country and left pieces of themselves on the battlefield? … Or do we serve the merit scholars, the kids with perfect and near-perfect SATs, the kids that admissions counselors fall all over themselves trying to enroll?” “We shouldn’t have to choose, and we won’t … “ he continued. “That’s not to say we are going to be all things to all people, which is a recipe for failure. We will always be Robert Morris University, and we will remain true to the values and character that brought us here today. But we will strive to ensure that there is a place for the student who is the first in their family to go to college, a place for that student who aced their AP tests, a place for the single mother who can only earn a degree if she can take classes online.” Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, superintendent of the Air Force Academy and Howard’s former political science professor and mentor, delivered the keynote address. “I may be biased, but I think RMU could not have picked a more qualified individual to lead this institution at this time,” said Johnson, who praised Howard for his personal and professional achievements and his skills as a communicator. She went on to express the hope that RMU “can help shape the dreams, aspirations and identity of not only its students but all those you touch.” Johnson was granted an honorary doctorate of humane letters from RMU at the ceremony. That evening, she also participated in a panel discussion on the topic “Empowering Women” with two additional mentors of Howard’s — computer scientist Donna Auguste and former Goldman Sachs executive Suzanne Nora Johnson. Student government president Aveenash Kumar, who came to RMU from Pakistan in 2015 to enroll in the university’s top-ranked actuarial sciences degree program, welcomed President Howard on behalf of the student body. “We are sure that the very same things that drew us to Robert Morris — an academic excellence, rich heritage, and strong community — are what drew you to RMU as well. And like you, we plan to make an impact, because that’s what Colonials do,” Kumar said.





NEW HOME FOR NURSING The opening of Scaife Scaife Hall, new 30,000-square-foot 30,000-square-foot The opening of Hall, aa new academic building building on marks the the next next chapter in academic on campus, campus, marks chapter in story of of tremendous tremendous growth growth for for RMU’s School of aa story RMU’s School of Nursing Nursing and Health Sciences. and Health Sciences.

At the the formal formal dedication dedication ceremony in April, Valerie Howard, Howard, At ceremony in April, Valerie the school’s school’s dean, dean, reminded reminded the the audience gone the audience that that RMU RMU has has gone from 18 18 nursing nursing students students in in 2003 2003 to to more 800 students students today. today. from more than than 800 Along with with bachelor’s bachelor’s degree degree programs and nuclear nuclear Along programs in in nursing nursing and medicine, the online programs, programs, such such as as the medicine, the school school offers offers fully fully online the B.S. and as well well as as the the B.S. and M.S. M.S. in in health health services services administration, administration, as first doctor doctor of program to certified first of nursing nursing practice practice (D.N.P.) (D.N.P.) program to be be certified by the the Pennsylvania by Pennsylvania Board Board of of Nursing. Nursing. “We’re here to celebrate celebrate the “We’re here to the impact impact and and enrichment enrichment this this new new building has has had had and and will will continue continue to to have have on on how how this this university, university, building the SNHS, SNHS, and and the the RISE RISE Center Center can can better better educate the educate our our students, students, better position serve our our community community better position our our graduates, graduates, and and better better serve and our and our professions,” professions,” said said Howard. Howard. The university broke ground on the the new named in The university broke ground on new building, building, named in honor honor of aa founding grant from from the Foundation, in of founding grant the David David Scaife Scaife Foundation, in the the fall fall of of 2014. Scaife Scaife Hall houses classrooms and laboratories, laboratories, faculty faculty offices, 2014. Hall houses classrooms and offices, and the Regional Research Research and and Innovation Innovation in in Simulation Simulation Education Education and the Regional (RISE) Center. The latter latter features high-tech suites for controlling, controlling, (RISE) Center. The features high-tech suites for observing, and and learning learning through through human human or or computerized computerized observing, mannequin simulation simulation health health scenarios, scenarios, both in hospital hospital and and mannequin both in assisted living settings. assisted living facility facility settings. Rich Harshman chair of of the university’s Board Board of of Trustees, Trustees, Rich Harshman ‘78, ‘78, chair the university’s said Scaife just “the latest jewel” jewel” on on campus. campus. said Scaife Hall Hall is is more more than than just “the latest “You don’t don’t look look at at it it from “You from my my perspective perspective as as just just another another edifice,” edifice,” said Harshman, is also also the the chairman, chairman, president, president, and said Harshman, who who is and CEO CEO of of Allegheny Technologies Technologies Inc. Inc. and and chair chair of Allegheny of the the Allegheny Allegheny Conference Conference on Community Community Development. look at at it it as part of on Development. “You “You look as part of the the mission mission and the journey we we are are committed to of of changing changing lives, not just and the journey committed to lives, and and not just the lives lives of of the the students students of of today, today, but the lives lives of of students students who who will the but the will be here here for be for generations generations to to come.” come.”

President Chris Chris Howard Howard said President said the the school’s school’s growth growth reflects reflects that that of of the the university university as as aa whole. whole. The The School School of of Nursing Nursing and and Health Health Sciences, Sciences, he he said, said, “represents “represents the the idea idea that that RMU RMU is is big big enough enough to to matter, matter, yet yet small small enough enough to to care. care. It It has has state-of-the-art state-of-the-art teaching teaching technology, technology, partnerships partnerships with with leading leading health health care care organizations, organizations, international international study study trips trips — — but but also also mentoring mentoring by by faculty faculty who who take take aa personal personal interest interest in in their their students’ students’ success success and and in in their their lives.” lives.” WRITTEN BY MARK HOUSER PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICHAEL WILL ‘08 & ELISABETH DOROSH



THE NEXT BIG THING Robert Morris University will break ground in July on the UPMC Events Center, a 140,000-square foot complex for the Colonials NCAA Division I basketball and volleyball teams, which will play in Peoples Court. The UPMC Events Center is the main part of a $50 million project that also includes a student recreation and fitness center on the Moon Township campus. In addition to the 4,000-plus-seat Peoples Court, a practice court, locker rooms, a strength and conditioning center, offices for athletics, concessions, and a souvenir shop, the UPMC Events Center will feature 11,000 square feet of conference and meeting space for campus events and outside organizations. Plans call for the center to open in January 2019. The project will be funded largely through individual donations and corporate sponsorships, including sponsorships from UPMC, Peoples, Eat’n Park Hospitality Group, PJ Dick, and PNC. The project also has received a grant through the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. “With a new venue of this quality and size, RMU cements its status as a university on the rise,” said President Chris Howard. “Not only is it a significant regional asset, it’s a facility worthy of the success of our athletics programs and reflective of our status as a nationally ranked university. This is a great day for the Colonial Nation.” RMU has already begun construction of a 2-story student recreation and fitness center at the campus’s North Athletic Complex. The center will be completed by the start of the Fall 2017 semester, adding two indoor intramural basketball courts, a fullyequipped weight room and cardio room, two additional rooms for Pilates and other exercise training, plus men’s and women’s locker rooms, all for general student use. The university’s plans call for the UPMC Events Center to replace the Charles L. Sewall Center, a venue more than 30 years old. Sewall Center will close at the end of June, and new construction will begin in its location. While construction is underway, the men’s basketball team plans to play home games at PPG Paints Arena in downtown Pittsburgh, and the women’s basketball and volleyball teams will play home games in the new student recreation and fitness center. RENDERINGS BY ROSS BIANCO ARCHITECT/RBA INTERNATIONAL


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It’s time to enjoy some topnotch sports as the schedule gets into full swing. Here’s a look at can’t-miss games.


WOMEN’S BASKETBALL Senior guard Anna-Niki Stamolamprou, the reigning NEC Tournament MVP, is one of four starters back from last season’s NCAA Tournament team. The sharp-shooting Stamolamprou is easing the transition to new coach Charlie Buscaglia, son of retired longtime coach Sal Buscaglia. The younger Buscaglia is no stranger to the program, having served as an assistant for 13 years.

THE BIG GAME FEB. 25 VS. SACRED HEART Sacred Heart and RMU were picked to finish Nos. 1 and 2 in the conference by league coaches in the preseason.





No team in the NEC was as stingy defensively as the Colonials last season. POINTS ALLOWED


1,976 1,856 1,913


59.9 61.9 63.8

MEN’S BASKETBALL Forward Aaron Tate is back and better than ever, says coach Andrew Toole. The Colonials’ MVP in 2014-15, Tate missed all but three games last season due to a lower body injury. The senior provides leadership and toughness to a team trying to return to its winning ways after an uncharacteristic losing season in 2015-16. “He’s able to set the tone and show guys how important hard work is,” Toole said.


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The Seahawks won the regular season NEC title last season and then knocked the Colonials out of the playoffs in the first round. This game features a special Alumni one Colonial Couples Date Night.


MEN’S HOCKEY While only a junior, Brady Ferguson continues to climb the national scoring charts. He is one of the top scorers in all NCAA Division I. Ferguson is a big reason coach Derek Schooley believes his Colonials have a chance to three-peat as AHC regular-season champions.

THE BIG GAME FEB. 18 VS. MERCYHURST For their final home game of the season, the Colonials host the Lakers, a tough rival and the only other NCAA Division I hockey program in western Pennsylvania.

WOMEN’S HOCKEY Sophomore Amber Rennie and freshman Jaycee Gebhard grew up playing hockey together in their native Canada. Each is a skilled scorer with a desire to lead the program to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in history. “We want to win the CHA and we want to win a national championship,” Gebhard said. “That’s why we’re here together.” It could be their year, with the Colonials stringing together wins and establishing themselves as a Top 10 team.

#20 BILLY GILES MEN’S BASKETBALL Giles led the NEC with a field goal percentage of .606 last season. APRIL KRIVONIAK TRACK AND FIELD A two-sport star who also plays volleyball, Krivoniak set the school record last season in the shot put with a throw of 14.06 meters. #10 REBECCA NAVARRO WOMEN’S BASKETBALL A senior guard, Navarro topped the NEC in 2015-16 in 3-point field goal percentage at .452.

THE BIG GAMES FEB. 17-18 VS. PENN STATE The Colonials swept the Nittany Lions in their two-game away stand in State College in December. Can they go four-for-four?




Junior forward Brittany Howard was virtually unstoppable last season, leading the CHA in four offensive categories including points. PLAYER



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EYES ON THE BALL As a talented high school pitcher back in the 1980s, Leroy Ball M’97 thought about perhaps one day taking the mound for his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates. But while the 6-foot-1 left-hander from Monaca was good enough to earn a scholarship to Florida International University, arm trouble derailed any hopes of a career in professional baseball. Little did Ball know that some 25 years later, he’d be playing a major role with a different Pittsburgh institution — Koppers, a chemicals company that’s had a presence in the city for a century. Or that as its 48-year-old CEO, he’d be responsible for guiding the company through a transition to ensure its viability for decades to come.

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“It was not even in my sphere of thinking,” Ball says of a journey that’s taken him from the baseball diamond in Florida to the executive suite of Pittsburgh’s iconic Koppers Building, a 35-story Art Deco skyscraper commissioned by company financier Andrew Mellon and still regarded as one of the city’s most distinctive landmarks. “I had pretty modest expectations coming out of school and entering the workforce.” After graduating from Florida International in 1990, Ball returned to Pittsburgh with an accounting degree and spent several years, as he describes it, “in some pretty entry-level roles trying to figure out what I wanted to do.” It was then that he heard about Robert Morris’s sport management program, which he figured would allow him to make a career of his lifelong interest in athletics. Not long after getting started, however, he began considering a different direction. “I think some things started to break positively for me at work, and I started to see how I might be able to grow in an organization,” Ball says. “And so ultimately I ended up getting my M.B.A. instead.” Working full time, he earned the degree through a combination of evening and weekend classes. “There’s no question getting the M.B.A. was tremendously beneficial in my career development,” Ball says. “It took me beyond that kind of technical focus from my undergraduate studies in accounting and allowed me to understand the bigger, broader picture of business and organizations.”

products that serve the aluminum side of our business. And that’s been the big shift.” It would be a daunting task for any chief executive, let alone someone in his late 40s who’s in the position for the first time. While Ball realizes he’ll continue to grow with each new experience, he also believes his age gives him a unique perspective on the company’s workforce, which he says is heavily composed of younger employees ages 25 to 35 and older employees over 50, with far fewer Gen Xers like himself.


Ball spent 10 years at Calgon Carbon, where he was senior vice president and chief financial officer for the Moon Township-based manufacturer of activated carbon, a water-purifying material made from coal. Then in 2010, he went to Koppers, which distills chemicals from the coal tar that’s a byproduct of coke ovens. After starting as vice president and chief financial officer, he rose to chief operating officer in 2014. The next year, he became chief executive officer, charged with overseeing a fundamental shift in the company’s focus. “We’re moving toward becoming a company that is being built around products and technologies to protect and enhance wood,” Ball explains. “We’ve always had a segment of our business in that wood-protection area, but the focus on growing the company traditionally has been more on the

“I think one of the advantages is I can kind of bridge that gap between the millennials and the baby boomers,” he says. “You read all the time about the challenge of millennials coming into the workforce and their expectations, and how you manage that while also having a large baby boomer population. I think that maybe being in that middle, it’s allowed a better bridging of those different mindsets and expectations.”

While his work at Koppers demands considerable time, energy, and commitment, the company isn’t alone in benefiting from his leadership. As a new member of the RMU Board of Trustees, he also wants to help guide the university into the future. Since being named to the board in December 2015, he’s gained an appreciation for just how far Robert Morris has come from his days as a graduate student in the mid-1990s. “It’s been very impressive what the board and administration have done since I was there, certainly,” he says. “It’s moved to university status. It’s received a number of accreditations. It’s continued to expand. It’s developed its sports programs, which has allowed us to gain national recognition. They’ve done a fantastic job of really building that university.” But while he likes what he sees, he also believes there’s room to grow. And from his perspective, the key to that growth will be strengthening relationships with alumni. “Now that the university has done the great work to be in the position it’s in, how are we going to build it from here? Part of that is building upon that alumni network and that connection to the university, and building upon the endowment and allowing the university to have the resources to compete with some of these other schools,” Ball says. “I think that will play a big part in really allowing the university to take that next step.” WRITTEN BY MATT SOBER | PHOTOGRAPHY BY ELISABETH DOROSH

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Leading an automotive company trying to change the way people think about cars may seem like a big reach for a marketing major, even one who grew up in Detroit. But Roman Kuropas ‘94 believes his career path has been a natural progression since his days at Robert Morris University, where he first honed skills to forge winning partnerships. Kuropas is CEO of Innova EV, a Chicago company that is using college campuses as testing grounds for its two-passenger electric car, called the Dash. The little vehicles are ideal for short trips, like crossing campus on a rainy day, transporting groceries or other heavy or bulky items, or making a quick run into the city. “It’s an ideal way for a student to go off campus and get the things they need and not have to have a car just sitting there 95 percent of the time, occupying space,” Kuropas says.

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The Dash recently had been tested at four universities, including the hilly campus of the University of Pittsburgh. It is a boon to researchers like Ervin Sejdic, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt. “We get to look at how steep Pittsburgh streets affect energy utilization in cars, and we’re even working with students to record physiological responses during driving,” Sejdic says. Through a partnership with Internet2, a computer networking consortium of universities, government institutions, and industry, the vehicles are being used as an on-campus digital tool for researchers working with the “internet of things” — a network of physical objects, from vehicles to buildings, embedded with electronics, sensors, and software that allow them to collect and share data. For example, by processing such feedback, a car like the Dash might be able to help a driver decide to make a detour that would skirt a traffic jam ahead. Kuropas and his team have bigger changes in mind. Recently, the company’s engineers have been testing an autonomously driven car on the campus of Ohio State University. Students there eventually could be able to make a reservation on their smartphone and have a self-driving car pick them up and take them to their destination. Columbus is an ideal place for a company like Innova to be. This past summer the capital of Ohio won the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart Cities Challenge, beating out six other finalists — including Pittsburgh — for $50 million in federal and private funding to build a major pilot project for advanced transportation technologies. And Kuropas says he would also like to expand his presence in Pittsburgh, so Dashes may be making an appearance at his alma mater. Innova is Kuropas’s latest venture in a 17-year entrepreneurial career in the automotive industry. He is the former CEO of Expert Corporation, a producer of evaporative emissions systems, a key component on over 15 million cars and trucks manufactured by major automakers such as General Motors, Hyundai, and Subaru. In 2005, he founded Inverom, a

supplier of digital instrument clusters — think the digital “infotainment” tools on many newer-model cars — for a range of vehicles. During a trip to Italy, a business partner introduced Kuropas to the Teener, an early iteration of the Dash manufactured by the company Mobitron, and he sensed an opportunity. “I knew we could incorporate the technologies we’d been developing into this car,” Kuropas says. “The key was finding the right approach to making the vehicle a solution, not just a cute car.” Kuropas formed Innova EV and obtained exclusive North American licensing for the tiny car, developing its 4G LTE internet capabilities and equipping it with sensors to record a vast range of data. Once they were convinced the car had potential in the U.S. market, Kuropas and his team bought out Mobitron and the rights to the Teener. Kuropas’s path to heading up Innova EV began during his junior year at RMU. With help from his marketing professor, Dean Manna, Kuropas completed an internship with Bayer in Robinson Township. He landed the internship in part because of his knowledge of German and other languages — Kuropas’s parents emigrated to the United States from Ukraine in the 1950s. His father had played soccer professionally, and for a time, Kuropas followed in his footsteps. After his collegiate career as a star forward for the Colonials men’s soccer team, scoring 40 career points and being named to the All-Northeast Conference team in 1991 and 1992, Kuropas was drafted by the Pittsburgh Stingers indoor soccer team, which played in the Civic Arena. Kuropas credits the team’s camaraderie and the lasting relationships he made with teammates as factors in his success, as well as the mentorship of coach John Kowalski, who coached the men’s soccer team from 1989–1996 and now coaches the women’s team. “Being a college athlete is one of the best experiences someone can have,” he says. WRITTEN BY ADAM REGER | PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOE APPEL

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MEET THE This fall, third-year students in the university’s Women’s Leadership and Mentorship Program were each partnered with a professional mentor. “These are people who can share their experiences with you, lobby for you, and can ultimately recommend you for jobs,” explains Lauren Rauscher, assistant professor of sociology and coordinator of the competitive program — only 23 female students are admitted each year. Here are some of the professional mentors who are volunteering with RMU students:


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She was always good at math, but Jaclyn Bosiljevac Cox ‘13 didn’t consider a career with numbers until a job shadow with an actuary in high school sparked her interest. The Shaler native’s first semester in RMU’s actuarial science program was so challenging she almost quit, but her professors encouraged her to persevere. Internships “A good mentor can at Bucks Consulting help you hopscotch in Pittsburgh and over the mistakes, as Nationwide Financial well as boost your in Columbus helped confidence when cement her career things go well. I’m path, and she stayed drawn to mentoring on at Nationwide for because the a year after college before heading to challenges of starting Highmark in out in the field are Pittsburgh. When fresh in my memory.” not in the office or studying for actuarial exams, Bosiljevac Cox enjoys down time with her husband, Jeffrey Cox ‘11, and their four-year-old beagle, Ace. She sometimes takes to the rivers as a member of Highmark’s crew team, a throwback to her days rowing for the Colonials varsity squad.












As a student, Sylvia Lucci Diez ‘88 worked a variety of hourly retail jobs at local department stores. One thing soon became clear: Her biggest strength was her sales acumen. Although the Bellevue native didn’t have a clearcut career goal, she knew that her people skills would play a major role wherever she landed, so she majored in “A great mentor marketing. For 10 doesn’t years, she worked for necessarily CitiGroup, moving have to be a from account woman. My first executive to regional mentor was a manager in Anaheim, Calif., and then man who was a Pittsburgh. She big proponent of joined the PNC Asset women moving Management Group into management in 2001. Outside of roles.” work, Lucci Diez participates in fundraisers for various nonprofits and is active in a PNC mentoring program. She loves taking in Pittsburgh’s active arts and foodie scene, as well as the occasional retail therapy trip — a reminder of how she got started in business.




After her years at Robert Morris, New York area native Nancy Kelly ‘72 went back home to earn a degree in psychology from Pace University and a master’s in liberal studies from Manhattanville College. Her 30-plus-year career has spanned the insurance and financial services industries, with a focus on strategic planning, “It’s important for organization young women development, and to hear multi- human resources. generational stories These days, Kelly about the workplace. lives in Sarasota, Fla., I was thankful to and has turned have unofficial role her attention to consulting. When models very early in she’s not traveling my career, and with her husband — I want to pay China is a favorite that forward.” destination — or enjoying time with her four adult children and seven grandchildren, she’s all about giving back through education. In that capacity, Kelly serves as an instructor of continuing and professional studies for City University of New York-Baruch College and Pace University.

R O B E R T M O R R I S U N I V E R S I T Y F O U N D AT I O N S • 1 7

THINKING DEFENSIVELY With a long and successful career at such Fortune 500 companies as DuPont, Xerox, and Coca-Cola, Kim Conroy Sawyer ‘79 has learned how to work in environments where the stakes are high. Since 2010, she has been with an organization not often covered by CNBC or The Wall Street Journal, but where the stakes couldn’t be higher. Her daily responsibility — ensuring that the nation’s nuclear arsenal is safe, secure, and reliable.

1 8 • R M U . E D U / F O U N D AT I O N S

That’s the primary mission of Sandia National Laboratories, where Sawyer serves as deputy director and executive vice president for mission support. Named for a mountain range in New Mexico, Sandia employs about 10,000 people at its site on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque and about 1,000 at a second site in Livermore, Calif. Founded in the 1940s to support the country’s emerging nuclear weapons program, Sandia now undertakes research and development for a range of national security issues, from the threat posed by chemical and biological weapons to developing a sustainable domestic energy supply. “Over the decades we recognized that some of the things we were doing in research and development could allow us to do more for the nation,” says Sawyer. She is tasked with oversight of various departments of Sandia that depend on information technology, from business operations to legal and corporate governance, human resources, security, and communications. She’s also conscious of her role in shaping the culture. “For me, it’s really about knowing the work we do makes a difference in our nation and the world,” Sawyer says. “I’ve done a lot of different things, but being able to make this contribution to national security — that’s exciting to me.” Sawyer grew up in Rankin, a small town along the Monongahela River just east of Pittsburgh, and graduated from St. Thomas High School in nearby Braddock before attending Robert Morris. While majoring in business administration, she also developed a love for computer science that would lay the groundwork for a career in information technology.

While that degree had the practical benefit of preparing her to work with engineers, it also represented an ambition to diversify her resume in a way that’s been a hallmark of her career. “I moved into different industries, which was really exciting and fun for me and helped me see that there are different cultures,” she says. “It’s kind of like a dream. Everything came together and put me in a position where I could bring value to Sandia.”


“Computers were just becoming interesting, and I started taking as many computer courses as I could so I’d be equipped to go into IT when I graduated,” she says. “I was very fortunate in terms of going into IT, because I had an opportunity to see so many operating functions at the organizations I worked for — procurement, finance, HR, engineering.” In the late ‘80s, Sawyer decided to augment her experience with a graduate degree, and earned an M.S. in mathematics and computing from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

“We recruit nationally, so it’s pretty awesome that we go after the top grads at engineering schools across the country,” she says. “Our success happens through our people, in attracting the best and brightest. We have this awesome culture. We allow our people to develop their careers in a way they can grow. People have been here for 30, 40, 50 years, and they’re never bored because they’re always able to do something different. I just love the variety. I’m the kind of person who’s always trying to see what can be done differently, and this place is the best to be able to do that.” Naturally, security is central to the culture at Sandia. Cyber security is of particular importance, Sawyer says, demanding an exceptional combination of expertise and vigilance. “In each and every function of the organization, there’s always the risk of a cyber threat,” she says. “I think about it in that context, especially in the IT space. The people that we hire and put in that space can’t be satisfied with what they learned yesterday, because it changes every single day.”

It’s not lost upon Sawyer that her career has coincided with significant change in corporate America — and nobody personifies that change more than she and her boss, Jill Hruby, Sandia’s president and laboratories director. “For the longest time I had worked with and for men,” Sawyer says. “When I went to Xerox, all of a sudden my world opened up. They had all of these female executives who were role models. I had the vision, but I needed the experience and track record to achieve it. Being able to do this now, to ascend to this, was beyond my dreams as a 21-year-old woman.” WRITTEN BY MATT SOBER PHOTOGRAPHY BY RANDY MONTOYA

R O B E R T M O R R I S U N I V E R S I T Y F O U N D AT I O N S • 1 9



The Hercules gyro at Old Village Grille in Penn Hills comes with fries on top, and owner Nick “Niko” Papageorgiou ‘06 says that’s not just a Pittsburgh thing but a Greek thing too. He should know. Back in his college days, Papageorgiou spent two study-abroad semesters in the country his parents emigrated from. In addition to studying the history, art, and architecture of ancient Greece, he ate a lot of gyros.

A lifelong Monroeville native, Papageorgiou is product manager at Cleveland Brothers Equipment in Murrysville, a Caterpillar machinery dealership where he has worked since earning his diploma. On evenings and weekends, he often can be found at his restaurant on Saltsburg Road, which he opened two years ago in a former ice cream stand. Several of the recipes, from the tzatziki sauce to the rice pudding, are his father’s. John Papageorgiou owned a string of Greek restaurants when Nick was growing up, but sold the last to spend more time with his son, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 12. Once Nick was healthy again, his father went back to work as a chef. “Dad’s proud,” he says. “It’s neat, it’s cool — he gets to help out sometimes.”

Papageorgiou first set eyes on campus when he helped move in his older sister, Cindy Papageorgiou Kypriotakis ‘98. “It was a cozy little village almost, like you’re at home,” he recalls. His sister majored in information systems, and he picked sport management, doing an internship for the Steelers as an event manager at Heinz Field. The management part of his education has served him well both in his day job and running his own business, Papageorgiou says, while “the sports helps me in the office with the water cooler talk and with customers in the restaurant.”

construction: red onion and tomato toppings go on the bottom to allow room for more meat (and fries if you like), and no lettuce, which he dismisses as just filler.

Old Village Grille has won several readers’ choice awards for best local business and best ethnic restaurant. Papageorgiou credits the homemade desserts and his strict rules of gyro


While it keeps him extremely busy, Papageorgiou says he’s glad to follow his father’s path as a restaurateur. “It’s rewarding because it’s family, so seeing the name out there, keeping a family tradition alive is important,” he says. “It fills your heart, and it doesn’t seem like work because I have a passion for it.”

R O B E R T M O R R I S U N I V E R S I T Y F O U N D AT I O N S • 2 1


Known as Known as aa tough tough but but fair fair accounting accounting professor, professor, Joe Joe Z. Z. Shangguan Shangguan isn’t isn’t all all work and work and no no play. play. A A native native of of China, China, he he enjoys enjoys challenging challenging students students at at the the ping pong ping pong table table in in Jefferson Jefferson Center, Center, where where he he claims claims to to have have lost lost only only two two games in games in the the nine nine years years he’s he’s been been at at RMU. RMU. “I “I enjoy enjoy playing playing ping ping pong pong only only with students, with students, because because II don’t don’t have have to to worry worry about about the the chances chances of of losing losing to them,” to them,” he he says. says. Shangguan earned Shangguan earned his his Ph.D. Ph.D. from from the the University University of of Connecticut Connecticut in in 2005. 2005. His His recent research recent research has has focused focused on on corporate corporate intangible intangible investments, investments, the the cost cost of of equity capital, equity capital, voluntary voluntary disclosure, disclosure, mergers mergers and and acquisitions, acquisitions, debt debt covenants, covenants, and accounting and accounting restatements. restatements.

Top accounting Top accounting graduate graduate Erin Erin Funderlich Funderlich ‘16, ‘16, now now at at PricewaterhouseCoopers, PricewaterhouseCoopers, invited invited Shangguan Shangguan to to join join her her and and her her parents parents in in May May at at the the President’s President’s Undergraduate Undergraduate Awards Awards Dinner, Dinner, where where the the best best student student in in each each major major also also gets gets to to honor honor one one professor. professor. She She says says she she chose chose Shangguan Shangguan because because he he genuinely genuinely wants wants every every student student to to succeed succeed in in all all aspects aspects of of life, life, not not just just in in the the classroom. classroom. “He “He was was always always bringing bringing in in real-world real-world examples examples and and showing showing the the class class how how each each example example relates relates to to what what we we were were learning,” learning,” says says Funderlich, Funderlich, whose whose father, father, Robert Robert Funderlich Funderlich ‘82, ‘82, also also studied studied accounting accounting at at RMU. RMU. Shangguan Shangguan says says he he can can see see himself himself at at Robert Robert Morris Morris University University for for many many years years to to come, come, helping helping students students with with the the foundations foundations upon upon which which they they can can build build their their future future careers. careers. And And then? then? “I “I once once joked joked to to my my students students that that II would would be be about about to to retire retire by by the the time time they they become become partners partners at at their their accounting accounting firms,” firms,” he he says. says. “I “I could could be be aa good good candidate candidate for for their their secretary secretary position.” position.”

12 80 • R M U . E D U / F O U N D AT I O N S


Moore Moore is is also also aa world world traveler, traveler, and and this last year year he he participated participated in inan anRMU RMUtradition tradition of of nursing nursing students students going going to to Nicaragua Nicaragua with with professor professor Carl Carl Ross Ross to to assist assist at at clinics clinics there. Hampe, played there. The The role role Moore Moore and and his his advisor, advisor, professor professor Holly Holly Hampe, played was was slightly slightly different — they they audited different — audited aa large large hospital hospital in in Managua Managua to to evaluate evaluate patient patient care care processes processes and and look look for for areas areas of of potential potential improvement. improvement. “The “The nursing nursing students students are are our our future future clinicians clinicians on on the the front front line, line, while while the the student student health health services services administrators administrators provide provide and and govern govern the the environment environment in in which which the the nurses nurses function,” function,” he he explains. explains. Moore Moore and and Hampe Hampe will will return return to to Nicaragua Nicaragua later later this this year year to to collect collect more more data data for for analysis. analysis.

Moore Moore has has spent spent more more than than 30 30 years years evaluating evaluating commercial commercial processes processes in in medical medical technology, technology, electronics, electronics, and and flight flight simulators, simulators, and and he he says says degrees degrees and and internships internships are are vital vital to to his his profession. profession. “I “I just just love love Robert Robert Morris,” Morris,” he he says. says. “I “I had had aa very very positive positive experience experience during during my my doctoral doctoral program program and and aa life-changing experience in in life-changing experience this this health health internship.” internship.”

Danny Moore

A A doctorate doctorate from from RMU RMU in in information information systems systems and and communications communications was was the the fourth fourth degree degree Danny Danny Moore Moore D’15 D’15 earned, earned, and and now now he’s he’s working working on on his his fifth: fifth: an an online online master’s master’s in in health health services services administration administration from from the the School School of of Nursing Nursing and and Health Health Sciences. Sciences. Moore Moore is is an an information information systems systems engineering engineering lead lead at at MITRE MITRE Corporation Corporation in in the the nation’s nation’s capital, capital, where where he he advises advises federal federal health health care care agencies agencies including including the the Food Food and and Drug Drug Administration Administration and and the the Centers Centers for for Medicare Medicare and and Medicaid Medicaid Services Services on on how how to to improve improve efficiency. efficiency.


R O B E R T M O R R I S U N I V E R S I T Y F O U N D AT I O N S • 12 91





Trustee GARY CLAUS ‘74




DIANA NEEL ‘00 M’04 is

talks with his new

was promoted to tax manager

was named professional

co-chair of the Beaver Area

granddaughter, Elizabeth

at Louis Plung & Co. She

resource director for the

Heritage Museum. She is vice

Lynn Claus, who arrived in

resides in Peters Township

Washington, D.C., market for

president and senior trust

May, about the finer points of

with her husband and

The Siegfried Group. Amy

administrative officer of

being a Colonials fan.

three children.

joined the firm in 2011 in its

Huntington National Bank.

Charlotte market.

She has also been a Heritage



SALMA ROSE FOWLER ‘78 was named board secretary of Pittsburgh Legal Administrators Association. She is manager of legal administration and recruiting at Alcoa.


has been appointed chief operating officer for Elliott Group. He formerly was vice president of global service operations.

1960s ROGER DOLANCH ‘61 and the leadership team at Century 21 Frontier Realty were presented the Art Bartlett 2100 Cup Award at the corporation’s March conference in Orlando. The award is given annually to the top Century 21 franchise in the country.

2 4 • R M U . E D U / F O U N D AT I O N S

1980s JOHN WALDRON ‘82 and his company, Waldron Private Wealth, were recognized at the Private Asset Management Awards in New York this year as winner in the category of best private wealth manager, client service, under $5 billion. JOSEPH T. SENKO M’83 is treasurer and trustee of Brother’s Brother Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based international charity that has provided medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, textbooks, food, seeds, and other humanitarian supplies to people in 149 countries since 1958. He is a partner with McKeever, Varga & Senko.

Museum trustee since 2014 RICHARD LEONARD ‘84 published his fifth sports management book, Summer Sports Camps 101: A Guidebook for Development and Operation. He is chair of the department of business at Flagler College in Florida. FRAN PRIMROSE BRACE ‘85 was honored by the Pittsburgh Business Times at its 2016 BusinessWomen First Awards. Fran is director of development for The Salvation Army Western Pennsylvania. STEVE SWETOHA ‘86 was named president of the Greensboro Swarm, the minor league affiliate of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, in May. He was formerly general manager of the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock. LEO G. MEZERSKI JR. ‘87 is chief operating officer at Maiello Brungo & Maiello LLP. Previously he was with Mallett Technology for 11 years.

and a board member of the Salvation Army since 2013.

VINCE WOLF ‘89 is a director with Cowden Associates. Vince and his wife, DENISE BUNCE WOLF ‘90, reside in Moon Township.

1990s ANTHONY DELUCA ‘91 M’96 is a magisterial district judge in Penn Hills for the Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania. CHRIS A. KARDA ‘92 launched his own ad agency serving small business, Crystallinity, this year after more than 16 years working as a marketing director and graphic designer. Chris lives in Murrysville with his wife and daughter and serves on the deacon and trustee boards of Rolling Hills Church in Verona. CHRISTINA LOWERY DEASY ‘94 is human resource manager for Chemistry Communications.

CLASS NOTES TERRY WILTROUT ‘95 received the 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award from Westmoreland County Community College. Terry is vice president of operations for the Washington Health System and has worked in health care for more than 25 years. He lives in Fredericktown, Pa. TOM E. SMITH ‘95 is general manager of Highmark Stadium, leading daily operations of the Riverhounds front office staff and handling special events at the facility. Tom is also an advisory board member for RMU’s sport management program. THOMAS DUGUS JR. ‘97 M’02 is the director of information security and new initiatives at Duquesne

University. He was formerly associate director of client operations at Carnegie Mellon University. KIERAN O’DEA ‘98 rejoined Horovitz, Rudoy & Roteman LLC as a partner in its accounting and auditing group. Previously he was a partner at BDO. SUSAN C. DELZELL M’99 joined Crawford Ellenbogen as a senior manager. She previously was a tax senior manager at BDO. PAUL SCHEIDMANTEL ‘99 joined Arizona Polymer Flooring as a sales representative for the Mid-Atlantic region. He was named Tennant Coatings Specialist of the Year in 2012.

2000s TODD SIMKO ‘01 is the chief risk officer for NexTier Bank. Previously he was the deputy chief credit officer at the Pittsburgh Federal Home Loan Bank. Todd lives in Butler. ELIZABETH PITTMAN ‘02 was named vice president of operations at St. Clair Hospital, where she previously was director of clinical quality and informatics. Beth lives in McDonald. JOANN GIBSON SCHMIDLEY ‘03 is a staff accountant with Brunner, Blackstone & Associates. JoAnn resides in Monaca.

WALTER WRIGHT ‘04 is campus director at Career Training Academy’s North Hills campus in West View. JACKIE EMERT M’04 is senior leader for Horovitz, Rudoy & Roteman LLC in the DeJulius division. She previously was a tax manager at Schneider Downs. KATIE DELLICH ‘04 is the head tennis pro at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa Valley, Calif. Tennis Resorts Online named the resort one of the Top 50 Tennis Resorts and Camps in the United States for 2016. Dellich, a former player for the Colonials, has also taught at resorts in California, the Caribbean, Austria, and Dubai.

“I made a lot of personal and professional connections at Robert Morris, and they’ve enhanced my career opportunities. Considering what I received, I am pleased to return something to the university each year.” – TOM MARCHLEN M’08

BE PART OF SOMETHING YOU CAN BELIEVE IN For just $84 a month, President’s Council members are part of something important. They give the gift of opportunity to RMU students. They invest in the future prosperity and growth of our region. They change lives.

> Board News RICHARD J. HARSHMAN ‘78 (at right) became the new chairman of the RMU Board of Trustees in 2016, replacing GARY CLAUS ‘74, (left) who remains a trustee. Richard is chairman, president, and CEO of Allegheny Technologies Inc. and also chairs the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

To find out more about joining the President’s Council, please contact JEN YOUNG at 412-397-5452 or

The Board of Trustees also welcomed two new members in 2016:


FedEx Ground.

RICHARD ARCHER, a partner at KPMG specializing in risk advisory services, and CLARENCE DOZIER, managing director of litigation at

R O B E R T M O R R I S U N I V E R S I T Y F O U N D AT I O N S • 2 5


Here’s a look at a few of the alumni events we’ve featured since the last Foundations.


ELAINE LUTHER D’05 was named 2015 Business Communicator of the Year by the Pittsburgh branch of the International Association of Business Communicators. Elaine is a business professor at Point Park University.


SPRANKLE ‘05 and her husband, Sean, welcomed a daughter, Allison Rebecca, in December 2015. Melissa is an accountant at Tenova

GREG WAGNER M’05 is athletic director for Spring Grove Area School District near York, Pa. He formerly was the athletic and facilities director for Susquenita School District. JOHN MAAS ‘06 is director of marketing for EDMC’s online South University. John moved back to the Pittsburgh area after nine years in southern California.




STEPHANIE RYAN ‘04 M’08 is the regional human resources director at Penn State Beaver, overseeing the Beaver, Shenango, and DuBois campuses. She was previously employed at Preferred Primary Care Physicians in Pittsburgh.

LAUREN PARKER M’07 received a 2016 Energy Leadership Award from the Pittsburgh Business Times. Lauren is a principal with the local engineering firm Civil & Environmental Consultants and also is a member of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force.

Core. The family lives in Green Tree.

United Way, Soaringwords, the Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival, and Pennsylvania Women Work. Myla and her husband, REUBEN GRANADINO M’08, live in Robinson with their three children. JOHN HERINGTON M’08 is a board member and special events advisor for Pittsburgh Young Professionals. He is currently a business software applications trainer at Cintas.

Class Notes would love to hear from you.


These are just some of the highlights of what has been a very busy Alumni Events calendar in recent months. We see more and more of you each time, but plenty of alumni still haven’t experienced all the fellowship and fun. Make sure you don’t miss the next big thing. Stay tuned to the alumni events calendar at RMU.EDU/ALUMNI.

2 6 • R M U . E D U / F O U N D AT I O N S

MYLA GRANADINO M’08 was presented with a Jefferson Award for Public Service in April by Highmark Health, where she is a capability manager for government markets. She has volunteered for numerous organizations including the

ANGELA NADERI-BLEZARD M’09 is manager of campaign planning for GNC LiveWell. She was formerly a retail marketing manager for Highmark. GARY TSAI ‘08 M’08 is head coach and co-owner of CrossFit MindFire in the former Sewickley train station. He has participated in CrossFit since 2011.






and his wife, Kimberly,

promoted to vice president of

welcomed a second daughter,

product strategy at

Keira Catherine, to the family

Expedient, a cloud and data

last September. The Eagan

center infrastructure-as-a-

family resides in Cecil.

service provider. He


previously was director of solution architecture at Expedient. John lives in Gibsonia with his wife and two sons.



ANDERSON ‘01 and LOREN ANDERSON M’07 welcomed a daughter, Avielle Marie, last August. The family resides in Canonsburg.


MICHAEL ANDREOLLI ‘10 is executive vice president of administration and chief financial officer for Burns & Scalo Roofing. He has been with the firm for over 20 years. ROBERT E. MCDONALD D’10 was appointed to the Ohio State Board of Education. He is an associate professor of business at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Email us at MATTHEW LEWIS ‘09 joined HBK CPAs & Consultants as senior accountant. Matt previously worked at McClintock & Associates. He lives in Mars.

WENDY BERRILL M’11 was named one of the top “20 Under 40” by Engineering News-Record MidAtlantic. She is a civil engineer at Michael Baker International.

R O B E R T M O R R I S U N I V E R S I T Y F O U N D AT I O N S • 2 7


JENNIFER JENNINGS D’11 is the owner of Cardea Health in Buffalo, an integrative medicine practice specializing in infusion therapy. CHRIS KUSHNERIUK ‘11 became head coach of the Ottawa Senators U18 development team. He was formerly an assistant coach. ASHLEY WILKINSON ‘11 was selected as the School of Communications and Information Systems 2016 Distinguished Alumna. She is an associate at Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP. JOHN MURPHY ‘12 M’14 married Spencer Secreti last September in Washington. John is currently employed at Guthrie, Belczyk and Associates.




promoted to shareholder

honored by the Pittsburgh

was part of Operation Deep

by Cottrill, Arbutina &

Business Times with a 2016

Freeze 2016, the annual

Associates in Beaver.

BusinessWomen First Award.

resupply of McMurdo Station

Lucas is a certified public

The president and CEO of

in Antarctica as a member

accountant and a certified

Coghill Investment Strategies,

of Navy Cargo Handling

fraud examiner. He is also a

Carrie began her career in

Battalion 1 in Williamsburg,

board member and treasurer

1986 with Shearson Lehman

Va. He lives with his wife,

of the Big Brothers Big Sisters

Brothers, and later co-

Lauren, in Newport News

of Beaver County.

founded D.B. Root & Co.

and joined the wardroom

She has appeared on CNBC

of the carrier USS George

and Bloomberg and other

H.W. Bush in May.

JACLYN TIMKO ‘12 was named the head coach of the Rider University softball team. She was formerly head coach and academic counselor at New Jersey City University. MONDA WILLIAMS M’12 became the first African American woman elected to the Washington, Pa., City Council. Monda is employed with the Allegheny Department of Human Services in Pittsburgh. DAVID FUHRMAN ‘14 is athletic director and facilities coordinator for the Bradford Area School District. David was previously a substitute teacher and junior varsity and assistant varsity boys’ basketball coach at Bradford. MICHAEL G. RADICH M’14 was promoted to senior associate at HBK CPAs & Consultants. He formerly worked as a tax associate.

media outlets. She is vice chair of the RMU Board of Trustees and was instrumental in founding the Women’s Leadership and Mentorship Program.

PHILLIP SHAFFER M’14 is the warden at Armstrong County Jail. He was the former deputy warden of security at


SHERRY GUILER D’11 joined KentuckyOne Health Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates. She has been a nurse for nearly 35 years.



KUNTA FOSSETT ‘11 graduated as a Colonial for the second time — this time from George Washington University — with a master’s of science in government contracts. Kunta resides in northern Virginia.


CHRISTOPHER DAVIS D’11 was promoted to vice president for information systems and technology at the University of Central Arkansas, where he formerly was chief technology officer.

Butler Country Prison for nearly

of institutional advancement

27 years.

got two new VPs in 2016, both


POTTS M’11 was promoted

Recon Cleaning in Carnegie with

to vice president of public

former RMU student Larry Heyl.

relations and marketing, and

Their veteran-owned cleaning


company serves both residential

promoted to vice president of

clients and commercial units.

development. Potts has been

The university office

of them alumni. JONATHAN

TYLER GRAZIANI ‘15 is a freshman admissions counselor at RMU.

with RMU since 2007, and Millet since 2012.

R O B E R T M O R R I S U N I V E R S I T Y F O U N D AT I O N S • 2 9









JOSH BLUM ‘13 M’13



joined Meyer, Unkovic &

and Havilah Sprunk were

‘14 M’14 were married in

married in November 2015

Scott as human resources

married in Rogal Chapel on

Naples, Fla., in November

in Stahlstown. Alexa is a

manager. She previously

campus in January 2016. Josh

2015. They met at RMU,

third grade teacher at Latrobe

worked as an account

is a cyber security manager at

where both played for the

Elementary School and is also

manager at Seubert and

PNC in Pittsburgh.

Colonials — Sanchez on the

the softball coach at Latrobe

Associates. She lives in

football team and Alex on the

High School. The Colonial

Ross Township.

volleyball team. Included in

Couple live in Greensburg.

the wedding party were

DEBRA ROACH D’15 is the director of continuing education at Penn State Beaver. She previously worked at RMU as the assistant dean and director of graduate enrollment.

UNA JAPUNDZA ‘13, ANDREA SMITH ‘13, and STEPHANIE MCCARL ‘14, all former volleyball players at RMU. Sanchez is a manager for Enterprise Leasing, and

KAYLA SAMPLE ‘15 is a news reporter at KOTA-TV

live in Denver.

in Rapid City, S.D. She previously

spent last summer in Haiti

covered northeastern Wyoming

through Kids Alive

for the ABC affiliate.

International, teaching


for Osypka Medtec. They


Alex is a project engineer



English, art classes, and

led an afterschool program in El Salvador last year through

JEMEL SESSOMS ‘15 successfully

games. She is a substitute

the Envision organization.

competed in the 2016 Liberty

teacher in Lampeter-

She plans to return soon.

State Natural Bodybuilding

Strasburg School District in

Championships in Syracuse, N.Y.,

southeastern Pennsylvania.

in the spring. He placed first


in all three categories he entered


her fiancé, Scott Vargo, welcomed a son, Parker Fiore Vargo, in February. Parker joins big brother Easton. The family lives in Irwin.

3 0 • R M U . E D U / F O U N D AT I O N S

DONIELLE OWEN M’15 is executive director of The Youth Project, which offers afterschool and summer programs, homework assistance, career and life skills training for youths in New Kensington and Penn Hills. Donielle is an adjunct professor at CCAC and member of the Penn Hills school board.

— debut, novice, and open


physique — earning a pro

with the Fort Wayne Komets of

card from the World Natural

the East Coast Hockey League.

Bodybuilding Federation. Jemel is a U.S. Army second lieutenant in the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade at Ft. Drum, N.Y., and is his battalion’s officer-in-charge for chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear defense.

XAVIER HICKMAN ‘16 was hired as the special assistant to President Chris Howard. Xavier was president of the RMU band and its fraternity for two years.

CLASS NOTES In Memoriam DANIEL D. SHEVCHIK ‘41 of Springboro, Ohio, formerly of Greensburg and St. Petersburg, Fla., passed away April 16 at the age of 99. He was treasurer and assistant secretary for Overly Manufacturing Co. and retired after 38 years in 1979. MARGARET MACKENZIE WILSON ‘44, of Greenville, Pa., passed away on December 3, 2015. She is survived by her husband, John C. Wilson, and sons JOHN M. WILSON ‘88, MATT G. WILSON ‘85, and Timothy A. Wilson. ROGER B. MURRAY ‘48 of McMurray passed away on April 9 at the age of 92. JOSEPH L. BAIR ‘55 of Bowie, Md., passed away on December 11, 2015. BETTY MACROGLOU TOMICH ‘58 of Aliquippa passed away on October 8, 2015, at the age of 76. She retired as a private secretary from U.S. Steel after many years of service. LONNIE CRAWFORD LABOUR ‘66 of Baldwinsville, N.Y., passed away on December 7, 2015, at the age of 74. He was employed with the Lamson Company for 31 years. CHERYL A. BORGMAN ‘69 of New Castle passed away on February 14. She had been employed with Grand Valley State University as the academic coordinator for the dean of nursing.

JOSEPH HAAS ‘69 of Janesville, Wisc., passed away on March 5 at the age of 68. LEONARD A. FOWKES ‘70 of Geneva, Ohio, passed away on December 17, 2015, at the age of 74. TIMOTHY MCGILLEN ‘73 passed away on February 6 at the age of 69. He had a successful insurance agency in Washington, Pa., which he started in 1974. KENNETH SIUDYLA ‘77 of Castle Shannon passed away on June 6 at the age of 61. Ken and his wife, GINA SCIULLO SIUDYLA ‘75, were loyal fans of Colonials basketball. CHARLES E. SNYDER ‘81 of Wexford passed away on November 30, 2015 at the age of 79. He had worked as an executive director of MIS in the manufacturing and medical industries. GAIL LOADMAN HUNT ‘85 of Winfield, Kan., passed away on November 15, 2015, at the age of 52. She had been working as a paraeducator for the Winfield School District since 2010. JOHN C. RAMSEY ‘86 of Pittsburgh passed away on March 14 at the age of 52. John was president of the Robert Morris College Alumni Association from 1997-1999. CRAIG HEINAUER ‘94 of Ross Township passed away on January 29, 2016 at the age of 45. He was working for BNY Mellon as a compliance officer.

GREGORY AMBROSE ‘96 of Arlington, Va., passed away on May 3 at the age of 44. He had recently worked for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a deputy chief information officer. ASA PAULOVICH ‘09 of Chippewa Township passed away on December 18, 2015, at the age of 29. He touched many during his short life and long bout with cancer. Asa is survived by his wife, MARLAINA CAPUTO PAULOVICH ‘08.

Center for Leadership and taught in the industrial communications program. ROBERT MCBEE passed away on January 8, 2016. He was the former athletic director and a sport management professor for the university. ELAYNE ANTLER RAPPING passed away on June 7 at the age of 77. She was a member of the communication faculty from 1970 to 1990.

WILLY ANN HOLMGREN passed away on November 27, 2015. The former faculty member was the director of the Robert Morris

2017 Alumni Tour

England MAY 8-17 See London and the Cotswolds, visit palaces and castles, and tour the ancient Roman spa in Bath with President Chris Howard and his wife, Barbara. Plus experience Oxford in a way few visitors can — as the guest of a former Rhodes Scholar. To learn more about the trip and how to join our tour group, contact Jay Carson at (412) 397-6404 or The tour is open to all alumni and friends of Robert Morris University.

R O B E R T M O R R I S U N I V E R S I T Y F O U N D AT I O N S • 3 1

10Questionswith Nelle Stahura Nelle Stahura ‘07 ‘07 M’15 M’15

Four years ago, Stahura left a jet‐setting jet-setting advertising job in New York City to take an assistant coaching job with the RMU crew team. The former Colonials MVP was eager to work with Midge McPhail, her friend and former rowing coach. Last In 2015, year, following following McPhail’s McPhail’s death at the age of 50 from complications from Sjogren’s syndrome, Stahura succeeded her mentor as head coach, but with a heavy heart.



What was it like moving from an assistant’s role to taking over the program? Midge was always very encouraging and she valued my opinion when I was coaching the novice crew, which is like coaching your own team. She believed in me. I keep saying that I have never felt less prepared or less qualified for something, and yet confident that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.

What type of impact did Midge McPhail have on you? Midge was passionate about coaches playing an important role in the personal development of their athletes beyond their sport. She encouraged me to gain life experiences before becoming a coach, knowing that it would better prepare me to help our athletes develop as individuals.



Was it difficult to swap your advertising job for a full‐time full-time assistant’s position? I had been thinking about moving home just to be closer to family, and I wasn’t certain if I saw myself doing advertising long term. I saw Midge probably six or eight months before I made my decision, and I told her that I wished I had explored coaching. So when she called and asked if I wanted a job, of course I accepted.

As a native of Butler, how did you assimilate to big city life? I started out living in Manhattan, but moved to Astoria, Queens, after a year to be a little more suburban. I was able to bring my car.


Can you share a story of your travels? I wrecked a car in Italy. It was totally my fault and it was in the middle of nowhere. No one spoke English. The funny thing is, five minutes before that happened, I learned how to say “I’m sorry, in Italian.



What is on your playlist? Everything from Christian music to Florence and the Machine to John Denver to opera. The song I listen to before a race is usually determined by the girls. They are rarely impressed by my music


You were an account exec for Euro RSCG, now Havas. What did you do there? I was a liaison between the agency and clients like Excedrin and the New York Stock Exchange — where I got to ring the opening bell! The thing I love about advertising is you have to learn a category inside and out. I’m an expert on migraines, but I’ve never had one!

What was it like when you made the move? My boss came in and told me that she had arranged for me to go to Budapest for a commercial shoot. I said, “I can’t. I’m moving home.”



Do you have a role with the family conveyor belt business, Stahura Industrial Solutions? I haven’t helped much in the past year for obvious reasons. When I did, it was mostly with marketing and sales, as well as some customer-relationship customer‐relationship management work.

What endears you to rowing?This is a selfless sport. The best rower in a boat can only be as fast as the worst in the boat. No one can take that one stroke that will win us the race. 32

Interviewed by Joe Bendel

> Go to RMU.EDU/FOUNDATIONS to see video of the new McPhail Boathouse.

Upcoming Events > >


21 4 Legacy Basketball Recognition vs. Buffalo

PPG Luncheon Paints Arena 7Sewall p.m. Center 11:30 a.m. 29 Three Rivers Classic 7 CEO Lecture Hockey vs. FerrisSeries State HenryPaints Maier,Arena CEO of PPG FedEx Ground 7:30 p.m. Sewall Center 2 p.m.Three Rivers Classic 30 Hockey vs. Boston College 11Quinnipiac Colonials “Date Night” or Sewall Center PPG Paints Arena 3 p.m. p.m. 4:30-7:30

15 Gen. Martin Dempsey

Pittsburgh Speakers Series Heinz Hall 8 p.m.


7 Alumni reception 24 Hall ofZone Fame Dinner


and basketball doubleheader Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport St. Francis 6vs.p.m. Sewall Center 125 p.m.Prize Day Doubleheader Sewall Center 25 Monty Python founder Noon John Cleese Pittsburgh Speakers Series > MARCH Heinz Hall 8 p.m. 29 Anchorman Ted Koppel > FEBRUARY Pittsburgh Speakers Series Heinz Hall Legacy Recognition Event 84p.m. Sewall Center TBD


APRIL 7 CEO Lecture Series

Henry Maier, CEO of 5 Colonial Theatre presents FedEx Ground Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play Sewall Center Massey 2 p.m. Theater 7:30 p.m. (through April 9) 15 Gen. Martin Dempsey Pittsburgh Speakers Series 7 Greek Heinz HallAlumni Happy Hour 8Buford’s p.m. Kitchen, Moon 5 p.m.

24 of Fame Dinner 18 Hall Women of RMUAirport Sheraton Pittsburgh William 6 p.m. Penn Hotel Noon


19 Presidential historian 29 Meacham Anchorman Ted Koppel Jon Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Speakers Speakers Series Series Heinz Hall Heinz Hall 88 p.m. p.m.




FOR MORE INFORMATION on these and other upcoming events, visit the Events page at RMU.EDU/ALUMNI.




Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage


Pittsburgh, PA Permit No. 280 Robert Morris University 6001 University Boulevard Moon Township, PA 15108-1189 RMU.EDU

PUTTING HIS STAMP ON STAMPS The U.S. Postal Service picked this time-lapse photo of star trails over Mt. Rainier taken by geologist Matt Dieterich â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;13 to be one of the 16 stamps released last year honoring the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Read more at RMU.EDU/FOUNDATIONS

Foundations Winter 2017  
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