PEOPLE . . .


While we will formally welcome new faculty and staff at August’s State of the University gathering, and celebrate promotions and other honors, I wanted to call attention to some new members of our community as well as recognize the efforts of a few of our current colleagues.

The Bernardine Franciscans have elected new congregational leadership. Sister Marilisa Helena da Silva is the new Congregational Minister. She is a Brazilian sister with dual U.S. citizenship and has lived and worked in the U.S. for more than a decade in the Bernardine office of translation. Sr. Mary Joseph Tirpak, ’61 will be the Assistant Congregational Minister. Joining them on the leadership team will be Sister Antoinette Keiser (who has been working in Texas) and two women familiar to us on campus, Sr. Rosemary Stets and Sr. Christin Shukwit.  

Following a highly competitive national search, Jay Worrall has been named Director of the Holleran Center. Jay was formerly executive director Habitat for Humanity of Berks County. He starts in August and will benefit from an expert orientation by Ginny Hand who is retiring after helping establish the center as a nationally recognized leader in community service and civic engagement. The large and diverse turnout for Ginny’s retirement celebration was a fine tribute indeed. 

We are very pleased to welcome a very large number of talented new faculty members to campus: Dr. Vera Brancato, Professor of Nursing, Dr. Greg Chown, Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy, Dr. Kevin Donnelly, Assistant Professor of History, Dr. Joseph Elder, Assistant Professor of Education, Ms. Maria Euginia de Luna Villalon, Instructor of Spanish, Dr. Corey Harris, Assistant Professor of Theology, Dr. Adam Heinze, Assistant Professor of Biology, Ms. Jane Joering, Instructor of Nursing, Dr. Darren Koch, Assistant Professor of Biology, Ms. Diane Woznicki Kraft, Instructor of Biology, Dr. Ryan Lange, Assistant Professor of Communication, Dr. Ann Maire Licata, Assistant Professor of Education, Ms. Susan Mader, Assistant Professor of Nursing, Dr. Steven Melnick, Professor & Education Department Chair, Mr. Leon Neiman, Instructor of Biology, Mr. Peter Rampson, Assistant Professor of Graphic Art, Ms. Tracy Scheirer,  Instructor of Nursing, Dr. Erin Way, Assistant Professor of Psychology, and Dr. Phyllis Miller, Education Certification Coordinator who joins our academic affairs staff. 

A special welcome to Dr. Jack DeBellis who is joining us as Alvernia’s first John Updike Scholar in Residence. He is Professor Emeritus at Lehigh University and a member of The John Updike Society board who is best known for two invaluable resources — The John Updike Encyclopedia and John Updike: A Bibliography of Primary & Secondary Materials, 1948-20.  Jack is also editor of John Updike: The Critical Responses to the “Rabbit” Saga and was the program director for the First Biennial John Updike Society Conference held at Alvernia last October.

Leadership Berks graduated a new class of 24 students in May that included Amy Music (marketing) and Stacey Adams Perry (admissions).

Mary Lynch Barbera, RN, MSN, BCBA, became the university’s first student to successfully defend her doctoral dissertation. She is on track to receive her Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership Degree from Alvernia in December. The Barberas are a talented family of Alvernia alums; husband, Chuck, an MBA graduate, is an Alvernia trustee and Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine at the Reading Hospital.

Fifteen students, accompanied by Chris Fake and Robyn Schultz, participated in post-commencement Alternative Break projects in Reading and New Orleans. Eight additional students will join Fr. Kevin Queally and Jo Pressimone as they head to Spain in August to participate in World Youth Day with Pope Benedict XVI. Many generous donors helped to underwrite costs of this extraordinary experience for our students.

Several members of the highly successful Enrollment Management Team were promoted in the spring including Shanna Bossler, Associate Director of Admissions; Dan Hartzman, Assistant Director of Admissions/Transfer Coordinator; Paul Sadaphal, Assistant Director of Admissions; Jennifer Biggerstaff, Operations Coordinator; Sarah Brunsell, Assistant Director of Student Financial Planning and Jason Deitz, Assistant Director of Student Financial Planning.

Bill Stiles was appointed to a four-year term on the NCAA Division III Baseball Committee. Bill will chair the Mid-Atlantic Regional Advisory Committee and will be responsible for the selection and administration of the Mid-Atlantic Regionals and the Division III College World Series. He is one of only two MAC ADs currently serving on a national committee. 

Our spring student-athletes enjoyed another outstanding season. After winning the Commonwealth Conference Championship under the leadership of Coach Yogi Lutz, the Crusaders baseball team advanced to the Championship Round of the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals, finishing one win away from the College World Series. Alvernia ended the season ranked 14th in NCAA Division III. Andrew Kirk was named Commonwealth Pitcher of the Year and also an All-American; Chris Ray was Conference Player of the Year. 

Senior softball player, Rhiannon Sorrentino, became Alvernia’s first-ever winner of a MAC Scholar Athlete Award. She also earned Academic All-American honors in addition to being named First Team All-Commonwealth Conference.

Women’s Lacrosse enjoyed one of its best seasons ever advancing to the MAC semifinals and ECAC Tournament. Felicia Sippel reached the remarkable 200 career goal mark while Sarah George and Alyssa Verrillo topped the 100 goal marks for their careers.

Sharon Neal attended the Academic Library Planning and Revitalization Conference held at Ohio State. She was elected Vice President/President Elect of the ACLCP library consortium and Director-at-Large for the Association of College and Research Libraries, Delaware Valley Chapter.

Caroline Fitzpatrick, program director for Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, and five graduate students (Brittany Tasch, Angela Kase, Sean Cullen, Bryan Hugues, Courtney Fretz) traveled to the Bernardine mission in Santo Domingo to develop a strategic plan for community development, volunteerism and fundraising. Sr. Rosemary Stets, Spence Stober, and Leon Weber also participated.

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