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Honorary degree recipient announced

Date: 12/11/2012

A life-long resident of the City of Reading, Dr. Melissa Jamula is a proud graduate of Reading Senior High School, and much of her professional career was spent as a teacher and administrator in the Reading School District.

After high school, Melissa attended Syracuse University as a journalism major. But she became so involved in a program that tutored inner-city elementary school children that she decided to switch gears, and pursue her new calling towards education. She completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education at Kutztown University, and earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership at Temple University.

Returning home, Melissa began teaching at different schools in the Reading School District including several elementary schools and the high school. 

She took a position of Supervisor for Adult Basic Education at Reading Area Community College in 1979, and returned to the Reading School District in 1986 as the Assistant Superintendent — a position she held for 12 years. In 1998 she retired to start a consulting business in school safety with her partner, Tim Daley. Their book, "The First 30 Minutes," was one of the first publications in the country to guide school employees in their immediate response to crises. "The First 30 Minutes" sold extensively throughout the United States and Canada.

In 2000, Dr. Jamula was again asked to return to the Reading School District as the Superintendent of Schools. During her term as Superintendent, she worked hard to tell Reading’s story. With strong data to support her argument, she showed how a growing, poor urban school district serving students of great potential — but also with great needs — was unable to meet those needs because of inequity and inadequacy in education funding in Pennsylvania and nationally. 

Dr. Jamula spent a good deal of her time speaking to parent groups, community organizations and businesses, and took time to meet with local, state and national government leaders — even testifying before both the state legislature and Congress. Ultimately, she led the Reading School District in being the first school district in the nation to sue the government over inadequate funding of the No Child Left Behind Law

As superintendent, she also formed partnerships with the business community, and it was the strong support of the Berks County business community that finally resulted in a significant increase in state funding for the Reading School District. In addition, the widespread publicity from the lawsuit helped to begin the national conversation about necessary changes to the No Child Left Behind law. 

Dr. Jamula left the Reading School District in 2005 and recently retired as the Superintendent of Schools of the Upper Merion Area School District (King of Prussia, Pa.). Throughout the years, She has been a member of numerous community organizations, including: the Family Guidance Board of Directors; the United Way Weed and Seed Steering Committee; the Berks Business Education Coalition Board of Directors; the Pennsylvania League of Urban Schools Board of Directors, the Kutztown University Foundation Board of Trustees; the Upper Merion Area School District Education Foundation Board of Trustees; the Penn State Lehigh Valley and Penn State Great Valley Advisory Boards; and the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education’s Study Council Advisory Board. 

  • History: Established as a private four-year liberal arts college in 1958, Alvernia celebrated its 50th year by being awarded university status in 2008.
  • Heritage: Founded by the Bernardine Sisters, a Catholic religious order, the university embraces the Franciscan core values of service, humility, collegiality, contemplation and peacemaking.
  • Motto: “To Learn, To Love, To Serve”
  • Campus: The main campus in Reading is 121 acres, with two satellite campuses in Philadelphia and Pottsville (Schuylkill County).
  • Location: Our residential campus is situated three miles from center-city Reading, in the scenic Blue Mountain area of Eastern Pennsylvania.
  • Enrollment: 3,000 students attend Alvernia including 1,500 traditional undergraduates, 600 continuing education students, and 780 graduate students. Over 77% of first-year students live on campus.
  • Faculty: Our professors are accomplished scholars, experts in their fields, and supportive mentors. The student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1. Most classes are 20 students or fewer.
  • Athletics: NCAA Division III, member of the Commonwealth Conference of the Middle Atlantic States Athletic Corporation and member of Eastern College Athletic Conference, 8 men’s and 10 women’s intercollegiate sports.