Alvernia Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation

PHOTO: Dr. Ana Ruiz, left, and Dr. Jodi Radosh, right, with Dr. Jess Hamlet at Alvernia’s recently established Center for Teaching Excellence at the Alumni House.

Faculty Spotlight

Jodi Radosh, Ph.D.
Professor and Department Chair of Communication & Digital Media  

Ana Ruiz, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology

Jodi Radosh and Ana Ruiz have been named co-Neag Professors of Teaching Excellence and Innovation. During the two-year appointment, Radosh and Ruiz will develop an action plan and vision for Alvernia’s recently established Center for Teaching Excellence at the Alumni House.

Radosh and Ruiz surveyed faculty about the types of workshops in which they would be interested. Those responses have already led to workshops covering such topics as artificial intelligence/ChatGPT, trauma-infused teaching, inclusivity, climate change and technology in the classroom.

“We look forward to continuing to grow the Center for Teaching Excellence,” Radosh said. “We hope to facilitate innovations in teaching and learning that foster collaborative engagement opportunities as well as inspire transformative ideas in traditional and online pedagogy.”

Neag Professorships, established in 2010 through the generous support of Carole and Ray Neag, are awarded to faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in scholarly work and distinction in teaching, whether in undergraduate liberal arts education or graduate and professional education.

“The faculty response to the teaching and learning activities has been very encouraging,” Ruiz said. “Our faculty enjoys spending time together, discussing ways to improve their teaching and making students enthusiastic about their learning. This has been a very rewarding experience, especially for having the opportunity to share it with Jodi.”

In addition:

• Ruiz and Professor of Psychology Erin Way, Ph.D., received a Faculty Excellence Grant for the summer to work on a chapter titled “Social Justice Activities to Apply Psychology Beyond the Classroom” for the Society for the Teaching of Psychology e-book.
• Ruiz was inducted into the Academy of Community Engagement Scholarship (ACES), which recognizes those “demonstrating notable contributions to the theory and practice of working collaboratively to address societal needs, advance community engagement, and advance the scholarship of community engagement.”

Recent publication

Radosh recently co-authored her second textbook, “The Broadcast News Toolkit: Inside the Digital Newsroom.” The book, written with Kirsten Johnson, was published by Routledge Press. Johnson and Radosh also wrote “Shoot, Edit, Share: Video Production for Mass Media, Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations,” published by Routledge in 2016.


Pamela G. Unger, PT, CWS
Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy, Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education

Unger was named a Catherine Worthingham Fellow of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). This prestigious recognition is the highest membership category bestowed by the APTA and serves as inspiration for all physical therapists to attain professional excellence.

“I am deeply honored to be recognized as a Catherine Worthingham Fellow,” Unger said. “This distinction not only reflects my dedication to the field but also acknowledges the collective efforts of colleagues, students and collaborators who have contributed to the advancement of physical therapy and wound management.”

This designation serves as a testament to Unger’s commitment to professional excellence, spanning nearly five decades of impactful service to the profession. Her multifaceted career includes leadership, advocacy, education, research and clinical practice. Unger’s legislative advocacy and collaborative efforts with professional organizations have significantly influenced policies and standards for the practice of wound care for physical therapists.

Since joining Alvernia in 2019, Unger has developed the clinical education program by increasing the number of clinical sites and improving processes for every aspect of the program. She has contributed to instilling her passion for advocacy within Alvernia DPT students by introducing them to the APTA House of Delegates (HOD) and engaging them in legislative advocacy in Pennsylvania and in Washington, D.C.


Spencer S. Stober, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology

Stober was appointed by the Berks County Community Foundation to serve on an advisory group with the Institute for Conservation Leadership from January to July 2023 to assess the best ways the county can address environmental issues and climate resilience.

Additionally, Stober’s presentations have included:

• “A Franciscan Perspective on the Formation of Nature-Centered Leaders in Higher Education” at the 2023 Association of Franciscan Colleges & Universities Symposium, sponsored by Siena College and Holy Name Province — June 20-22, 2023.
• “Climate Change and the Future of Humanity” at the World Affairs Council of Greater Reading — April 12, 2023.
• “A Franciscan Perspective on Nature-Centered Leadership for Environmental Justice” at the 19th International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic, & Social Sustainability — Feb. 1-3, 2023, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia.


Janae Sholtz, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy/Coordinator of Women’s Gender Studies

In September, Sholtz presented a paper entitled “The Many Faces of Affect: Deleuze and Spinoza” as an invited speaker for the North American Deleuze Association, Swarthmore University, Pa. In October, she was an invited speaker for an international webinar celebrating Mahatma Gandhi entitled “Passive Resistance and Gandhian Praxis” for the Department of Philosophy at North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong, India. In November, she presented a paper entitled “The Surrealist Exquisite Corpse and Deleuzian Conceptual Personae” for the International Society for the Study of Surrealism (ISSS), Houston, Texas.


Caroline Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.
Professor of Communication & Digital Media

Fitzpatrick gave a conference presentation, Building Open Educational Practices (OEPs) and Open Educational Resources (OERs) for Social Justice & Equity in Higher Education, at the 2023 National Conference on Creativity, Innovation and Technology (NCCiT) in November. Additionally, she served as a judge for 2023 Outstanding Literary Arts Journal Awards and Convention Roundtables for the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society. Fitzpatrick also finished a two-year term on the board of directors for the Reading Film Office & Reading Film Festival in December 2023.


Heather Keperling, Ed.D., RN
Assistant Professor of Nursing

Keperling gave the poster presentation “Nursing Student Perceptions of Perseverance and Passion in Nursing Education” at the National League for Nursing’s 2023 Education Summit at the Gaylord National Harbor Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., which was held Sept. 28-30.


Lois Rajcan, Ph.D., RN, CRNI
Assistant Professor of Nursing

In November, Rajcan represented the Sigma International Nursing Honor Society Alvernia Chapter Upsilon Zeta as vice president during the Sigma 47th Biennial Convention in San Antonio, Texas.


Donna Yarri, Ph.D.
Adjunct professor

Yarri presented a paper entitled “Integrating Franciscan Theology in an ‘Ethical Treatment of Animals’ class,” at the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities Conference at Sienna College in June.


Bongrae Seok, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy

In 2023, Seok published a book on Artificial Intelligence (“Future of Artificial Intelligence and the Buddha Algorithm”) and two book chapters on AI art (The Uncharted World of AI Art: Music and AI [artificial intelligence] in “Venturing into the Uncharted World of Aesthetics”) and on the semantics of shame (“Semantic Categories of Korean Words of Shame: Embarrassment, Humiliation, and Guilt” in “Cultural Perspectives on Shame, Unities and Diversities”). He published two journal articles on Korean philosophy (“Philosophy of Mind and Moral Psychology in Korean Neo-Confucianism” and “Response to Ivanhoe”), in APA Studies on Asian and Asian American Philosophers and Philosophies. He was also appointed as editor of a book series (Palgrave Studies in Korean Thought) by Palgrave and Macmillan.


  • Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea, “Normative Implications of Neuroscience and Integrative NeuroEthics,” Department of Philosophy & Institute of Philosophy (Seoul National University)
  • Sogang University, Seoul, South Korea, “The Future of Artificial Intelligence: the Turing Test and the Buddha Test,” Department of Philosophy (Sogang University)
  • Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, South Korea, “Toegye Yi Hwang’s Neo-Confucian Philosophy of Mind and Moral Spirituality,” “The Toegye School in Korean Neo-Confucianism: Mind, Morality, and Spirituality,” K-Academic Expansion Project (KAEP), Sungkyunkwan University

Conference Presentations

  • “Co-Existence and Harmony: Non-Linear Dynamics of Social Interaction” The 7TH World Humanities Forum (Busan, South Korea, 2023)
  • “Seongho Yi Ik’s Theory of Mind-Brain: Aristotle’s De Anima and Neo-Confucian Adaptation of
    the Brain Theory of Cognition” Annual NAKPA Conference, (Kyungpook National University, Daegu, South Korea, 2023)
  • “Toegye and Toegye School in Korean Neo-Confucianism” International Academic Workshop - Spiritual and Religious Characteristics of Korean Confucianism (Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul South Korea, 2023)
  • “Mind Theory (Simseol 心說) and Mind Cultivation (Sooyang 修養) Theory of the Simseol Debate” International Conference on Mind and Mind Cultivation, (University of Prince Edward Island, 2023).
  • “Breaking the Border of Perceptual Modality: Synesthesia, Artistic Imagination, and the Embodied Reality” Opening Presentation for the Sixteenth Annual Geo-Aesthetics Conference, Towson University (Baltimore, 2023).
  • "Embodied Consciousness of Mindfulness: Affordances and Affectances." 4Th International Conference on Philosophy of Mind: 4E’s Approach to the Mind/Brain. Catholic University of Portugal (Braga Portugal, 2023)
  • “Confucian Moral Psychology and Moral Sentimentalism” ISCP session, APA Eastern Division Meeting, (Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 2023).
  • “Moral Psychology of Embodied Affect and Jeong/Qing (Emotional Attachment) in Korean Culture” NAKPA session (1/6/2023) APA Eastern Division Meeting, (Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 2023).
  • “Moral Psychology of Mind-Cultivation in Korean Neo-Confucian Philosophy” NAKPA session (2023) APA Eastern Division Meeting, (Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 2023).


Travis A. Berger, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Business, Communication, and Leadership; Associate Professor of Business and Leadership

Berger delivered his presentation “Leadership for Positive Impact: Let’s Get This Right” to numerous area organizations:

  • PA Department of Labor and Industry as part of its Leadership Lab (6/16
  • TE Connectivity as part of its Leadership Development Day (8/3)
  • Alvernia University Alumni Council (9/15)
  • Pottstown chapter of the Society for Human Resources (9/21)
  • Berks County chapter of the Society for Human Resources (11/28)

In the presentation, Berger offers a common, practical leadership language that provides the foundation required to address the most pressing leadership challenges. His appearance at publicly traded TE Connectivity came at the request of Alvernia alumnus Adin Zagorica ’20 MBA ’21.

Berger also delivered a presentation on leadership to the EnerSys legal team as part of the EnerSys Legal Department Summit on March 30.


Mary Ann Durant, DNP, MSN, RN, M.Ed. 
Associate Professor of Nursing

Durant received the Sr. Donatilla Legacy Award at Alvernia’s 2023 Convocation. This award is presented to a full-time faculty member who has given long service to the university in teaching, advising and support, and who is a social and cultural bedrock of the institution. Durant also delivered the commencement address at graduation in June for the Joseph F. McCloskey School of Nursing in Pottsville.

A scholarly publication written by Durant, Cultural Perspectives Content Set: Alaskan Natives Module, was published in October.


Tufan Tiglioglu, Ph.D.
Chair, Header School of Business; Coordinator, Adult Education for Business Programs

Tiglioglu released the peer-reviewed publication “Various Convexities and Some Relevant Properties of Consumer Preference Relations,” co-authored with Jeffrey Yi-Lin Forrest and Donald Mong of Slippery Rock University, Yong Liu of Jiangnan University and Marta Cardin of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, in the journal Studia Universitatis “Vasile Goldis” Arad. Economics Series Vol. 33, Issue 4/2023.

He also chaired the “International Economic Policy and the Family” session and co-presented “An Application of Logit Model to Vietnamese Female Entrepreneurs” at the Pennsylvania Economic Association’s 37th Annual Conference at Washington & Jefferson College, June 1-3, 2023, Washington, Pa.


Kevin Donnelly, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of History

In May, Donnelly will release “The Descent of Artificial Intelligence: A Deep History of an Idea 400 Years in the Making.” Published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, the book views the development of artificial intelligence through the lens of social thought, reminding readers that we can control the narratives about ourselves.

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