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Three Widener Faculty Named Distinguished University Professors

Widener's Distinguished University Professors

Pictured from left to right, Dr. Scott Van Bramer, Dr. Betsy Crane and Dr. Stephen Madigosky are Widener University's inaugural Distinguished University Professors.

They represent different academic disciplines, but on Friday, Dr. Betsy Crane, Dr. Stephen Madigosky and Dr. Scott Van Bramer all received the same title – Distinguished University Professor.

Widener University President James T. Harris III and Provost Stephen Wilhite announced Crane, Madigosky and Van Bramer as the university’s inaugural Distinguished University Professors during a Town Hall meeting October 10. A new initiative born out of the strategic plan, the Distinguished University Professor designation recognizes Widener Main Campus faculty for excellence in teaching, scholarship and service.

As Distinguished University Professors, Crane, Madigosky and Van Bramer will hold the designation for three years and receive an award of $2,500 for each year of the appointment.

To be eligible for the honor, a faculty member must be tenured and hold the rank of professor, be identified by students and colleagues as an outstanding teacher, have achieved national or international recognition for scholarly research and have made significant contribution as a leader at the university. Nominees go through a thorough and rigorous internal and external review process before final selection by the provost.

Crane joined Widener in 2007 as professor and director of the Graduate Programs in Human Sexuality. As director from 2007 to 2012, she was instrumental in the growth, from 180 to 350 students, and rising national prominence of the program. She also guided the transition of the program from an Ed.D. to a Ph.D. program.

“Dr. Crane demonstrates leadership through community engagement and social advocacy,” Harris said. “At Widener, Dr. Crane has been instrumental in establishing the LGBT Task Force on campus and in engaging campus stakeholders in assuring a welcoming campus environment for LGBTQ students, faculty and staff members.”

Crane’s research on sexuality and gender expression has resulted in widely disseminated and peer-reviewed publications, including her book Sexual Lives: A Reader on the Theories and Realties of Human Sexualities, which has been widely adopted across the U.S. for use in both graduate and undergraduate courses on human sexuality.

Crane said she was accepting the honor on behalf of her colleagues, the Human Sexuality Program and the School of Human Service Professions. “This is an amazing honor, especially because it’s the first year this is being given,” she said.

Madigosky, who joined Widener in 1989, is responsible for the concept and creation of the Science Teaching Center and the Geographic Information Systems Laboratory at Widener. He has implemented international service learning courses and engaged students in examining ecological issues in Peru and Costa Rica. He also served as an instructor for the International Rainforest Workshop for Educators in Peru where he trained more than 1,000 teachers from 47 states and other countries in biodiversity and ecological issues.

“Dr. Madigosky’s accomplishments reflect his excellence in teaching and the scope of his influence on students, his commitment to improving environmental conditions through sustainable development and his leadership in engaging students and other faculty to influence environmental change on a global level,” Harris said.

Recently, Madigosky spearheaded a project involving Widener, a local coffee roaster and a coffee farm in Costa Rica to produce and market Widener’s own coffee brand, WU Brew, which has evolved into a larger initiative, Cultivation to Cup, involving several colleges and universities.

“This is a humbling experience because I know how hard my colleagues work as well,” Madigosky said. “For my students, my colleagues and the administrators who support me, I owe much and thank them.”

The 2014 recipient of the Fitz Dixon Innovation in Teaching Award, Van Bramer has demonstrated teaching excellence and models of exemplary teaching practices for faculty across disciplines. His Innovation in Teaching project involved using structured feedback to improve student learning in chemistry courses.

This is on top of his research in the areas of atmospheric chemistry, laser mass spectrometry and solid state nuclear magnetic resonance. His scholarly work has been published in 15 publications and presented at 27 national conference and workshops.

“Dr. Van Bramer’s professional goals are teaching focused and learning centered,” Harris said. “He challenges students to develop critical thinking and communication skills, to become intellectually agile program solvers, to pursue independent research projects and to actively participate in the university community.”  

Van Bramer joined the Widener faculty in 1994 and served as chair of the Chemistry Department from 2004 to 2012.

“It’s a great honor to receive this award,” Van Bramer said. “I would like to thank my students and colleagues for all the conversations and experimentation that have helped me develop my teaching and scholarship over the years.”

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve some 6,300 students. Widener is proud to be a tobacco-free university. Visit the university website,