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Widener University announces new trustees

New trustees

New trustees include a health care leader in the fight against cancer, a Silicon Valley-based business technology innovator, the president of the university’s alumni community, and a graduate student who is jointly pursing a law degree and an MBA.

Widener University is pleased to announce four new members who will join its Board of Trustees this fall. They include a health care leader in the fight against cancer, a Silicon Valley-based business technology innovator, the president of the university’s alumni community, and a graduate student who is jointly pursing a law degree and an MBA.

“This dynamic group of leaders will add important industry knowledge, great alumni enthusiasm and a focus on student success to our board,” Widener University President Julie E. Wollman said. “I am certain their contributions will help Widener advance its commitment to providing education that gives students an edge in their careers.”

The Board of Trustees at Widener University is entrusted with the long-term success of the university. The board monitors and oversees critical aspects of the university, including educational quality, financial strength, mission, and the student experience. Board members are volunteers who are deeply passionate about, and committed to, Widener. Gen. John H. Tilelli Jr., a 1963 graduate of Pennsylvania Military College, chairs the group. A full list of board members is available online.

Nancy Hesse and Samir Mehta will serve three-year terms. Andrew Elia and Jared Becker will serve two-year terms. The trustees include:

Nancy Gerhard Hesse, president and CEO at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia. Hesse earned her bachelor of science in nursing from Widener in 1980 and earned a master’s degree in nursing leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. She has more than 30 years of nursing leadership experience since beginning her career as a medical surgical nurse at Albert Einstein Medical Center, before moving to Abington Memorial Hospital three years later. Hesse went on to become director of emergency trauma and then chief nursing officer for Abington-Lansdale Hospital. She has presented nationally on patient, employee and physician satisfaction.

“Having once been a student at Widener, it is a great honor to be welcomed back as a member of the Board of Trustees,” Hesse said. “I look forward to shaping the next generation of Widener University students, and to helping Widener grow to new heights.”

Samir Mehta, chief operating officer at Conviva, a real-time measurement and intelligence platform for streaming TV, headquartered in Silicon Valley, California. Mehta earned a master’s degree in computer software telecommunications engineering from Widener in 1993. He has more than 25 years of experience in e-commerce, digital media, pay TV, consumer electronics and telecom industries. He is a serial entrepreneur who has previously served in senior leadership roles at Motorola, Nagra and Amazon, where he was a vice president involved with digital content and commerce.

“It is an honor to have been elected to the Widener Board of Trustees and serve with the likes of Gen. Tilelli,” Mehta said. “I am excited to be joining hands with President Wollman to continue the transformation of Widener and make it the hub of innovation and the preferred destination for students worldwide, where students can build on their strengths, dream big and learn how to turn those dreams into realities and achieve their true potential.”

Andrew Elia, vice president of information technology at the Rapid Learning Institute in Eddystone, Pennsylvania. Elia earned his bachelor’s degree in management of information systems from Widener in 2004. He currently serves as president of the Widener University-Pennsylvania Military College Alumni Association. Elia began his career as an enterprise information manager with Business 21 Publishing and later became the information technology director at the Rapid Learning Institute before his promotion to vice president.

“I have so many great memories from my time at Widener,” Elia said. “Widener provided me with the foundation that led me to success. It is rewarding to give back to Widener and I am excited to be a part of the team that can influence the future growth and success of the university.”

Jared Becker of Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Becker earned a bachelor’s degree in finance with a concentration in financial planning and a minor in tax from Widener’s School of Business Administration this May. He also commissioned as a Second Lieutenant U.S. Army Reserves as a military intelligence officer. Becker will continue his studies this fall at Widener University Delaware Law School for a juris doctor degree, and at Widener’s School of Business Administration for a master in business administration. 

“To be the one student selected to serve on the Board of Trustees is humbling, but is also a great responsibility,” Becker said. “I appreciate the opportunity to serve on the board and look forward to learning about the behind-the-scenes operations that go into running a university.”

Headshots of all the new board members are available for download from this online album.

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 comprises seven schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. Visit the university website,