Faculty, Staff & Student Accomplishments

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Secretary Torres, Stephanie Cole, and Widener students and faculty
Center for Social Work Education

PA Department of Aging Secretary Visits Social Work Class

Robert Torres ’93, Secretary at the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, and Special Assistant to the Secretary, Stephanie Cole, visited students in the social work program who are about to embark on a semester-long service-learning project working with older adults.

Secretary Torres, a Widener Commonwealth Law School graduate, and Cole spoke to students about the work the department does to help older adults in Pennsylvania through various programs focusing on financial assistance, health and wellness initiatives, and programs specifically for older adults from underserved populations. They also spoke to students about the many career opportunities available working with older adults.

Students in this course participate in a semester-long service-learning project where they are paired with an older adult in the area who has been identified as “at risk for social isolation” to have regular communications and build a connection.

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Student Taylor Easter walks with President Robertson in front of a Widener sign in the University Center
Widener University

Widener Named a Best College for Student Voting

Widener University has been named one of the country’s best colleges for student voting. Washington Monthly recently published the list after reviewing student voter turnout, registration rates, and reports from college administrators about their efforts to promote voter participation. Schools had to demonstrate a repeated commitment to increasing student voting, and be transparent about results. 

At Widener, a group of committed individuals – including political science faculty, staff with the Center for Civic & Global Engagement, and undergraduate student Taylor Easter – have worked to mobilize students to register to vote and become politically engaged.

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Logo for Insight Into Diversity HEED award winners
Widener Administration

Widener Receives National Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award

Widener University has received the 2022 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. 

Known as a HEED Award, the national recognition is bestowed on U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. Widener University will be featured in the November 2022 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. The university is among 103 honorees and was last recognized in 2018, at a time when values of diversity and inclusion were represented in the university's culture through the platform principle, “We’re All Widener.” The university continues to build upon that progress and is being recognized in light of additional gains that demonstrate and support a steadfast commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.

“I am thrilled to share that Widener has received the 2022 HEED Award,” said President Stacey Robertson. “As a community we are deeply grateful and honored to be recognized for our efforts in support of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. These core principles are woven into the fabric of Widener’s culture, so to be honored as a leader in this way is exceptionally rewarding and inspiring.” 

Honorees were selected through a comprehensive and rigorous application process that looked at multiple areas relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees, leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion. 

“As a result of strong partnerships across our three campuses, Widener has made significant progress in building a strong foundation to support a culture that advances diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging,” said Chief Diversity Officer Micki Davis. “We will continue to focus on these principles and strengthen them as a central part of our community, reflected in our faculty, staff and our students.” 

Widener has maintained a commitment to including diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in numerous programs and practices on its three campuses, including the recruitment and retention of faculty, staff and students. Highlights include:

  • Implicit Bias and Search Committee Workshop. The offices of the Provost, Human Resources and the Chief Diversity Officer have implemented a professional development opportunity for all members of the university community serving on hiring search committees.  Participation by search committee members have led to an increased awareness of implicit bias in hiring and has resulted in an increase of faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds joining the Pride family.
  • Faculty and Administrators of Color Network. This is an active affinity network that includes faculty and staff from across our three campuses and hosts numerous events that support members of our multicultural community. Most recently, the network partnered with the Office of Alumni Engagement to launch a mentoring program, Legacy 56, that engages alumni and students. The Legacy 56 Mentoring Program was piloted with success last year and will be formally introduced at Homecoming in October.
  • The DEIB Communications and Resources Hub. The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Communication and Resources Hub is an online repository for DEIB updates and reports from Widener University schools, colleges and departments, The hub is updated on a regular basis and can be accessed by Widener faculty, staff and students via the university intranet.
  • The Wollman Award for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This award, endowed by immediate past university president Julie E. Wollman, was presented for the first time in May 2022 and is the first university-wide award given annually to an employee who advocates for, and affects change at Widener in support of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Diversity programming mini grants. These grants allow faculty and staff to apply for funding to assist with DEI-themed programming and events. Ten grants valued between $100 and $500 are available each academic year.
  • DEI fund. This fund was established last year through a collaboration between University Advancement and the chief diversity officer as a giving opportunity for faculty, staff and alumni interested in supporting DEI initiatives, events and activities. 
  • The 1821 Experience Living Learning Community. The Multicultural Student Affairs Office partnered with the Offices of Residence Life and Student Success to offer a living-learning community this fall for first-year students from diverse backgrounds and/or who self-identify as the first generation in their families to attend college. First-year students who participate in the 1821 Experience Pre-Orientation Program are offered an opportunity to take a first year seminar class as a cohort and reside in the living learning community. Staff from the Multicultural Student Affairs Office maintain a part-time presence in an established satellite office space.

“Our selection as a recipient of this award speaks to Widener’s universal commitment to principles of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, and to the relentless work that both students and faculty are doing to empower each other in every space on our campuses,” Robertson said. “As our community grows, we will continue to work together to build on this progress.”

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 A portrait of Carly Kearney
School of Nursing

Nursing PhD Student Named a Jonas Scholar by National League for Nursing

Carly Kearney, a PhD candidate in the School of Nursing, was named a 2022-23 Jonas Scholar by National League for Nursing (NLN). The highly competitive scholarship provides direct funding for Kearney in her final year of doctoral study, leading to completion of her dissertation projects, as well as support for travel expenses to attend conference. Launched in 2010, the Jonas Scholars Program has been generously funded by Jonas Philanthropies, a New York-based foundation that promotes excellence in nursing, to advance the science of nursing education. 

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School of Nursing's Founders Hall
School of Nursing

Nursing Study Examines Faculty Administrators’ Experiences Amid COVID Disruptions

A research team consisting of faculty, students, and an alumni in the School of Nursing published a study examining nurse faculty administrators’ experiences of rapid transition and disruption in nursing education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Published in the journal Nursing Education Perspectives, co-authors Anne Krouse, dean of nursing, Kristen McLaughlin, nursing graduate, Rose Rossi, associate dean of undergraduate nursing, Wendy Black-Dorn, nursing PhD candidate, Bette Mariani, nursing graduate, and Barbara Patterson, director of the nursing science doctoral program, implemented a descriptive survey methodology to understand the experiences of academic nurse administrators during the pandemic. The survey utilized the Four Cs of Disaster Partnering conceptual framework which encompasses communication, cooperation, coordination, and collaboration and the interrelatedness of those activities in partnering relationships. The authors' findings showed that key elements of the Four Cs framework played a role in the successful adaptation to new learning environment realities.

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Center for Human Sexuality Studies

Human Sexuality Graduate Publishes in Academic Journal

Amanda Baker, a graduate of the Center for Human Sexuality Studies, published an article that investigated the association between sexting and satisfaction within a relationship. The research, which published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, explored the positive impact sexting can have on important relationship constructs and provides clinicians and educators with reliable data that can assist them with informing adult clients on ways they can utilize sexting in a meaningful and positive way.

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School of Nursing's Founders Hall
School of Nursing

Nursing Program Chosen to Join National Program to Build Inclusive Learning Culture

The School of Nursing has been chosen to participate in a national initiative led by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) designed to foster inclusive learning environments and build a more diverse nursing workforce. Widener's nursing program is one of 50 schools of nursing selected nationwide to participate in AACN's pilot project titled "Building a Culture of Belonging in Academic Nursing."

With funding from Johnson & Johnson, the program aims to help schools of nursing create environments where students, faculty, and staff possess a strong sense of belonging and are encouraged to thrive. Specifically, the program will utilize a survey instrument developed by AACN to collect data and provide institution-level assessments and action reports to participating schools related to developing inclusive academic environments.

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Five people stand with a giant check at the Taylor Arboretum
Taylor Arboretum

Taylor Arboretum Receives Donation for New Signage

The Providence Garden Club of Pennsylvania has presented Widener’s Taylor Arboretum with a donation of $3,900 to be used to pay for new informational signage on the property. Members of the garden club were recently on hand for a check presentation.

Six signs were recently installed on the arboretum’s grounds listing prohibited actives. The signage is intended to ensure the safety and welfare of visitors and the property.

Located just minutes from campus, the 30-acre preserve of plantings and natural lands is open to the public to walk the trails, explore the flora and fauna, and enjoy the property’s natural beauty. Acquired by the university in 2016, the arboretum is also used by students and faculty members for research, hands-on learning opportunities, and other activities.

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Kirkbride Exterior Sunset
Chemistry, Chemical Engineering

Faculty and Students Published in Sustainability Journal

Assistant Professor Hongwei Yang, along with collaborators John Mason ’21 and Joanna Weyrich ’23 have had an article, “Mechanic Study of Porosity Formation in Liquid-Assisted Mechanochemical Synthesis of Metal-Organic Framework Cu3(BTC)2  for adsorption-Based Applications,” published in Sustainability, a journal distributed by MDPI. 

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Sarah Williamson
Office of Residence Life

Assistant Dean of Students Publishes Chapter in Textbook on College Student Development Theory

Sarah W. Williamson, assistant dean of students, published a chapter in the book "Theory of College Student Development: Integration of Knowledge, Skills and Application." The text focuses on providing readers with new theoretical knowledge or a reminder of the foundational and evolving theories that professionals can utilize for understanding and making sense of students’ behavior. Williamson co-authored Chapter 11 entitled "Faith and Spiritually Development" where she discusses the role that faith and spirituality play in the development of college students. 

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American flag in front of Old Main
Widener University

Widener to Host Read the Revolution 2022 Book Discussion

Widener University will host the first in a series of book talks as part of “Read the Revolution,” a multi-year initiative happening as the country approaches the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 2026. The 2022 book is The Boston Massacre: A Family History written by Serena Zabin. Zabin will be on campus in November for a discussion about the book.  

“Read the Revolution” is led by America250PADelco, in partnership with Widener faculty with other local organizations including The Delaware County Library System. This year’s book explores the stories of British troops as they were dispatched from Ireland to Boston in 1768.

More details to follow about the November event. 

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Monique Chabot
Institute for Occupational Therapy Education

Occupational Therapy Professor Wins Award for Assistive Device

Monique Chabot, associate professor of occupational therapy, competed in the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Inventors Showcase, an event is designed to host inventors from across the nation to showcase their ingenuity as they share their products and services. Chabot's submission featured an assistive device known as a telescoping electronic reacher which she invented as part of her doctoral studies. The device was chosen for the Audience Choice award.

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Anthony Pluretti standing outdoors in front of Old Main
Campus Safety

Employee is Nationally Recognized as Public Safety Director of the Year

Widener University congratulates Anthony Pluretti, executive director of campus safety, on being named Campus Safety director of the year.

The award program administered by Campus Safety magazine recognizes the best and brightest executives in hospital, university and school security, law enforcement and emergency management. Pluretti received the award for the university category at the Campus Safety Conference in Bethesda, Maryland this month. 

“I feel incredibly fortunate to lead Widener’s talented and dedicated Campus Safety team, and I am gratified and humbled by this award,” Pluretti said. 

Pluretti joined Widener University in February 2020, and instituted a customer-centric approach to the position. He leads a department of 75 and has encouraged Widener officers to approach their work with students, employees and visitors by making it the best possible experience for all involved. He has built trust across Widener’s three campuses as he has emphasized engagement between Campus Safety and the constituencies it serves.

He has also strengthened department morale, building pride with new uniforms, name patches, and regular social media introductions of staff. He seeks staff input on new initiatives and uses a motivational leadership model that encourages officers in the department to assess their personal goals and career trajectories. 

Pluretti has also positively impacted relations between the university and local law enforcement, and relationships between the university and people in neighborhoods surrounding Widener’s main campus in Chester, Pa., which are populated with students and local residents. His work also includes management of Widener’s campuses in Wilmington, Delaware and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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Janet R. Long
Career Design & Development

Career Design & Development Executive Director Earns NACE Appointment

Janet Long, executive director of Career Design & Development, has been named to a two-year term as co-chair of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Liberal Arts Affinity Group.

NACE is the leading professional association for more than 13,000 higher education career services and industry recruiting partners. With more than 300 members nationwide, the Liberal Arts Affinity Group coordinates programming that showcases best practices in career readiness and employment market awareness for liberal arts students.

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Headshot of Alicia Kelly
Delaware Law School

Alicia Kelly Named Interim Dean of Delaware Law School

Associate Dean Alicia Kelly has been named interim dean of Delaware Law School. The temporary appointment begins July 1. 

Kelly will fill the vacancy created by the departure of Dean Rodney A. Smolla, while the university searches for a permanent successor. She is currently associate dean for academic affairs and professor of law, and has previously served as associate dean for faculty development and strategic initiatives. Kelly also serves as a co-director of the school’s Family Health Law & Policy Institute, which is dedicated to public education and service. She teaches and writes in the areas of family law, property law and elder law. Innovation in legal education is another area of her expertise, and she has co-authored two textbooks drawing on best practices in legal education. 

Kelly has served on the steering committee for Delaware ERA Now, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing women’s status through education and anti-discrimination advocacy. She also co-directs Wills For Heroes, a volunteer organization that trains legal professionals and provides estate planning documents at no cost for police, firefighters and other first responders in Delaware. Kelly serves on the executive board of the Association of American Law Schools section on Family and Juvenile law as well as the Elder Law section, and is a past Family Law Section chair. She is also a part of the Delaware Family Court Enhancement Project team, working to improve the legal system to better serve survivors of domestic violence and their children. Prior to her work in academia, Kelly was in private practice concentrating on complex domestic relations and general civil litigation.

“Alicia’s many years of leadership at the law school make her ideal interim dean. She enjoys widespread confidence among the faculty and staff and is committed to student success,” Widener Provost Andrew A. Workman said, in announcing Kelly’s interim role. “I look forward to working with her and continuing to build on the law school’s momentum.”

A member of the Delaware Law faculty since 2001, Kelly earned her bachelor’s degree from Temple University, and her juris doctor and LL.M. in legal education from Temple’s James E. Beasley School of Law, where she was the Abraham L. Freedman Fellow.

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Undergraduate students pose in front of the conference welcome sign.
School of Engineering

Biomedical Engineering Students Present In Undergraduate Design Competition

A team of biomedical engineering students participated in the Undergraduate Design Competition hosted by 2022 SB3C: Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering, and Biotransport Conference. The purpose of the competition is to showcase the undergraduates' design work, give students an opportunity to describe their work, and provide a chance to meet professionals in the bioengineering field. The Widener team, led by faculty advisor Ria Mazumder, assistant teaching professor, was one of six finalists chosen from the pool of applicants to present their work during a special podium presentation at the conference.

(L-R): Amelia Wellmon, Mason Klaus, Sean Blade, and Jessica Guarino.

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People walk in front of the Quick Center building
School of Business Administration

SBA Faculty Publish Journal Article

Faculty members from the School of Business Administration have had an article published in the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants’ Journal of Accountancy.

Professor Joseph Hargadon, associate professor Irfan Safdar, instructor Stephanie Wendling, and assistant professor Katie Whang co-authored an article titled “Tax Advice for Clients who Day-Trade Stocks.”

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Students at the Stetser Elementary School end of year garden harvest
College of Arts & Sciences

Widener Faculty and Students Join in Stetser Elementary Garden Harvest

Widener students and faculty visited Stetser Elementary School to participate in their annual end-of-the-year garden harvest. The gardening program, developed by professor Bruce Grant, is a place-based program which aims to improve the academic performance of Stetser students in science and promote social engagement in their school community.

The program has engaged Widener students as part of Grant’s academic service learning enhanced courses with the goal of providing students with meaningful work and sustainable community development opportunities.

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Jeffrey C. Lolli
School of Business Administration

Business Professor Wins Faculty Collegiality Award

Jeff Lolli, professor in the School of Business Administration, has been named the 2022 recipient of the Faculty Collegiality Award from the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (ICHRIE).

This award is presented to one faculty ICHRIE member who has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to fostering collegiality among their peers through a high level of team building and collaborative and constructive support of peers in their teaching, scholarship, and service both on and off campus.

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Catherine Safran and other conference attendees
College of Arts & Sciences

Faculty Presents Workshop on Peer Learning at Annual Conference

Assistant Teaching Professor Catherine Safran was invited to present a workshop at the Human Anatomy & Physiology Society’s Annual Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Safran presented her experience working with Peer-Learning Assistants at Widener in anatomy and physiology lectures and labs.

This annual conference is attended by anatomy and physiology instructors from around the world.

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