Faculty, Staff & Student Accomplishments

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Babatunde O. Odusami
School of Business Administration

Business Professor Receives Funding for Collaboration with South African University

A collaborative research project between associate professor Babatunde Odusami and Omokolade Akinsomi from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa has been chosen to receive funding from The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program. This grant funds partnership projects between African-born scholars and higher education institutions in Africa. 

Odusami and Akinsomi’s project, entitled “Development of Pan African Real Estate Database and Co-Curriculum Development and Mentorship in Machine Learning Competencies for Real Estate Research,” will work to develop real estate knowledge and research capacities in Africa. 

Odusami will spend a month during the summer of 2023 in Africa working with Akinsomi and graduate students at the University of Witwatersrand. The two researchers will also be presenting another joint project at the American Real Estate Society Conference in March 2023. 

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aerial shot of Old Main
Widener University

Successful outcomes for our 2022 graduates

Widener University is proud to share outstanding news about the accomplishments of our May 2022 graduates in the six months since they earned their undergraduate degrees. Each year, the university surveys our graduates and reports the data to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). The 2022 highlights include:

•    Graduates who achieved a positive career outcome, which includes direct employment, graduate education or military service, was 96 percent, up from 95 percent with May 2021 graduates.
•    Their mean starting salary was $70,987, up from $59,285 with May 2021 graduates.
•    Their median starting salary was $72,800, up from $60,320 with May 2021 graduates.

Widener students have moved on to exciting careers at a wide variety of workplaces, big and small. Some of the most recognizable employer names included Bristol Myers Squibb, the Department of Defense, Duke University Health System, Lockheed Martin, Merck, Mitsubishi, Vanguard and W.L. Gore & Associates.

Seventy graduates chose to stay with Widener and pursue a graduate degree from the university, while two dozen others have ventured to other institutions, including Boston College, George Washington University, Michigan State University, Northeastern University, and more.

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ALL IN's Most Engaged Campus for College Student Voting
Widener University

Widener Named to list of Most Engaged Campuses for College Student Voting

By: Zora DeSeignora '23 Spanish and communications

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge has named Widener to its 2022 list of Most Engaged Campuses for College Student Voting. The list recognizes colleges and universities that are making intentional efforts to increase nonpartisan democratic engagement and college student voting. Universities must meet a set criterion such as submitting democratic action engagement plans. Widener was among 394 institutions nationally to achieve this recognition, and one of just 37 in Pennsylvania. 

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Attendees of the Harlem Renaissance mini-camp
College of Arts & Sciences

Humanities Hosts Mini-Camp Examining the Harlem Renaissance

The first Humanities mini-camp was held by the Humanities Division of the College of Arts and Sciences. The camp was led by Widener English and History students and explored the intellectual and artistic history of the Harlem Renaissance.

The event was the culmination of work by faculty and students, both past and present, to bring prospective students and members of the community to campus to learn about topics in the humanities. Attendees at the event included area high schoolers and community members.

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Members of the Little Mermaid cast in costume
FreshBaked Theater Company

Students at Widener’s FreshBaked Theatre Company Perform Little Mermaid

By Matthew Sullivan '22 communications studies

Widener University’s FreshBaked Theatre Company performed their first show since 2019, a fresh adaptation of Little Mermaid that places the act of storytelling on center stage, written by award winning playwright Mike Kenny. Audiences gained admission to the hour-long show and post-show discussion by freewill donations, with all proceeds benefitting Chester community programs. 

FreshBaked Theatre Company is part of the university’s community service mission. They present inventive drama for schools and families in the greater Chester community. Little Mermaid is produced by arrangement with New Plays for Young Audiences. 

Featured student cast members Anna Greydanus, Maura O’Brien, McKenna Stine, and Leo-Paul Wahl were led by director of FreshBaked Theatre Company Lisa Cocchiarale. Performances of the show occurred on November 5th, 9th, 11th, and 12th.

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Stacey Robertson and Serena Zabin speaking at a Widener University table
College of Arts & Sciences

Widener University Hosts Author Serena Zabin for Revolutionary Reads Event

By Matthew Sullivan '22 communications studies

Members of Widener and the surrounding communities attended America 250 PA Delco’s Revolutionary Reads event, hosted by Widener University at the Kapelski Learning Center on November 6th, where visiting author Serena Zabin discussed her book The Boston Massacre: A Family History. The event consisted of a discussion of the book between Serena Zabin and Widener President Stacey Robertson, a question-and-answer session with the audience, and concluded with a reception and book signing. 

Revolutionary Reads is an annual, year-long reading event happening through 2026, where the America 250 PA Delco committee selects a book about the history of the United States of America for the Delaware County community to read. Each book that is chosen by the committee commemorates the upcoming 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, with the mission to “ignite imaginations, elevate diverse stories, inspire service, and highlight the American founding and 250 years of American history through Delco’s unique lens.” 

Serena Zabin is a professor of history and director of the American studies program at Carleton College. Her book, The Boston Massacre: A Family History, explores the Boston Massacre through stories of political and personal conflicts between the soldiers, colonists, and their families during the revolutionary war.

America 250 PA Delco partnered with Widener University led by Dr. Jordan B. Smith, assistant professor of history, and the Delaware County Library System to present the Revolutionary Reads Community Read visiting author at Widener University. 

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Cathleen A. Evans
School of Nursing

Nursing Professor Awarded Service Medal for COVID-19 Response

Cathleen Evans, associate professor of nursing, has been awarded the COVID-19 Pandemic Civilian Service Medal for exemplary service to the nation as part of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) during the federal medical response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Evans, an expert in emergency and disaster care and education, serves as a member of an NDMS Disaster Medical Assistance Team which deploys emergency medical, logistical, and command and control personnel in response to public health emergencies, such as COVID-19, and natural disasters, such as a hurricanes, tornados, or wildfires. Evans and her NDMS colleagues served as a lifeline to hospitals and long-term care facilities across the country by providing temporary relief to staff, adding bed capacity, and improving outcomes for COVID-19 patients.
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Students and faculty holding a Widener Social Work banner at the event
Center for Social Work Education

Widener Social Work Students Participate in Walk Against Hate

Students and faculty from the Center for Social Work Education participated in the 2022 Walk Against Hate on October 23, 2022 hosted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as the WU Widener Team. In addition to the walk, students also engaged in advocacy, educational, and fundraising activities including staffing a table which provided bracelet making, coloring pages, positive affirmation activities, and more for community attendees. 

The Walk Against Hate is an annual event to bring communities together in solidarity against antisemitism, bigotry, and all forms of hate. 

Student participants Oli Zimmerman '26, Abigail Bustraan '26, Shaneka Atkins '24, Sarah Coupland '24, Madison McElwee '24, Jessica Mereshensky '24, Mykirah Russel- Hopson '24, Nicole Scharfetter '24, and Younger Zinnah '24 were led by Director for the Center of Social Work Jennifer Cullen associate professor Robin Goldberg-Glenn. 

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aerial shot of Old Main
Widener Administration

Widener welcomes new member to Board of Trustees

By Matthew Sullivan '22 communication studies

Widener University is pleased to announce that new Board of Trustees member Tim Speiss, a past president of Widener’s Alumni Association, attended his first board meeting Oct. 20. 

Speiss is a prominent New York-based personal wealth advisor and tax partner with extensive experience in providing services to senior executives and other distinguished clients. He has been an active alumnus who has devoted significant time and resources to the university.

“I am excited to welcome Tim Speiss to the Widener University Board of Trustees,” Widener President Stacey Robertson said. “Tim brings immense talent and valuable business experience along with a relentless commitment to Widener’s success. All of this will help make our board more effective. Tim’s enthusiasm for the university is inspiring and contagious. I can’t wait to begin working with him as a trustee.”

Speiss earned a bachelor of business accounting degree from Widener in 1983 and a master's degree in taxation in 1989. He is a tax partner for EisnerAmper LLP, where he works in the Private Clients Services Group and chairs the firm’s Asia Practice. His work is concentrated in tax planning, investment, compensation, and financial planning services. Speiss also earned a certificate in financial management from Pepperdine Graziadio Business School and is a certified public accountant in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Houzhou, China.

Speiss has extensive board experience supporting nonprofit business, education and arts organizations. In addition, he serves on the university’s School of Business Administration Dean’s Advisory Council, which he helped establish and has chaired, and the Accounting and Information Management Advisory Board. He is a decorated alumnus having been honored with the 2009 John C. Sevier Award, the 2003 Distinguished Performance in Management Award and the 2001 Outstanding Alumnus Award. He has given generously to the university for three decades, including by establishing the Timothy Speiss Endowed Fund for the Promotion of Global Business. 

The Board of Trustees appointment is a three-year term that took effect in May. 

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Andrea Martin with award plaque standing alongside provost and president
College of Arts & Sciences

Chemistry Professor Honored with Teaching Innovation Award

Associate Professor of Chemistry Andrea Martin has been recognized with the Fitz Dixon Innovation in Teaching Award, announced at the 2022 faculty awards program. 

The award recognizes faculty members, either individually or in teams, who have designed, implemented, and assessed an innovative or experimental teaching and learning project. 

Martin has a deep commitment to innovative, inclusive, and continuously renewed teaching of undergraduate chemistry.  This includes in-class structured group activities and frequent low-stakes assignments that are designed to build content knowledge and process skills simultaneously. She uses “Math Minute” videos to address deficiencies in the algebra needed for success in chemistry, and a flipped classroom model that involves making lecture material online and using the class period for problem solving. Martin uses applied process-oriented guided inquiry learning to include all students in active-learning group problem-solving, where students take turns with different roles of manager, recorder, reporter, and reflector – to explore chemistry problems as a team. 

Martin helped create Widener’s Peer Learning Assistant Program to support class goals and offer feedback on class activities. These exemplary, innovative, and impactful multi-faceted teaching projects advance the Widener mission to provide active and inclusive learning experiences for all students.

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Vicki Brown holding award plaque alongside provost and president
School of Engineering

Distinguished University Professor Designation goes to Engineering Professor

School of Engineering faculty member Vicki Brown has been honored with the distinguished university professor designation. The recognition honors individual faculty members of distinction and represents the university’s commitment to recognizing excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service throughout faculty members’ careers. The honor was announced at the 2022 faculty awards program. 

To be eligible for the designation, a faculty member must hold a tenured appointment at the rank of professor and be clearly identified by students and colleagues as an outstanding teacher.  They must also have national or international recognition for scholarly research activities, and have made significant contributions as a leader at the university or in the faculty member’s profession or academic discipline. The designation has a three-year term.

Brown has been an active member of the university faculty for 41 years, including 18 as chair of the Civil Engineering Department, successfully guiding it through three accreditation visits under her leadership.

Brown has also played an active role in university faculty governance and has served several times on the Faculty Council Executive Committee. She was instrumental in the development of the laboratory curriculum, and in infrastructure for the undergraduate civil engineering program.

Brown’s belief that “in-the-classroom learning” is most effective when combined with “real-world learning,” she seeks out opportunities to provide students with networking experiences – taking them to professional society meetings and continually challenging them in a supportive environment.

She also established and administers student competitions at national and international levels for the American Concrete Institute. One of Brown’s most visible and important contributions is the development and execution of the Engineering Girls Camp. Given the under-representation of females in the engineering field, her efforts to bring young women interested in engineering together with female engineers and female engineering students has impacted numerous young women and helped them gain the confidence to pursue a traditionally male-dominated field.

In addition, Brown has made a significant impact in her area of expertise – the use of fiber reinforced polymers as a substitute for steel in reinforced concrete. She serves as chair of an international committee tasked with developing design codes for FRP-reinforced structural concrete. 

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Jayne Thompson with award plaque standing alongside provost and president
College of Arts & Sciences

Faculty Member in English honored with Distinguished Teaching Award

Associate Teaching Professor of English Jayne Thompson received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award at Widener’s 2022 faculty awards program. The honor is given annually to recognize one outstanding faculty member and is funded by the Lindback Foundation as a means of honoring dedicated faculty members at universities across the Philadelphia region.

Thompson has worked more than two decades to join her passion for teaching literature and creative writing with deep engagement in the Chester community.  She has made the act of writing a central tool for addressing the hopelessness and pain of people caught in the "school-to-prison pipeline."  Her work has grown organically from her experiences with high school students, incarcerated people and community groups.

Thompson has included students through the Chester Writers House and by creating and teaching the Community Literacy and Social Justice course. Along with Widener students, she began a women’s writing group called The World Split Open Story Collaborative for those who live, work, volunteer, and study in Chester.  It encourages women to tell their stories, share life experiences, and explore their sense of agency.

From her work with the Chester School District; Chester Made and Chester Cultural Corridor; Widener University’s service learning, Bonner Leaders, and Periclean Faculty Leadership programs; and multiple places of communal gathering, to her role on the Mayor’s Advisory Council at Chester City Hall, Thompson’s work in Chester supports vibrant communities.

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Shana Maier with award plaque standing alongside provost and president
College of Arts & Sciences

Outstanding Researcher Award goes to Criminal Justice faculty member

Profession of Criminal Justice Shana Maier was honored at the 2022 faculty awards program with the Outstanding Researcher Award. 

The award recognizes a faculty member who has exhibited distinction in scholarly work. Through their research, the recipient has made a significant contribution to advancement of their profession or discipline, and to the university’s mission and vision. 

Maier’s research addresses society’s contemporary conflicts and hot-button issues such as student fear of crime and perception of safety; marijuana decriminalization; jury instructions; and sexual violence and victimization. Throughout her career she has established an impressive record of research as someone who undertakes complicated criminal justice and socio-legal analyses. 

Maier has achieved an outstanding record of publication over the previous five years despite pandemic-related slowdowns of scholarly activity and production across higher education. She is committed to actively engaging undergraduate and graduate students in rigorous academic research and has recently authored four manuscripts for publication with undergraduates.

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Angie Corbo holding award plaque standing alongside provost and president
College of Arts & Sciences

Professor Recognized for Institutional Leadership

Associate Professor Angie Corbo, chair of the Communication Studies program, received the Institutional Leadership Award at Widener’s 2022 faculty awards program.

The award is given annually to a faculty member who has a history of leading university initiatives that further Widener’s vision, mission and strategic objectives. 

Corbo has served her college and the university in leadership roles in faculty governance. She currently serves as faculty chair, and has served on the crisis management team’s academic consulting team. She is part of the High Impact Practice Fair committee, chairs the Breathe Board, and serves on the provost’s Mental Health Task Force.

Corbo is an engaged leader in the campus community, serving as the Summer Undergraduate Research and Creative activities program co-director since 2014. As a co-instructor of Contemporary Issues in Political Engagement, she empowered students to interview political candidates and lobby elected offices to be cognizant of the impact of college student debt. 

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Professors Mazumder and Singh standing with their plaques alongside the provost and president
School of Engineering

Professors Honored for Promoting Civic Engagement

Assistant Teaching Professor Ria Mazumder and Associate Professor Anita Singh, both of the School of Engineering, have been honored with the Civic Engagement Award. The honor, given at the 2022 faculty awards program, recognizes outstanding contributions of faculty to students’ understanding of their social responsibilities, and to Widener’s engagement in the local or global community through teaching or research. 

Mazumder and Singh are committed to broadening engineering education in ways that and equip Widener students to become professionally, personally, and socially responsible leaders. They developed two innovative projects that promote a lifelong commitment to civic engagement. The first, a partnership with Chester Eastside Inc. School and Edgemont Scholars Academy, delivers innovative extra-curricular STEM education to elementary and middle school students in need of opportunity.  The second created a partnership with the Chester Community Clinic and the Community Nursing Clinic, in which engineering students learn about the challenges of developing effective, low-cost solutions for patients at the margins of the health care system.

Both projects have been effective at engaging students and serving the community and have received recognition beyond the university.

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Christine A. Pariseault
School of Nursing

Nursing Professor Reports Findings on Nurses' Experiences during COVID

Christine Pariseault, assistant professor of nursing, co-authored a study that explored the perceptions and experiences of nurses in clinical practice engaged in caring for patients diagnosed with COVID‐19 during the early months of the pandemic. The qualitative descriptive study published in Research in Nursing & Research addressed clinical nurses' daily struggles at the bedside while caring for patients diagnosed with COVID‐19. Analyzed findings showed five themes: navigating uncertainty, managing death and loss, acknowledging emotional responses, learning opportunities, and facing community undercurrents. The report concluded on the important of collecting and analyzing data and disseminate findings to inform the nursing profession, healthcare industry, and the public. 

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Widener students at Philadelphia Phillies networking event at Citizen's Bank Park
School of Business Administration

Business Students attend Philadelphia Phillies Networking Event

Students from the School of Business Administration and from the Business Living Learning Community attended a networking event as part of the Philadelphia Phillies College Nights series at Citizen’s Bank Park.

The event included a panel discussion with Phillies industry professionals, a networking hour with Phillies staff and students from other area colleges who were in attendance, and a chance to stay to watch the evening’s baseball game.

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Stacey Robertson poses with Ellen Boyda.
School of Nursing

Widener Community Nursing Clinic Celebrates 10 Years

The Widener Community Nursing Clinic recently held an event to celebrate 10 years of service to greater Chester community. Clinic leaders and patients gathered with representatives from Widener and Chester to recognize the clinic's proven history of delivering the highest level of care and support.

For more than a decade, the clinic has stood as a steadfast community resource offering pro bono medical care to uninsured and underinsured residents. The clinic, led by Ellen Boyda, clinic director, is staffed by nurse practitioners and registered nurses from the School of Nursing faculty, students, alumni, and community volunteers. In addition to critical health care services, the clinic also provides Widener nursing students with valuable experience in non-hospital settings. 

In 2021, the clinic expanded from its flagship location at Chester CityTeam to open a new location at the Chester Senior Center. The growth enabled clinic staff to broaden its ability to offer affordable and accessible care to individuals and families throughout the community.

Photo: President Stacey Robertson with Ellen Boyda, clinic director.

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A group photo captures and students and faculty whose projects were named winners of the 2022 SURCA Symposium.
Undergraduate Academics

Undergraduate Students Named Winners of the 2022 SURCA Symposium

The annual Summer Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) program offers a high-impact experience through faculty-mentored undergraduate research, collaborative engagement, and a student-faculty learning community. The months-long program culminated with a symposium event which allowed participating students to present their projects and findings to the Widener community as well as a panel of volunteer judges who ranked the presentations by category.

The winners of the 2022 SURCA Symposium are:

Biochemistry: Michaela Jemison (advisor: Alexis Nagengast)
Detecting phenotypic difference of Alzheimer’s progression in a variety of Drosophila genotypes

Biology: Zachary Anderson (advisor: Caroline Fortunato)
Understanding the biogeographical patterns of microbial communities within the grassland soils of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Business & Computer Science: Shea’lyn Hubbs & Daniel Wiedl (advisors: Babatunde Odusami & YoungHa Ki)
Green bond performance in the United States

Chemistry: Elana Nguyen (advisor: Robert Mishur)
Microwave-assisted synthesis of transplatin, trans-[Pt[NH3]2Cl2]

Engineering A: Jared Ware (advisors: Babak Eslami &Kamran Fouladi)
Investigation of effect of melting temperature on the quality of 3D printed parts out of PLA filaments

Engineering B: Brian Hoffman (advisor: Dipendu Saha)
Conversion of Styrofoam into value-added products

Environmental: Emily Mills (advisor: Chad Freed)
Spatial modeling to support conservation of Sialia sialis, Eastern Bluebirds, in Pennsylvania

Humanities: Madison Smith & M’Nya Preston (advisor: Jordan Smith)
Hidden History of Widener

Molecular Biology: Adam Oladeji (advisor: Michael Toneff)
Transient expression of miR-200c does not permanently inhibit breast cancer cell aggression

Social Science A: Zora DeSeignora & Kaitlyn Lathrop (advisor: Angela Corbo)
Belonging, inclusion, and collaboration in communication studies: Building self-awareness and community

Social Science B: Cloë Di Flumeri & Marissa Fowler (advisor: Jeremy Backstrom)
Intimate partner violence during civil war

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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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