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Zora Wolfe Headshot
College of Health & Human Services

Faculty Publishes Book Chapter on First-Generation Doctoral Students

Zora Wolfe, associate dean of the College of Health & Human Services and interim director for the Center for Education, has published a chapter in "First-Gen Docs: Personal, Political, and Intellectual Perspectives from the First-Generation Doctoral Experience.” This newly release is the third volume in The Doctoral Journey in Education series of books.

Wolfe’s chapter, titled “Program Supports for First-Generation Education Doctoral Students: A Faculty Perspective,” gives her personal insight into working with first-generation doctoral students pursuing a degree in the field of education.

This book serves to highlight the determination and resilience of the first-generation doctoral student population. 

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Julie E. Wollman poses in front the renamed Wollman Hall on Widener's campus.
College of Health & Human Services

Widener Community Honors Former President at Building Dedication Ceremony

Members of the Widener community gathered recently on the university’s Chester campus to celebrate the dedication of Julie E. Wollman Hall. Named in honor of Widener’s 10th president, Wollman Hall solidifies the president emerita’s legacy and celebrates her commitment to bolstering the university’s health science programs. 

“Widener is an institution that I love and I am deeply honored to be recognized with my name on a building on this campus,” said Wollman. “I am honored that the building is one that highlights one of my areas of focus while I was here at the university. This structure represents years of campus-wide commitment and collaboration to develop graduate programs in the health sciences, meet the needs of the local community through interprofessional experiential learning for students, and prepare those students to serve a diverse range of clients.”

Wollman’s six-and-a-half-year tenure was marked by a commitment to expanding the university’s health science footprint. Her strategic leadship positioned the university to build upon its existing roster of top-ranked health and human service programs and expanded its mission of providing community-focused, holistic, and culturally inclusive care. Under Wollman’s leadership, the School of Health and Human Service Professions transitioned into the College of Health and Human Services and the university launched its occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and nutrition science graduate programs. These efforts led to an increase in graduate enrollment, diversified the interprofessional learning environment for students, and strengthened the pipeline of health care professionals in the region.  

The dedication event welcomed Widener students, faculty, staff, and alumni and featured remarks by Paul Beideman ’79, chair of the Board of Trustees, and President Stacey Robertson. Beideman, who became board chair during Wollman’s administration, reflected on Wollman’s innovative leadership and her tremendous impact on the university.

“Among the many successes of Julie’s presidency was her recognition of the need and demand for health science programs and her focus on growing the number of health science programs offered at Widener,” said Beideman. “Julie did so much for Widener.  She led a bold and innovative planning process that resulted in our dynamic strategy of Agility Experienced which is incredibly flexible and responsive to the shifting higher education landscape.”

Robertson celebrated Wollman’s work to position Widener and its students for success, particularly in the ever-evolving healthcare field.

“This is the place on our campus that exemplifies what it means to be part of the Pride,” said Robertson. “It is where theory meets practice, where the academy meets our community, where – in this fully student-run space, leaders are grown and nurtured, where the walls between disciplines are broken down, and where patients are the center of everything. It is very fitting that this excellent work takes place in Wollman Hall.”

Formally known as Melrose Hall, Wollman Hall is located on Melrose Avenue between 17th and 18th Streets. In 2019, the building underwent a complete renovation to revamp the entire interior to feature interactive patient rooms, flexible classroom space, and interdisciplinary workspaces designed to facilitate collaboration across disciplines. The state-of-the-art facility is also home to the university’s Chester Community Clinic and the Speech-Language Pathology Clinic which provide cost-effective health and wellness services to residents. The student-led clinics work in tandem to deliver holistic treatment plans to clients while simultaneously preparing students to work interprofessionally in a clinical setting. 
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A group photo of the faculty holding their awards.
University Faculty

Widener Commends Faculty at 2023 Awards Event

Widener honored faculty members for their high distinction in areas of civic engagement, institutional leadership, research, as well as innovative and distinguished teaching. Various faculty were awarded at the ceremony, held Thursday, October 19 in Lathem Hall.

“The professors who were honored at our annual awards ceremony continuously display commitment to teaching, civic engagement, meaningful research, remarkable leadership, and cutting-edge innovation. They are highly valued colleagues and represent core values for which Widener stands," said Provost Andrew Workman. 

The awards included:

  • The Distinguished University Professor Award honors faculty members of high distinction at the University who also demonstrate the institution is committed to recognizing excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service throughout faculty members’ careers. This year's recipients were College of Health and Human Services Professor, Stephen E. Kauffman as well as College of Arts and Sciences Professor, Alexis A. Nagengast.
  • College of Arts and Sciences Professor Dana Olanoff was awarded with the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award. This award is given to a faculty member who has exemplified a history of teaching at the highest level of distinction. It is endowed by the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation, a Philadelphia-based foundation that provides grants to institutions of higher education for the promotion of excellence in teaching.
  • The Faculty Award for Civic Engagement serves to recognize the outstanding contributions that faculty members have made in accordance with Widener’s civic engagement mission, as well as solidifying Widener students’ understanding of their social responsibilities, and the impact of their disciplinary learning. This year's recipients included faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences: Associate Professor Angela M. Corbo, Professor J. Wesley Leckrone, and Associate Dean of Social Science and Professor James E. Vike.
  • College of Arts and Sciences Associate Professor Michael Toneff was awarded the Outstanding Researcher Award. This award gives recognition to a faculty member who has participated in research and scholarship nationally or internationally, and made a significant contribution through their research, while advancing their profession or discipline as well as the university’s mission and vision.
  • The Fitz Dixon Innovation in Teaching Award highlights an individual who has designed, implemented, and assessed an innovative or experimental teaching and learning project. This award was presented to College of Arts and Sciences Associate Professor Janice Krumm.
  • The Faculty Institutional Leadership Award recognizes a record of leading initiatives that further the university’s vision, mission, and strategic objectives. This year’s award recipients were College of Health and Human Services Associate Professor Marina Barnett, who is also interim assistant provost for civic engagement, and College of Arts and Sciences Associate Professor Bretton Alvare.

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Students and faculty pose for a photo
Undergraduate Academics

2023 SURCA Symposium Winners Announced

Widener’s Summer Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) program offers undergraduate students hands-on, faculty-mentored research experience over the summer. Months of hard work led to the annual SURCA Symposium where students present their findings to the community, as well as a panel of volunteer judges. 

The winners of the 2023 SURCA Symposium are: 

Biochemistry: Emily McHenry (Mentors: Robert Mishur & Michael Toneff)
Developing a procedure for the metabolic profiling of cancerous cells

Biology & Environmental Science: Evelyn Peyton (Mentor: David Coughlin)
Comparing summer acclimation studies during summer months between hatchery brook trout and wild brook trout

Chemistry & Chemical Engineering: Christina McCullough (Mentor: Dipendu Saha)
Conversion of Styrofoam to activated carbon

Engineering & Computer Science A: Ryan Mendenhall (Mentor: Babak Eslami)
Experimental investigation on effect of temperature on FDM 3D printing polymers: towards 4D printing

Engineering & Computer Science B: Fran DiPietro (Mentor: Aylin Acun)
Examining senescence in artificially aged induced pluripotent stem cell(iPSC)-derived cardiomyocytes

Engineering & Computer Science C: Alyson Fornes (Mentor: Daniel Roozbahani)
AI-driven cardiovascular disease forecasting platform

Humanities: Zoe Sweet (Mentor: Jayne Thompson)
Prison reform: Little Scandinavia

Social Science, Social Work, and Business A: Shane Landue (Mentor: Wei Gao)
Robo-advisor returns: startup vs traditional

Social Science, Social Work, and Business B: Brooke Morales & Adriana Moreta (Mentor: Robin Goldberg-Glen)
Intergenerational relationships: SURCA and career development in Social Work

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Alumni Auditorium stage with screen that says Anatomical Donor Memorial
College of Heath & Human Services

Memorial Ceremony Recognizes Anatomy Lab Donors

Students, faculty and staff gathered for a memorial ceremony recently in tribute to the donors who selflessly chose to donate their bodies after death to science, and in turn helped educate Widener health sciences students learning in the university’s state-of-the-art clinical anatomy lab

“It is a selfless contribution that enables so many to encounter their first patient, develop a deep appreciation for the human body and a lifelong respect for donors and their families,” said Kaitlin Irby, who moderated the program held in Alumni Auditorium.

The event featured tribute remarks from eight students spanning the physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech language pathology disciplines, as well as musical reflections and a spiritual dance. 

“You were the most influential teacher of human anatomy we will ever have. The framework we have of the human body was derived from the experience learning every crevice of yours,” physical therapy student Alonzo Strickland said during his tribute remarks. “We will always draw upon our experience taking apart the dead because it was by carefully disassembling a human body that we acquired the foundation to one day build another one back together.”

Between 15,000 and 20,000 people donate their bodies to science annually in the United States for medical research and education. At Widener, students learn the age, occupation and cause of death of the confidential donors they are assigned for their research. The university received 10 donors for the first clinical anatomy lab semester experience. 

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a nursing student working on a dummy patient in the simulation lab
School of Nursing

School of Nursing Named to List of Top 10 Nursing Schools in Philadelphia

Widener’s School of Nursing has been named a top 10 best nursing school in Philadelphia by The College Application, who provides rankings and advice on many topics relevant to current and incoming college students. 

Widener is recognized as 10th on the list, which is compiled using program offerings, NCLEX-RN pass rates, alumni salary data, student ratings, and more as considerations. Widener’s simulation lab is noted in this recognition as it allows students to get hands-on training in many real-world scenarios. 

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Jess Mereshensky '24 poses in front of conference banners
Center for Social Work Education

Social Work Faculty and Student Present Service-Learning Work at Global Conference

Associate Professor of Social Work Robin Goldberg-Glen, along with social work student Jessica Mereshensky ’24, and Stephanie Cole from the PA Department of Aging, presented at the 2023 Generations United Global Intergenerational Conference in Washington, D.C. 

The team's presentation, titled "For Whom Does Service Learning Really Serve: Intergenerational Benefits for Reducing Loneliness and Isolation," highlighted their experience as part of a semester-long service-learning course at Widener completed in partnership with the PA Department of Aging.

As part of the course, students are paired with an older adult who may be at risk for social isolation. The students and older adults often form deep bonds through regular conversations, and some students have created lasting connections that have continued beyond the end of the course. Having completed the service-learning course herself, Mereshensky went on to become a leader for the next semester’s class of student participants alongside Goldberg-Glen.

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aerial shot of Old Main
Widener University

Interdisciplinary Student Teams Win at Make:Able Challenge

Two student groups have won competition categories in the Make:able Challenge contest presented by PrintLab, a 3D printing curriculum developer based in the United Kingdom, and Autodesk, a software developer for architecture, engineering and construction headquartered in San Francisco. The projects represented collaborations between students at the graduate and undergraduate levels, who are enrolled in widely different areas of study. The challenge attracted an international group of competitors.

Occupational therapy students Tina Lee and Jamella Fagan and robotics engineering student Dylan Hermann ’25 won the “Best Showcase of Iterative Design” portion of the competition for students over age 18. Their Dexterity Mate creation is an adaptable utensil and chopstick holder designed specifically for Lee’s father, who lives with Parkinson’s Disease, to assist him with mealtime. 

In addition, the creation by occupational therapy students Emmily Zerr and Liliana Pokropski and robotics engineering students Ronald Carr and Aidan Wilson won the “Best Showcase of Customization” for inventors over age 18. Their Spork creation was also a feeding utensil, designed to assist Carr’s brother, who has a malformed hand and was not helped by universal cuff devices. Their solution was customized to the specific shape and size of the client’s hand.

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Yahaira Turner (second from left) at award presentation
Center for Social Work Education

MSW Student Honored with Community Service Recognition from Crozer Health

Yahaira Turner, a Master’s of Social Work student, has been named the 2023 recipient of the Gwendolyn A. Smith Award for Community Service for her work as a behavioral health social worker in the Emergency Department at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. 

This award is given to a current Crozer Health employee who makes significant contributions to the community through their time, talent, actions and dedication. 

Yahaira has committed over 20 years of service to Crozer Health devoted to working with often overlooked and underserved populations including those experiencing homelessness, substance use disorder, and mental health challenges in Chester and throughout Delaware County. 

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Group of students from ACS Athens pose for a photo in the University Center MacMoreland Commons
Widener University

Students Travel from Greece to Widener for Leadership Training

Widener hosted a group of 13 high school students from the ACS Athens school in Greece over a week in June for an intensive residential leadership training program. The students stayed in Boettner Hall and studied leadership with Hal Shorey, director of Organizational Development Services and the PsyD/MBA dual degree program, during the day. They participated in evening leadership activities and spent a day touring Philadelphia. 

The leadership course was custom designed for young leaders who will transform the world and the groups and people with whom they work. Students were able to learn about their own leadership styles and how to broaden and build their abilities using state-of-the-art tools and interactive exercises. Students engaged in a series of self-assessments with facilitated feedback of their transformational leadership, emotional intelligence and interpersonal and critical-thinking abilities.

Widener formalized a partnership with ACS Athens in 2016 that provides educational opportunities for students who attend ACS Athens, including summer programs like this one. ACS Athens provides a rigorous high school program and is attended by Greek students, international students and students who are American citizens – including many who have spent their lives in Greece.

A graduation and certificate ceremony was held Saturday, June 24 as the program concluded. 

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instructor works with a student in a special education classroom
Center for Education

Widener Receives Funding to Support Expedited Curriculum for Special Education Teachers

Widener has been awarded over $99,000 from the Pennsylvania Education Department (PDE) in an effort to expedite the process for students to become special education teachers through partnerships between universities and local school districts.

Led by Assistant Teaching Professor Briana Bronstein, Widener will offer an accelerated teaching certification program in special education which can be completed in 18 months, including student teaching. This program is geared towards working professionals, with remote courses being offered in the evenings, as students also engage in ongoing field experiences within the partner schools.

In addition, Widener is building new partnerships with Melmark and Elwyn, and strengthening existing relationships with the Chester-Upland School District to offer their staff tuition benefits and scholarships to attend Widener to complete the updated course curriculum in special education. 

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PA State Senator reads to children at the Widener Child Development Center
Child Development Center

PA Senator John Kane Visits Widener Child Development Center

Pennsylvania State Senator John Kane visited students at the Widener Child Development Center (WCDC) for reading and fun. Senator Kane read to students and played with them on the playground as art of a series of visits to various schools and child development centers coordinated through First-Up, an organization dedicated to ensuring children have the best education possible through empowering and training educators and families. 

During the visit, Senator Kane met with WCDC Director Alicia Vaux and representatives from First-Up to discuss the national teacher crisis and what more can be done to better support the early childhood education community. 

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Marina Barnett
Center for Social Work Education

Social Work Faculty Recognized for Commitment to Community Work Through Pandemic

Associate Professor of social work Marina Barnett has been awarded the Legion of Honor Award from the Chapel of Four Chaplains for her commitment to, and continued work with, the Chester community during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Legion of Honor Award is one of the highest honors given by the Chapel of Four Chaplains. It is awarded in recognition of exceptional selfless service on the part of an individual which contributes to the well-being of his or her community, and to a spirit of interfaith cooperation. 

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Erika Evans-Weaver
Center for Human Sexuality Studies

Human Sexuality Faculty Named to State and National Leadership Boards

Erika Evans-Weaver, Widener alum and adjunct faculty in the Center for Human Sexuality Studies, has been named Vice Chair for the State Board of Social Workers, Professional Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists for Pennsylvania. 

Additionally, she has been elected as a board member for the Marriage and Family Therapists Regulatory Board, which creates and manages the licensure exam for Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) across the United States and assists in MFT-related legislation.

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Janelle Williams
Graduate & Continuing Studies

Faculty Examines HBCUs as a Visiting Scholar

Janelle West, interim dean for Graduate and Continuing Studies, is featured in the Rutgers University visiting scholars report for her ongoing contributions to the program. To qualify, a visiting scholar must be interested in minority serving institutions (MSI)- related and/or higher education leadership and equity focused research. 

West is investigating “college choice and enrollment patterns at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), contemporary approaches to address challenges facing HBCU enrollment, and the experiences of Black women in higher education through critical qualitative inquiry. Most recently, Janelle served as Co-PI on a national study that focused on the experiences of Black students at HBCUs during the Black Lives Matter Movement.”

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Rhonda Hazell checks the pulse of a female patient in a clinic in Haiti.
College of Health & Human Services

Physician Assistant Professor Leads Service Trip to Haiti

Rhonda Hazell, clinical associate professor in the Institute for Physician Assistant Education and coordinator of clinical anatomy, recently completed an international service trip to provide medical care and support to residents in Haiti. Hazell led a group of medical and non-medical professionals, as part of her affiliation with the non-profit group Lifting Hope, to a community in the Tabarre suburb of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. This trip was latest of a number of mission trips to Haiti led by Hazell. 

The 10-day onsite visit in December enabled Hazell and her team to give medical care to students and their families in the Saint John Baptist De La Salle School, a pre-K through ninth-grade primary school that was established by the Brothers of the Christian Schools following the devastating earthquake in 2010. In addition to patient care, Hazell’s trip also included delivering donated medical supplies to the school’s health clinic, evaluating academic scholarship opportunities for residents, and visiting the area’s orphanage. 

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College of Health & Human Services

Physical Therapy Faculty Publish Study on International Clinical Education Experiences

The Institute for Physical Therapy’s  Ellen Erdman, clinical associate professor and director of clinical education, and Jill Black, associate dean in the College of Health & Human Services and associate professor, published findings from a case series in the Journal of Physical Therapy Education.

Titled, “Case Series Comparing Physical Therapy International Clinical Education Experiences in a Developed and Developing Country and Measuring Against Professional Standards and Guidelines,” Erdman and Black investigated physical therapy international clinical education experiences in both the developed and developing countries in comparison to the experiences to professional standards and guidelines. They examined nine students that were placed between Italy and Belize, and found that both experiences met the Commission on the Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and other professional standards and that the placements proved to be a broadening experience for the participants.

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College of Health & Human Services

Clinical Psychology Adjunct Honored by Consulting Psychology Journal Editorial Review Board

Karol M. Wasylyshyn, former vice chair of the board of trustees who served as an adjunct faculty member in the Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology, was named the winner of the 2022 Elliott Jaques Memorial Publication Award presented by the Consulting Psychology Journal editorial review board. The award recognizes published articles that put an emphasis on applying the discipline of psychology to solve significant issues faced by contemporary organizations. Wasylyshyn was recognized for her publication "The "Art" of Executive Coaching at the Top: Using Clients' Self-Imagery as a Tool for High Impact."

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Robin L. Dole
College of Health & Human Services

Robin Dole Wins National Award from the APTA Academy of Education

Robin Dole, dean of the College of Health & Human Services and professor of physical therapy, was presented with the 2022 Stanford Award by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Academy of Education. The award was created by Katherine Shepard, PT, PhD, FAPTA, in honor of her former faculty colleagues at Stanford University, to recognize the author(s) of a manuscript containing the most influential educational ideas published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Education for the calendar year. Dean Dole, who also serves as the chief delegate for APTA PA, is recognized for her contributions as an author on the paper "Competency-Based Education in Physical Therapy: Developing a Framework for Education." 

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PT students work with a client in the Chester Community Clinic
Clinics & Centers

Chester Community Clinic receives $115,000 to support pro bono services

The Chester Community Clinic received $115,000 in congressionally directed federal funds to support its delivery of pro bono services for uninsured and underinsured residents. The student-run clinic is a critical community resource and a unique place for our graduate health science students in the College of Health & Human Services to lead, learn, collaborate, and grow through hands-on service experiences. Secured by U.S. Senator Bob Casey as part of the FY23 federal spending bill, the funding will support upgrades for equipment to advance the clinic, which has provided more than 14,000 client visits since 2009 and has saved community members more than $1 million in healthcare costs. 

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