Wafa Elected Chair-Elect of PSU’s Council of Campus Chancellors

Penn State Scranton Chancellor Dr. Marwan Wafa was recently elected to a high-profile position by his fellow leaders from the University’s Commonwealth Campuses.

This summer, Wafa was elected chair-elect of the Council of Campus Chancellors (CCC). In July 2021, he will officially become chair, succeeding Dr. Tina Richardson, chancellor of Penn State Lehigh Valley.

Wafa will serve as co-chair for a year before assuming his one-year term as chair, when he will oversee meetings with Hanes, or run them in her absence. Prior to each meeting, he will solicit agenda items from council members, then finalize the agenda in consultation with Hanes.

The CCC functions under the authority of Senior Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses and Executive Chancellor Dr. Madlyn Hanes. Council members, consisting of every Commonwealth Campuses chancellor and the campus director of Penn State Shenango, meet on a monthly basis to exchange views and discuss academic and administrative matters relevant to the campuses.

“I’m honored to be nominated by my colleagues and to serve them,” Wafa said. “As chair, my role will be to help provide solutions or answers, not necessarily by myself, but in collaboration with my colleagues. It’s interacting with colleagues in a place where they feel they can be open,” Wafa said. “We then bring that information back to our constituents so we can all be moving in the right direction to support the mission of the University at large and our campuses. At each campus, the day-to-day issues we all face are very consuming, so it’s good to look at things happening at a sister campus or University Park that we can all embrace. It’s learning from each other’s best practices and learning to overcome mistakes that are not in the best interests of anyone.”

Everhart Museum Begins Search for Executive Director

The board of trustees of the Everhart Museum of Natural History, Science & Art, announced that they have formally begun searching for a new Executive Director to replace Aurore Giguet who resigned earlier this summer. The executive search committee of the Museum retained Arts Consulting Group out of Boston, MA, to lead the search.

“The Executive Director is the Chief Executive Officer of the Museum.” said Don Fredrickson, president of the board of trustees, “The executive search committee evaluated and interviewed a handful of firms. We are confident that our selection of the Arts Consulting Group will recruit the right person to lead our Museum into the future.”

In this role, reporting to the board of trustees, the executive director will provide strategic leadership and communication, revenue enhancement and community engagement, provide daily management, and oversee all operations of the Museum. The Everhart Museum is especially interested in candidates whose background and experience have prepared them to contribute to contribute to the Museum’s commitment to engagement and inclusion. A full copy of the position announcement is available on the Museum’s website www.everhart-museum.org.  Interested candidates may submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments (electronic preferred), to EverhartMuseum@ArtsConsulting.com

Moses Taylor Foundation Awards $160,352 Grant to Wright Center for COVID-19 Preparedness

Moses Taylor Foundation has generously awarded a $160,352 grant to The Wright Center for Community Health to fund significant equipment and supplies to treat and protect the region’s most vulnerable patients and to keep frontline medical personnel safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re incredibly appreciative of the unwavering and empowering support we’ve historically received from Moses Taylor Foundation,” said Linda Thomas-Hemak, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of The Wright Center for Community Health and President of The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education. “During this complex global health crisis, the reiterated generosity of this valued community partner once again empowers us to sustain our mission to improve the health and welfare of our regional community.”

The Moses Taylor Foundation grant will fund essential equipment for the nonprofit’s safety-net community health centers that provide nondiscriminatory and integrated primary medical, Ryan White, dental, behavioral, addiction and recovery health services at nine practice sites throughout Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wayne counties. The much-needed equipment funded by the Moses Taylor Foundation grant includes two military-grade medical tents with negative-pressure ventilation infrastructure to prevent virus spread amongst patients and staff, as well as Personal Protective Equipment, COVID tests, and sanitation/decontamination supplies and services.

“We welcome this opportunity to support the critical work of The Wright Center to improve the health and wellness of the communities we collectively serve,” said LaTida Smith, President and CEO of Moses Taylor Foundation. “In moments of crisis, we know time and resources are precious. We value The Wright Center’s work on behalf of families in the area, and we appreciate opportunities to support its mission-driven endeavors.”

Moses Taylor Foundation serves an 11-county region that includes Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wayne counties. The foundation prioritizes responding quickly and meaningfully to emerging needs that arise in the community, and plays a critical role in strengthening the safety-net of health and human service providers in Northeast Pennsylvania. The foundation provides opportunities for people in the region, especially the most vulnerable, to lead healthy lives.

The Dime Bank Promotes Gail L. Ketcham to Assistant Vice President

The Dime Bank Board of Directors are pleased to announce that Gail L. Ketcham was appointed to the position of Assistant Vice President Loan Processing Supervisor.

Gail Ketcham has over 30 years of experience in the banking arena. Ketcham joined The Dime Bank in February 2014 and started in the loan processing department. Prior to joining The Dime Bank, Ketcham began her banking career as a teller, progressed to customer service, and then moved into deposit operations where she supervised the operations and staffing of 23 branches. Ketcham then moved into loan operations, managing the loan department in the preparation and review of documentation for all consumer and commercial loans, maintaining the files, and billing. As assistant vice president loan processing supervisor, Ketcham manages the mortgage department and commercial and consumer centralized lending departments, while ensuring adherence to The Dime Bank policies and federal and state compliance regulations. 

President and Chief Executive Officer Pete Bochnovich stated, “With Gail’s extensive experience in the banking industry at various organizations holding a variety of positions, she has the expertise to manage our loan processing area in this growing leadership role. We are certain she will bring continued success in her career and to The Dime Bank.”

Ketcham lives in Smallwood, NY with her husband, Doug, and two canine “kids”.  Ketcham says, “I love working for The Dime Bank because they know their customers personally and are there for their customers and their communities. I enjoy traveling and exploring off the beaten path and in doing so finding so many things that are interesting and beautiful.” 

For more information on The Dime Bank, visit www.thedimebank.com.

New Bus Route to Service Mid Valley Industrial Parks

Officials from the County of Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS) and The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce announced a new bus route that will service the Mid Valley Industrial Parks beginning Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. The new route will service Mid Valley Industrial Park, Valley View Business Park, Jessup Small Business Center, and Rock Creek Corporate Center. The loop will consist of an outbound trip from the Giant Market in Dickson City and an inbound trip from the Jessup Youth Sports Complex.

“This route is an example of transportation serving as an economic engine in our county. The growth of NEPA’s industrial parks has been exponential, and we are thrilled to be a part of the economic development in our region by getting employees to work,” said COLTS’ Executive Director Bob Fiume. “COLTS looks forward to partnering with Lackawanna County, The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, and NEPA Moves on other projects moving forward.”

“As we look to attract new investment, sustain existing businesses, and grow new enterprises here in Lackawanna County, the access to workforce transportation is critical. This partnership has the potential to benefit hundreds of workers, scores of businesses, as well as municipal and government entities that have supported the investment in these parks,” said Bob Durkin, president of The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.

The route was announced Thursday in a joint press conference. Lackawanna County Commissioners Debi Domenick and Chris Chermak, along with COLTS’ Board of Directors Chairman Larry Wynne, and Scranton Area Foundation’s Vice President of Administration and Operations Maggie Nasser representing NEPA Moves joined in the announcement.

The route, which will run Monday through Friday, will connect passengers from the #12 Jessup, #52 Carbondale, and #54 Green Ridge/Dickson City bus routes. It also connects with the new #80 Commerce Loop, which also begins Sept. 8.

The first inbound trip is 6:30 a.m. from the Dickson City Giant Market, and the first inbound trip is 7:05 a.m. from the Jessup Youth Sports Complex.

PennDOT’s ‘Innovations Challenge’ Invites Students to Develop Solution to Ensure Adequate Transportation Funding for the Future

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced today that students in grades 9-12 are invited to participate in the fourth annual PennDOT Innovations Challenge, which encourages students to use their problem-solving, creative and strategic-thinking abilities to solve real-world transportation challenges in a competition among their peers.

“One of the goals of the Innovations Challenge is to open students’ minds to the possibility of a career in transportation, maybe even with PennDOT,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “Students working on this project will engage in the very real challenge facing the industry – finding a sustainable solution to transportation funding challenges.”

This year’s Innovations Challenge asks students to develop an innovative and implementable solution that helps address Pennsylvania’s transportation revenue shortfall by identifying potential new funding streams, aside from additional gas taxes, tolls or mileage-based user fees, to help ensure adequate transportation funding for the future.

The Innovations Challenge is open to all students in grades 9-12, regardless of their school’s learning model. PennDOT is directly responsible for nearly 40,000 miles of highway and roughly 25,000 bridges, roughly equal to the state-maintained road systems of New York, New Jersey, and all the New England states combined. Much of the funding to maintain that system comes from liquid fuels taxes, which are becoming increasingly unsustainable, especially considering additional impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With vehicles becoming more fuel efficient and electric vehicles becoming more affordable, gasoline-based revenues can no longer generate the funds needed. Other options, including tolling and mileage-based user fees, are being explored. To meet the needs of its aging infrastructure, Pennsylvania needs to establish a funding stream that will inject an additional $5 billion per year into its transportation system.

“We appreciate the unique challenges faced by schools during the pandemic,” Gramian added. “Our educators are to be commended for encouraging the creative thinking needed for the Innovations Challenge.”

Regional Innovations Challenge winners will be selected and invited to compete for the state championship.

The Transportation Policy and Education Foundation, an educational arm of the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC), the American Council of Engineering Companies of PA (ACEC/PA) and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) are providing a combined total award of $5,500 to be divided among the first, second and third place statewide winning teams.

For complete Innovations Challenge details, visit www.penndot.gov/innovation. The submission deadline is December 18, 2020.

Marywood University to Celebrate National Voter Registration Day with Multiple Events and Activities

Marywood University will celebrate National Voter Registration Day with its Pacer to the Polls initiative on Wednesday, September 22, 2020. Marywood will join more than 2,000 organizations that are partnering for cross-country efforts to register voters well in advance of Election Day this November.

With a historic presidential election approaching, every eligible American voter should exercise her or his right to be heard at the ballot box, and National Voter Registration Day is the right day to start by getting registered. This is why communities across the country are planning to use the day to increase voter participation.

In addition, Marywood University has joined more than 160 college presidents and chancellors in committing to full student voter registration and participation in all elections through the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge (All IN). To support full student voter participation of all eligible students, ALL IN and its Higher Education Presidents Council has launched a call to action for higher education presidents and chancellors to fully engage students in electoral participation.

Marywood University will host various virtual and in-person opportunities throughout the day. To find out the list of activities for the National Voter Registration Day at Marywood University, please follow us @marywoodactivities on Instagram, and like/follow Marywood Activities Council on Facebook, as there will be many opportunities for engagement via social media leading up to and during the event.

IST Professor Forges Partnership with University of Auckland Faculty

Following his trip last summer to Kazakhstan, Penn State Scranton Professor of Information Sciences and Technology Alan Peslak and a contingent of University representatives traveled this past winter to New Zealand to engage in a development workshop with faculty members from the University of Auckland.

The workshop was part of the Joint Collaboration Development Program, which is providing faculty teams from both universities with the opportunity to develop a long-term, self-supporting, sustainable collaborative teaching, research and service program supporting an institutional-level strategic relationship. The partnership also includes a competitive seed money request for proposals (RFP) jointly funded by both universities.

Upon returning from the workshop, Peslak and his colleagues, led by Tiffany MacQuarrie, assistant teaching professor of English at Penn State Beaver, successfully submitted a proposal to expand Penn State Beaver’s Experiential Digital Global Engagement (EDGE) program to include Auckland. It was one of eight separate projects within the Joint Collaboration Development Program to receive funding from the University’s Office of Global Programs.

Through EDGE, faculty from both universities will be able to develop collaborative virtual learning projects for students. This coming fall, students in Peslak’s IST 421 – Advanced Enterprise Integration: Technologies and Applications course will develop software for students in Auckland’s Asian Identities course.

Last fall, Peslak’s IST 421 students collaborated on an IT project with students at S. Seifullin Kazakh AgroTech University in Kazakhstan, one of several other international schools where EDGE has been successfully implemented.

Peslak was invited to take part in the Auckland project by Alexandra Persiko, strategic partnerships manager for Global Programs. “I applied and was accepted,” Peslak said. “I believe we had 12 to 15 people in total selected from the entire University.”

The multi-day workshop began with presentations given by members of the Penn State and Auckland delegations, as well as by members of the U.S. Embassy staff stationed in New Zealand.

The Scranton Fringe Festival Presents Fringe Under Glass

After canceling their six annual festival due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Scranton Fringe Festival has announced Fringe Under Glass, an innovative walking tour of live performing arts to be staged behind the windows of various downtown Scranton storefronts from Friday, Sept. 25 through Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020. During this challenging time for local businesses and for the arts, Scranton Fringe has partnered with downtown-based businesses and empty storefronts with large window spaces to activate these unconventional guerrilla stages, while attracting patrons to the streets of downtown Scranton to enjoy and experience unique works of live theater and performance art. Featured artists and cultural groups include The Black Scranton Project, Gaslight Theatre Company, The Pop Up Studio, Mostly Opera, Simone Daniel, and Nicole Nicholas.

Fringe Under Glass provides a unique, safer theatrical experience and strong visuals to engage small groups of audience members, as they are led from window to window through the Electric City by a trained Fringe tour guide. The live works will feature wireless audio transmission by the solo artists or small groups of creative talent who are already living or working in close proximity, providing a safe performance space and allowing the artists an opportunity to incorporate new technology into their work.

Performances will be viewed from various sidewalks throughout downtown Scranton, PA on Friday, September 25th at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday, September 26th at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.; and Sunday, September 27th at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Tickets for Fringe Under Glass are $20 and can be purchased here: http://scrantonfringe.org/tickets/. A private group of 10 persons is $150.

The runtime is two hours, which includes one 15-minute intermission.

“While the large fall festival of arts, culture, and community is canceled, we are thrilled to realize this innovative concept for connecting our incredible community of creative artists and brave audiences who have been so supportive of us over the years,” said Conor Kelly O’Brien, Scranton Fringe co-founder and executive director.

Performance Dates and Times
Friday, September 25th at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 26th at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 27th at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. 

Various Sidewalks of Downtown Scranton, PA 

2 Hours, which includes one 15-minute intermission 

General Admission: $20
Private Groups of 10 Persons: $150 

For Tickets, Visit: ScrantonFringe.org

The Wright Center Welcomes New Vice President of Strategic Initiatives

Lisa Baumann, a program development and grant-writing strategist with 25 years of experience, has been named Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at The Wright Center for Community Health and Graduate Medical Education.

Before joining the Wright Center, Baumann was president and owner of Community Health Consulting, and served as director of Competitive Grants and Foundation Relations as well as Community Benefit and Partnerships for Geisinger Health Foundation and Geisinger Health Plan, Danville.

In her new position, Baumann will lead The Wright Center’s grants and development teams as they identify, secure and steward funds from federal, state and private programs and foundations via strategic relation-building with community partners and stakeholders. Baumann will also be responsible for directing Wright Center programs bolstered by this financial pipeline.

“I’m excited to be part of The Wright Center and further my work in community health. For more than 40 years, the Wright Center has served as an essential community provider, demonstrating an altruistic focus on positively impacting the health and welfare of the community it serves,” Baumann explained. “The Wright Center’s reputation for being responsive to the identified needs of the community through innovative solutions is inspirational to me.

“Lisa is a most welcome addition to our team,” said Linda Thomas-Hemak, M.D., Wright Center president and CEO. “Her extensive background in advancing initiatives at the local, state and national level, including her successful track record of identifying, soliciting and stewarding funds from government agencies, corporations and foundations, shows she is ideally poised to build on the foundation we have laid as we continue to grow within the communities we serve and expand into new regions.”  

Baumann earned her master’s degree in health administration from the University of Scranton and her bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Indiana University. She and her husband, Dr. Christopher Baumann, reside in Scranton.