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Gateway to the Future

Wilkes Launches Public Phase of $55 Million Fundraising Campaign

Left, University Trustee Jason Griggs ’90 addresses attendees at the launch of the Gateway to the Future Campaign on Homecoming weekend. Center, Wilkes President Patrick F. Leahy shares his vision for making Wilkes one of the finest small universities in the nation. Right, Wilkes vocalists sing the alma mater at the campaign kickoff. Photos by Knot Just Any Day.

Homecoming Weekend 2018 – often a time to remember the past — kicked off with a celebration of Wilkes University’s future. Alumni, faculty, staff and students gathered for the Gateway to the Future Campaign Kick-Off Celebration.  The event, held in the in the McHale Athletic Center, launched the public phase of the $55 million fundraising campaign that will help to transform the University. The kickoff highlighted the development goals for the upcoming years for Wilkes, brick by brick, opportunity by opportunity and student by student.

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Animal Advocate

Attorney Garry S. Taroli ’76 Works Tirelessly For Animal Rights

By Andrew Seder


Garry S. Taroli ’76 confers with Big Mama, one of the dogs whose cases he has defended for the Luzerne County SPCA. Photo by Earl and Sedor Photographic

The curtain has come down on the world’s largest circus. Sea World has stopped breeding orcas in captivity and states have cracked down on puppy mills. There are laws stipulating how long dogs can be kept outside in extreme weather. Garry S. Taroli ’76 has applauded the decisions, seeing each as a victory, not just for animals, but for humans, too.

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Coming Attractions


Campus Projects Are Transforming Wilkes

Wilkes is in the midst of a $100 million campus enhancement plan that will help the University achieve a decades-long dream of building a traditional, residential campus fully integrated into the City of Wilkes-Barre. These unprecedented investments will create a cohesive look and feel on campus, while improving safety and alleviating traffic congestion. Here is a look at some of the projects that will take place over the next two years. Continue reading

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Global Innovator

Bob Bruggeworth ’83 Finds Success Managing and Motivating in High-Tech Industry

By Kelly Clisham ’12 MFA ’16

If you’ve sent a text from your phone, read a book on your tablet, used Wi-Fi on your laptop or even turned on the TV with a remote control, Bob Bruggeworth ’83 has had an impact on your life. He’s president and chief executive officer of Qorvo, a communications chipmaker headquartered in Greensboro, N.C.


Qorvo’s headquarters in Greensboro, N.C., is home base for Bob Bruggeworth ’83, who travels the globe as the firm’s president and chief executive officer. All photos in this story are by Todd Bowman.

While Qorvo may not be a household name, it specializes in RF, or radio frequency, solutions, manufacturing amplifiers, switches and filters that connect individuals, households and businesses all over the globe. “We’re in a great market that’s growing by double digits, being fueled by the consumers’ insatiable demand for data, which means you need more of the parts we make,” says Bruggeworth. “If you name a phone, we’re probably in it – or any of your access points.”

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Wild Card

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Wilkes Political Scientists Examine Role of President Trump and Other Factors Influencing Midterm Elections

By Hilary Appelman

Donald Trump isn’t on the ballot in November, but how much he gets involved in the midterm elections could be a key factor in determining the outcome, according to Wilkes University political science professors Thomas J. Baldino and Kyle L. Kreider.

The stakes are high: control of Congress. Republicans will attempt to hold on to their majorities in the House and Senate, while Democrats hope to ride a wave of opposition to Trump and his policies to take control of one or both houses.

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Crisis Intervention


Wilkes Faculty, Students and Alumni Lead the Charge Against the Opioid Epidemic

By Vicki Mayk MFA’13

When Tom Franko talks about the impact of the United States’ opioid epidemic, he likens it to an image from a popular 1980s film. “It’s like the picture of the family from the film Back to the Future,” says Franko, as assistant professor of pharmacy practice in Wilkes, Nesbitt School of Pharmacy. “As people look at the picture, one person’s image fades until it disappears. That is what addiction is like. It is a disease of isolation, separating people from their families, their jobs, everything that is important to them.” Franko says he and his colleagues in pharmacy are uniquely positioned to play a key role in the deadliest drug crisis in American history.

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Changing the Standard

Surgeon Asif Ilyas ’97 Champions Reforming Opioid Prescription Guidelines 

By Koren Wetmore


Dr. Asif Ilyas ’97, a hand surgeon with The Rothman Institute in Philadelphia, is working to reduce the number of opioids prescribed after surgery. Photo by Dan Z. Johnson

A disturbing revelation struck Asif Ilyas, M.D. ’97 as he read a recent study about potential addiction among surgical patients. Published in JAMA Surgery, it showed that about 6 percent of those prescribed opioids for post-surgical pain were still taking the pills six months later.

An accomplished surgeon, Ilyas had pursued a medical career because he wanted to help people. Yet the study suggested his profession was contributing to the nation’s opioid crisis.

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Mind Game

Sport Psychologist Megan Cannon ’08 Helps Athletes Develop Competitive Edge

By Gary R. Blockus ’79


Sport psychologist Megan Cannon ’08 has a private practice working with athletes in a variety of settings, such as Syr CrossFit pictured here in Allentown, Pa. Photo by Dan Z. Johnson

When Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors missed four straight three-pointers and walked off the court before halftime of Game Two in the 2016 NBA Finals, sports fans across the country sounded off about another athlete losing his cool.

Megan Cannon ’08 set them straight on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

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Record Setters

Alumni Athletes’ Winning Ways Earn Them Spot In Athletics Hall of Fame

Five men and women who left their mark on Wilkes athletic teams were honored with induction in the 25th Athletics Hall of Fame class. From setting scoring records to earning plaudits in post-season play, these athletes were among the best to hit the mats, take to the court or enter a playing field wearing the blue and gold. The inductees were recognized at half-time of the Jan. 20, 2018, basketball game. A formal induction ceremony followed the game. This year’s inductees reflect on what they learned as Colonels.

Hall of Fame

Members of the 25th Athletics Hall of Fame class were inducted during a ceremony on Jan. 20. They posed at the reception after the ceremony holding the photos of themselves as student athletes that will hang in the Marts Center. Pictured from left are Anthony Serafin ’07, Denise Carson ’92, Laurie Agresti Mirra ’07, Jason Turner ’96 and Barry Gold ’68.

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Colonel Couple



The Kalaritises, who met when they were Wilkes undergraduates, are pictured at their home in Florence, S.C.  (Photo by Seth Johnson Media)

Panos ’77 and Deb (Stephens) ’78 Kalaritis Share Career Success And A Marriage Made at Wilkes

By Vicki Mayk MFA ’13

It wasn’t the most auspicious introduction.

Wilkes freshman Deb Stephens ’78 had joined her Waller Halls roommate, Sherry Meyer, as a score keeper for the men’s soccer team. Milling around with the players before an away game, Deb, clad in dark pants, had taken a seat on the stairs at the Ralston Athletic Complex. Wilkes soccer player Panos Kalaritis ’77, a junior international student from Greece, was there with the rest of the team.

“He was not shy,” Deb says of her first encounter with the man who would become her husband. “And his first words were less than romantic.” Continue reading

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Artistic Vision

Sordoni Art Gallery Opens the Doors to New Home With Warhol Exhibit

By Geoff Gehman


Zigzagging through the opening-night crowd for the opening exhibit of the new Sordoni Art Gallery, people are staring at Andy Warhol’s iconic images of icons — Marilyn Monroe, Jackie O., Brillo. No two people experience Warhol’s art the same way and part of a gallery’s purpose is to provide myriad ways to enter the experience. In its new location with a new director, the Sordoni Art Gallery aims to do that.

The bigger, better Sordoni Art Gallery debuted in October beside the new Karambelas Media and Communications Center on South Main Street. It has 7,000 square feet, nearly double than in its previous home in Stark Learning Center. State-of-the-art climate control and convenient parking also are upgrades. Continue reading

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Collaborative Communicators

New Karambelas Media and Communication Center Launches New Era

By Vicki Mayk MFA ’13 and Sarah Bedford ’17

Karambelas cover

A centralized newsroom with computers and meeting space in the Karambelas Media and Communication Center promotes a collaborative environment for students. (Photos in this section by Earl and Sedor Productions)

Wilkes junior communication studies major J.M. Rey has a window on the world these days – at least the world outside the new Clayton and Theresa Karambelas Media and Communication Center. Rey, production director for campus radio station WCLH, has gone from being on-the-air in cramped quarters in a hard-to-find area of the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center to a spacious- state-of-the art studio that looks out on the street through tall windows at 141 S. Main St. Passersby can hear WCLH’s programming broadcast from speakers placed outside.

“Now people walking by can see you, say hi, and promote the station,” Rey says. “Now when you’re doing a live show they can hear what you’re playing out in the street. It’s just great to hear reactions and see people jamming out and everything; it’s just so cool.”

Rey sums up his first reaction to seeing the new facility in three words: “My jaw dropped.” His reaction is shared by many who visit the new center. Continue reading

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Flying High

From Wilkes Colonel to Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, Deirdre Gurry ’99 Has Seen The World

By Kelly Clisham MFA ’16


Lt. Col. Deirdre Gurry ’99 stands next to her aircraft–a T-6 Texan 11–which she pilots as the commander of a squadron of T-6 pilots.

Growing up in the small town of Bushkill, Pa., Deirdre Gurry ’99 never imagined she’d become a pilot. “My vision of my future was very limited. I had no idea as a kid what I would be doing with my life,” she says. Today, she has a much higher world view. Gurry is not only a pilot, but a Lieutenant Colonel, squadron commander, teacher and mentor to the next generation of aviators in the United States Air Force. Continue reading

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Creative Community

An Oral History of Manuscript’s 70 Years As Wilkes’ Literary Magazine

By James Jaskolka ’16

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In the first issue of Manuscript published in 1947, the editors expressed their hope that the literary magazine would become a college tradition of which they might all be proud. As the publication marks its 70th anniversary, it’s clear their dream was realized.

Founded as a way to ensure free and open speech in creative work, Manuscript Society and the publication it produces serve as the premier creative outlet at Wilkes. Visual art and writing are accepted from students, faculty or alumni, guaranteeing that each edition reflects Wilkes’ best creative work. Continue reading

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Bird Watcher


Dan Klem ’68 holds a merlin, a bird of prey that is a smaller version of the peregrine falcon. He also holds a sample of glass with a dotted pattern applied as ceramic bonded to glass. It has been used successfully to decrease bird deaths from glass collisions. All photos by Dan Z. Johnson

Daniel Klem ’68 Has Devoted a Career to Studying and Saving Birds

by Krista Weidner

If Daniel Klem ’68 had a mantra, it might very well be “I’m not giving up.”

Klem, who is the Sarkis Acopian Professor of Ornithology and Conservation Biology at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the problem of bird deaths and injuries caused by collisions with building glass. Since earning a doctorate in zoology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Klem has been researching the bird/window issue and working tirelessly to raise awareness, both within the scientific community and among the general public. Continue reading

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Australian Adventure

Allison Roth ’11 Left Her Job to Spend a Year Exploring the Land Down Under


A spectacular view in Noosa, Queensland, Australia, which was one of the many coastal areas visited by Allison Roth ’11 on her year-long adventure.



Roth snorkels to explore Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

It started with a casual conversation with a family friend at a party. Allison Roth ’11 was chatting with an Australian woman who had backpacked across the United States in her 20s.


“She asked me why I didn’t do the same thing – in Australia,” Roth recalls. “I remember saying, ‘I can’t because I’m saving for retirement.’ As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized how ridiculous that sounded. And I couldn’t stop thinking about what she’d said.” Continue reading

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A Fine Madness


Alumni Couple Henry and Tammy Bisco Find Success With MadGirl Designs

By Geoff Gehman

Teachers at a New York university pluck books from aluminum shelves framed by a wall of glass. Bartenders in a North Carolina restaurant pull bottles of liquor from illuminated acrylic shelves resembling glowing cocktails. Workers at a New Jersey company use lockers with wavy doors painted eye-popping green and orange.

These work stations were developed by Henry Bisco ’95 and Tammy Cyprich Bisco ’97, the passionate proprietors of MadGirl Designs, a firm specializing in designing and outfitting commercial interiors. They launched it two years ago after working a dozen years for a custom shelving-and-storing firm. The couple specializes in providing educational and medical institutions with sleek, snappy space solutions featuring everything from reception desks to coffee nooks, sage-tinted acoustical panels to espresso-hued countertops. Continue reading

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Winners Circle

Members of the 24th Athletics Hall of Fame Class Reflect on Lessons Learned in Sports

During their years at Wilkes, these Colonels represented the University on the mats, courts and playing fields. When they graduated, what did they take with them besides their degrees and memories? This year’s inductees to the Athletics Hall of Fame reflect on the lessons they took with them from the playing fields. Continue reading

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A Dose of Success


By Patty Pologruto


Daniel Longyhore, associate professor of pharmacy practice, standing center, works with students in the CVS Pharmacy Care Lab. The Care Lab, an integral part of education in the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy, was renovated and rededicated to marks the school’s 20th anniversary. Photos by Earl and Sedor Photographic.

You won’t find the drugs produced by Lanier Evans PharmD ’04 in your local pharmacy. That’s because they include low doses of radioactivity used by hospitals for high-tech scans that help diagnose a variety of medical conditions, from cancer to heart problems.

It’s a career Evans never dreamed of when he first entered Wilkes’ Nesbitt School of Pharmacy in 2000. He learned about being a nuclear pharmacist from Bernard Graham, founding dean of the Nesbitt School, who had once worked in the field himself.

“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” says Evans, who is manager of a nuclear pharmacy in Atlanta, Ga., for PETNET Solutions, a division of Siemens Medical Solutions Inc. “He introduced this world to me.”

At the time, only two pharmacy schools in the United States offered classes leading to nuclear certification. Because Graham and other faculty tailored classes to help prepare Evans for his field of interest, he didn’t need to invest more time and money after graduation. “When I came out of school, I had all of the requirements for the nuclear medicine certification. I was offered a position with PETNET, the company I’m still with,” Evans says.

Evans’ experience in the pharmacy school reflects its strengths: close relationships with faculty, a personal approach to pharmacy education and – perhaps most importantly – a school that continues to adapt its curriculum to meet the rapidly changing field of pharmacy. As Nesbitt celebrates the 20th anniversary of its first entering class, it continues to evolve. Continue reading


Head of the Class


By Kelly Clisham MFA ’16


Melanie Wiscount works in a new high school in Washington, D.C. Photos by Stephen Barrett.

One glance at Melanie Wiscount EdD ’15’s résumé and you understand why she won a Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics and Science. She’s snagged major honors ever since she switched careers to teach computer science at the middle- and high-school levels. During her 13-year teaching career, Microsoft selected her as a Partners in Learning US and Global Educator. Siemens honored Wiscount as a STEM Institute fellow. Now there’s the presidential honor, a national prize that comes with $10,000 from the National Science Foundation.

Still, when Wiscount talks about her work with the District of Columbia Public Schools, she doesn’t highlight her expertise or honors. She brags about her students, who team up to develop award-winning mobile apps and land prestigious internships with the likes of Microsoft, Lockheed-Martin, Accenture, World Bank and NASA. Continue reading