The Online Edition

On Campus — Winter 2016

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The Civic Band, directed by Philip Simon, associate professor of music, was one of the instrumental ensembles performing at the anniversary event. PHOTO BY KNOT JUST ANY DAY

Darte Center Marks 50th Anniversary 

 The Dorothy Dickson Darte Center for the Performing Arts may be 50 years old, but the anniversary celebration on Oct. 24, 2015, showed its role is just as vital as when it opened its doors a half-century ago. Performances by students in choral and instrumental ensembles, numbers highlighting dance and scenes presented by Wilkes University Theatre showcased the continued vitality of the performing arts on campus. Reminiscences about the building’s history were provided by alumni that included state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski ’67 and Elizabeth Slaughter ’68, a member of the Wilkes board of trustees. One alumnus – Bruce Phair ’73 – took a final bow as he ended 36 years as manager of the Darte.  

Dedication of Michelini Hall Honors Former President 

Wilkes celebrated the legacy of its second president, Francis J. Michelini, when it dedicated a building in his honor. At a ceremony on Nov. 10, Barre Hall, a Wilkes student residence hall, was renamed in his honor. The hall is home to students in the honors


Francis J. Michelini, second president of Wilkes, savors the moment as Barre Hall was dedicated in his honor. PHOTO BY LISA REYNOLDS


Michelini was the first Wilkes president to ascend from the academic ranks. He joined Wilkes in 1955 as the third full-time faculty member in the biology department. In 1963, he became dean of academic affairs.

After becoming president, Michelini – known to many as “Dr. Mike” – helped to ensure the University’s survival after the devastating Agnes flood in 1972, leading campus recovery efforts and ensuring Wilkes was ready for classes in the fall.


Wilkes Ranked 25th In The Nation For Economic Value By The Economist

Wilkes University is ranked 25th in the nation for economic value by The Economist. The ranking was announced in the international publication’s first-ever college rankings.

The ranking determines a college’s economic value by comparing what a school’s undergraduate alumni earn and how much they might have earned had they studied somewhere else. In Wilkes’ case, that amounts to $8,250 more in annual earnings.

The Economist’s analysis included a median salary for graduates predicted in its model for each of the 1,275 colleges included in its rankings. The salaries are predicted as what graduates would earn 10 years after entering college.

Each college received an “over/under” score – showing if earnings ranked above or below expected earnings if they attended another school. In Wilkes’ case, expected earnings are $41,650. The median earnings projected by The Economist are $49,900, showing that attending Wilkes boosts the earnings power of its graduates at $8,250 above expectations.

The Economist’s rankings use the U.S. Department of Education’s new College Scorecard data. To arrive at the over/under comparison, the newspaper used a variety of variables, including average SAT scores, sex ratio, race breakdown, college size and socioeconomic data. The result is a ranking that recognizes value above reputation, listing Wilkes above institutions such as MIT and Penn State.


Spring Lectures Offer Diverse Perspectives 

Topics as varied as international politics and entrepreneurism with a social conscience highlight spring lectures at Wilkes.

Mary Fisher Headshot

Mary Fisher

Mary Fisher, Activist, Author and Artist, Delivers Allan P. Kirby Lecture

Mary Fisher, activist, author and artist, will speak on “Freeing the Entrepreneur for the Global Good” at the Allan P. Kirby Lecture in Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship on March 16. The lecture will be in the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center for the Performing Arts at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Fisher is a global leader in the arena of social change.  Diagnosed with HIV in 1991 and with breast cancer in 2012, Fisher is an outspoken advocate. She delivered a keynote address at the 1992 Republican National Convention that is ranked among “the best 100 American speeches of the 20th century” by Oxford University Press. Her early experience, first in public and commercial broadcast media, then in high-profile positions, equipped her to urge transformation in healthcare, revise perceptions and responses to AIDS, and enable women’s global empowerment.

She is the author of six books, including her current best-selling memoir, Messenger, and is launching the latest expression of her creative philosophy, The 100 Good Deeds Bracelet, sold in partnership with Macy’s.

Max Rosenn Lecture Features Israeli Diplomat Ron Prosor

Ron Prosor, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, will speak about “Israel and the Evolving Frontline of a Disintegrating Middle East: A Guided Tour” for the Max Rosenn Lecture in Law and Humanities on May 1. The lecture is at 7:30 p.m. in the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center for the Performing Arts. Admission to the lecture is free

Ambassador Ron Prosor

Ron Prosor

and open to the public.

Prosor served as Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations from 2011 to 2015. He previously served as Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, and director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry. He holds a master’s degree in political science from Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

With almost three decades of experience at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Prosor earned an international reputation as a distinguished diplomat. While serving as director-general, he oversaw the work of the Foreign Ministry during the disengagement from Gaza in 2005.

New NeuroTraining and Research Center Opens 


Robert Bohlander, professor of psychology, adjusts the devices used for a process that uses lights and audio tones as student Karly Mason prepares to place the glasses on student Alex Rodino. PHOTO BY EARL AND SEDOR PHOTOGRAPHIC

Enter the NeuroTraining and Research Center and you step into an oasis of calm in busy Breiseth Hall. Soft lights, comfortable furniture in muted tones and tasteful wall art reflect an environment that is no ordinary research laboratory. Here students majoring in neuroscience and psychology train members of the campus community in techniques to enhance performance, beat stress and improve concentration.

In establishing the center, Wilkes is on the cutting edge of a scientific concept that has grown in the last decade. While the idea of biofeedback – training bodily processes such as heart rate and muscle tension to improve physical well-being – is well established, neurofeedback is a newer technique being used by psychologists and in the medical field.

“Neurofeedback has really taken off in the last decade,” explains Ed Schicatano, associate professor of psychology who co-directs the center with Robert Bohlander, professor of psychology. “What we’re talking about is training the brain.”

“It’s use is coming into its own,” Bohlander adds. “For example, The American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed it as a treatment for attention deficit disorder.”

Although Wilkes’ center doesn’t offer treatment for diagnosed conditions, its training


NeuroTraining and Research Center intern Katherine Marianacci adjusts the electrodes on the head of fellow intern Melanie Rivera. PHOTO BY EARL AND SEDOR PHOTOGRAPHIC

techniques can benefit anyone. Athletes, performing artists and students suffering from test anxiety are among those who can benefit from techniques taught at the center. Faculty and staff can learn ways to reduce stress and improve their focus.

The center is unique among colleges and universities, Schicatano says. While the techniques used at the center may be employed at some other institutions in research or to help athletes perform better, Wilkes offers a dedicated center with services available for free to faculty, staff and students.

The center offers internships for psychology and neuroscience majors. The neuroscience major, introduced in 2015, is interdisciplinary and includes study in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, psychology, physics and pharmacy.

Schicatano points to the concept called neuroplasticity to explain how the center helps. “Neuroplasticity has become a buzzword. It refers to the ability to change the brain.”

Thomas MacKinnon Is New Vice President for University Advancement

Tom MackinnonThomas MacKinnon has joined Wilkes as its new vice president for University Advancement. He will oversee fundraising initiatives at the University, directing staff and overseeing efforts related to the annual fund, major donor solicitation, planned giving and alumni relations.

Prior to joining Wilkes, MacKinnon was a philanthropy and capital campaign consultant. He previously served as chief of staff to the president of Marquette University, where he also served as interim vice president for university advancement.  Prior to his time at Marquette, he served in several leadership roles at The University of Scranton, including chief of staff and executive assistant to the president, as well executive director of Scranton’s $125 million Pride, Passion, Promise Campaign. In addition, he served as vice president at CCS, an international fundraising consulting firm headquartered in New York City.  During MacKinnon’s career at CCS, he was responsible for planning and directing multimillion dollar fundraising programs for several universities and other not-for-profit institutions across the country.

MacKinnon received his bachelor of arts degree in English literature from Fordham University.

Sidhu School Senior Wins Regional Business Competition 

Edward Powell has oil in his veins.


Sidhu School senior Edward Powell took first place in the TecBridge Competition.

A self-described “car nut,” the senior in the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership recently turned his passion into a professional pursuit and took first place in the TecBridge Pitch Competition. Students from 10 regional colleges presented entrepreneurial start-up business ideas to a board of professionals to compete.

His start-up business idea, Gear Head Garage, embodies his love of cars and auto mechanics by providing the curious with an avenue to develop skills and knowledge of auto maintenance.

“It’s a do-it-yourself car garage where you can learn to work on a car while a mechanic supervises you,” says Powell, who is from Schnecksville, Pa. “It’s something that I’m very passionate about that has done so much for me, and I want to be able to share that with other people.”

He attributes his win to skills attained from the Sidhu School.

“The hands-on and experiential-style learning we do teaches the basis of how to be a professional…that can make you so much more successful.”


Political Science Faculty Edit Book on Minority Voting in the United States 

FrontCoverVoling_Vol1Minority voters – an increasing part of the electorate – will play a significant role in the 2016 presidential election. Two Wilkes political science professors are the editors of a two-volume reference that examines voting patterns of minorities in America. Thomas Baldino, professor of political science, and Kyle Kreider, associate professor of political science, co-edited Minority Voting in the United States, published in December 2015 by Praeger.

In the books’ introduction, Baldino points to the prediction that white Americans will be the minority by 2042. “While this does not necessarily mean white Americans will be a minority among voters,” Baldino writes, “It does demonstrate that the American electorate will fundamentally change in the coming decades, likely causing significant changes in presidential and congressional elections.” Acknowledging that a number of minorities have played significant roles in recent elections, the 33 chapters examine the voting history and evolving politics of eight groups, including African Americans, Latinos, women, Jewish voters and Asian Americans. Chapters are written by political scientists who are experts in studying the particular minority.

Ray Dombroski ’78 Is Member of Wilkes University Board of Trustees

Editor’s Note: In announcing the appointment of Ray Dombroski ’78’s appointment to the DombroskiUniversity board of trustees in the spring/summer 2015 issue of the magazine, his biography contained errors. The following biography corrects the errors. Our sincere apologies to Mr. Dombroski.

Ray Dombroski ’78 has been with Comcast Corporation since 1999 and is currently senior vice president of product development and deployment for Comcast Business, a national provider of advanced, flexible communications solutions for small- and mid-sized businesses. After receiving his electrical engineering degree from Wilkes in 1978, he began his career at RCA Laboratories in Princeton, N.J.

Always entrepreneurial by nature, Dombroski was part of a start-up long distance telephone and data communications company called Argo Communications in the early 1980s. In 1987, Ray joined an early-stage cellular telephone company, Metrophone/Metromedia, as vice president of engineering and operations. After several successful years, the company was acquired by Comcast. He still has roots in the Wyoming Valley area and returns to Wilkes-Barre to visit his parents. He and his wife, Colleen DeMorat, live in Malvern, Pa., and are the parents of two grown children, Allison and Ian.