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Panama Partnership Grows With Arrival of First Undergraduate Students

The newest chapter in Wilkes’ historic partnership with the Republic of Panama began in January with the arrival on campus of 16 undergraduate students.  The students were selected from education centers throughout Panama to come to the University to complete bachelor’s degrees.

The centers provide educational access for students from some of that country’s most remote areas. The eight men and eight women who are continuing their educational journeys at Wilkes were selected based on academic merit and an interview process. They will spend their first year in a university preparatory program that includes the intensive English program, Wilkes’ nationally accredited program that teaches languages skills to non-English speakers. They will also take other academic courses deemed necessary to prepare the students for the undergraduate field of study.  After that, they will enter a four-year undergraduate course of study leading to a bachelor’s degree. The students’ study in the United States is funded by the Panamanian agency IFARHU.

In many cases, the students are the first in their families to attend college – a fact in keeping with Wilkes’ commitment to educating first-generation college students. “This program aligns with our mission and our strategic goals,” says Rosi Ponce Sanabria, executive director of international engagement.

The 2016-2017 academic year also has seen the continuation of Wilkes’ participation in the MEDUCA-Bilingual Panama program.  MEDUCA is the acronym for Panama’s education ministry. The program brings cohorts of teachers to colleges and universities in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to learn English and education best practices. The program is part of a national commitment to bring bilingualism to the country’s public schools. The fourth cohort of teachers came to Wilkes in spring semester 2017 with a fifth group expected to arrive in March 2017, bringing the total number of participants to nearly 100 since the program’s inception in January 2016.

Special guests

Wilkes President Patrick F. Leahy, left, welcomes Panamanian Teachers of the Year who were honored with the Manuel Jose Hurtado Award. The contingent is pictured on their January visit to Wiles. They include Onelia Guerra, Berta Llorente, Leticia Nunez, Zoila Castillero, Elizabeth Garcia, Xiomara Cortes, Jose Garcia, Ricardo Concepcion, Eulalia Rodriguez, Martina Marin and Nieves Bonilla. Also pictured are chaperones Marelisa Tribaldos, senior advisor to the minister of education, Miguel Bazan, director general of education, MEDUCA, and Melissa Wong, director general of the Organization of Ibero-American States. Photo by Ashleigh Crispell.

Marcela Paredes de Vasquez, Panama’s minister of education, honored Wilkes by selecting the University to be one of institutions visited by teachers in the Order Manuel José Hurtado. The 11 teachers are recognized as the “teacher of the year” for their respective regions.

Other partnerships between Wilkes and Panama include a pilot program to train math teachers to deliver instruction in English and the delivery of language instruction to members of the diplomatic corps in Panama. In addition, exchanges for Wilkes faculty and students are expected to launch in the 2017-2018 academic year. These include joint exchange programs in special education, criminology and nursing with Universidad Especializada de las Américas and a faculty and student exchange program between the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership at Wilkes and Universidad Latina. A grant application also has been made under the “100,000 Strong in the Americas” program, a public/private partnership supported by the U.S. State Department to encourage study abroad. It would fund exchanges between Wilkes’ College of Science and Engineering and the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá.

Panamanian undergraduate students starting their higher education journey at Wilkes display their national pride on a trip to New York City.

“This program aligns with our mission and our strategic goals.” – Rosi Ponce Sanabria, Executive Director of International Engagement


 Alumni and current staff gathered in February 2017 to mark 45 years of broadcasting at campus radio station WCLH. The day included a specially produced show that highlighted four decades of student-produced programming. Alumni who returned celebrated not only the broadcasting experience provided by the station, but also the rich friendships formed working there. The day also celebrated new developments at WCLH. They include online streaming of station programming and the introduction of the Spanish language program “Receso Comunitario.”

During its history, the station has been ranked one of the Top 50 College Radio Stations by bestcolleges.com It also has received awards of excellence in broadcast journalism from the Professional News Media Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania.


Wilkes Offers Accelerated Path to Law Degree With Penn State Law, University Park

The path to law school will be shorter for some Wilkes students thanks to a new agreement. Wilkes has signed a memorandum of understanding with Penn State University – Penn State Law at University Park allowing exceptional students in their third year of study to apply for early acceptance into law school. The agreement allows students to complete both the bachelor’s and juris doctor degrees in six years. Students traditionally complete three years of law school after four years spent earning a bachelor’s degree.

“This agreement provides a great opportunity for our most capable and motivated students,” says Kyle Kreider, pre-law advisor and associate professor of political science. “It offers a head start for those committed to a law career with the added incentive of cost savings by reducing the number of years of study needed on the path to an advanced degree.”

PennStateWilkesTo be eligible for the program, called a 3+3 accelerated bachelor’s/juris doctor degree program, students must complete all of Wilkes’ graduation, distribution, major and certification requirements by the time of application. Applicants must have completed 75 percent of the credits required to earn their
Wilkes degree with a 3.5 or higher grade-point average. Students also must score in the top 30 percent nationally on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).



It’s On Us Week at Wilkes Focuses On Combating Sexual Violence 

Wilkes University hosted noted speaker Jackson Katz as part of It’s On Us Week, a campus-wide initiative designed to combat sexual violence. Katz’s appearance, as well as a week full of training sessions and activities, was made possible by a grant from the office of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and his It’s On Us PA campaign.


Katz, an educator, author, filmmaker and cultural theorist, holds a doctorate in cultural studies and education from UCLA. He is recognized internationally for his pioneering scholarship and activism on issues of gender, race and violence. He founded the Mentors in Violence Prevention program at Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society. Since its inception in 1993, Katz’s program has been implemented by high schools, colleges, and professional sports organizations like the NFL, NBA, MLB and NASCAR. His TED talk, “Violence Against Women Is a Men’s Issue,” has been viewed more than three million times.

Katz’s evening presentation kicked off It’s On Us Week, held March 27 to 31. He also conducted a meeting and training session for student leaders and athletes. The week also featured a showing of The Hunting Ground, a documentary about sexual assault on college campuses.

The University invited local high schools for bystander intervention training conducted by Wilkes students. Samantha Hart, the University’s Title IX coordinator, conducted One Love Escalation Training for Wilkes students to help them recognize and stop relationship violence.


Hart’s goal is to bring greater awareness to issues surrounding sexual violence and prevention and to let students Wilkes know they have trained peers and staff to help. “It’s okay to talk about these issues, and we’re here to listen.”


Luzerne County SHINE at Wilkes University Marks First Anniversary 

It might have looked like a pizza party, but the middle school students in the SHINE Program center at Wilkes-Barre Career and Technical Center knew it was all business. The middle-school students in the after-school program had completed a unit on entrepreneurship, learning the ins and outs of what it takes to operate a small business. Family Pizza Night showcased their efforts. The event included menus featuring pricing developed by the students. There were commercials for the restaurant, and family members tasted the pizza, salad and cookies prepared by the students. And those cookies? They were made with cookie cutters produced on a 3-D printer.

Such events reflect the successful experiences of students attending Luzerne County SHINE at Wilkes University in its first year.  The program celebrated its first anniversary in December 2016. SHINE, which stands for Schools and Homes In Education, serves students in seven centers. The program, offered four days a week after school, uses a project-based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) curriculum to kindle excitement about learning. School districts served by the program are Hanover Area, Hazleton Area, Greater Nanticoke Area, Wilkes-Barre Area and Wyoming Valley West. The program opened its eighth center at Lee Park Elementary in the Hanover Area district in January 2017. Nearly 400 students participate.

Wilkes President Patrick F. Leahy said that serving as SHINE’s higher education host continues Wilkes’ commitment to providing academic opportunities for the community.

“Our partnership with SHINE underscores our tradition of being a private university with a public purpose. One day, we will count SHINE graduates among our student body. It is gratifying to know we will have helped them start on their path to higher education,” Leahy said.

SHINE PizzaAccording to SHINE director Carol Nicholas, students in the program reflect its impact.
“They are excited, happy and engaged in active learning,” Nicholas said. “They are becoming critical thinkers, preparing to face the challenges of our future. If these children are a snapshot of our future, we will be in great hands.”
Families of SHINE students sample the offerings at Family Pizza Night.



Wilkes Political Scientist Thomas Baldino Draws National Media Attention for Presidential Campaign Analysis


 Media from around the globe focused on Luzerne County, Pa. as a key area for Donald Trump in the presidential election. When reporters got there, Wilkes University was one of their stops, thanks to the expertise provided by political science Professor Thomas Baldino. Long recognized across the state for his insightful analysis of politics and elections, he soon became a go-to expert during the fall presidential campaign. Baldino completed more than 60 interviews with local, regional, state and national media. National media outlets featuring him included The New York Times, Newsweek, C-Span, NPR and CNN. International media crews and journalists from Finland, France, the Middle East and more also interviewed him.

 More On The Web

Check out some of the stories featuring Thomas Baldino, Wilkes political science professor. Go to www.wilkes.edu/baldino to read his comments in The New York Times, Newsweek and to listen to his NPR interview.


LucasNursing Professor Eugene Lucas Awarded American Association of Nurse Practitioners State Award 

Eugene Lucas, an assistant professor in the Passan School of Nursing ’89, DNP ’13, has been recognized with the 2017 American Association of Nurse Practitioners State Award for Excellence as Nurse Practitioner in Pennsylvania. The award recognizes Lucas for his demonstrated excellence in nurse practitioner clinical practice. He will receive the award in June at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners national conference in Philadelphia.

Lucas is coordinator of the psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner program. In that role, he mentors students to clinical excellence, confirmed by their 100 percent pass rate on national board certification examinations.

He was recently awarded a grant for over $250,000 from the AllOne Foundation to start an integrated behavioral health and wellness center at Volunteers in Medicine, Luzerne County.

klemow1Safeguarding Biological Diversity is Focus of New Role for Klemow 

Kenneth Klemow, a professor of biology and environmental science, was recently named president-elect of the Pennsylvania Biological Survey.

Klemow hopes to improve public understanding of the importance of Pennsylvania’s rich biological diversity.  According to Klemow, “That diversity is one of Pennsylvania’s treasures, and helps to provide breathable air, clean water, and recreational opportunities for all of its citizens,” he says.


Members of the campus community and their Wilkes-Barre neighbors will enjoy a more attractive walk on South Main Street thanks to a $1 million grant awarded to the University. The grant from the Transportation Alternative Program administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation funds new sidewalks, street lighting, and other infrastructure improvements along South Main Street between South and Northampton Streets.

Wilkes University will contribute $300,000 to the project. The project also includes curb ramps, planting trees and other improvements that will not only enhance the University’s campus but encourage future business development on South Main Street. The project extends work promoting pedestrian safety already undertaken by Wilkes on West South and South Franklin streets. Wilkes President Patrick F. Leahy says, “This project makes visible Wilkes’ ongoing commitment to the community surrounding our campus. We are pleased to be in a position to pay the match required for a TAP grant, allowing Wilkes to make investments in our city and county where we can make the most impact.”


SMITHMacArthur Genius Grant Winner Anna Deavere Smith to Deliver Rosenn Lecture on April 30

Playwright, actor and professor Anna Deavere Smith will deliver the Rosenn Lecture in Law and Humanities on April 30. The event will be at 7 p.m. in the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center for the Arts. Her presentation, “Snapshots: Portraits of a World in Transition,” will explore the school to prison pipeline,  our complex identities in America and the human capacity for compassion and resilience in the face of adversity.

Smith was honored by the MacArthur Foundation with its “Genius” Fellowship for creating a new form of theatre that blends theatrical art, social commentary, journalism and intimate reverie. She is best known for crafting one-woman shows based on conversations with real people from all walks of life. She turns her interviews into scripts, transforming herself into an astonishing number of characters.

Smith’s plays include Fires in the Mirror and the Tony Award-nominated Twilight: Los Angeles, which dramatized the Los Angeles riots in the wake of the Rodney King trial. Issues of race and social inequality are frequent subjects.

Her acting credits include The West Wing, Nurse Jackie, Black-ish and Madame Secretary. A professor in New York University Tisch School the Arts, Smith has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Humanities Medal and the 2013 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. Smith delivered the National Endowment for the Humanities Jefferson Lecture in 2015.