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Wilkes Earns Doctoral University Designation

Wilkes University has been categorized as a doctoral university in the revised 2018 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the highest classification for institutions in the country. Of approximately 80 private institutions in Pennsylvania, Wilkes is now one of just 14 with this designation.

“The change in classification places Wilkes University in the rightful company of some of the finest universities in the nation, completing our evolution from a two-year junior college in 1933 to a national doctoral university in 2019,” says University President Patrick F. Leahy. “Our unique mix of academic programs and robust degree conferrals across bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels set us apart from other private institutions, both regionally and nationally. We are proud of the students we serve and look forward to continued growth.”

The doctoral/professional university category includes institutions that award at least 20 research doctoral degrees or 30 or more professional-practice doctoral degrees. In 2016-17, Wilkes awarded 122 doctoral degrees across three programs: the doctor of pharmacy, with 69 graduates, the doctor of nursing practice, with 30 graduates and the doctor of education with 23 graduates. In the 2017-18 academic year, the total grew to 165. This represents nearly three times the doctoral degrees of any other institution in northeast Pennsylvania, making Wilkes the doctoral university in the region.

Wilkes will award the university’s first doctor of philosophy degrees in 2020. The Ph.D. in nursing welcomed its first class in Sept. 2017. There are currently 33 nurses enrolled in the program.

The Carnegie Classification has been the leading framework for recognizing and describing diversity among U.S. higher education institutions since 1970, when the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education developed the method of classifying colleges and universities to support its program of research and policy analysis. The classifications, derived from empirical data on colleges and universities, reflect changes among institutions and are used in the study of higher education.

Eugene Roth ’57 To Receive President’s Medal at Founders Gala 2019

GeneRoth_Gala2019Eugene Roth ’57 will receive the President’s Medal at the Founders Gala 2019. The President’s Medal is bestowed annually on an individual whose personal and professional life reflect the highest aspirations of Wilkes University. Roth, who is an attorney at Rosenn Jenkins & Greenwald, LLP, in Wilkes-Barre, will be presented with the award at the event being held June 1 at the Westmoreland Club.  Proceeds from the event benefit the First Generation Scholarship Fund.

“Gene is a fierce supporter of our core mission: to provide educational opportunities to all who show potential. His support is evident in his leadership and generosity, but is also demonstrated in the way he supports our students,” says Wilkes President Patrick F. Leahy. “A first-generation college student himself, it is incredibly fitting to have Gene Roth as this year’s President’s Medal recipient.”

Roth, who has the distinction of being the longest-serving attorney at his firm, rose through the ranks from law clerk to partner during his 60-year tenure. A prominent figure in northeast Pennsylvania, he frequently has been recognized for his professional, civic and community efforts with awards from the United Hebrew Institute, the Boy Scouts of America and the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Roth served under each of the University’s six presidents during an association with Wilkes that began when he was a student. He first served as vice president of his undergraduate class, then as president of the alumni association and eventually as a member of the University’s board of trustees, a role in which he continues to serve. He was the chairman of the board from 1993 to 1998, helping to establish the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy.

His philanthropic support is apparent across campus, especially in Lawrence W. Roth Hall, a standout residence for first-year students, and the Max Roth Center, home to the Center for Global Education and Diversity. Roth and his wife, Connie, established the Lawrence W. Roth Memorial Scholarship in memory of their son. It is granted annually to a deserving Wilkes student with an interest in the law, politics or community service.

Wilkes Launches Search For Seventh PresidentPatrick Leahy

Wilkes has launched a search for its next president following the announcement that President Patrick F. Leahy will leave the University on July 30, 2019.

Leahy was Wilkes’ sixth president and joined Wilkes in 2012. He announced in December that he will leave the University to become president of Monmouth University in New Jersey. His tenure has been a period of significant growth with transformational improvements to campus, the addition of academic programs including the University’s first Ph.D., and achieving designation as a doctoral university. For a story summarizing the highlights and accomplishments during Leahy’s seven years as president, please turn to page 8.

A Presidential Search Committee has been formed with members representing all constituents in the Wilkes community. It will be chaired by Dan Cardell ’79, chairman of the University board of trustees. The committee includes faculty members Karim Medico Letwinsky, doctoral department chair and associate professor, and Eric Ruggiero, associate professor of digital design and media art; senior administrators Jonathan Ference, associate provost, and Janet Kobylski, assistant vice president of finance and treasurer; students Hunter Hughes and Caroline Rickard; and board of trustee members Laura Cardinale ’72, Dan Klem Jr. ’68, Randy Mark ’81 and Bill Miller ’81.

The University has contracted with the Boston-based executive search firm Park Squared to assist in identifying candidates for the position of president. Forums were conducted on campus in March in preparation for the search. Faculty, staff and students had opportunities to attend and provide comments about the kinds of skills and characteristics that would be valuable in leading Wilkes.

It is expected that the search will continue into 2020. Finalists for the position will be brought to campus during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Paul Adams ’77 MS ’82 Named Interim President

View More: http://knotjustanyday.pass.us/wilkes_foundersgala_2016Wilkes alumnus Paul Adams ’77 MS ’82 has been appointed interim president of the University, effective Aug. 1, 2019. Adams, who serves as Wilkes’ vice president for student affairs, will lead the University during the search for a new president.

Adams’ appointment was approved in February by the University’s board of trustees. In announcing Adams’ appointment, Dan Cardell ’79, chair of the board, said, “Paul brings a wealth of institutional knowledge to this position. He has studied or served under five of our six presidents, is a two-time alumnus and has dedicated his life and career to the success of our students. I can think of no one better than Paul Adams to lead Wilkes as we recruit our seventh president.”

Adams has served as vice president of student affairs since 2002. In that role, he leads areas that enrich student life, including athletics, health and wellness, residence life and student development. The latter encompasses areas that include career development and internships, student activities, campus interfaith, community service, e-mentoring and orientation.

Adams joint the university in 1979 as director of housing. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education at Wilkes and holds a doctorate in organizational leadership and curriculum instruction from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Harvard University’s Institute for the Management of Lifelong Education. Adams is married to Jean (Reiter) Adams ’78, who is an instructor in the University’s art department.

Adams will return to his role as vice president of student affairs when a new president assumes office.

Pharmacy Student Earns Top Ten Finish In National Patient Counseling Competition For Second Year

024Third-year student pharmacist Dylan Fox knows the importance of compassion and empathy when working with patients. It helped him to earn his second top ten finish in the National Patient Counseling Competition at the American Pharmacists Association national meeting in March. Every pharmacy school in the nation attends the conference and Fox competed against students representing 140 other institutions. A Denver, Pa., native who also is majoring in Spanish, Fox also placed in the top ten nationally in 2018.

For the first round of the competition, Fox counseled a patient on the use of levothyroxine, commonly known as synthroid, which is used to treat thyroid conditions. His second round of counseling included a breast cancer patient being prescribed the nausea medication compazine.

He credits his success to the preparation he receives in the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy.

“The program at Wilkes sets all of the pharmacists and graduates up to be prepared patient counselors and very effective at what they do,” he explains.

Fox’s campus involvement includes serving as the e-mentor coordinator for student orientation, a resident assistant and is president of Pennsylvania Pharmacy Association chapter at Wilkes as well as a member of the organization’s Board of Directors. He is also a member of the Pharmacy Leadership Society and is the executive treasurer for Pharmacy Senate. He is the co-host of a weekly program on medication use broadcast on campus radio station WCLH.

Fully Online MBA in the Sidhu School of Business Begins in Fall 2019

Aspiring business leaders wishing to advance in their careers or experienced managers looking to grow their communication, professionalism and decision-making skills can now do it in a completely online MBA program at Wilkes. The University announced that it will offer the Master of Business Administration degree fully online starting in fall 2019.

The online MBA emphasizes leadership. The program can be completed in two years. Accelerated, seven-week courses allow students to focus on one course at a time while completing two courses during each academic semester. New online MBA students will be accepted in the fall, spring and summer semesters.

Wilkes also offers the MBA in a weekend format. Students in the weekend program attend face-to-face classes on the second Saturday of each month. Supplemental coursework and assignments are conducted online between class sessions. The weekend MBA program offers tracks in global business, leadership and management.

The new online MBA is the newest addition to an already robust offering of distance programming. Wilkes offers two dozen online and low-residency master’s and doctoral programs in fields like creative writing, education and nursing. For more information about the online MBA, visit http://www.wilkes.edu/MBAonline.

Wilkes Doctoral Student Named Pennsylvania Educator of the Year

Pryle2Marilyn Pryle’s week begins and ends with teaching. The Wilkes doctor of education student teaches English at Abington Heights High School, but when the final bell rings on Friday, she hasn’t finished teaching.

Pryle leaves her traditional classroom and switches gears, teaching English at the Lackawanna Children’s Library in Scranton, Pa. Pryle started an English conversation group two years ago for refugees from Congo and Uganda. The group meets every Sunday and on any given week may have 15 volunteers and up to 30 refugees.

Her dedication to education in both traditional and community settings led to Pryle being named Pennsylvania’s 2019 teacher of the year. Now she’s in the running for the national teacher of the year award which will be announced in April 2020. The state Department of Education and the state chapter of the National State Teacher of the Year sponsor the Teacher of the Year program. It honors public school teachers in kindergarten through 12th grade who have made outstanding academic contributions.

“I am completely honored to receive this award and to represent the excellent, hardworking educators of Pennsylvania. During the SAS Conference, I had a chance to meet the other eleven finalists and they are all exceptional teachers,” Pryle says.

Ty Frederickson, who has taught Pryle as an assistant professor in Wilkes’ doctor of education program, says the recognition is well deserved.

“Marilyn’s work to build relationships between groups of students and this population of Syrian and Ugandan refugees exemplifies the caliber of her character and her commitment to teaching and learning beyond the school day,” Frederickson says. “She uniquely understands that her responsibility as an educational leader are to all people, not only those students within her classroom, and she acts according to this understanding.”

Pryle was nominated by students, parents, peers and members of the community for her achievements both inside and outside the classroom. She has been an educator since 1992, beginning at St. Xavier School in Kathmandu, Nepal. After teaching at East Middle School in Braintree, Mass., she taught in higher education settings before finding her place at Abington Heights High School in Clarks Summit, Pa.

Summing up her teaching philosophy, Pryle states, “Every student brings unique gifts. The teacher’s work is to create a space for each to grow—to wonder, to risk, to connect. To become more fully oneself, and more deeply human: This is the purpose of education.”

She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from University of Scranton and a master of fine arts in creative writing and literature from Emerson College.

Pryle has shared her passion for teaching by authoring seven books, six of which are with Scholastic, Inc. The books are written for educators, providing strategies for teaching writing. Academic writing isn’t her only forte: She was also named the Mulberry Poets and Writers Association Annual Poetry Contest Winner in both 2004 and 2005.

“I always say that I’m in it for the long game–I want students to be confident, engaged readers and writers for their whole lives, not just during my class,” she adds. “I try to find any way possible to show them the power and joy of being active readers and writers.”

Super Seniors Go To The Head of the Class

Cue “Pomp and Circumstance.” May marks the end of the academic year at Wilkes – and time for spring commencement. Although it would be impossible to spotlight all of the impressive members of the Class of 2019, these six students, representing each of Wilkes’ schools and colleges, illustrate the highlights of the Wilkes experience and highlight the bright future in store for members of the graduating class. For more stories about 2019 graduates, visit news.wilkes.edu, look under the student life menu for “Super Seniors.”


Lauren Bezek

Bachelor of Arts, Mathematics and Secondary Education

School of Education

Hometown: Kingston, Pa.

Activities and Achievements: Bezek was a counselor at both the Women Empowered by Science summer camp and the SHINE day camp at Wilkes. Bezek also served as the Kirby Scholar in STEM education at the University’s Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. Bezek researched Fibonacci and Lucas Number applications with matrices and Diophantine Equations with Vee Ming Lew, associate professor of math and computer science. She was a tutor for the math department and also tutored middle and high school students.

Noteworthy: Bezek was chosen to complete a week-long field experience in education in Arizona.

Favorite part of the Wilkes experience: “The highlight of my time at Wilkes has to be the relationships I have built with my professors and the opportunities these relationships have granted me….I know I would not have had many of the opportunities I am so thankful for without my professors and Wilkes University.”

Future Plans: Bezek plans to pursue a master’s degree in either mathematics or STEM education.


Nicholas Fitzpatrick

Bachelor of Science, Chemistry

College of Science and Engineering

Hometown: Jenkintown, Pa.

Activities and Achievements: Fitzpatrick has done research with Megan Youmans, assistant professor of chemistry, synthesizing small molybdenum-containing molecules that can be used to mimic the behavior of large complex enzymes like sulfite oxidase. He also was part of a research team with Amy Bradley, associate professor and chair of chemistry, to study why synthetic cannabinoids, which bear little resemblance to natural cannabinoids (substances with psychoactive properties in cannabis), bind so strongly to endocannabinoid receptors in the body. Fitzpatrick attended numerous conferences and national meetings including the American Chemical Society where he has presented on behalf of the Chemistry Club. He has been a teaching assistant for organic chemistry, analytical chemistry and general chemistry labs since his sophomore year.

Noteworthy: Fitzpatrick is president of the Chemistry Club and has established the club as an American Chemical Society Green Chemistry chapter.

Favorite part of the Wilkes experience: “The highlight of my time at Wilkes has been all the research and laboratory experience I have gained. I have had the wonderful opportunity of working on multiple research projects and running various instruments that you would never get to use as an undergraduate at another institution. I feel this experience really prepared me for my graduate education, and gave me a huge advantage over other applicants. I also just truly loved how close-knit the chemistry department is, and how much my professors were invested in both my education at Wilkes and my future as a chemist.”

Future plans: Fitzpatrick will pursue a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Justin Gaskill Headshot #2

Justin Gaskill

Bachelor of Fine Arts, Musical Theatre

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Musical Theatre Major

Hometown: Somers Point, N.J.

Activities and Achievements:  Gaskill has performed in 16 mainstage productions with Wilkes University Theatre, four dance shows, six black box productions and many choral concerts. While he is the triple threat– singing, dancing and acting–Gaskill also knows how to work behind the scenes, doing set construction, costuming, stage management, props running crew, lighting and painting.

Noteworthy: Gaskill had lead roles in five Wilkes productions.

Favorite part of the Wilkes experience: “The highlight of my time here at Wilkes was all of the training I received within the field I am studying. I got so much personal attention because of the smaller class sizes that I really grew and found where I belong within this crazy, hectic career path.”

Future plans: Gaskill will be a full-time resident actor with the Charleston Stage Company. He will be featured in a minimum of seven shows, including playing the leading role, Ren McCormick, in Footloose.


Dannielle Hickok

Bachelor of Science in Nursing, History minor

Passan School of Nursing

Hometown: Fleetville, Pa.

Activities and Achievements: Hickok is a member of Sigma Theta Tau National Nursing Honor Society and the history department’s chapter of the Phi Alpha Theta National Honor Society. She participated in the NCLEX challenge bowl in Harrisburg at the Student Nurses Association of Pennsylvania convention. NCLEX is the examination for nursing licensing. On campus, she organized study sessions and helped mentor younger nursing majors to develop their study habits and writing skills. Hickok completed her senior research on the implementation of specialized diabetic nurse educators to improve patient outcomes and decrease diabetes related hospital readmissions.

Noteworthy: While attending school full-time, Hickok balanced a part-time job and being a mother of two.

Favorite part of the Wilkes experience: “The highlight of my time here at Wilkes has been being initiated into a career field together with a group of wonderful individuals that share in the belief that nursing is truly a life vocation.”

Future plans: Through her clinical placements, Hickok has developed an interest in emergency medicine and hopes to work in an emergency department.  She also hopes to enroll in the Passan School’s Family Nurse Practitioner master’s degree program.

View More: http://knotjustanyday.pass.us/wilkespharmheadshots

Alex Ponce

Doctor of Pharmacy

Nesbitt School of Pharmacy

Hometown: Oley, Pa.

Activities and Achievements: Ponce served as president of the National Community Pharmacists Association and the chair of Generation Rx. He also participated in Industry Pharmacists Organization, American Pharmacist Association, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the honor society Phi Lambda Sigma and Rho Chi. Ponce served as a teaching assistant for general chemistry, anatomy and physiology and as a supplemental instructor for organic chemistry. He coordinated 33 different community service events. Ponce worked with Ka Lok Hong, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, to identify and characterize a DNA aptamer that would bind atrazine. He also worked with Thomas Franko, assistant professor of pharmacy practice, on a study entitled, “The Beliefs and Attitudes of Pharmacists toward the Dispensing of Naloxone.”

Noteworthy: Ponce planned a medication take-back event in spring 2017. Since then, he has coordinated two additional take-back events collecting more than 250 pounds of unwanted, unused, or expired medications.

Favorite part of the Wilkes experience: “My favorite aspect of Wilkes University is the supportive faculty and family-like learning environment. I also felt as though I was supported with whatever I wanted to do in addition to being pushed to become the best that I can be.”

Future plans: Ponce will complete a pharmacy residency at the University of Maryland in Baltimore.


Mingzhu Yue

Bachelor of Business Administration, Marketing and Management

Bachelor of Science, Hospitality Leadership

Sidhu School of Business and Leadership

Hometown: Zhengzhou, China

Activities and Achievements: Yue was the president of the Asian Cultural Society and vice president of the Hospitality Leadership Club at Wilkes. She completed three internships, which included traveling to China, working with local digital marketing agency LSEO and witt the Best Western Genetti Hotel in Wilkes-Barre. She helps with social media management as a work-study student at Sidhu and does research about the hospitality industry with HyeRyeon Lee, assistant professor, with whom she has presented research papers at conferences in Fort Worth, Texas and Las Vegas, Nev. Yue also presented research at the 2018 Sidhu Student Showcase at Wilkes and at the University’s Research and Scholarship Symposium.

Noteworthy: With fellow Sidhu student Kacee Diehl, Yue won the award for Best Undergraduate Research Proposal Presentation from The Reps, a tourism, hospitality, event conference for researchers, educators, practitioners, in April 2019.

Favorite part of the Wilkes experience: “I know Wilkes-Barre is a quiet city, and Wilkes University is not a big school; however, the people here make this place warm and lovely. I am so glad that I chose to study at Wilkes.”

Future plans: She plans to earn her master’s degree in hospitality management after graduation. As Wilkes magazine went to press, she already had been offered a scholarship from Boston University.