The Online Edition

On Campus — Fall 2016

Clayton and Theresa Karambelas Media Center Will Be New Home for Communication Studies

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The Clayton and Theresa Karambelas Media Center will bring communications studies programs under one roof on South Main Street, adjacent to the new campus Gateway. RENDERING BY BORTON LAWSON

Wilkes unveiled plans for a new home for the communication studies program with the announcement of the planned Clayton ’40 and Theresa Karambelas Media Center. The new facility, to be housed at 141 S. Main St. (formerly Bartikowsky Jewelers) at the entrance of the new campus Gateway, is being named in honor of the Karambelases, long-time benefactors of the University. The couple have given Wilkes one of the largest gifts in its history. The media center plans were announced at the annual Founders Gala on June 4, where the Karambelases were presented with the President’s Medal.

The new 17,726-square-foot center will bring the communications studies department’s cocurricular activities under one roof. These include WCLH Radio, the television studios, The Beacon student newspaper, the student-run public relations agency Zebra Communications and the speech and debate team. The facility will include separate offices and work rooms for the student organizations, as well as new television and radio studios, audio room, video editing room, faculty offices and classrooms. The University previously had announced that one wing of the building will be the new home of the Sordoni Art Gallery.

Wilkes ENACTUS Team Wins Regional Competition

Students on Wilkes’ Enactus team took top honors at the organizationa’s regional competition this spring in Washington, D.C. The team, made up of students in the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership, beat teams from 47 other American northeast region universities. Enactus is an international nonprofit organization that encourages college students to become entrepreneurs through collaboration to create innovative, sustainable community development projects.

Wilkes’ Enactus students presented their projects from the 2015-16 academic year at the competition. Projects included the Wilkes University Entrepreneurial Experience, a business plan competition for local high school students. The students also designed a veterans empowerment project offering development on personal and professional skills to veterans.


Wilkes Students Launch Political Careers in Their Hometowns


Dominic Steiner-Butchko

When they write about political newcomers in this election year, two Wilkes University students could make the list. Dominic Steiner-Butchko became Pennsylvania’s youngest elected official when he joined the Forty Fort Borough Council in January. His classmate Beth Gilbert was sworn in to Wilkes-Barre City Council the same month. The two students won the seats in fall 2015 and took office in 2016.

A sophomore political science major, Steiner-Butchko also is the youngest person to ever hold office in his hometown. He decided to run because he believed it was time for someone from his generation to make a difference. “Our future can be shaped and people’s lives can be positively affected from any level of government, especially the local level,” he says.

Beth Gilbert ’16, who graduated with a political science degree in May, also ran for

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Beth Gilbert ’16

office to make a positive impact on her home city. She spent summer 2015 completing an internship at the United Nations before returning to campaign for her council seat in fall.

“As a councilwoman, I try to make constituent outreach my priority. I realize how important it is to hear the opinions of our residents, and I want them to know that I value their voices and their input,” Gilbert says.


Student’s Video Application For Campus Job Garners 20,000 Reasons to Hire Her

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Christine Walsh, whose video job application earned over 20,000 views on YouTube, shows off her two Wilkes class rings-her own and one that she inherited from her mother, Kathleen (Hyde) Walsh ’85. PHOTO BY LISA REYNOLDS

Wilkes University freshman Christine Walsh applied to be a resident assistant – and became a bit of an Internet sensation in the process. As part of her application, Walsh, a Lebanon Township, N.J., native, created a video to the tune of the Grammy Award-winning “Uptown Funk.” It has garnered more than 20,700 views – and counting. Walsh eventually was hired to be a resident assistant for the 2016-17 academic year.

When Elizabeth (Roveda) Swantek ’05, MBA ’07, Wilkes director of residence life, shared the video on Facebook, it went viral, racking up thousands of views from all over the country.

Walsh wrote the song parody, acted in the video, sang the song and edited the video.

A management and digital design and media art double major, Walsh also is in Wilkes’ honors program. She works as an ambassador for the admissions office, where she gives tours and answers questions for prospective students.

Walsh is carrying on the Wilkes tradition in her family: Her mother, Kathleen (Hyde) Walsh ’85, and aunt, Mary (Hyde) Pfister, also graduated from the University. Her legacy as a Colonel is a point of pride: Walsh wears her mother’s Wilkes class ring on one hand and her own on the other.

Catch Christine Walsh’s “RA Funk” video that helped her to snag a job with the University’s residence life staff. Visit www.wilkes.edu/RAFunk


NPR’s Maureen Corrigan, Scranton Native Jay Parini to Present at Pennsylvania Writers Conference

Wilkes University’s graduate creative writing program is sponsoring the Pennsylvania Writers Conference, celebrating all genres of writing and featuring workshops and panels with authors, editors, literary agents and film producers. Guest speakers include Maureen Corrigan, book critic on NPR’s Fresh Air, and Scranton native, poet, novelist and biographer Jay Parini. The conference will take place at Wilkes on Aug. 5-6.

The conference opens on Friday, Aug. 5, with an open mic and a poetry slam. Writing panels and workshops begin on Sat., Aug. 6 at 9 a.m. with an opening session featuring Corrigan. Throughout the day, conference attendees will have a choice of workshops focusing on poetry, fiction, nonfiction, playwriting and screenwriting. The keynote address will be delivered by Parini at 7 p.m., preceded by a dinner for attendees in the Henry Student Center.

Conference registration is $130; college students with a valid school ID are $40. Learn more and register online at www.wilkes.edu/PWC.


Make It a Latte, No Foam

College students and coffee have had a love affair since the first late-night study session. This year, Wilkes students had more reasons to be enthusiastic about their cup of Joe as Starbucks made its debut on campus in spring semester. Housed in the University Center on Main, Starbucks at Gambini’s Café offers the campus community all of the company’s signature caffeinated beverages. Open to the downtown Wilkes-Barre business community as well, Starbucks’ primary focus is on Wilkes students. It even offered extended hours during finals week.


Veterans Center of Excellence Dedicated 

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A meeting room and lounge are two of the amenities in the new Veterans Center of Excellence in Conyngham Hall. PHOTO BY ANNIE STAUFFER

Military veterans attending Wilkes have a new gathering place on campus with the opening of the Veterans Center of Excellence. The new center on the lower level of Conyngham Hall offers one-stop access to a variety of services for veterans.

Wilkes’ Veterans Council was awarded a $10,000 grant to create the center from the VetCenter Initiative grant program, a partnership between Student Veterans of America and The Home Depot Foundation.

The Veterans Center of Excellence will provide a single point of contact to coordinate support services for students who are military veterans. The services offered in the center include private computer room, lounge, kitchen and peer mentoring/professional room. Tutoring for mathematics and academic writing is also offered.


Pharmacy Student Wins U.S. Public Health Service Award 

Third-year pharmacy student Sarah Fillman, of Limerick, Pa., was the recipient of a


Pharmacy faculty celebrate student Sarah Fillman’s U.S. Public Health Service Award. Pictured from left are Associate Professor Scott Bolesta PharmD ’00, Professor Ed Foote, Fillman, Associate Professor Jon Ference PharmD ’03, Eric Wright of Geisinger Health System, Associate Professor Jennifer Malinowski and Assistant Professor Thomas Franko. PHOTO BY ASHLEIGH CRISPELL

United States Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Award. Fillman was recognized for her work during a summer internship at Geisinger Health System, where she piloted a program to establish public awareness efforts to promote proper drug disposal. It is the third consecutive year that a student from the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy has won the award.

Fillman’s other campus activities include serving as vice president of the Health and Wellness Club, outreach to elementary students at an after-school program and work as a by-stander intervention trainer at the University and a Victims Resource Center advocate.



Biology Professor Michael Steele Receives National Science Foundation OPUS Award

Michael Steele, professor of biology and Hilder Fenner Chair of Research Biology, has received an OPUS Award of $134,204 from the National Science Foundation to complete a book synthesizing more than 25 years of research. The grant is one of the foundation’s most prestigious grants and Steele is the first faculty member at a small liberal arts university to receive the honor. Steele’s research examines how acorns are dispersed in the ecosystem – principally by rodents and jays – and why dispersal is important for regeneration of forests worldwide.

The OPUS Award, which stands for Opportunities for Promoting Understanding through Synthesis, is presented by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology. Often awarded to mid- to late-career researchers, the awards are given to help integrate work that will produce significant insights for the scientific community.

Steele is one the world’s foremost authorities on oak seed dispersal and on tree squirrels – which play a significant role in the dispersal process. His synthesis will support and promote improvements in oak forest management and conservation, especially in the context of climate change.