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Game Changers

Athletics Hall of Fame Inductees Reflect on Their Experience as Student Athletes

Being a student athlete defines the Wilkes experience for generations of University alumni. This year’s The 2018 inductees to the Athletics Hall of Fame reflect on their most memorable moments and the lessons learned on the playing field that they’ve applied to life after Wilkes.

Members of the Wilkes 2018 Hall of Fame class at the inductee ceremony are picture from left, Carrie Chipego Singer ’98, Kyle Follweiler ’08, Ed Burke ’70, Nadine Taylor Prutzma ’07, MS ’13, Ted Sokolowski ’72 and Jor Folek ’88.
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Gateway to the Future Campaign

Ralston Athletic Complex Project Will Enhance Experience of Student Athletes

An artist’s rendering shows Bruggeworth Field at the Ralston Athletic Complex. It will include a baseball field and a multi-purpose field that will be used by five sports.

The Gateway to the Future Campaign continues its goal of enhancing Wilkes University “brick by brick” with a project launching this summer at the Ralston Athletic Complex.

A multi-use field is planned that will transform the experience of student athletes with improved playing fields that will allow better scheduling of games and practices. It also will provide playing surfaces that will be better able to withstand the kind of weather that often accompanies a soggy spring in northeastern Pennsylvania.

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Ruth McDermott-Levy ’82 Studies Health Care for a Changing Planet

By Koren Wetmore

Ruth McDermott Levy
Ruth McDermott-Levy ’82’s research on health care and the environment often takes her outdoors. She is pictured on the Belmont Plateau near Philadelphia, not far from where she teaches at Villanova University. Photo by Dan Z. Johnson

Ruth McDermott-Levy ’82 arrived in Finland in summer 2018 during the third heatwave in what would become the nation’s hottest year on record. Finland’s average temperatures have already rose 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures — exceeding the 1.5 degree Celsius maximum set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and double that of the rest of the globe.

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On The Edge of Knowledge

Wilkes Research Culture Puts Students At Its Center

By Vicki Mayk MFA ’13

Junior environmental engineering majors Scott Heffelfinger and Jillian Weston collect water samples from North Lake in Sweet Valley, Pa., to measure nitrate and phosphate levels. Photo by Knot Just Any Day

When Amanda Schall ’17 graduated from Wilkes, she received a present from Jeff Stratford, associate professor of biology.

It was a machete engraved with the Wilkes logo, Schall’s name and the words “Stratford Lab Legends.” The memento commemorated the four years she spent as a student researcher in his lab. Stratford, who is an ornithologist, is assisted by students as he studies environmental impacts on bird populations, food webs and other ecology-related topics.

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A Dream Realized

Ambitious Projects Transform Campus


At the start of the fall 2018 semester, students returned to a dramatically different Wilkes campus. Pictured here, the Fenner Quadrangle has been transformed with an expanded gateway linking it to South Main Street, new walkways and meeting places. All photos by Earl & Sedor Photographic unless otherwise noted.

The bulldozers and earth movers arrived on campus two days after the May commencement ceremony. They left the Fenner Quadrangle less than a week before first-year students arrived on campus for fall semester. In between their arrival and departure, a series of projects created a green oasis in the center of campus, planted new trees, built walkways and put the finishing touches on a renovation to Stark Learning Center. These campus enhancements, completed during summer and early fall 2018, have achieved Wilkes’ goal of creating a traditional residential campus within the City of Wilkes-Barre. Part of a $100 million plan, the completed projects include an expanded gateway linking the southern part of campus to the Fenner Quadrangle. Other recently completed projects created new green space and a companion gateway at the south entrance to the Henry Student Center. These pages offer a look at a campus transformed.

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Safeguarding Safety

Samantha Sonnett ’04 Works for the New York Police Department’s Counterterrorism Division

By Koren Wetmore


Samantha Sonnett ’04 rides a radiation detection boat in New York harbor – one of the tools she uses in work detecting chemical hazards. Photo by Dan Z. Johnson

Samantha Sonnett ’04 recalls the moment that changed the course of her education and career: It was Sept. 11, 2001, during a public speaking class at Wilkes. Her instructor switched on a television and Sonnett watched in horror as the Twin Towers fell.

“It angered me so much,” she says. “Right after 9/11, I decided to focus my career on ensuring that something like that doesn’t happen again.”

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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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