Student Presentations at Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference

Megan Seton, Dr. Susan Poulson, and Maura Burns at the PAT conference in April 2017

On April 1, 2017, Maura Burns and Megan Seton presented papers at the Phi Alpha Theta Eastern PA/DE/NJ/NY Regional Conference in Glassboro, New Jersey.  Seton presented “The Evolution of Women in Lackawanna County,” using newspaper and local resources to compare two representative women in Northeast Pennsylvania.  Burns delved into primary sources from the Lackawanna Historical Society, McDade Park Anthracite Museum, and the Lackawanna County Library System to explore the poor labor conditions of Scranton’s anthracite coalminers.  Her paper won an award as one of the best at the conference, and she will receive a complimentary history book from the national office of Phi Alpha Theta.  Both Burns and Seton wrote their papers under the direction of Dr. Aiala Levy as part of their Craft of the Historian course.  Dr. Susan Poulson, the moderator of Phi Alpha Theta, chaired a session on Early Twentieth Century US History.   The guest speaker at the Conference, Dr. Julian Zelizer, the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes Professor of History at Princeton University, presented on the Great Society and the meeting of Alexei Kosygin and Lyndon Johnson at the Glassboro Summit Conference in 1967, events he reviewed in his most recent book: The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society.

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Spring Break in London

As part of the department’s History 295: Britain Past and Present course, eleven students and three faculty members traveled to London over spring break.  Highlights of the trip included visits to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, Cambridge, Oxford, and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (rebuilt in 1666).  The department plans to offer the course again in the 2019 Spring Semester.

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Remembering Professor Williams

It was with great sadness that the members of the department learned of the passing of Bernie Williams in late March.  The loss, however, also served as a time of reflection–one particularly touching tribute was a recent column in the Scranton Times-Tribune by Attorney Joseph G. Price in which he offers a commemoration of his former professor and mentor.

Professor Williams joined the faculty at the University in 1962. During his service as Scranton’s pre-law advisor, he helped to establish and grow the University’s reputation with and graduate admittance to several prestigious East Coast law schools. He also established the University’s Pre-law Society (1966). He founded Scranton’s chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the international honor society in history (1967), and pioneered the International Studies major at Scranton (1981). He served the University in several administrative positions, including as director of the University’s office that advised students pursuing post-baccalaureate graduate and professional degree programs, as a member of the University Senate and as vice-chair of the Student Affairs Council. He retired in 1997.

Professor Williams’ numerous teaching awards include the Outstanding Teacher Award from the University’s graduating class of 1966, the Outstanding Service Award from the Middle Atlantic States Region of the U.S. Association of Evening Students in 1972, and the Excellence in Teaching Award from Alpha Sigma Nu, the national Jesuit honor society, in 1973, among others.

In the greater Scranton community, Professor Williams served as a director for the Voluntary Action Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania and on the executive committee of the Volunteers-in-Probation of Lackawanna County.

A native of Philadelphia, Professor Williams earned his bachelor’s degree in history from La Salle College. He earned his master’s degree in history from Niagara University, where he also taught prior to joining the faculty at Scranton.

He is survived by a sister, Mary W. Howells, and a sister-in-law, Marian Williams, as well as nieces and nephews.

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Dr. Brennan in Kazakhstan

Dr.Sean Brennan spent five weeks in October and November in Almaty, Kazakhstan helping to establish an academic exchange program between the University of Scranton and Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, the premier university in Kazakhstan. He also taught a four-week seminar on online education, and gave a number of lectures on international relations, terrorism, and US-Kazakh ties at a number of conferences and forums sponsored by the University. He also had a chance to visit Kazakhstan’s other largest cities, the new capital of Astana and the coal center, Karaganda.


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Dr. Fan Had a Busy Summer With a Fellowship at The Library of Congress!

Fellowship: Residential fellow at the Library of Congress, funded by a 2016 Florence Tan Moeson Fellowship from Asian Division of the Library of Congress. I am one of the two 2016 residential fellows at the Asian Division of the Library.

Conference Presentation: Submitted a paper titled “International Debate about Francis Knight’s Scheme to Start Chinese Instruction at Harvard, 1877-1882” to a joint international symposium titled “Modern China in World Affairs: Interaction and Mutual Influence,” which was organized by Historical Society of Twentieth Century China (HSTCC) and the Institute of Modern History at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, August 19-21, 2016. Since I could not go to the conference, I asked a colleague in my field to read my PPT file.

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Dr. Shaffern Helps Commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the German Reformation



From June 26 until July 6, Dr. Robert Shaffern of the History Department took part in a seminar on the Protestant Reformation at the invitation of the Studienforum Berlin, a non-for-profit scholarly institute in Berlin, Germany. This seminar was held in anticipation of the 500th anniversary of the initiation of the Reformation in Germany. For two weeks, participants in the seminar presented their thoughts on various aspects of the thought of Martin Luther; discussions among the participants followed these presentations. Presenters confronted such topics as Luther’s reaction to the Peasants’ War of 1525, his anti-Judaism, his liturgical and theological innovations, and his continuing legacy in German history. In addition to Berlin, the seminar also held sessions in Wittenberg, Torgau, Erfurt and Eisenach.


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Phi Alpha Theta Inducts New Members

pht2016On April 12, 2016 The University of Scranton chapter Phi Alpha Theta inducted ten new members. Congratulations on your scholarly achievement!

Megan Alexandra Bershefsky

Kaelyn Jacques

Matthew Lasewicz

Albert J. Mackarey

Colin Arthur Moretti

Amanda T. Palardy

Joseph Carlo Princetta

Thomas M.A. Shaffern

Nicholas Silva

Mariah R. Turner

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Dr. Poulson presents on “Divorce & Women’s Rights” in the Hoosier State


On February 20th, Dr. Susan Poulson presented a paper entitled, “Divorce & Women’s Rights: Robert Dale Owen, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Horace Greeley” at the Indiana Association of Historians Annual Meeting in Bloomington, Indiana. In 1860, Greeley, an influential newspaper editor, engaged reformer Robert Dale Owen in a public debate on the merits of divorce. Owen favored liberal divorce while Greeley feared that social decay would follow. Stanton engaged in the fray, adding a women’s rights perspective on the issue. Dr. Poulson is grateful for the University Intersession Grant that enabled her to travel to Indiana and Kentucky to do research for the paper.

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Scranton Faculty at the AHA


Dr. Sean Brennan, Dr. Shuhua Fan, and Dr. Adam Pratt all participated in the recent gathering of the American Historical Association in Atlanta, Georgia in January 2016.  Dr. Fan presented, “Francis Knight, President Eliot, Ko Kunhua, and the Harvard Chinese Class, 1877-1882.”  Dr. Brennan commented on a panel entitled “European Catholic Thought in Modern Europe.”  Dr. Pratt participated in the “Ask an Assistant Professor” booth which was staffed by a rotating cadre of junior faculty from a variety of institutions who answered questions about what being an assistant professor is really like in various settings.

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The Hope Horn Gallery Presents Former Scranton Mayor Ezra Ripple’s Civil War Memoir


James Taylor. Leaving Florence Prison. Digital reproduction of lantern slide.  1897.

During the 1890s, Civil War veteran and Scranton mayor Ezra Ripple presented public lectures about his experiences as a prisoner of war in camps at Andersonville, Georgia, and Florence, South Carolina, in 1864-1865.  In addition, Ripple commissioned Civil War illustrator James Taylor to produce drawings and magic lantern slides based on his memoirs. Presented in conjunction with the 150th anniversaries of the Civil War and the city of Scranton, this project is co-sponsored by the Lackawanna Historical Society and a Lackawanna County Community Arts and Culture Grant, a program of Lackawanna County Commissioners Jim Wansacz, Patrick M. O’Malley, and Edward G. Staback.

The exhibit runs through March 11, 2016


Special Events: February 5, 2016
Gallery Lecture
“Andersonville and Florence Prisons: The Ezra Hoyt Ripple Memoir”
Darlene Miller-Lanning, Ph.D
Director, Hope Horn Gallery
Brennan Hall, Room 228, at The University of Scranton
5:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Public Reception
The Hope Horn Gallery
Hyland Hall, 4th Floor, at The University of Scranton
6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

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