Dr. Robert Shaffern helps to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation

On Tuesday, 26 September, University of Scranton professor of medieval history, Robert Shaffern Ph.D., delivered a lecture titled “Johan Tetzel and the Protestant Reformation.” The talk was organized by Phil Yevics and the Scranton-based ecumenical group, Christian Communities Gathering, as part of a series of lectures at the local Catholic universities commemorating the 500th anniversary of the genesis of the Protestant Reformation. The talk was co-sponsored by the Department of Theology/Religious Studies and the Catholic Studies program at the University of Scranton. Shaffern shared his research on the indulgence controversies of the Middle Ages and the role of the Dominican Preacher Johan Tetzel in provoking Martin Luther to go public with his protests against the practices of the Papacy.


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Senior History Major Maura Burns Wins Research Awards at Pennsylvania Historical Association Annual Conference


Congratulations to Senior History Major Maura Burns for earning 2nd place in the poster competition at the Pennsylvania Historical Association Annual Conference which was held October 12-14 at the Radisson Lackawanna Station in Scranton. Maura’s poster was the result of research completed during her Craft of the Historian course, under the direction of Dr. Aiala Levy, this past year. Burns’ poster drew on primary research at a variety of locations including the Lackawanna Historical Society, McDade Park Anthracite Museum, and the Lackawanna County Library System.  Her projects offered insight into the labor conditions faced by Scranton’s anthracite coal miners in the 19th and 20th centuries. Maura will also be donating her poster to the Lackawanna Historical Society, and is grateful to the society for their research assistance.  So noted that “they helped me tremendously when it came to finding primary sources”.  Maura’s poster will also appear in an upcoming issue of the Pennsylvania Historical Association magazine.  In addition to her History Major, Maura is minoring in Biology and plans to enroll in dental school in the fall.


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Department Picnic

At the start of senior week the History faculty and graduating seniors gathered at Dr. Dzurec’s house to celebrate the History and IS major’s accomplishments over the past four years.  Congratulations to the class of 2017!

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New Joint 3-3 Program with Villanova Law

A new affiliation between The University of Scranton and Villanova University School of Law will provide automatic admission and scholarship support to the law school for Scranton students who meet program requirements.

The agreement, which will take effect beginning with the 2017-18 academic year, allows Scranton students to earn a bachelor’s and juris doctor (JD) degree in six, rather than seven years, and provides a minimum scholarship of $25,000 per year while at Villanova, as long as the student remains in good standing.

To be eligible for guaranteed admission through this program, students must have completed 90 credits, 63 of which must be completed at Scranton, and have a grade-point-average (GPA) of 3.6 or higher and a LSAT score of 158 or higher, in addition to meeting other requirements. The agreement then allows for a maximum of 30 credits from the first year of law school to also count toward the final 30 credits of a bachelor’s degree at Scranton. The program is not compatible with all undergraduate majors at Scranton.

The agreement also allows for automatic admission to Villanova University School of Law for students who graduate from Scranton after four years as well, provided the student has at least a GPA of 3.6 and an LSAT score of 154, in addition to meeting other requirements. The agreement provides students with a minimum scholarship of $5,000 per year while attending law school, provided the student remains in good standing.

In the past four years, more than 150 Scranton graduates have received acceptance into more than 50 law schools throughout the United States, including to some of the country’s most prestigious law schools. Scranton has a Pre-Law Advisory Program, which helps students navigate the law school application process throughout their undergraduate years. The program also offers assistance to Scranton alumni who wish to apply to law school.


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Phi Alpha Theta Inducts New Members

Front row: Maura C. Burns, Christiana Cruz-Council, Dr. Susan Poulson (moderator), Vincent Joseph Sottile, Jr.; 2nd row: Michael T. Dombrowski, Julien E. Cuny, III. Not pictured: Victoria Ashley Alvarenga, Alyssa Taylor Artesona.

On April 24, 2017 The University Scranton chapter Phi Alpha Theta inducted its newest members. Congratulations on your scholarly achievement!

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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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