University for a Day

Take advantage of the opportunity to become college students for the first time or once again, through an innovative program offered by the Schemel Forum at The University of Scranton.  University for a Day, scheduled for Saturday, October 2, allows participants to attend lectures that explore topics ranging from slavery and Confucian philosophy to university professors’ role in the community and books and argumentation.

According to Sondra Myers, director of the Schemel Forum at The University of Scranton, the program provides an opportunity for attendees to come together to explore new topics and forge new relationships.  “Participants develop friendships through the collaborative community of learning that these programs provide,” said Myers.

University for a Day includes lunch sandwiched between four lectures/discussions led by university professors and other experts.  During one of the programs, University of Scranton professor of philosophy Ann Pang-White, Ph.D., will lead a discussion of eastern philosophy and western philosophers, pose some questions focusing on topics such as ethics and the rights theories, and introduce the concept of care in her presentation titled “Where East Meets West: Confucian Philosophy and a Post-Modern Ethics of Care.”  “By learning from other cultures, we can reexamine our own philosophical systems,” said Dr. Pang-White. “Despite the differences among the cultures, there is common ground between the east and west, and when the east meets the west, there can be great synergy that develops.”

Other programs planned are “’Our Peculiar Institution’: Slavery in the South” by Attorney Morey M. Myers; “Scaling the University’s Gates: The Professor in the Community” by Clement Price, professor of African American studies and founding director of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience at Rutgers University, Newark, N.J.; and “Books and Argumentation: A Panel Discussion” featuring authors Christopher Hitchens and Jay Parini, and moderated by Morey Myers. “Books and Argumentation” is held in collaboration with the second annual Pages and Places Book Festival and will take place at the Scranton Cultural Center. Transportation to the center will be provided.

The University for a Day program will run from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Patrick and Margaret DeNaples Center on The University of Scranton’s campus.  Seating is limited and reservations are required to attend. The participation fee is $25 for non-Schemel Forum members.  To register, contact Kym Balthazar Fetsko, events coordinator, at (570) 941-7816 or

University for a Day is made possible through the support of the Wachovia Regional Foundation and the Scranton Area Foundation.

Jay Parini speaks on his “found novel”, The Last Station

Scranton native Jay Parini spoke at today’s Schemel Forum luncheon about his 1990 novel, The Last Station, which was recently transformed into an Oscar-nominated film by the same name.

The novel describes the last year of Leo Tolstoy‘s life and focuses on the battle between Tolstoy’s wife Sophia and his disciple Chertkov for Tolstoy’s soul.  Parini wrote the novel after reading several diaries written by people who lived in Tolstoy’s house during the tumultuous year.  In today’s talk, Parini described his work as a “found novel,” a narrative shaped from the layered viewpoints of those diaries.

Parini has authored 21 books and is currently working on a new novel on the life of Herman Melville.   When it’s done, we hope he’ll find his way back home to Scranton for another visit with the Schemel Forum!

P.S. The Last Station has been shown in cities all over the world – but not in Scranton.  Tolstoy fans will have to drive to Tunkhannock’s Deitrich Theater, where the film will be shown on three different days (4/14, 4/18, and 4/22) during this month’s Spring Film Festival.

Update: A video of Parini’s talk is now available on the University’s YouTube channel!

Oscar-Scranton-Schemel Connection: Jay Parini’s The Last Station


Now that the Olympics are over, it’s time to start preparing for the next big event – the Academy Awards are this Sunday!  And this year, there’s a Scranton connection.

West Scranton native Jay Parini is the author of The Last Station, a novel about the last year of Tolstoy’s life – and the film adaptation of the novel has received two Oscar nominations.  Helen Mirren (who plays Sofya Tolstoy) and Christopher Plummer (Leo Tolstoy) are up for Best Supporting Actor and Best Actress, respectively.   The Last Station was also nominated for five awards (including Best Feature) at Friday’s Film Independent Spirit Awards.  For more details about the film and Parini’s work, see this article from the February 5 Scranton Times-Tribune.

This Spring, Mr. Parini will be making a special appearance on campus to discuss his book and the film at one of our Schemel Forum “Insights” luncheons.  The luncheon will be held Friday, April 9 from 12pm-1:30pm in Room 509 Brennan Hall.   Registration fees are $20 per person or $30 per couple for the luncheon – and Schemel Forum members get in free. To register, please contact Kym Fetsko at fetskok2 (at) scranton (dot) edu.