Jones to Receive Honorary Doctorate

Sep 16, 2021

At the quarterly meeting of the Cal U Council of Trustees, members unanimously approve a request to award former President Geraldine Jones with a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

former president jones

Former Univeristy President Geraldine Jones.

As a new leader attended her first quarterly Cal U Council of Trustees meeting on Sept. 14, a former one earned a special recognition.

In a unanimous vote, the trustees approved a request to award a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, to former University President Geraldine Jones.

The honorary degree will recognize a career at Cal U that spanned five decades, beginning when Jones was an undergraduate at California.

Interim University President Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, addressing the council for the first time, brought the request to the council.

Most recently, Jones “led the campus through one of the most challenging periods in the University’s history — the first nine months of the global pandemic,” the request stated.

“As President, she made difficult decisions that prioritized the health and safety of Cal U students and employees, an approach that both mitigated risk and sustained the trust of our campus community through a time of tremendous uncertainty.”

The trustees also recognized former interim President Robert Thorn for his work during the leadership transition. In July 2021, Thorn was appointed senior vice president and chief operating officer for the western integrated university, guiding implementation plans for the consolidation of Cal U, Clarion and Edinboro universities.

In her remarks to the council, Dr. Dale highlighted “points of pride” at the University, including new partners in Cal U’s Educational Alliance, which provides tuition discounts for eligible students, and a National Science Foundation grant to improve STEM education.

“Each of our schools working toward integration has a unique history and campus culture, but we are sister institutions,” she said. “What matters is our strength, resilience and commitment to empower our students and to help them enrich their communities by having fulfilling careers.

“This is a historic moment for Cal U. What matters is that we move together, work together and honor our past as we build our future.”

Each member of the President’s leadership team provided updates from their divisions:

  • Daniel Engstrom, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, highlighted the work of Dr. Brenda Fredette, dean of the Eberly College of Science and Technology, Dr. Kristen Majocha, dean of the College of Education and Liberal Arts, and Dr. Yugo ikach, dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research. All three have assisted in the integration of academic departments while continuing the work at Cal U this academic year.

    Engstrom’s praise extended to multiple leaders in his division and to faculty, who “had to shift, re-shift and shift again” during the University’s responses to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • David Garcia, vice president for Enrollment Management, reported an enrollment decline this fall. On the official census date of Sept. 14, the University reported overall enrollment of 6,512 students, a decline of 5.4% compared to Fall 2020.
  • Fawn Petrosky, interim vice president for Administration and Finance, reported that the University ended fiscal year 2020-2021 with a $6.1 million surplus in its Education and General (E&G) budget, due in part to the distribution of federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds.
  • Larry Sebek, interim vice president for Student Affairs, highlighted the student health services team. Registered nurse supervisor Debra Anderson outlined COVID-19 services, including screenings, testing and follow-up calls to students in isolation following positive test results.
  • Christine Kindl, vice president for Communications and Marketing, focused on efforts to inform students about fall reopening plans and a peer-to-peer campaign in which student leaders urged their classmates to “Stick It to COVID.”
  • Anthony Mauro, vice president for University Development and Alumni Relations, reported on continued support from donors, as well as plans for in-person Homecoming events 1-3. Mauro also serves a campus administrator, a new role that provides on-ground support when Dr. Dale is at Clarion or Edinboro.
  • Sheleta Camarda-Webb, interim Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, reported on diversity education training that is required for all University employees. She also provided an update on the Inclusive Community Assessment Team, which provides educational responses to disruptive conduct, and the Presidential Advisors on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, which initiates, fosters, coordinates, evaluates and communicates the diversity and inclusion activities at the University.

    Camarda-Webb also presented a video, developed by Communications and Marketing’s creative services team, highlighting Cal U’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Trustees Chair James Davis, Vice Chair Larry Maggi and secretary Maria Dovshek, the student trustee, were re-elected to new terms at a reorganization meeting that preceded the regular quarterly session.