University Plan For Integration

Cal U is in the midst of a comprehensive planning process that considers integration with Clarion and Edinboro universities.

Under the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s plan for System Redesign, the three western Pennsylvania schools will join forces to expand educational opportunities and rein in costs for students.

As envisioned now, integration will create a single accredited university – a powerhouse with more than 15,000 students across its three campuses. Each campus will retain its own identity, culture and traditions, System officials say.  

A shared menu of in-person undergraduate and graduate programs will expand opportunities for students who want to live on campus or commute to college.  

In addition, the integrated university will develop a robust array of online programs to be offered throughout the State System and beyond.

All three universities are continuing to enroll students as details are being worked out on the campuses and in Harrisburg. A public comment period is scheduled for spring. The earliest students would enter the integrated university is Fall 2022.

“Our mission to serve students, and all the residents of Pennsylvania, is arguably more important now than ever before,” says Dr. Daniel Greenstein, the State System’s chancellor.

“We are building something new. It won’t be easy, and it will take time. But we have the intelligence, opportunity, grit and determination to pull this off.”

National honor for exercise science professor

Dr. Ben Reuter

Dr. Ben Reuter, an associate professor in the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Studies, has been selected as the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Sports Medicine/Rehabilitation Specialist of the Year for 2020.  

The award recipient is chosen based on contributions to the field of sports medicine and to the NSCA, a nonprofit association dedicated to advancing strength and conditioning and related sport science professions around the world.  

Reuter, who has been a member of the NSCA since 1988 and a certified strength and conditioning specialist since 1990, is the 19th recipient of the award, which began in 2001.  

He also holds athletic training certification from the National Athletic Trainers Association.  


Maria Dovshek

Four alumni and a Cal U student are among the newest members of the University’s Council of Trustees.

Barry Niccolai ’93, executive director of Centerville Clinics, and James W. Harris ’80, a retired administrative law judge, joined the council in spring.

Justin R. Nwokeji ’05, a major gifts officer at the University of Pittsburgh, and Sandra K. Guthrie ’01, a partner at Guthrie, Belczyk and Associates P.C. Certified Public Accountants, began their service this summer.

Maria Dovshek, a Cal U junior from Scenery Hill, Pa., is serving as student trustee.

Each university in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education has an 11-member Council of Trustees. These governing bodies are charged with a variety of duties, including review and approval of new academic programs, students fees, and University contracts and purchases.

Health, wellness partners Join Educational Alliance

Two organizations focused on health and wellness – healthcare provider Washington Health System and fitness equipment manufacturer Technogym – are the first partners to join Cal U’s new Educational Alliance.

Verified employees of Educational Alliance partners receive a 20% tuition discount  
(based on in-state rates) when they attend Cal U. The program also offers personalized service to support students from application through graduation.

“Cal U is committed to making top-quality higher education more affordable for workers throughout the region and across Pennsylvania,” says Ben Brudnock, director of graduate admissions at Cal U.  

Educational Alliance partnerships are available for businesses, nonprofit groups and membership organizations. Employees in partner organizations may enroll in Cal U’s undergraduate, master’s degree, certificate or licensure programs. For details, visit

Two recognized as top performers

Rebecca Barnhart '09. '12, '17

Two staff members were recognized this fall for exceptional service to the University and its students.

Rebecca “Becky” Barnhart ’09, ’12, ’17, a residence hall director in the Office of Housing and Residence Life, received the Vulcan President’s Circle Award for outstanding job performance.

Nominators said she is “one of those people who makes you want to do well at your job. She is always just a phone call away – even in the middle of the night.” 

C.J. DeJuliis, associate director of the Teaching and Learning Center, accepted the Vulcan Exceptional Service Award.  

Colleagues described him as helpful, positive and motivating, noting that his technology skills have eased the shift to remote instruction during the coronavirus pandemic.  

The awards were presented virtually during the President’s fall “State of the University” address.  

Sorority honors Cal U professional

Joy Helsel ’83, ’86

Joy Helsel ’83, ’86, Cal U’s director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, received the 2019-2020 Alpha Sigma Alpha Outstanding Fraternity/Sorority Advisor Award.  

The award recognizes a campus professional for exceptional service to Alpha Sigma Alpha, which has 175 chapters and 120,000 members nationwide, and to the campus community.  

“Our Greek community at Cal U is very dedicated to being good students and citizens,” says Helsel, a Sigma Kappa sister. “To be recognized for doing something I love to do is hard to put into words.”  

Helsel was the inaugural recipient of Sigma Tau Gamma’s Distinguished Interfraternal Leadership Award. She also has received the Theta Xi Educational Foundation of Pittsburgh Distinguished Service Award, the Northeast Panhellenic Conference Award of Excellence and Outstanding Advisor Award, and Delta Chi’s Outstanding Greek Professional Award.

Election events educate, engage

Livestreaming gave Cal U’s premier election-season event – a timely analysis of election results by a panel of nationally recognized speakers – a coast-to-coast reach this year.

Political analyst Jon Delano, the Money & Politics Editor at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, reprised his role as moderator for the Dr. Melanie Blumberg Post-Election Analysis Forum.

The popular event is sponsored during election years by Cal U’s chapter of the American Democracy Project (ADP), a nonpartisan initiative focused on preparing the next generation of informed and engaged citizens.

ADP chapters, political science classes and election-watchers across the United States were invited to tune in to the virtual event and submit questions for the panel.

“Although we enjoy hosting the panelists on campus, the livestream allowed us to reach  a wider audience this year,” says Dr. Laura Tuennerman, ADP director at Cal U.  

The campus chapter took a similar approach to other events, including virtual DebateWatch sessions and a Constitution Day panel on racism and inequality that drew more than 200 students on Zoom.  

This year’s ADP activities are dedicated to the memory of political science professor Dr. Melanie Blumberg, who passed away last summer.

Room to run

Tots exercise their bodies – and their imaginations – outdoors at the Rutledge Institute for Early Childhood Education, where new playground equipment has been installed. The on-campus preschool program serves eligible children ages 3-5 and provides firsthand experience for Rutledge Scholars – students who attend Cal U tuition-free as they prepare for careers in early childhood education. Details:

Cartoon Blaze gets a makeover

With a wider smile, lively eyes, a new hairstyle and taller physique, Blaze is ready for action.  

The refreshed visual representation of Cal U’s mascot is appearing on T-shirts, fliers, stickers and other promotional items, as well as student recruitment materials.  

The cartoon Blaze is based on the costumed mascot, whose look will not change.  

To update the character, Cal U held virtual focus groups with student leaders, Vulcans athletes, admissions student ambassadors and individuals who have appeared in costume as mascot Blaze.

Cal U’s Creative Services team took it from there .

“Based on student feedback, we were able to adjust his body structure to make him appear taller,” says artist-illustrator Philip Haragos. “His hair was scaled back to provide less of a ‘shaggy’ look, and other minor adjustments added to the overall outcome.”  

At long last, Blaze even has ears.  

The new cartoon mascot more closely resembles the logo for Vulcans Athletics introduced in 2019.

Grant will improve wetlands, stream

Dr. Robert Whyte

Nearly $360,000 has been awarded to Dr. Robert Whyte, professor in Cal U’s Department of Biology, Geology and Environmental Sciences, for a stream and wetland mitigation project near state Route 981 in Westmoreland County, Pa.  

The work includes widening and realigning sections of the Boyer Run waterway for about 4.5 miles, from a location just north of Mount Pleasant to the village of Norvelt in Mount Pleasant Township.  

The project is a cooperative effort between Cal U, the Foundation for California University, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other state and federal agencies.

Services are provided by the Partners for Fish and Wildlife’s Farmland Habitat Program, a conservation collaborative based at Cal U.  

The project will create about 2.9 acres of wetlands and 1,400 feet of stream mitigation along Boyer Run.  

Data collected by students will be added to the data from other mitigation sites to better evaluate the benefits and impacts of these wetlands to the region.  

“Boyer Run, in addition to our other projects, provides a significant opportunity for our students to be involved in professional activities that will move their careers forward upon graduation,” Whyte says.

Cal U recognized FOR EXCELLENCE

Cal U has been selected as a 2020-2021 College of Distinction for the school’s commitment to undergraduate education.  

The University was recognized for excellence in the areas of student engagement, faculty, student life and student outcomes.  

In addition to the overall College of Distinction award, Cal U received special recognition for the first time in programming for Military Support and for Equity and Inclusion.  

The University again was honored for programming in Business, Education, Engineering, and Career Development. Criteria include program accreditation, breadth of programs and track record for success.  

“Cal U provides an amazing opportunity for students from all backgrounds to learn, grow, and become a valuable member of society,” says Dr. Daniel E. Engstrom, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.  

“Our faculty and staff genuinely care about the success of each student. They want to see each student be successful in and out  
of the classroom.”

ReUp Network supports degree completion

Cal U is among the first universities to join the ReUp Network, a national  
initiative that provides a path to graduation for students who have some college experience but no degree.

More than 36 million Americans have attended college but have not finished their degree, ReUp reports, citing data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.  

ReUp enables students to complete their degree at any of the transfer network’s partner institutions. The ReUp Network includes two members of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education – Clarion University and Cal U – and a dozen additional schools.  

“Since workers without degrees are often the most likely to lose their jobs during economic downturns, and the last to be hired in an upswing, college completion can have an outsized employment impact during periods of economic uncertainty,” says Sarah Horn, co-founder and CEO of ReUp Education.  

Free to students, ReUp uses data science, data-informed communication and hands-on coaching to help students return to their previous institution or identify another school that meets their current needs. Personalized coaching supports them through graduation.  

Nationwide, ReUp provides access to more than 300 undergraduate and graduate programs in high-demand fields such as healthcare, business, information technology and more.

New org chart for academics

Cal  U began the fall semester with a streamlined academic structure designed to provide greater consistency to the student experience, expand teaching opportunities for permanent faculty, and make a significant contribution to the University’s long-term financial sustainability.

Three undergraduate colleges have been consolidated to form the College of Education and Liberal Arts, and the Eberly College of Science and Technology, each led by a dean and an assistant dean.  

The number of academic departments has been reduced from 22 to 11. Combining certain departments allows Cal U to strategically align accreditations – recognition that academic programs meet standards of excellence – and to pair academic programs and faculty that can collaborate and share qualifications.  

Some academic programs now are housed within a different college or academic department, but course content and quality, program accreditation and graduation requirements have not been affected.

The reorganization is expected to achieve ongoing savings of more than $700,000 per year in personnel costs and related expenses, without affecting students’ progress toward graduation.

Celebration in a box

Because the University was unable to host spring and winter Commencement ceremonies on campus, all grads were mailed a package of special gifts – a yard sign, mortarboard, alumni pin and more – so they could celebrate at home. A second mailing held each graduate’s personalized diploma and commemorative Commencement booklet. The Class of 2020 will be invited to attend when in-person graduation ceremonies resume.