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Getting to Know: Dr. Alexandra Adams

Alex AdamsTasked with managing enrollment strategies for Holy Family University, Dr. Alexandra Adams details what enticed her to the position, what she would like to complete in her first 90 days, and what some of her favorite summertime hobbies are in her first sit down interview with Holy Family University.

HFU: Can you tell me about your background and how you ended up in the enrollment side of higher education?

AA: “I have worked in higher education since earning my undergraduate degree 25 years ago. After a short stint in development, I served as Assistant to the President/Chief of Staff at a college, and in that role, I was the primary research assistant for the President. This included researching enrollment and retention for the college, as well as state and national trends—an assignment that ignited my interest in the enrollment management model of higher education. After demonstrating my abilities as Chief of Staff for nine years, I was promoted to Vice President for Student Affairs, which included all enrollment and student affairs functions at the institution.”

HFU: What attracted you to the Vice President of Enrollment Services position at Holy Family University?

AA: “I was looking to move into a vice presidential position, specifically at a private institution—one that had a mission that focused on impacting and empowering the lives of its students. I found that Holy Family University’s mission to ‘educate students to assume lifelong responsibilities towards God, society, and self’ fit perfectly with what I was seeking.”

HFU: What are some goals that you’d like to meet in your first few months?

AA: “Right now I am getting to know the Holy Family University family to better understand our programmatic offerings and internal processes. I also want to get to know our students and to better understand why they chose Holy Family University. Also, what were the major factors that influenced their decision to attend the university? Most importantly, within the first 90 days, I would like to have the Strategic Enrollment Management Committee in place and actively driving the enrollment planning process on campus.”

HFU: Outside of the office, what do you like to do for fun?

AA: “I love to bike, hike, and exercise. Travel, music, sports, and photography are some of my favorite things to do for fun—from attending a Philadelphia Orchestra concert, to watching a Phillies game along the third base line on a warm summer day, to hiking in Zion National Park in Utah with my camera around my neck. My philosophy is, life is a gift, live each day to its fullest and make a difference.”

Charter Week Celebration Held from February 13-17

Holy Family University’s Charter Week celebration, honoring the 63rd anniversary in which Holy Family University was chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, will be held from February 13-17. Each day will feature new activities thanking the years of dedicated service to students, faculty, and staff who have made the previous year’s possible. Please join us in as many events as possible!

Monday, February 13
Faculty and Staff Longevity Recognition Awards | 1:00 pm | Campus Center, Lower Lobby
Anniversary Cake | 1:30 pm | Campus Center, Main Lobby
The entire campus community is invited to attend. Coffee and cake will be served.

Tuesday, February 14
Mission and Core Values Awards Ceremony | 4:00 pm | Campus Center, Lower Lobby
Honoring students and organizations who exhibit the Mission Core Values

Wednesday, February 15
Anniversary Mass| 1:00 pm |Campus Center, Gymnasium
Celebrant Rev. James MacNew, D Min

Thursday, February 16
Faculty dialog gathering – Sharing our faith traditions |12:45 pm | Campus Center, Room 113
Sponsored by James Higgins, retired full-time faculty member

Friday, February 17
University Day of Service
Open to students, faculty and staff. Students must receive permission from their professors. Registration forms are available through campus email.

Holy Family University Sponsored Day of Service opportunities include:

Habitat for Humanity ReStore | 10:00 am - 1:00 pm | Transportation will be provided from Northeast campus. Participants must arrive at 9:15 am to complete paperwork and take van to site.

Feast of Justice | 8:00 am - 2:00 pm | Transportation will be provided from Northeast campus to help with weekly regular food distribution. All participants must bring their own lunch. Participants must arrive at 7:30 am to complete paperwork and take van to site.

Visiting the CSFN Sisters | 2 pm - 4 pm | Transportation will be provided from the Northeast campus to Mount Nazareth Retirement Home to distribute a rose as a token of appreciation for their years of service and dedication to the University.

Aid for Friends | 12:50 pm - 1:45 pm | This service project will be done on campus. Participants will work together to prepare 30 lunches for senior citizens, which will be distributed through the Aid for Friends program.

Canned Food Drive | In a joint effort with the Student Government Junior Class, Holy Family University will be collecting various can goods throughout the week and will deliver to local food bank.

February Art Gallery: Natasha Giles

NatashaGiles sizedHoly Family University Art Gallery Presents Social Voyeurism, paintings by Natasha Giles
Exhibit Dates: February 2-28, 2017

The Holy Family University Art Gallery is pleased to present Natasha Giles’ work, titled Social Voyeurism. The exhibit features paintings from her most recent body of work, and are inspired by social media, memory, and the experience of moments in time. In this series, the unspoken communication of body language and character is exuded in each captured moment.

Natasha is a Georgia based painter and educator, originally from Kentucky. She received her BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2007 and her MFA from the University of Kentucky in 2011. She will have upcoming exhibitions at Transylvania University, the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri, The Lyric Theater and Cultural Arts Center (Lexington, Kentucky), and The Carnegie Center (New Albany, Indiana).

From the artist: “My work is about social voyeurism and our shared experience of memories and moments in time. Many people are laying their private or mundane thoughts and actions at the feet of the masses for consumption. I pilfer public images, memories that are not my own, and create paintings where I imagine, investigate, and become a part of that original moment. In my paintings, I reinterpret each event and invite the viewer to engage and participate with me. Each painting is created from images found on social media. The photos used as reference were taken by different individuals. More than anything, I am drawn to the interactions of the people in the original photographs. What intrigues me is the illusion of time and the unspoken communication of body language; the personality and character that is exuded in a captured moment.”

The event will take place at Holy Family University’s Education Technology Center (ETC) in the lobby and art gallery. Parking is available to all in the Campus Center parking lot in the visitor section without restriction.

This exhibition is part of Holy Family's monthly Gallery shows held throughout the academic year, each of which showcases a new and diverse exhibit featuring artists from around the world as well as Holy Family University's graduating art majors. The intended audiences of this exhibition are people of all ages.

The University Art Gallery is located on the Lower Level of the Education & Technology Center on the University’s Northeast Philadelphia campus. The exhibit is free and open to the public. The Gallery is open Monday through Friday, from 8 am - 8 pm.

Business Society Hosts Pins for PTSD Event

Pins for PTSD sizedBy Schyler Ellerbee '20

The School of Business Administration’s Business Society held their Pins for PTSD event on Saturday, January 14, at Thunderbird Lanes. More than $2,000 was donated to the Post Traumatic Stress Foundation of Philadelphia.

“Many of our society members are aware of PTSD because of their interactions with veterans,” said Dr. Luanne Amato, Management-Marketing Instructor and faculty adviser. “Also, they recognized that PTSD is not only for veterans and there limited causes that support this issue. Our members consider it a silent issue—not usually heard about or taken seriously.”

Attendees enjoyed pizza, soda, bowling, and endless fun throughout the night. Bowlers were also able to bid on various prize baskets, including Mary Kay cosmetics, Wawa giftcards, Palace Skating, Philadelphia Flyers memorabilia, a signed Philadelphia Eagles Jersey, and Adventure Aquarium tickets.

"We were all amazed at the level of participation, the quality of the bowling, the number of baskets provided, and most importantly, the amount of money raised," Amato said.

Getting to Know: Gene Kovalchick

Gene Kovalchick sizedAs Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, Gene Kovalchick has been tasked with implementing the best and most accessible technology initiatives across Holy Family University’s three locations. With a strong background in the IT field, Kovalchick sat down with Holy Family University to talk about what made him interested in his field, enhancements he would like to see made campus-wide, and what instrument he plays in a couple local bands.

HFU: Can you tell me about your background and how you came to Holy Family University?

GK: “I have over 25 years of experience in the field of IT leadership, IT strategy, architecture, management, and support fields. Prior to joining Holy Family University, I served as Executive Director of IT Services for Bucks County Community College, where I worked with many of the same challenges that Holy Family faces today. Those challenges included Colleague, cloud computing services, wireless networks, desktop and classroom technology, and Help Desk support. Before working in the higher education environment, I held various IT Director positions at pharmaceutical companies leading global teams to provide IT technology expertise and support.”

“I first learned of Holy Family University when my daughter chose to attend the school for her bachelor’s degree. Her enthusiasm and success with Holy Family was heartwarming for a parent hoping to give their child a good start in life. Her success and subsequent return to Holy Family for her master’s degree just made it all the more special. When the opportunity came to apply for this position, I knew that this was the place for me too.”

HFU: What made you interested in Information Technology?

GK: “As an undergraduate, my advisor suggested I take a course in the new Computer Science major that was just starting. Having already taken a number of Physics and Math courses, I was fascinated by the integration of electronics, logic, and programming. Ever since, information technology has kept my interest and has never given me a dull day.”

HFU: In your position, what are some technology-related projects you’d like see come to Holy Family University?

GK: “Technology changes so quickly that there is always a new project to benefit the University. The key is to find the right balance between the cost and benefit of the many possible projects. Just a few technologies that could bring new functionality to HFU include an updated and enhanced intranet web portal and document imaging.”

HFU: How do you see technology in the classroom as being integral to a student’s learning experience?

GK: “As it is said, technology is only as good as how well it is used, whether inside or outside the classroom. Making technology easy to use, accessible, and having faculty and students use the tools is rewarding. Technology can enhance knowledge and foster a lifetime of learning. I am always excited by enabling new ways for students to learn and grow.”

HFU: Outside the confines of Holy Family University, what do you like to do for fun?

GK: “When I’m not walking, hiking, biking, or skiing, I play saxophone in two community bands and a jazz band. I also substitute when needed in two swing bands.”

Alpha House Expanding to Aquinas Hall in 2017

Alpha HouseAlpha House Nursery, Pre-K, and Kindergarten will begin an expansion project in the spring semester to renovate Aquinas Hall, providing increased opportunities for students while offering more room to learn and grow on Holy Family University’s campus.

According to Mary Becker, Alpha House Director, the plan is to continue to use the current building for the nursery and Pre-K, while the Kindergarten would move to the new location adjacent to where Alpha House is currently located. Alpha House is estimating a 25 percent enrollment increase over the next two to three years with the additional spaced provided by Aquinas Hall.

Aquinas Hall previously housed the School of Business Administration before it moved to its current location in Bensalem in 2015.

“The teachers and staff of Alpha House are very excited about acquiring Aquinas Hall to expand our program,” Becker said. “The possibilities are endless as we contemplate how the added space will enhance our Nursery, Pre-K, and Kindergarten programs. Our initial plan is to move Kindergarten to the new building, however, we see many opportunities for our teachers and students to use the new space to incorporate new and innovative ways of learning. The added space will also allow us to offer more families the opportunity to choose Alpha House for their child's first school experience.”

According to Jim Trusdell, Vice President for Finance and Administration, the renovation will feature the following enhancements:

  • To create a handicap entrance to the north side of the building and to build a walkway/ramp from the Aquinas Hall parking lot to the nearest entrance.
  • The main entrance would be on the south side of the building, near Alpha House. A concrete walkway would be installed with a canopy above both doors.
  • To remove several interior walls to create one large open classroom.
  • To renovate the bathrooms, including an accessible bathroom from the hallway.
  • To create roadway highlights for student crossing between Alpha House and Aquinas Hall.

Holy Family University Outfitted with Energy Efficient LED Lightbulbs

If things seem a bit brighter on Holy Family University’s campus, look up. The University is in the middle of a lighting renovation project that will replace old halogen lightbulbs and fixtures with energy efficient LED bulbs.

During the course of the three-month project, over 5,000 lightbulbs will be replaced with LED lights. The renovations began around December 16 and will conclude sometime in April. The LED lighting project will reduce Holy Family University’s electrical energy consumption by at least 1.3 million kWh annually, reducing annual utilities cost by approximately $200,000. The University will receive a one-time rebate from PECO because of the change, which will amount to approximately $70,000.

“The lighting renovation was a necessary project and one that we wanted to complete in the new year,” said Jim Trusdell, Vice President for Finance and Administration. “The benefits of LED lightbulbs, both from an academic and financial perspective, are well documented. We’re glad to be working with all of our partners on this project to bring more energy-efficient lighting to Holy Family University.”

This project is a coordinated effort between Holy Family University, Opterra Energy Services, Evolution Energy Partners, and PNC Bank. The installation is being completed by Armour & Sons Electric, Inc. out of Langhorne, PA. Armour & Sons is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and is a member of many electrical organizations, including the National Electrical Contractors Association, the Electrical Association of Philadelphia, and Building Industry Consulting Service International (BICSI).

LED lights use 30 percent less energy than the old halogen lightbulbs and are made of a plastic material, providing more safety in the event a bulb was to break in a high traffic area. The increased lighting will also improve lighting around campus walkways and near university security cameras. Studies have shown that students who learn in classrooms with full-spectrum LED lighting experience less stress and anxiety, improved behavior and attitudes, improved health and attendance, and increased performance and academic achievement.

Holy Family University Traveling to 44th Annual March for Life Event

march for lifeHoly Family University will travel to Washington D.C. on Friday, January 27, to participate in the 44th annual March for Life event. The theme for 2017 is The Power of One.

Sponsored by Campus Ministry, participants will gather in the morning for coffee, juice, and bagels at 5:30 am before embarking on their journey at 6:00 am. Upon arrival, the group will participate in the Liturgy for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine at 10:00 am. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia will preside at this liturgy and Father James MacNew will concelebrate with other priests from Philadelphia.

Following the Liturgy, the Holy Family University group will proceed to the march, which will travel towards the Supreme Court, where a collection of Pro-Life speakers will share stories and presentations.

“We go to the March for Life from Holy Family University precisely as an exercise in lived spirituality, reverently putting our faith into practice on the streets of the nation's capital,” said Father James MacNew, OSFS. “For our students, the trip is an amazingly uplifting experience to see that the march is, in large part, a gathering of over 400,000 young people from diverse religious denominations, walking together in defense of human life and in celebration of reverence for each and every human person. Even if the weather is cold, wet, and blustery, and it often is, the spirit of the participants of the march is always warm and embracing. Even the hearts of District of Columbia and Federal Security officers are moved by the members of this demonstration, who unfailingly thank them for enabling and facilitating our exercise of the First Amendment."

According to the March for Life website, the event “began in Washington, D.C., as a small demonstration and rapidly grew to be the largest pro-life event in the world. The peaceful demonstration that has followed on the somber anniversary of Roe v. Wade every year since 1973 is a witness to the truth concerning the greatest human rights violation of our time, legalized abortion on demand.”

Confirmed speakers include Kellyanne Conway, Senior Counselor to President-elect Trump; Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City; Benjamin Watson, Tight End for the Baltimore Ravens; Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood Director and founder of And Then There Were None; Karyme Lozano, Mexican telenovela star; Eric Metaxas, New York Times bestselling author and host of The Eric Metaxas Show; and Bishop Vincent Mathews Jr., President at Church of God in Christ World Missions.

School of Education Professor Announces Her Retirement

img Rafter sizedSchool of Education Associate Professor, Dr. Donna Rafter, has announced her plan to retire at the end of the 2016-17 academic year, concluding 17 years of teaching at Holy Family University. SOE – NewsLink caught up with Dr. Rafter to ask a few questions about her journey in education, advice for future teachers, and retirement plans.

NL: Tell us about your academic preparation. What degrees and certifications have you earned and where did you earn them?

DR: My undergraduate degree is from Holy Family—it was a college back then. I started out as a French major. I don’t know what I thought I was going to do with French. My uncle told me that I would make a good teacher, and so I changed my major to elementary education in my junior year. I then went on to get my master’s degree at Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science (now Philadelphia University) in computer technology. I worked on computers “BHD” (before hard drives)! I earned my doctoral degree in Early Childhood Education at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. It took me ten years! I considered myself a turtle in that race; I just had to cross the finish line. My teaching certifications are in early childhood and elementary education.

NL: What was your teaching experience before you began teaching at the university level?

DR: I taught for thirteen years in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from first grade through sixth grade. My first teaching position was at St. George, a small Catholic school in Port Richmond with just one classroom per grade. The class size was small, too. I think I had 17 fifth graders. I look back now and think how fortunate I was to learn about teaching in such an ideal setting.

NL: What inspired or motivated you to become a teacher?

DR: I didn’t grow up wanting to be a teacher. My Uncle Bob was a computer programmer who helped me with math when I had trouble. He wanted to be a teacher, and one day when we were working on a tough algebra problem, he said, “Donna, you would make a great teacher.” I tucked that idea away and then at the end of my sophomore year of college I changed my major to Elementary Education. Of course that was the start of my teaching “love story.”

NL: What inspired or motivated you to become a teacher of teachers?

DR: Well, I have to be honest here. Jimmie and I had four kids, and I knew we could never afford to send them to college. So after I finished my Master’s degree, I was looking through the want ads and I saw an advertisement for Holy Family College. The Education Division was looking for a part-time faculty member to teach computers in their newly formed graduate program. I always felt I was at the right place at the right time. So I interviewed with Dr. Ruth Sower and she offered me the position on the spot. So that got me thinking . . . “Maybe I can turn this part-time job into a full-time position, and the best benefit would be that our kids could get a free college education.”

NL: When did you start teaching at Holy Family University? What attracted you to Holy Family?

DR: So I started teaching part-time, and Holy Family “loved” me so much that they created a full-time administrative position for me. I worked as an instructional technologist to support the full-time faculty in integrating technology into coursework. Teaching part-time at night, I missed the daily interactions of the classroom. I still remember feeling so down that one day Jimmie sent me a dozen red roses. That card is still taped to my computer: “Cheer up. I love you.” That was when I knew that I had to go back to school to get my doctorate so I could teach full-time, and that became a reality in 2001.

NL: What do you like most about teaching at Holy Family?

DR: Wow . . . that is a really tough question because I love so many things about teaching here. The heart of what I love is the mission and core values, and so I think consciously about how I weave the mission into the rhythm of my every day. Father Mac [Fr. James MacNew, Campus Minister] reminds us to put flesh on the words, and so I think of the little ordinary things that I do as “mission moments.” So this semester I made pancakes for my two morning classes on Halloween, a “mission moment.” Oh, one summer I taught a telescoped storytelling class, and on our last day of the course we had breakfast together and I dubbed it the “Academy Awards.” I got all dressed up, mink and all, and made awards for each storyteller, a “mission moment.” Through my personal life, I have come to realize that life is a precious gift from God, and so I try to live in the moment, the “mission moment.” I firmly believe that through “mission moments” I can make a difference in the life of one person. These differences then have a ripple effect. I cherish the words of Lao Tzu, “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”

NL: If you could give one piece of advice to education students today, what would it be?

DR: Find a way to set yourself apart from other teachers. What is it that you do that makes you different? Be that teacher.

NL: So what have you done to set yourself apart from other teachers?

DR: To stay current as a teacher educator, I work with a second grade teacher and young writers throughout the school year. Working in the field keeps me on top of my game because it opens my eyes to the reality of today’s classrooms, markedly different from my teaching 37 years ago. For example, on Halloween as bags of candy pile high on the windowsill, I listen and write as young writers brainstorm just the right words for “Going on Our Ghost Hunt.” Through these experiences, I work to bring life to the abstract idea of “engaging young learners.” These nitty-gritty classroom interactions then become part of my teaching in the college classroom. My students see that I not only talk the talk, I walk it with them.

NL: What do you like to do in your free time?

DR: Every student I have ever taught at Holy Family should be able to answer this question! My passion for teaching is equal only to my passion for cooking and baking, and I have managed to bring the two together. I have been known to have closing parties at my home in Cinnaminson at the end of the semester. My all-time favorite thing is baking bread. I love the process—taking disparate ingredients such as yeast, sugar, salt, eggs, and flour, and transforming them into a loaf of homemade bread. Nothing smells better than bread baking in the oven. My own kids would tell you we always had bread on snow days. I just loved snow days for that reason. At home my meals are planned on the calendar so anyone visiting can look at the calendar and decide if they want to stay for supper. We never eat the same meal in a month because I love variety and love trying new recipes.

NL: What are you looking forward to doing in your retirement?

DR: I look forward to being with my three grandchildren, Michael, Anna, and Ben. Right now when I walk in the door, Anna walks right past me to see Poppy. She goes to Pop’s house on Fridays. I didn’t grow up with grandparents and so I have a different view. Jimmie has such rich stories about his Pop. So I see how important grandparents are for family life. I want to spend time with them, taking them down to the river, reading to them, playing with them, listening to them—loving them. Now if you ask Jimmie that same question, he would say traveling and, yes, we will travel, but it is not my top priority.

DeCicco Contributes to Registered Replication Report on Facial Feedback Hypothesis

jendeciccoDr. Jen DeCicco has contributed research towards the Registered Replication Report of Strack, Martin, and Stepper’s original facial feedback hypothesis, which has been published by the Association for Psychological Science.

In the team’s original research about the facial feedback hypothesis, “people’s affective responses can be influenced by their own facial expression (e.g., smiling, pouting), even when their expression did not result from their emotional experiences.”

“My background is in emotion and emotion regulation research and my colleague, Dr. Jennifer Talarico from Lafayette College, also has an interest in emotion,” DeCicco said. “We thought it would be a great opportunity to be involved in a project that would not only bring together our interests, but also to provide additional information about a well-known and interesting phenomenon. The original paper is cited in many textbooks and though it is an interesting phenomenon, it was never replicated. We teach our students in our courses that it is important to be able to replicate our research, so that we know what we have found is reliable. The initiative from the Association for Psychological Science serves to demonstrate whether this work is indeed able to be replicated in an open format. That is, the data, materials, and other information about the experiments and labs where the experiments were conducted are available on the Open Science Framework for anyone to access.”

In the study, participants held a pen in their mouth with their teeth, which would produce a smile, and again with their lips, which would force them to pout. While doing so, the participants were asked to rate how funny a cartoon strip was. The results showed that those with the pen in their teeth found the comic strips funnier than when holding the pen between their lips.

“The Registered Replication Reports serve to understand whether research is able to be replicated—that is, can we find the same or similar results as the original research report,” DeCicco said. “In this Registered Replication Report, 17 laboratories from all over the world conducted the same experiment, in an attempt to replicate the work of Strack and colleagues, specifically the facial feedback hypothesis. This is a concept that suggests our facial expressions can influence our perception or mood. For example, if you are smiling or engaging the muscles in your face involved in smiling, then this might make you think a joke is funnier than if you are engaging muscles involved in a frown or negative facial expression.”

Working alongside Talarico, the pair collected data that involved participants holding a pen in their mouth that would engage muscles involved in smiling versus pouting. DeCicco and Talarico trained their research assistants to perform the experiment and collect the data, and then submitted their findings to the Replication Editors in charge of the larger set of analyses.

“It took approximately seven months to set up the experiment in the lab, collect the data, and submit the data for final analyses,” DeCicco said. “Our research assistants were phenomenal and played a big role in ensuring the collection of the data went smoothly and completed in a timely fashion. We spent a good amount of time reviewing the protocol for the experiment, how to troubleshoot, and trying to anticipate questions that participants could have before, during and after the experiment. Practice experiments/trials were some of my favorite parts of the experiment. Seeing students master the experiment and execute the experiment with great precision was really fulfilling.”

According to DeCicco, in the end, a large majority of the labs failed to replicate the original results of the original experiment.

“The meta-analysis of the 17 laboratory sites found no differences between how those participants in the smile versus the pout condition in funniness ratings of the cartoons,” she said.