ABINGTON, Pa. — Penn State Abington hired several distinguished leaders this fall, expanding its already diverse roster of talent. With the latest additions to Abington’s faculty and staff, Chancellor Damian J. Fernandez continues his commitment to adding proven and culturally responsive faculty and professionals to support the needs of its diverse student base.
This year’s hires follow last year’s largest recruitment in Abington history with 28 full-time faculty — 12 being people of color — whose expertise impacts its students and the region.
This year’s new faculty and executives include:
Glenn Sterner, assistant professor of criminal justice, who is an accomplished and sought-after expert on the national opioid crisis. Sterner coordinates the ShareYourOpioidStory.com project, funded by Independence Blue Cross with support from the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, and coordinated by students at Abington to address the stigma of opioid use.
At Abington, he is establishing the Criminal Networks Research Laboratory (CNRL) to help address not only the opioid crisis but also illicit activity such as human trafficking. CNLR will provide Abington students with a hands-on research opportunity to help mold their undergraduate experiences and prepare them for careers in criminal justice and sociology.
“With its proximity to state and national FBI agencies and commitment as a campus to find solutions to reverse the crippling opioid epidemic, bringing CNRL to Penn State Abington was an easy decision,” Sterner said. “Our program will leverage community intelligence to create databases to help fight sex trafficking and drug networks in the region, state and nation.”
Moira Baylson has been named director of Strategic Communications and Community Engagement at Abington. Previously, Baylson was vice president of regional public affairs at Citizens Bank, where she led charitable giving and community outreach efforts. She also has served as deputy cultural officer for the city of Philadelphia.
In her new role, Baylson will connect the college with the Abington and Philadelphia communities. Her experience in building mutually beneficial community partnerships will advance Abington’s mission of providing students with an accessible and affordable education and pathways to success, regardless of background.
“I'm excited to elevate the college's recognition in the region and beyond as a leading institution of innovation, research, multiculturalism and inclusion,” Baylson said. “The draw to me of higher education — and to Penn State Abington, specifically — was the potential to simultaneously improve the community, improve the lives of students, and make a visible impact on the region. Chancellor Fernandez’s vision is easy to see, and I am excited to help further it.”
Willie L. Williams has been hired as director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. He previously held the post of director of education and outreach in the Office of Diversity and Engagement in the School of Engineering at the University of Virginia.
Williams is a strategic diversity leader and higher education scholar with more than 10 years of experience working with colleges and universities. Embracing diversity as a strategic imperative, he is committed to spanning and connecting Abington through enhanced diversity capabilities that become foundational to its environment of inclusion and distinction.
“Penn State Abington is a diverse community, and it embodies the future of this country. According to the latest U.S. Census estimates, population projections for the year 2045 indicate that people of color will be the majority in the United States. Abington today is what the nation and higher education will look like then,” Williams said.
“While we believe in the diversity of everyone — diversity is not just a racial indicator — and the ability to bring different perspectives to Abington, we believe it is crucial to focus on those students who have been historically underrepresented and underserved. Abington is at the forefront of change as it works to remove barriers that have long challenged underserved students.”
Other new Penn State Abington faculty include: Zack DePiero, English; Frank Ganther, information sciences and technology; Ishtiaque Hussain, computer science; Grace (Eunhye) Lee, academic integration courses and applied linguistics; Burcu Ozden, physics; Matthew Rigilano, English; Teri Weideman-Rouse, elementary and early childhood education; and Rebecca Zysk, mathematics.
About Penn State Abington
Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st century public higher education within a world-class research university. With nearly 4,000 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 19 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, and NCAA Division III athletics. For more information, visit abington.psu.edu.