Wilkes University Awards Tenure, Promotion and Emeritus Status to Faculty Members

by Gabrielle D'Amico
Wilkes Fenner Quadrangle in front of the Farley Library.

Wilkes University has announced the following faculty members who have been promoted and awarded tenure:

Carole Baddour was promoted to associate professor of mechanical engineering and granted tenure. A native of Canada, Baddour joined Wilkes in 2017 after teaching at Collégial international Sainte-Anne, a private college in Montréal, Québec. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she serves as associate dean for the College of Business and Engineering. In 2020, she won the Innovative and Non-Traditional Teaching Award from Wilkes. Baddour received her PhD from McGill University in Montréal, Québec, Canada, and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. Baddour’s broad research interests are in nanomaterials and their applications.

Bobak Karimi was promoted to associate professor of earth systems science and granted tenure. Karimi received his bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. He remained at Pittsburgh, where he wrote his PhD dissertation on the North Anatolian Fault in Turkey. Prior to Wilkes, Karimi held teaching positions at Millersville University, Clarion University and Colorado College. His ongoing research program widely involves students and investigates landslide prediction, faults and fractures, and the use of geospatial data. He was a member of the interdisciplinary team that successfully funded the Wilkes supercomputer cluster through the National Science Foundation.

HyeRyeon Lee was promoted to associate professor of hospitality leadership and granted tenure. Lee received her doctorate in hospitality administration from Texas Tech University and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in tourism and leisure in South Korea. Lee previously worked as a researcher at the Leisure Research Institution. She has also actively participated in United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) activities. Her research interests are lodging management, sustainability in hospitality, consumer behavior, and human resource management. In 2019, Lee received the outstanding advisor award and in 2022, the excellence in undergraduate research mentoring award from the Teacher Recognition and Effectiveness Committee at Wilkes.

Xin Luo was promoted to associate professor of math and granted tenure. Luo received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and applied mathematics from Jinan University in Guangzhou, China, where he also earned his master’s degree in applied mathematics. A second master’s degree and his PhD in mathematics were earned from the University of Alabama, where he also taught. At Wilkes, Luo teaches a wide range of courses in mathematics and statistics and founded a new minor program in actuarial studies. His research is in the fields of financial mathematics, actuarial sciences, statistical theory and optimization.

Xiaoming Mu was promoted to associate professor of mechanical engineering and granted tenure. Mu joined Wilkes in 2017. He received his PhD and master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Mu’s expertise is in solid mechanics, smart materials and design and manufacturing, with a focus on developing innovative solutions to real-world problems. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Mu is the director of the additive manufacturing lab at Wilkes and is responsible for the lab’s equipment, including the introduction of cutting-edge 3D printers to keep pace with the latest advancements in the field.

Paul Reinert was promoted to associate professor of education and granted tenure. Reinert earned his PhD in human development with a specialization in education administration from Marywood University. Reinert has been teaching at Wilkes since 2004. As a faculty member in the EdD program, Reinert works with doctoral students as a dissertation chair, committee member and examiner. In 2018, he won the Outstanding Advisor Award from the Wilkes Teacher Recognition and Effectiveness Committee. Among his current research are studies related to the experience of educational leaders in international schools during the pandemic. His primary research interests include the mental wellness of college students.

Kedir Tessema was promoted to associate professor of leadership studies and granted tenure. Tessema is a native of Ethiopia, where he began his higher education career. He relocated to the United States to pursue his PhD in leadership studies at the University of San Diego. He previously taught at Shenandoah University. Tessema’s research interest is interdisciplinary, including topics such as leadership discourses, leadership education and workplace sensemaking, culture, social media and higher education leadership.

Megan Youmans was promoted to associate professor of chemistry and granted tenure. Youmans received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Southern California where she won several undergraduate awards and scholarships. She received her PhD in medicinal chemistry at the University of Utah before assuming a post-doctoral associate role at Boston University. At Wilkes, Youmans coordinates the general chemistry sequence, teaches upper-level courses in organic and medicinal chemistry, and conducts research and mentors students in her field. She serves her profession through leadership with the American Chemical Society and is a regular peer reviewer for the Journal of Chemical Education. Not pictured.

Wilkes University has announced the following faculty members who have been promoted to the rank of full professor:

Holly Frederick was promoted to professor of environmental engineering. She maintains a professional engineering license in Pennsylvania and obtained board certification as an environmental engineer through the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists with a specialty in water supply and wastewater. Frederick serves as the treasurer of the Keystone Northeast Chapter of the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers and the chair of the Research Committee of the Pennsylvania Water Environment Association. Frederick is advisor for the Wilkes student chapter of the Pennsylvania Society for Professional Engineers and supports STEM education for the next generation through Women Empowered by Science and PACyber programs.

Sean Kelly was promoted to professor of English. His recent work has focused on themes and authors in American literature, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe. Kelly’s research and writing have resulted in national recognition in the form of published journal articles, critical essays, book reviews, presentations, conference panels and an anthology reprint. He has served as advisor to the Manuscript Society and Sigma Tau Delta honor society, a member of various faculty and academic committees and will now serve as the director of the Writing Center on campus. He has been honored with the Teacher Recognition and Effectiveness Committee Scholarship Award. His volunteer work includes the Osterhout Library’s annual book sale and writing workshops at Wyoming Seminary and the Hebrew Institute.

Jin Joy Mao was promoted to professor of education. In addition to developing and teaching over a dozen graduate and EdD courses, she maintains an active research agenda focused on learning technologies and systems thinking. She completed two grant-funded research projects and received two article awards from the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT). She has served as a Special Issue co-guest editor for two peer-reviewed journals. Mao co-chaired the University Institutional Review Board and is the advisor for the Wilkes Student Chapter of the Pennsylvania Association for Educational Communications and Technology. Mao received the Presidential Special Service Award from AECT in 2021 and most recently, she received the Scholarship Award from the Wilkes Teacher Recognition and Effectiveness Committee.

Justin Matus was promoted to professor of business administration. He has served as department chair, MBA director and associate dean for accreditation and assessment at Wilkes University. Matus has been the editor of the Transnational Journal of Business for seven years and an associate editor of the International Journal of Health Planning and Management for the past three years. His area of expertise is health policy and strategic business management and his current research is a comparative study of health care spending and health outcomes across 60 countries. Matus has served on the board of directors at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital for the past 12 years. He is also the founder and president of SouperSundays, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to serving the elderly and disadvantaged of Luzerne County.

Andrew Miller was promoted to professor of political science. He has developed and led study-abroad courses to Central America and his research and writing focuses on development issues in that region. Miller was twice awarded prestigious summer research fellowships from the U.S. Department of Education. His service to the University has included roles as the coordinator of International Relations, chair of the Faculty Affairs Council, and member of various faculty committees. He serves as the advisor to the University’s Model United Nations team and the Friends of Panama club, and is the faculty mentor to the men’s wrestling team. Miller has been recognized by the Teacher Recognition and Effectiveness Committee with the Multiculturalism Award, the Outstanding Advisor Award and, in 2023, the Carpenter Award, the University’s highest honor for teaching.

Marie Roke Thomas was promoted to professor of pharmaceutical sciences. She currently serves as chair of the department of pharmaceutical sciences. Her research focuses primarily on public health, and Roke Thomas has contributed extensively to the scholarly success of others via her expertise in research design and statistics. She secured a $350,000 grant instrumental to the launch of the University’s programs in cannabis chemistry and has expanded opportunities for research in this area for faculty and students. Her service across campus has included advising the American Pharmacists Association and Kappa Psi and chairing the Dean’s Golf Tournament. She has been honored with the President’s Award for both Mentoring and Innovation.

Adam VanWert was promoted to professor of pharmaceutical sciences. His research interests include investigation of oxalate absorption from the gastrointestinal tract as it relates to kidney stones, as well as studies related to cannabis extraction and the quality and quantity of cannabis from various sources. VanWert has published at least 20 peer reviewed publications, authored three book chapters and presented at national meetings. Along with teaching both required and elective courses, he serves as an academic advisor and faculty advisor to Lambda Kappa Sigma. VanWert has served as chair of various faculty and academic  committees and was previously honored with the Interdisciplinary Award and the Scholarship Award from the Wilkes Teacher Recognition and Effectiveness Committee.

Wilkes also recognized long-standing senior faculty members with the title of professor emeritus or associate professor emeritus, honors bestowed by the University to show respect for a distinguished career:

William Biggers, retired from Wilkes after 21 years as an associate professor of biology. He developed and taught courses for students in biology, pre-med, medical laboratory science, nursing and the master’s program in bioengineering. Biggers specialized in marine ecology, conducting field work at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. In addition to advising students, Biggers served as a member or chair of University committees on curriculum, assessment, health sciences and teacher education. He has also been a member of scientific societies including the Pennsylvania Academy of Science, Ecological Society of America and International Society for Invertebrate Reproduction and Development.

Barbara Bracken, associate professor of math, physics and computer science, retired from Wilkes after 25 years of service.
Bracken received her PhD in computer science from Binghamton University. She came to Wilkes University in fall 1998 and was promoted to the rank of associate professor and granted tenure in spring 2004. She served as chair of the mathematics and computer science department for 11 years and was a strong advocate for the department’s needs. In addition to advising students, Bracken was a mentor to junior faculty members.

Kenneth Klemow, professor of biology, retired from Wilkes after 42 years of service. He shared his expertise in the areas of botany, ecology and general biology, earning the Carpenter Outstanding Teaching Award and the Student Choice Award during his Wilkes tenure. Klemow has served as the chair of the department of biology, overseeing the addition of earth and environmental sciences and an energy minor. He was elected to fellow in the Ecological Society of America and awarded the organization’s Eugene P. Odum Award for Excellence in Ecology Education. Klemow served on various local and state advisory boards and task forces and was a key scientific advisor to the Earth Conservancy. His outreach included the creation of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, which was awarded a grant of $880,000 from the Department of Defense.

Wagiha Taylor, professor of international business and economics, retired from Wilkes after 54 years of service.  Her faculty and administrative roles have included serving as dean of graduate students, teaching international business and managerial economics, leading student groups on international trips and acting as advisor for Delta Mu Delta. Taylor has mentored both students and faculty during her long tenure at Wilkes and has made extraordinary contributions to the Sidhu School of Business and Leadership and the University as a whole.

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