The Late Rev. Joseph Allan Panuska, S.J., Remembered at The University of Scranton Saturday

March 28, 2017

The University of Scranton will hold a Mass and concert in remembrance and celebration of the life of Rev. Joseph Allan Panuska, S.J., the longest-serving president in the history of the University and the University’s first President Emeritus. Father Panuska, who served as the University’s 22nd president from on July 1, 1982, to July 1, 1998, passed away on Feb. 28 in Philadelphia at the age of 89.

A Mass for Father Panuska will take place in the fourth floor McIlhenny Ballroom of the DeNaples Center at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 1. Also on Saturday, a jazz concert in celebration of his life will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the University’s Houlihan-McLean Center. The performance, which is free of charge and open to the public, will feature the University’s Jazz Ensemble with celebrated trumpeter Kenny Rampton from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and acclaimed saxophonist Loren Schoenberg, as well as a few alumni guest performers who were students during the Panuska years at Scranton.

During Father Panuska’s 16-year tenure as president, the University experienced growth in its student applications, faculty size and campus, as well as its academic reputation.

“It is well known and surely evident that Father Panuska built so much of the magnificent campus of The University of Scranton. Beyond what is visible, he was a passionate and caring leader who enhanced the lives of so many people who participated in the educational experience at this outstanding Catholic institution,” said Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L., Bishop of Scranton.

During his tenure, the University built Redington Hall, Gavigan Hall, the Byron Recreation Complex, the Weinberg Memorial Library, the McDade Center for the Literary and Performing Arts, Hyland Hall, and McGurrin Hall. The University also acquired three churches: the Episcopalian Assembly of God Church, which became Rock Hall and the home of Madonna della Strada Chapel; the John Raymond Memorial Universalist Church, which became Smurfit Hall; and Immanuel Baptist Church, which became the Houlihan-McLean Center for the Performing Arts.

“It was under the leadership and with the support of Father Panuska that most of the University’s Performance Music offerings were established, expanded, equipped, developed and housed, and it was at his insistence that all performances be offered free of charge to the community, a promise kept by every president who has followed in his footsteps,” said Cheryl Y. Boga, conductor and director of Performance Music at the University.

“What we do here is like a pebble dropped in the sea, the effects spread, the waves grow,” said Father Panuska in his inaugural remarks on Oct. 25, 1982. A timeline of Father Panuska’s life can be seen here.

In recognition of his service, the Board of Trustees renamed one of the University’s colleges in his honor – the J.A. Panuska, S.J., College of Professional Studies.

“Father Panuska was without a doubt one of the great leaders of The University of Scranton, and of our community. Many will speak, correctly, of his legacy in the physical transformation of the University’s campus. Just as importantly under his charge, the standing of the institution nationally as a top-level higher educational institution brought credit to this city and its graduates,” said Robert Durkin, president of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.

Read more about the University’s president, who was warmly referred to as “Papa Bear,” in the current issue of The Scranton Journal

Saturday's Mass can be viewed at live at


Back to Top