Staff
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    Twenty-one Staff Members to Retire: Read their Stories

    Fifteen of the twenty-one University staff retirees. Find out who they are below.
    November 13, 2020

    Twenty-one University of Scranton staff members will retire at the end of 2020, with a combined total of 608 years of service to the University.

    "That is a tremendous gift that you've given us," said University President Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., in a message to the retirees. "You form a remarkable community. You are the shoulders that we stand on, and we cannot thank you enough. Know that you will always be members of the extended Scranton community."

    Twenty of the University staff members who are retiring are 20-year Pro Deo honorees, three have received the Sursum Corda Award, which recognizes members of the University's staff who have made outstanding contributions to the life and mission of the University. 

    A farewell Zoom will be offered on Dec. 3, 2020, with retirees.  More information to follow.

    Congratulations to all of the retirees:

    College of Arts & Sciences
    FinanceLibrary
    Michele LanganDeborah MoranoLori Gaccione
    FacilitiesFinancial AidPanuska College of Professional Studies
    Bryant BenjaminBill BurkePatricia Connolly
    Ed DylewskiDonna TuckerMary Ann Muraca
    Jasminka HodzicDiane Muniz
    Smail HodzicITDebbie Zielinski
    Carol MorrowKathy Boock
    Elsa NelsonKaren KuzmakRegistrar
    Tim O’ConnorStephen GilbodyDeb Hazen
    Pat Pizzola

     Meet some of them, below.

    "It's hard to capture just a memory or two after almost 30 wonderful years."

    boock-kathryn-1.jpgKathryn Boock
    Tech Support Analyst
    Information Technology

    What did you do before starting at the University?

    Prior to employment at the University, I was raising my three boys and running a licensed daycare in my home.

    Do you have a favorite memory or two of working at the University?

    It's hard to capture just a memory or two after almost 30 wonderful years. Just reading that question brings back a flood of beautiful memories and sweet moments with dear friends. However, I would have to say some of my favorite times were taking classes together with Lisa Notarianni, and the most fun class for me was a criminal justice class I was in with my son, Jeremy, who challenged me at every turn. During one of the classes, a student came up to Lisa and me and expressed his annoyance to us at how loud we were talking and how our behavior was so interrupting to him, and on and on he vented. Lisa and I were embarrassed, apologized, and assured him we would tone it down and be more respectful and explained that we were only trying to make sure we had all of Professor Cimini's notes. Then the student cracked up and told us we were punked and Jeremy put him up to it for $5 and he was really sorry, but he needed lunch money!

    What will you miss the most about the University?

    I believe I'm going to miss the students the most. I loved the opportunity I had to work with so many kids, experiencing their enthusiasm, their boundless energy, their determination to make a difference, their hope for an amazing future. The office is brighter and more interesting when they are working!

    What are your plans for retirement?

    My retirement plans are to relocate to sunny Florida, enjoying five wonderful grandchildren, the youngest, three months old, who I will hold for the first time. I look forward to making new friends, reading new books, learning how to relax and beginning a new chapter in my life.

    "I will miss working with and helping the students. It’s always been the best part of the job."

    billburke.jpgWilliam Burke
    Director of Financial Aid
    Financial Aid

    What did you do before working at the University?

    Worked in Financial Aid at Wilkes University and Lackawanna Junior College (now Lackawanna College).

    Do you have a favorite memory or two of working at the University?

    My very favorite day at The University of Scranton has always been the Mass of the Holy Spirit. It is an opportunity for staff, faculty and students to worship together.

    What will you miss the most about the University?

    I will miss working with and helping the students. It’s always been the best part of the job.

    What are your plans for retirement?

    My initial plans are to chill a bit. I would like to do somethings with my wife, my family and my grandchildren. I also like to fish, so I hope to do more fishing.

    What is something interesting about you, you’d like to share with the University community.

    I’ve been active in scouting for so many years. In my parish, I’ve organized dinners over the years, and I can cook dinner for 600 people.

    Please share a fun fact with us. 

    When I first started at the University, the mascot was a chicken!

    "We had so many laughs that will last me a lifetime."

    connolly-patricia-1.jpgPatricia Connolly

    Secretary to the Assistant Dean

    PCPS

    What did you do before working at the University?

    Prior to working at the University of Scranton, I was a stay-at-home mom with three children: Kathleen, Timothy and Michael. Now all are graduates of The University of Scranton.

    Do you have a favorite memory or two of working at the University?

    A favorite memory was when I attended the dedication of the McIlhenny Ballroom in honor of Bernard R. McIlhenny, S.J. It was such a beautiful event. I worked for Father Mac for eight years before he retired from Admissions and it is still my privilege to be friends with him.

    What will you miss the most about the University?

    The University community has been my family for the past 31 years, and I will miss the many friends that I've made over the years. We had so many laughs that will last me a lifetime.

    What are your plans for retirement?

    I always thought the beauty of retirement was not to have a plan and to do whatever you feel like! I have a lot of different things that I want to do starting with spending more time with my husband of 46 years, soon to be 47 years in January. Traveling and visiting my grandchildren more often. I love art and designing things and I would like to do more photography. I want to design some quilts that tell a family story.

    What is something interesting about you, you’d like to share with the University community?

    The most interesting thing about me is that I grew up with 10 siblings. We had the best home with loving parents and so much laughter. So many wonderful memories and celebrations. Our family is still growing, in fact, this month my youngest son and his wife are expecting a new baby, number 116 in the Kelly family. Yes, we each have a number according to when we entered the family, either by birth or by marriage.

    Please share a story.

    Well, there are many funny things that I remember but putting them in words might not be the same as being there.

    I do remember the time Dean Pallante asked me to order a bouquet of flowers that he was going to present at an event that evening. I did order the flowers and they were delivered to the office but I put them in another office out of his sight. Later that afternoon, I took the mason jar of wildflowers that were sitting on my desk for about three days. I knocked on his door and brought them in and set them on his table and told him the flowers had arrived. I was as serious as could be. I told him just to be careful carrying them up the hill to the ballroom so the water didn't spill out on him. The look on Dean Pallante's face was priceless. He was speechless, his face was blank, he didn't know what to say. Finally, he just said, "Those are the flowers? How can I give her those?" Well, at that point Diane Muniz brought the actual bouquet in to show him. He was so relieved, but we had such a good laugh.

    "Of course, I will miss the people the most…OK, and maybe the squirrels too."

    lorig.jpgLori Gaccione
    Senior Acquisition Clerk
    Library

    What did you do before starting at the University? 

    Prior to working at the University, I was completing my bachelor’s degree at Marywood. I actually worked in their library as a work-study student while I was there, still behind the scenes like here.

    Do you have a favorite memory or two of working at the University?

    My favorite memories will always be the people I worked with and the silly little things that have happened over the years.

    What will you miss the most about the University?

    Of course, I will miss the people the most…OK, and maybe the squirrels too.

    What are your plans for retirement?

    No plans yet, except for spending time with my family and keeping up with my great-grandsons (2 and 5 years old), and spending time with my two furbabies.

    What is something interesting about you, you’d like to share with the University community?

    Not sure if this is interesting, but at one point in my life I spent a winter hitchhiking to get to a job that I couldn’t afford to lose. To this day, I can’t believe I did that, but God brought me through it and it showed me how strong I really am.

    Please share a fun fact with us.

    Disneyworld is my happy place!!!

    "In the late ’80s . . . I fell in love with the look of The University of Scranton campus as I drove up Mulberry Street."

    gilbody-stephen.jpgStephen Gilbody
    Network Administrator
    Information Technology

    What did you do before starting at the University?

    Field-service Tech fixing and installing computers/networks locally for 13 years.

    Do you have a favorite memory or two of working at the University?

    Starting my day getting coffee at the Wolves Den Café in the basement of Gunster Hall.

    What will you miss the most about the University?

    Walking around campus doing my job – it’s a gorgeous place and a credit to our maintenance and grounds-crews.

    What are your plans for retirement?

    See more of the country and play more tennis.

    What is something you’d like to share with the University community?

    I grew up in a big family from Williamsport. Most still live there but the rest are spread out in the Northeast and in my retirement, I hope to visit with all of them more, whether they like it or not.

    Please share a fun fact with us.

    In the late ’80s, when I first came to live in Scranton with my first professional job, I fell in love with the look of The University of Scranton campus as I drove up Mulberry Street, seeing the activity around the well-lit tennis and basketball courts and the steam rising from the manhole covers (like Manhattan).

    He has truly enjoyed working for the University, celebrating his 20th year of service, along with his wife, Jasminka, in 2019.

    hodzik-smail.jpgSmail Hodzik
    Custodian
    Facilities

    Born in Bihac, Bosnia, Smail immigrated to the United States in 1998. Working for the Radisson Lackawanna Station, he hoped and waited to be hired by the University. Smail proudly became a United States Citizen in 2005, and he got his first passport in 2006.

    Smail’s supervisors have commented that he always has a positive and pleasant attitude and will do anything they ask of him. After his most recent trip home, he returned with a special gift for a colleague, one she notes she will cherish for years to come.

    He has truly enjoyed working for the University, celebrating his 20th year of service, along with his wife, Jasminka, in 2019. He noted feeling honored to be recognized for just coming to work every day.

    Smail has enjoyed many events at the University, most notably the employee party -- as it is time with his wife where they can dance together, which they enjoy. He enjoys gardening, taking care of his yard and fishing. He enjoys traveling to the Lancaster area where he visits with a friend from his hometown; they sit around a table his friends’ father’s company made – a company his wife, Jasminka, worked for also.

    Once he retires, he is looking forward to trying a few new things but hopes to fish more, too.

    "My favorite memory was handing my son and daughter their diploma on graduation day."

    kuzmak-karen.jpgKaren Kuzmak
    Administrative Assistant
    Information Technology

    I began my journey working as a paralegal in the Lackawanna County’s District Attorney’s Office for 10 years. I left there to start a family and was a stay-at-home mom for 13 years. When my son and daughter were in middle and high school, I started working at The University of Scranton in 1998 as an administrative assistant in the Office of Information Technology, where I remained until retirement.

    Throughout the years I have made longtime friendships with students and staff whom I will treasure and remember always. However, my favorite memory was handing my son and daughter their diploma on graduation day -- a day I will never forget and am so grateful for.

    As I start the next chapter of my life with my husband of 40 years, I plan on doing the things I love most-spending the winters in warm sunny weather, enjoying valuable time with my parents, and most of all creating priceless memories with my three grandchildren.

    I am privileged and blessed to have had the opportunity to work for The University of Scranton -- thank you for everything. I will miss The University of Scranton.

    "What I will miss most about the University is the camaraderie between friends and colleagues..."

    langan.jpgMichele Langan
    Faculty Secretary, Biology
    CAS

    What did you do before working at the University?

    I came to the University from Atlantic Financial Savings and Loan, where I was employed as head teller.

    What will you miss the most about the University?

    What I will miss most about the University is the camaraderie between friends and colleagues, varied experiences and learning something new and interesting every day.

    What are your plans for retirement?

    After retiring from the University, I will be seeking part-time employment, completing home projects and engaging in some hobbies.

    What is something interesting about you or something you’d like to share with the University community.

    I really enjoy watching and reading detective mysteries such as Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, Frankie Drake, Murdock, and Mystery 101, to name a few. And, of course, I believe I have seen every episode of "Murder She Wrote." I am also enthralled by science fiction.

    Please share a fun fact with us.

    Being a new hire 31 years ago, I was prone to mistakes. My boss at the time was Dr. Evans, and when I returned from lunch one day after making an error, there was a pink slip on my desk saying I was fired!! Being beside myself, I didn't know if I should start packing up my things to prepare for my exit. After speaking to Dr. Evans, who thought this was a humorous way to get his point across, I found out my job was secure. It then became a running joke. Every time I did something incorrectly, I got "fired." Needless to say, I got "fired" a lot. But, thankfully, I learned some lessons and did manage to retain my job for 31 years.

    Carol is forever grateful and thankful for the people at the University, those she worked with and for.

    morrow-carol2.jpgCarol Morrow
    Custodian
    Facilities

    Prior to joining the University, Carol worked for Haband International. She joined the University in 1998, working as a custodian in St Thomas Hall, Old Loyola Hall, Loyola Science Center, IMBM and Alumni Memorial Hall.

    Carol is forever grateful and thankful for the people at the University, those she worked with and for. Carol also expresses appreciation for the tuition remission benefit her family received.

    Although she will miss her University family and the beautiful buildings and environment in which she works, she is looking forward to spending more time with family. She looks forward to seeing all her family in the Scranton area, Virginia and Florida.

    "My favorite memory was coming in on a Saturday and setting up the first Nativity display in McGurrin Hall."

    muniz,-diane2.jpgDiane Muniz
    Office Manager, Secretary to Dean of PCPS
    PCPS

    What did you do before starting at the University?

    I worked as a secretary at Lehigh County Community College

    Do you have a favorite memory or two of working at the University?

    My favorite memory was coming in on a Saturday and setting up the first Nativity display in McGurrin Hall along with my co-worker, Patricia Connolly.

    What will you miss the most about the University?

    I will miss being with my office family in the PCPS Dean’s office, and I will miss seeing all of my colleagues.

    What are your plans for retirement?

    I plan to tackle some of the house projects that I have been putting off. I am hoping I can do some traveling and plan to volunteer.

    What is something you’d like to share with the University community?

    My first job at the University was as faculty secretary for the science departments. On my first day of work, I was taken to what I thought would be my office. To my surprise, I was told that office space was not yet available but there was closet space in the Physics department in old Loyola that would serve as my office space for a few months.

    "After 46 years of service, I know it is the right time to begin a new chapter in my life."

    muraca-mary_ann.jpgMary Ann Muraca
    Faculty Secretary, Occupational Therapy
    PCPS

    My career started at the University when I was 19 years old. I had two prior office jobs in Scranton, which were not very appealing. A friend of mine, who was employed at the University, had informed me of a job opening. I submitted my application, was called for an interview, took a typing test, and luckily I was hired in the Alumni, Public Relations and Development Division, in 1974.
    As I began working there with my friend Ann, work-study students were hired throughout the year. We established friendships with a great group of students, who later graduated in May 1976. Every five years during the Alumni Reunion Weekend, Ann and I would go to campus to see if our “special alums” would be present, and we were never disappointed. We would be welcomed with open arms and would chat for hours, getting up-to-date information on their lives.

    Back in those days, we did not use computers. However, in the Alumni, PR and Development Office, we had typewriters which were very unique, as they had memory. We had to slip a mac card into the typewriter if we wanted our typed information to be saved and played back.

    I will certainly miss the great friends I have met throughout the years on such a beautiful campus. It was always great to run into them on special occasions, such as Wellness Day or Mardi Gras. Also, I will greatly miss working with my special friends/co-workers in the Department of Occupational Therapy. They are wonderful, caring, talented, hard-working people, whom I have a lot of respect and admiration for. I am truly blessed for the number of years I spent in this department, and our students are indeed very lucky, as well.

    After 46 years of service, I know it is the right time to begin a new chapter in my life. My husband and I plan to travel after this pandemic is over (God willing), especially to Florida during the winter months. I am happily looking forward to doing whatever I want each day, whether it is taking a Zumba class, going for a nice walk, spending more time with family, meeting friends for lunch, reading a good book, and so much more.

    "Working for The University of Scranton for 38 years, I was the first female building supervisor..."

    elsa.jpgElsa Nelson

    Inventory Control and Material Coordinator

    Facilities

    Tell us something about your time at the University.

    Working for The University of Scranton for 38 years, I was the first female building supervisor at the University. In the 1980s, Jefferson Hall was very busy, housing 101 freshmen boys on one side and the other side was classrooms and offices. The auditorium was used for band practice and the stage was used for actors for theatre. Some days lunches were held there and, others, dance classes. Located in the basement was a swimming pool and on the other side was occupational therapy with a cadaver lab. ROTC was located on the 2nd floor. 

    What will you miss most?

    I will miss the people I work with the most.

    What do you plan to do in retirement?

    I hope to volunteer at different places where needed.

    Can you share a fun fact with us?

    I worked for the University and never had orientation at the lake, they didn't do orientation in 1982.

    It could all be summarized in a quote by A.A. Milne, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

    oconnor-timothy.jpgTimothy O'Connor
    Groundskeeper
    Facilities

    Tim began working at the University in 1993, starting as a custodian before a promotion to groundskeeper in 1993, where he stayed most of the years since. Before working at the University, Tim worked for 19 years at Trane Co.

    He is a proud member of the Order of Pro Deo. He is a recipient of the Sursum Corda Award, distinguishing him for exceptional dedication in his job, sense of community and his “living presence of God in this world.” He was also nominated by and received an Honorary Alpha Sigma Nu Award in 2019 from the Jesuit Honor Society recognizing his dedication

    Tim notes he will have a million memories of his years at the university with two of his best being Commencement Weekend and the pilgrimage to El Salvador. He remembers working with Joe Ostroski for 20 hours straight, shuttling parents, grandparents and students all day and half the night following Father Pilarz’s party and Baccalaureate Mass.

    He said he will miss the students and the employees the most, as they are his extended family.

    Tim and his wife have five children, two of whom graduated from the University, both with bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice.

    His love for the University and all it has given him and his children is immense. When he retires, he looks forward to spending time with his grandchildren and doing projects around the house, the first of which is painting the interior.

    He loves to travel and hopes to see many historic sites during his retirement years.

    Tim said he could write volumes about his years at the University but it could all be summarized in a quote by A.A. Milne, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

    "I will miss lunches with the 'Lunch Bunch.'"

    tucker-donna.jpgDonna Tucker
    Administrative Assistant for Loan Programs
    Financial Aid

    What did you do before starting at the University?

    I worked at Norton Book Publishing in Dunmore. Norton published many books our bookstore sells to our students.

    Do you have a favorite memory or two of working at the University?

    Two big and very proud memories! Handing Megan Tucker and Brian Tucker their diplomas!

    What will you miss the most about the University?

    I will miss my Financial Aid coworkers, but I was promised we will get together very often after I leave. I will miss lunches with the “Lunch Bunch.” We have grown in size over the years, and our lunches were the best. No serious talks at our table!!! Not a lunch went by without hysterics!

    What are your plans for retirement?

    My husband, Keith, and I love cruising and hope to do more after this corona Pandemic is over. I always wore University of Scranton sweatshirts and T-shirts on the cruises. I always ran into parents with students or graduates who attended the University!

    What is something interesting about you, you’d like to share with the University community.

    I love to do tole and decorative painting. I am fortunate to learn with great teachers and travel to many different painting seminars in various states. Thank you Keith Tucker!

    Please share a fun fact with us.

    I was leaving for home after my first day of work and had a parking fine! At the time, the “sacred” parking sticker had to be easily viewed on the bumper. No pull-throughs! No exceptions!

    The year I started working at the University, Gunster Memorial Student Center was the hot spot of the University. Staff and faculty shared the dining space with the students. Ten pounds of salad could fit in a one-pound container if you tried hard enough! We now have the beautiful DeNaples Center.

    The most gratifying aspect of her position was knowing that she was part of educating well-prepared and sought after graduate nurses...

    zielinski-deborah.jpgDeborah Zielinski, RN, MS
    Director of the Nursing Lab/Clinical Coordinator
    PCPS

    Deborah Zielinski, RN, MS earned her baccalaureate degree in nursing from Wilkes University and a master’s degree in nursing education from Binghamton University.

    Prior to starting her career at The University of Scranton, Deborah worked at the Hershey Medical Center and The Medical College of Georgia as a floor nurse in neurology/neurosurgery. She also worked as a dialysis nurse at several facilities, including Moses Taylor Hospital, where she was the infection control nurse for four years.

    In the fall of 1994, she started at The University of Scranton as part-time faculty in the Nursing Department where she also worked in the nursing lab. She became director of the nursing lab and clinical coordinator in 1998. At that time the nursing lab was a very dated, five-bed lab on the first floor of O’Hara Hall with some beds that still had hand cranks to elevate the head of the bed. During her time as director of the nursing lab, she has overseen the expansion of the nursing lab into McGurrin Hall (in the summer of 1998). Several renovations later, the lab has grown to its current state of three, five-bed labs, two nurse practitioner rooms and two simulation rooms with corresponding control rooms and debrief rooms. She pioneered the use of simulation as a teaching modality with high fidelity simulators at The University of Scranton, and its use is currently integrated into all nursing courses with a clinical component.

    The most gratifying aspect of her position was knowing that she was part of educating well-prepared and sought after graduate nurses and learning of their accomplishments in the field.

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