Bell Labs Luminary, International Expert on Parasites Among Seton Hill U. Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award Winners
On May 31, 2008, Seton Hill University presented its Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award to 11 alumnae who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership in one (or more) of the following areas: education, business and professions, science and technology, arts, voluntary services, and philanthropy. The alumnae honored are: Lynn Conroy (SHU ’58) of Greensburg, Pa.; Sandra Davis (SHU ’69) of Jeannette, Pa.; Frances Pellicano DePaul (SHU ’58) of Jeannette, Pa.; Donna Durno (SHU ’71) of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Ellen Fitzgerald (SHU ’53) of Wilmington, Del.; Jonnie Guerra (SHU ’73) of Wayne, Pa.; Flora Gorirossi-Bourdeau (SHU ’47) of Brussels, Belgium; Alice Kaylor (SHU ’73) of Greensburg, Pa.; Becky Kerns (SHU ’48) of Summit, N.J.; Janice Flood Nichols (SHU ’69) of Lockport, N.Y.; and Mary Ann Noroski Scully (SHU ’73) of West Friendship, Md.
Lynn Conroy inaugurated the Seton Hill academic exchanges with Nanjing University in China and Nanzan Junior College in Japan. Lynn has taught for most of her life since her graduation as an English major from Seton Hill. After she returned to Seton Hill to teach, her specialties included 19th and 20th English and American literature as well as workshops in creative writing and poetry. Lynn’s sabbaticals involved reaching out to other cultures as she traveled to China, Korea, Japan, Puerto Rico, and Ecuador to teach and to lecture. A very important era in Lynn’s life was her membership in the Sisters of Charity community for seventeen years. During her tenure at Seton Hill Lynn served as English Department Chair and Chair of the Humanities Division and was honored as Professor of the Year. Recipient of an MA from Duquesne University, Lynn earned her PhD at Indiana University.
Sandra Davis is the first female attorney to become a partner in a Westmoreland County, Pa. law firm that was not family-based, and is also the first female attorney in Westmoreland County to receive an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, a peer review based on ethical standards and legal ability. Following her graduation from Seton Hill, Sandra taught both elementary and junior high school for the Greater Latrobe School District. Sandra earned her Masters of Education at the University of Pittsburgh and completed her Juris Doctorate at Duquesne University School of Law’s night school. She currently works with the firm of DeBernardo, Antoniono, McCabe, Davis, and DeDiana, PC in Greensburg, Pa. Sandra served as Bishop Anthony Bosco’s personal representative to the Administrative Board of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the watchdog organization for all state legislation of interest to the Catholic Church, and is currently involved in a variety of community organizations, including Stage Right and the Bethlehem Project at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral.
Frances Pellicano DePaul developed a merchandising and retail program, the first coeducational program of its kind in the United States, at the Wheeler School, a private business school in Pittsburgh. In the nine years that she served as director, Wheeler School grew from four to 500 full time students. Fran also created and administered the Retailing Program with options in Retail Management and Fashion Merchandising at Westmoreland County Community College, which included 15 annual fashion show events. Fran eventually replaced these programs with a highly successful Marketing Program that enabled students to complete their Associate Degrees online, in the classroom, or through a combination of both. As director of the Pittsburgh Fashion Mart, Fran oversaw three-day tradeshow events that drew approximately 1000 retailers from ten states. Fran has served as director of the Pittsburgh Chapter of Fashion Group International, advisor to the Costume Society of America, and active fundraiser for the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. To enable Westmoreland County Community College’s “best and brightest” students to attend Seton Hill and finish their degrees, Fran has created an estate plan to assist them. Fran followed her two older sisters, Pauline Territo (SHU ’50), and Marie Hinchliffe (SHU ’52), to Seton Hill where she earned a degree in Home Economics. Following her graduation from Seton Hill she earned a Master of Retailing and a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh.
Donna Durno is the executive director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, an educational support organization that employs 2,000 individuals in 130 programs and services to school districts and communities in Allegheny County. Donna attended Seton Hill as a married mother with three young children. A home economics major, she spent the first ten years following her graduation working for the Norwin School District teaching, establishing a Career Office in the high school, and as director of Federal Programs. During this time she received her Masters in Education in Secondary Guidance and Counseling from Indiana University and a PhD in Educational Administration from the University of Pittsburgh. She was named assistant superintendent for instruction and pupil services in York County and then returned to western Pennsylvania as superintendent of Mars Area School District. A tenure as superintendent of the Susquehanna Township School District preceded her appointment as Pennsylvania’s Commissioner of Basic Education by Governor Casey in 1987. Two years later Donna resigned her state position and spent the next year traveling the country and teaching in 46 schools in 19 states. She remained in San Francisco where she was named senior vice president of education for Heald Colleges, a consortium of 17 junior colleges in three states. Donna holds board memberships with the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board and their Youth Policy Council, the United Way of Allegheny County, and Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania. She serves as Chair of the Commission on Secondary Schools of the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges and was recently named Renaissance Communicator of the Year by the Public Relations Society of America’s Pittsburgh Chapter.
Ellen Fitzgerald, an English major at Seton Hill, earned an MA in English from Columbia University. For the next five years she taught English in East Meadow, Long Island and then departed for Aruba where she taught in the Lago Community High School. Several years later she set off with a friend to tour the world by freighter, and, upon her return to the United States, settled in Wilmington, Delaware and accepted a teaching position at Brandywine High School where she taught English, Creative Writing, and Journalism. She assisted the Delaware Department of Education in implementing behavioral objectives into their curriculum development and set up workshops, taught theories, and supervised model curricula in four disciplines. Ellen was named Brandywine’s Teacher of the Year in 1985. She retired in 1991 following 26 years of service. In the community Ellen was instrumental in founding the Delaware Scholastic Press Association and chaired the organization for two years. An active member of the Delaware Institute for the Arts, she sat on its board and served as treasurer for five years. Ellen continues to reside in Wilmington where she is active in her parish, St. Helena’s, delivers Meals on Wheels, and tapes newspaper articles for the blind.
Jonnie Guerra, who has spent her entire career in higher education, currently serves as vice president for Academic Affairs at Cabrini College in Radnor, Pa. Following her graduation from Seton Hill as an English major, Jonnie earned her MA and PhD from Purdue University. She began her career as a faculty member at Mount Vernon College in Washington, DC where she earned tenure and was appointed director of the First-Year Program. She has also served as associate academic dean and dean for undergraduate studies at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio - where she was the first woman to hold a senior leadership position – and dean of the college at Randolph-Macon’s Woman’s College, (now Randolph College). Between academic appointments Jonnie took leave for a year to volunteer at an Adult Reading Academy in Lafayette, Ind., where she earned the “Volunteer in the Spotlight” honor for her work with individuals having disabilities. A specialist in American literature, Jonnie has established an international reputation as a Dickinson scholar. She has directed the Emily Dickinson Society’s international conference and served as president of the society’s Board of Directors while also editing their “Poet to Poet” series. Jonnie has served as chair of both the Chief Academic Officer Steering Committee for the Council of Independent Colleges and the Chief Academic Steering Committee of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education. Jonnie has also been a member of the Middle States Commission Committee on Substantive Change since its inception.
Flora Gorirossi-Bourdeau, an internationally recognized acarologist and teacher, has specialized in the study of ticks and mites. Following her graduation from Seton Hill with a degree in chemistry, she earned a Masters in Parasitology and Bacteriology at Catholic University. She accepted a position as a research assistant at the University of Texas Medical School where she examined the transmission of the tropical rat mite for the Office of Naval Research by day and, at night, conducted her own investigations into the feeding mechanism of the mite. Following a year of research at Duke University, Flora received a Fulbright Grant to study at the Instituto Agraria in Florence, Italy, the home of the world’s largest collection of mesostigmata mites, assembled by Antonio Berlese. Upon her return, she received her PhD from Duke. After completing academic assignments at Duke, Yale, and in Africa and Milano, Flora and her family relocated to Brussels where she taught and served as head of the Science Department at the American International School. Determined to return to the research that she loved, Flora began her association with the Royal Museum of Natural History in Brussels while traveling to Florence to reexamine the Berlese Mite collection. In 1995 she was awarded by the Museum the Prix Adolphe Crevecoeur for the best scientific paper published that year. To honor her, the Instituto Agraria is creating a Gorirossi-Bourdeau section to house Flora’s drawings, descriptions, and correspondence.
Alice Kaylor, Peace Corps volunteer, is a trend-setter at Saint Vincent College, formerly a men’s institution. Currently serving as Dean of Studies at Saint Vincent, Alice acknowledges that her professional life has been deeply rooted in the college’s Benedictine tradition. The second of four Kaylor sisters to attend Seton Hill, Alice was preceded by Wilda (SHU ’71) and followed by Bobbi (SHU ’74) and Mary Ann (SHU ’78). An English major at Seton Hill, she earned an MS in English Education at the State University College at Buffalo, where she also earned permanent New York teachers certification and began training for the Peace Corps. While working on her doctoral dissertation Alice fulfilled a community service requirement by teaching English to Yemenite women whose husbands worked in the Buffalo mills. Alice also spent two years teaching English in Afghanistan with the Peace Corps. At Saint Vincent, Alice has served as director of the Saint Vincent Opportunity Program, dean of coeducational affairs (where she assisted in the transition from a men’s to a coeducational institution), associate dean of students, associate academic dean, interim vice president for student affairs, and dean of studies. Alice has been named the National Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society’s Outstanding Advisor, and has been recognized by the United States Peace Corps for her continued involvement in efforts toward world peace.
Becky Kerns, a pioneer in the field of electronics, has had a career with Bell Labs that includes four patents. A chemistry major at Seton Hill, she taught at Pennsylvania’s Geneva College before earning her MS in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. Becky accepted a position as a Research Information Specialist with Dow Corning for a year and then began her 32-year career with the Electronic Component Processes Department of Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey. In 1961 she was a member of the technical team that demonstrated the first successful method to electroplate silver on the waveguides of Telstar, the first communication satellite. She developed a process for depositing metals from solutions on substrates for miniaturized devices and oversaw the assembly of experimental models of carbon surge protectors. Also to her credit were the visual inspection technology for binocular microscopes and the ISO certification of Bell’s first electronic device. Lloyds of London examined and approved the initial submission. In 1985 Becky was named a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff, an honor reserved for employees with a track record of technological innovations at Bell Labs. Outside the science lab Becky has been involved in Affirmative Action and has encouraged young women to pursue careers in science. She has served in leadership roles for the American Association of University Women and continues her work to provide grants to women who complete graduate degrees in fields where females are underrepresented. She is a board member of the Manley-Winser Foundation that funds grants for community organizations and is a 25-year volunteer for Overlook Hospital in Summit, New Jersey, her home.
Janice Flood Nichols, is the author of “Twin Voices: A Memoir of Polio, the Forgotten Killer,” which received honorable mentions in both nonfiction and biography categories at the 2007 London Book Festival for its combination of personal experience and scientific fact. Jan’s twin brother, Frankie, died of polio on All Saints Day, 1953. Jan was admitted to the hospital with the disease the night of Frankie’s funeral. Fortunately, through intensive physical therapy, Jan recovered and regained strength. Following her graduation from Seton Hill with a degree in psychology, Jan earned a Masters in Education from the University of Pittsburgh. She worked in the social service department at Community General Hospital in Syracuse before accepting a position as an instructor in the Graduate School of Social Work at Syracuse University. Jan has written extensively through the years, including a text for medical social workers, a history of Dubois, and numerous articles for newspapers and magazines. She has also been involved with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Zonta International of Lockport (an organization dedicated to the advancement of women worldwide), the Lockport College’s Women’s Club, and the March of Dimes.
Mary Ann Noroski Scully, president and chief executive officer of Howard Bank, led the organizing team that conceived of the bank, raised capital, formed a Board of Directors, and secured regulatory approval for the newest bank in Howard County, Maryland in over 15 years. In less than four years the bank has grown assets of $200,000,000. A career banker of more than 30 years, Mary Ann entered banking as one of First National Bank of Maryland’s first female management trainees and was quickly promoted to vice president in a new cash management department. While at First National Bank, she served as senior vice president and head of the International Banking Group, and executive vice president of the Regional Banking Group/Community Banking Group now known as Allfirst. She managed $8 billion in deposits, $6 billion in retail and commercial loans, $500 million in revenue and a staff of 3,000. When Allfirst was sold, Mary Ann pursued the challenge of establishing her own bank. Very active in her community, Mary Ann serves as vice chair of The Columbia Foundation and its Women’s Giving Circle fund, as a Board Member of the United Way of Central Maryland, and on the Commission on the Future of Howard Community College. Her honors and recognitions include Daily Record Influential Marylander, Howard County Hall of Fame, Howard County Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year, Ernst and Young Top 25 Entrepreneurs, and Daily Record Maryland’s Top 100 Women.