Janet Kacskos

  • Expert Knowledge on Tropical Storms Millersville University has a new expert on campus who knows all about tropical storms and we recently sat down with Dr. Ellie Casas to ask her about the current news surrounding the weather throughout the oceans. Tell us about yourself I am Dr. Ellie Casas, and I am the newest meteorology faculty member here at Millersville University in the Department of Earth Sciences. This is my first year here and I am thrilled to be here! I teach Tropical Meteorology plus a variety of other meteorology courses and hurricanes are my primary area of expertise. What is your experience before MU? Before being here at Millersville, I studied several aspects of how hurricanes intensify during my graduate studies at Colorado State University. After graduating, I became a postdoctoral researcher at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, where I worked with a team of meteorologists and computer scientists to develop advanced machine-learning tools that may eventually be able to help improve our ability to “see” where the heaviest rain in hurricanes are when they are over the ocean and away from radars. This is important because being able to see the “organization” of rain in a hurricane is important for forecasting how the hurricane will intensify. What notable storms have occurred in the Atlantic and East Pacific basin and which states were affected? The Atlantic and East Pacific saw some major hurricanes in 2023. In the Atlantic Basin, there were 19 named storms, and two additional unnamed storms. Surprisingly, one of the unnamed Atlantic storms occurred in January! This storm had a hurricane-like structure with high wind speeds circling around an eye-like feature, but it was classified as a “subtropical cyclone,” which means that it originated from outside of the tropics. Out of the named storms in the Atlantic, seven reached at least hurricane status, and three out of those seven hurricanes reached “major” hurricane status of at least Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. In the Atlantic/Gulf coast, the states directly affected were Texas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. In the East Pacific, there have been 16 named storms and an additional three unnamed storms. Of the named storms, 10 reached hurricane status, and 8 of those hurricanes reached “major” hurricane status. The National Hurricane Center issued its first-ever tropical storm warning for Southern California as Hurricane Hilary approached on Aug. 20. Why are hurricanes so rare in California? In the ocean, there are very large circulations called “gyres” that span the entire ocean basin in each hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, these gyres spin clockwise because of the direction in which the Earth spins. In the North Atlantic, the ocean gyre brings up warm, tropical ocean water along the U.S. Atlantic coast, and it is concentrated in the Gulf Stream. This warm water is generally warm enough to sustain hurricane intensification in the summer and fall. On the U.S. Pacific coast, the ocean gyres bring down cold, arctic water from Alaska. This cold water makes it very difficult for hurricanes to maintain their intensity, and hurricanes typically dissipate and are very weak if they reach California. What makes Hurricane Hilary so unusual is that it was able to move northward very quickly after it made landfall in Baja California, Mexico. Although Hurricane Hilary was in the process of weakening from the cold water, drier mid-level air, and increasing vertical wind shear, Hilary was still producing much more rain than Southern California typically receives when it arrived. Since Southern California has complex and fragile topography, flooding and landslides were of major concern. Will the Climavision radar on the MU water tower help with hurricane predictions in our area? With respect to hurricanes, the new MU radar will be most helpful for identifying imminent severe weather risks associated with storms (including decaying hurricanes) that track within the radar’s line-of-sight, which covers the general Lancaster/Millersville/York region. The radar will also be helpful for our ability to conduct local weather research, such as increasing our understanding of rainfall characteristics of landfalling hurricanes that impact the Millersville area. The new radar will be a huge benefit for the entire region, and we are very fortunate and grateful to begin this partnership with Climavision. What is the hurricane outlook? The Southern Hemisphere hurricane season is starting to ramp up. Typically in the Southern Hemisphere, Northern Australia, Madagascar, and many smaller island nations like Fiji are particularly impacted by hurricanes from approximately December to April. Interestingly, South America is very rarely impacted by hurricanes; the environment is generally not conducive to hurricane intensification. Any additional thoughts? Hurricanes can actually impact Millersville! While the winds of a hurricane typically weaken before tropical cyclones reach Millersville, we can get rain, flooding, and sometimes even tornado impacts from the remnants of hurricanes. Some notable examples include Hurricanes Irene (2011), Sandy (2012), and Ida (2021). As I have gotten to know our wonderful meteorology students here at MU, I have learned that these specific storms were formative experiences that have led many of our Millersville meteorology students toward discovering their vocations. Many of our students are dedicated to saving lives by improving our meteorological understanding, forecast accuracy, and communication of extreme weather phenomena like hurricanes. Ultimately, it only takes one hurricane landfall to make it an active season for all who are impacted. Here at Millersville, it is a good idea to keep a reserve of water, nonperishable food, and a first aid kit on hand in the summer and fall when hurricanes are most likely, and for the best hurricane forecasts, I always recommend listening to the friendly experts at the National Hurricane Center when they issue a watch or warning. They have devoted their lives to being the best hurricane forecasters they can be, and they are constantly monitoring the tropics for potential hurricane risks, even whil […] “Expert Knowledge on Tropical Storms”

  • New $1M Grant to Help Post-Baccalaureate Education Scholars Thanks to a $974,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education, scholars who are dually enrolled in the Special Education Post-Baccalaureate K-12 Certification and the Early Childhood, M.Ed. programs will have access to financial assistance. Millersville University received one of just 13 national awards made by the U.S. Department of Education and is the only regional public school funded. Dr. Elizabeth Powers-Costello, associate professor, was instrumental in securing this grant as project director. Dr. Deborah Tamakloe, associate professor and Special Education graduate coordinator, was also instrumental as co-project director. Other faculty and staff who assisted with securing the grant include Josh Belice and Drs. Rich Mehrenberg and Susannah Boyle. “This distinction means a lot considering that MU was up against research-intensive universities. It sets us apart as a regional public university and places us on the national map,” says Tamakloe. Tamakloe explains why this grant is so important, especially for those studying special education. “Special education has always been a national area of need, and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this problem,” she says. “We need to train personnel with the knowledge and skillset to implement evidence-based practices that improve outcomes for all students and their families, particularly students with disabilities.” “Recruiting and supporting more students in the field of special education means addressing the national shortage and improving outcomes for the vulnerable population we serve,” she adds. These funds will be available to scholars beginning next fall. In addition to providing financial assistance to ease any challenges associated with program costs, the funds will also be available to pay honorariums for mentors, offer professional development and support scholars during field placement and student teaching. Students must be enrolled in both the Early Childhood, M.Ed. and the Special Education Post-Baccalaureate K-12 Certification programs to apply for this financial assistance. “This award is a win for both the early childhood graduate programs and special education programs. It is a win for the College of Education and MU as a whole. This shows the hard work MU professors and administrators working within graduate programs put in to support our students and strengthen our programs,” she concludes. A full list of schools to receive this award can be found below: More information about the grant can be found […] “New href=”https://blogs.millersville.edu/news/?p=32423″M Grant to Help Post-Baccalaureate Education Scholars”

  • Janet Kacskos wrote a new post on the site Millersville News 2 months ago

    Police and Fire Training on Campus Jan. 2 Millersville University will begin the demolition process of four houses along East Frederick Street on campus on January 15. Before the houses come down, the University has agreed to allow first responders to use the buildings for training. “It makes sense to support our community and allow first responders access to the old buildings for training,” says Pete Anders, Millersville University Police Chief. “It’s a win-win for the University and local community and enhances the strong working relationships we have with other agencies. The State Police SERT team has trained our officers and local school resource officers on active shooter response. The training on the second will benefit over 20 troopers on their team response and give them additional familiarization with our campus community.” Dauphin, Allegheny, Armstrong, and Susquehanna houses have been vacant and slated for demolition for some time. The Department of General Services finalized the demolition contract just before winter break. On January 2, crews from Blue Rock Fire and the Pennsylvania State Police Special Emergency Response Team will use the four houses for training purposes. The University has supported similar training opportunities with first responders in previous demolition projects. Thomas Waltz, associate vice president for facilities says removing the four buildings will help the University’s bottom line. “The University receives money to maintain buildings based on our enrollment and we are roughly 200,000 square feet over our allowance. Removing these four unused houses will be a savings financially and help reduce our surplus square footage.” The first responders will be on campus 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Tuesday, […] “Police and Fire Training on Campus Jan. 2”

  • Janet Kacskos wrote a new post on the site Millersville News 2 months ago

    Dr. Cheryl Desmond Receives “Keepers of the Flame” Award Retired professor Dr. Cheryl Desmond is Millersville University’s recipient of the second annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Keepers of the Flame Award from Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. The award recognizes an individual from each of the 14 State System university campuses for their contributions to creating and promoting diverse, equitable and inclusive environments that cultivate a sense of belonging. The award recipients were announced during PASSHE’s annual DEI Summit held at Shippensburg University. “Each recipient of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s “Keepers of the Flame” award embodies the best in humanity – demonstrating a commitment to raising awareness about important issues and advocating for ‘doing the right thing,’” said Dr. Denise Pearson, vice chancellor and chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion officer at the Office of the Chancellor. “PASSHE university communities have long understood the intersection between academic excellence, DEI and student success. This year, we are truly pleased to celebrate the contributions of Dr. Desmond and the other recipients, and we lift them up as role models to emulate. It is a privilege to honor them.” An educator, researcher and advocate for public education, Dr. Desmond became a tenured professor at Millersville in the Department of Educational Foundations and Educational Leadership in 1990 and retired as professor emerita in 2013. Desmond began her career in education as a teacher and principal in Kentucky, New York and Pennsylvania. After earning a Ph.D. from Syracuse University in cultural foundations of education and educational leadership, she taught at Dartmouth College, Stevens College and Dickinson College before arriving at Millersville. A noted scholar, Desmond’s research in international education and the culture of schooling has been published in books and more than 30 articles. Along with Dr. Laurie Hanich, a Millersville professor in the Education Foundations department, she recently completed “Wellness Works in Schools: The practice and research of a mindfulness program in urban middle schools,” a chapter in the “Handbook of Mindfulness-Based Programs.” Additionally, Desmond served as a program chair for the American Educational Research Association biennial conference and chair of the Biographical and Documentary Research Special Interest Group. Desmond shares her commitment to DEI in the Lancaster community, serving as an elected member of the School District of Lancaster school board […] “Dr. Cheryl Desmond Receives “Keepers of the Flame” Award”

  • Janet Kacskos wrote a new post on the site Millersville News 2 months ago

    Get Emergency Alerts From MU Millersville University has consistently been ranked as a safe campus. There are multiple tools that students, faculty and staff can use to help stay safe, including MU Alert, Emergency Blue Light Phones and LiveSafe. These tools provide overlapping layers of protection for students on and off campus. MU Alert If you want to get updates on emergencies, weather-related cancellations or delays at Millersville University, sign up for MU Alert. MU Alert is a system that allows University officials to quickly communicate short emergency messages to a mass audience through text messages and emails. Pete Anders, the chief of police at Millersville, commented on MU Alerts. “Students should sign up for MU Alert to receive timely notice by text and email of campus emergencies and school closings. For a sustained emergency or disaster, MU Alert is how we will push out our initial and follow-up communications to help our students stay safe and know when the event is over.” Subscribe to MU alerts for free here. Blue Light Phones There are emergency phones located around campus, where users can speak directly with a Lancaster County 911 dispatcher who can radio University police, and/or our local ambulance and fire services. The phones are geocoded with 911 so the dispatchers know your location. You can locate the phones by their bright blue lights. LiveSafe The University also offers an app called LiveSafe, which connects students, faculty or staff, to campus police and other emergency services. LiveSafe can be used as a “mobile emergency phone” by opening the app to contact police and simply pressing the “Call 911” button if there is an emergency. For nonemergencies, the app allows you to connect with the University Police by text or phone call. You can share information and safety issues with police via text. The app has the ability for you to add multiple pictures, videos, and audio attachments and allows you to remain anonymous. The LiveSafe app features StaySafe using GoSafe where you can use peer-to-peer location tracking to monitor your friends or family as they move towards their destination. Group chat and 911 are readily available to remain in constant communication or alert authorities in emergency situations. You can also interact with the Safety Map to see where the latest campus incidents have occurred, emergency blue phone locations, and safe locations established by University Police. “LiveSafe gives you fast access to safety resources, quick access to essential emergency information, telephone numbers, and campus resources. You can stay up to date and get important safety and push notifications from University Police,” says Anders. “We also use it to notify students of uninvited guests on campus, which may help them avoid hearing hateful words that conflict with University values but are protected in our public areas of campus.” Mia Bertoldi, a Millersville sophomore student, shares her experience using the LiveSafe app, “I was not sure exactly what it was until someone parked in my assigned parking space. The LiveSafe app responded promptly and told me exactly what to do and how to avoid getting ticketed myself.” Bertoldi added, “If I needed help, I would have easy access to emergency resources. That makes me feel comfortable having a local option for safety.” Recent examples of students using LiveSafe chat to contact police vary from parking concerns to reporting suspected crimes, to reporting concern of themselves or a friend struggling with mental health. The text feature allows easy communication for our officers to engage with and help our students. Download the LiveSafe app in the Apple App Store or Google Play on your mobile […] “Get Emergency Alerts From MU”

  • Cost of Attending Will Drop The total cost of attending Millersville University will drop by 9.2% for the 2024-25 school year for commuting students. Students living on campus and getting the full meal plan will pay almost $500 less. The Council of Trustees finalized the numbers at their meeting on Dec. 13, 2023. The University will move to a flat rate tuition starting in fall 2024. Students and their families will pay $3,858 a semester for tuition for 12-18 credits. That is down from the current $4,785 a semester if a student takes 15 credit hours. The Board of Governors sets tuition, which is currently at the flat rate of $7,716 per year for 12 credits or more for in-state undergraduate students. The COT voted to increase fees by $360 per semester to cover new services such as success coaching and the Starfish software, as well as increases in health services. The overall cost for the 24-25 school year for commuting students will now be $11,128 a year, down 9.2% from last fall’s cost of $12,262. In addition, the COT voted to keep housing at the same rate as last year, and the food plan will increase by 5% to cover rising food costs. That means for the 24-25 school year, students living on campus and getting the meal plan will pay $11,979 a semester for tuition, room, board and fees. That’s a decrease of $452, or 3.6%, from the current $12,431 per semester. “This move will help our students and their families struggling with the rising cost of living,” says Dr. Daniel A. Wubah, president of Millersville University. “Going back to a flat rate tuition model will allow our students to take 15 credits per semester at the cost of 12. By taking 15 credits every semester, students can graduate in 4 years. This move will make us more competitive to recruit new students and retain current students.” In addition to moving to a flat-rate tuition model, Millersville University will continue to increase the financial aid available for students. The “Imagine the Possible” campaign, which raised more than $110 M, established 118 new scholarship endowments and 112 newly named annual scholarship awards. The University also gives substantial institutional aid to students […] “Cost of Attending Will Drop”

  • Prof & First Responder Receives Exclusive Award A national award that honors veterans and first responders has been given to Millersville University’s Dr. Duane Hagelgans. The Blanket of Honor award has only been given to 332 individuals to acknowledge their accomplishments. “I am honored and humbled to be selected for this award,” says Hagelgans. “It was totally unexpected. To be chosen to be part of such a small and elite group is truly an honor.” The Blankets of Honor program honors veterans, veteran caregivers, Gold Star Families, veteran support members, or first responders. “From what I was told, the group receives nominations and then takes into consideration all the work done by those who are nominated to see if they meet the criteria for being chosen and honored,” says Hagelgans. “At the presentation ceremony, they stated that I am the first ever firefighter honored by the Blankets of Honor.” Hagelgans was inspired at the age of 15 to pursue a career in firefighting and emergency management. “A friend of mine’s father became the chief of a volunteer fire company.  He was a very dedicated volunteer. I joined the volunteer fire company because of him,” says Hagelgans. “However, my service to people, which is truly what being in these professions is about, comes from my parents. They were both very hardworking, loyal people who would do anything for anyone, which is where I got my drive to help others.” Hagelgans shares that dealing with injuries and deaths is one of the hardest aspects of emergency management. “In this profession, we deal with people and their worst days. As a profession, we are learning that we must do a better job to protect those in our profession from the emotional toll that dealing with disasters takes on our responders,” says Hagelgans. “In today’s world, the suicide rate for responders is higher than the rate of line-of-duty deaths, and this is not, and cannot be, acceptable. As a society and as professionals, we must take better care of our own, those who give their all to help their communities.” Hagelgans started teaching at Millersville in 2007 as an adjunct professor and became a full-time faculty member in 2012. He serves on various committees for the emergency management graduate program, the university and in the greater community.  Currently, he is researching better methods to teach emergency preparedness to school-age children and methods for better leadership in the emergency services. “The number one thing I hope to pass onto my students is to be prepared for whatever life may throw at you,” says Hagelgans. “There is a statement I learned, and it’s often stated, ‘Predictable is Preventable!’ As a society, we can never take the approach that we can be too prepared or that ‘it won’t happen to me.’ Preparedness is the key, and that key is based upon never being complacent.” Hagelgans credits the emergency management programs at Millersville as a whole when he sees alumni take what they learn in the classroom and apply those skills in emergency situations. “There is nothing like the feeling of seeing our graduates go out and do great work all around the world, helping citizens when disasters strike,” says Hagelgans. Hagelgans has been involved in emergency services for over 40 years. In 2011, he retired from the Lancaster City Bureau of Fire, where he held numerous positions. In addition to an associate degree in fire science technology from Harrisburg Area Community College, Hagelgans attained a bachelor’s in occupational safety from Millersville University and a Juris Doctorate from Widener University School of Law. A video of Hagelgan’s ceremony can be viewed here.  To learn more about the Blankets of Honor Award, click here. To nominate someone for a blanket, click here.           […] “Prof & First Responder Receives Exclusive Award”

  • Breathing in Lancaster County Even though Dr. Greg Blumberg, assistant professor in Earth Sciences at Millersville, has asthma and his mom called him the “human barometer” growing up, his intense interest and study of air quality didn’t come until after he received his doctorate. Blumberg grew up in Texas and would have flare-ups when the air quality was bad. In Lancaster, he has two air purifiers in his house and often wears a mask when working outside during an unhealthy air quality day to breathe easier. People love to talk about the weather, and the air quality is often added to many conversations because of smoke from wildfires during the summer months, firewood in the winter months and other pollution. “Places like Thailand have the worst air quality in the world, and interestingly enough, the hills and valleys of Thailand are a lot like Pennsylvania’s terrain,” says Blumberg. “Our terrain looks like a bowl, and the smoke settles into the bottom.” With discussion of air quality in South Central PA, the AQI (Air Quality Index) and PM2.5 (particulate matter) categories have become common vernacular. The AQI is a measurement from the Environmental Protection Agency and ranges from 0 to 500, with different numbers equating to different levels of health concern. Blumberg explains that PM2.5 are fine particles. Particles 10 micrometers or smaller can enter our nose and lungs, and finer particles of 2.5 micrometers or smaller can even enter our bloodstream. PM2.5 doesn’t only come from wildfire smoke. These particles are dangerous pollutants also prevalent in vehicle exhaust and from burning fuels like wood, oil, or coal. When fine particulate pollution is extremely high, experts recommend that people reduce their time spent outside, avoid intense activity, use air filters, or wear respirator masks. Keelie N Steiner is a senior at Millersville who is quite engaged in studying air quality. She helped put air quality measuring equipment at the intersection of Highway 30 and 283 in Lancaster County. “My work is making sure the instruments will run remotely – I have them hooked up to two computers,” explains Steiner. “We’re also getting ready to put equipment in a new shed outside Caputo to monitor the air quality.” Blumberg and Dr. Rich Clark, who recently retired from Millersville, are in the planning stages of a field project to study air quality in our region. “We have a drone in the Earth Sciences department that we can use to lift our air quality instruments.  This drone was funded by the University and contributions from the One-Day Give,” says Blumberg. “And we could also use our kites. The kites were provided by the AEROKATS and Rover Educational Network, a NASA Science Activation Team. They want to introduce NASA technology and practices in authentic, experimental learning environments.” There are multiple ways that students at Millersville will be involved in studying air quality this fall. Blumberg says both his “Chemistry of the Atmosphere” and “Meteorological Instrumentation” deal with air quality. “We have lots of instrumentation in the meteorology program so that students can get hands-on experience. I can take them outside and say, here’s our Lidar; turn it on and make some hypotheses as to what is happening with the air quality. It helps to build their confidence.” Emmanuel Owusu is a graduate student at Millersville who has interest in Environmental and Occupation Health Science and was recruited to help with air quality testing. Originally from Ghana, Owusu is interested in the diseases that result from environmental pollution such as the negative impact of air pollution on human health across the globe. “There have been several studies that show a significant association between PM2.5 and eye problems such as glaucoma, dry eye disease, maculopathy and cataracts,” says Owusu. There are many careers in air quality, from working with the EPA and the various weather services to conducting research for companies. “Even Mars Candy has hired meteorologists to predict climate impacts on chocolate,” says Blumberg. “Climate change is certainly a factor here as we see increases in the length of fire season, as well as the frequency and severity of fires,” says Blumberg. “As temperatures become warmer and the atmosphere dries, it loads the dice against us. Climate change is the steroids that make fires harder to combat.” He says it’s hard to say if poor air quality from the Canada fires will be a continuous issue for the Millersville area, but “the Earth is telling us, we better get on it.” Having conversations about air quality and its connection to the climate is the number one thing people can do to help. “If we’re talking about it, we see it as a problem, and that’s what will help us enact solutions,” says Blumberg.   […] “Breathing in Lancaster County”

  • Janet Kacskos wrote a new post on the site Millersville News 3 months ago

    New Leader for PA Inclusive Higher Education Consortium Millersville University and the PA Inclusive Higher Education Consortium have announced that Dr. Erica Jones, professor in the Department of Exceptionality Programs at Commonwealth University at Lock Haven, has been appointed to fill the PIHEC leadership role for 2024. It was previously held by Dr. Ariana Amaya and Zach Hulings of Gwynedd Mercy University. In 2020, the U.S. Department of Education awarded Millersville University a $2.38 million grant to expand its programs for students with intellectual disabilities. Millersville’s Dr. Thomas Neuville is the principal investigator of the grant. The grant is in collaboration with Duquesne University , Gwynedd Mercy University, Commonwealth University – Lock Haven and Temple University. Additionally,  Temple University’s Institute on Disabilities serves as research coordinator. This significant collaboration was organized by the Pennsylvania Inclusive Higher Education Consortium, a division of Millersville University, which resulted from a previous DOE grant. PIHEC is dedicated to the mission of inclusive postsecondary education for young adults with intellectual disabilities, a movement that began in the U.S. in the 1970s and has evolved toward robust, authentic college experiences only in recent decades. As educational policy and practice have begun to reflect the essential right to equal opportunities for students with disabilities, so too have expectations increased for the participation of students with intellectual disabilities in higher education. Commonwealth University – Lock Haven, under the guidance of Jones, has developed an initiative for students with intellectual disability to attend university as full-time, non-degree-seeking students. This innovative and inclusive initiative represents a model for inclusive program development regionally and nationally. Emily Gardner, a student currently enrolled in the inclusive program at Lock Haven, says “I have benefitted from the program and I get to do more things on my own. I am treated as an adult and benefit from peer coaches. The professors are more than willing to work with me.”  According to Jones, students increase independent living and social skills. “Inclusion is one of our core values and motivates us to create a campus environment where differences can be expressed and respectfully heard and where every person experiences a sense of belonging,” says Dr. Daniel Wubah, president of Millersville University. “The Integrated Studies program at Millersville University ensures a vibrant community for ALL students.” In a recent survey conducted by Think College nationwide and in Pennsylvania, young adults with intellectual disability who graduated with a credential, report that they have an employment rate of 73%, while adults with a cognitive disability nationally and in Pennsylvania are employed at a rate of 20%. For more information contact Thomas Neuville at Millersville University, Thomas.neuville […] “New Leader for PA Inclusive Higher Education Consortium”

  • Janet Kacskos wrote a new post on the site Millersville News 3 months ago

    MU Helps Girls on the Run Reach Their Goals On Sunday, Nov. 19, over 500 third to eighth graders gathered on Millersville University’s campus to run a 5k together. The participants were part of Girls on the Run Lancaster-Lebanon, and they celebrated the hard work they’ve put in over the past two months. Girls on the Run is a national nonprofit organization that seeks to motivate young girls by combining physical activity with motivational lessons. Throughout the 10-week program, girls meet for these lessons while steadily building up the physical endurance to run, jog and walk a 5k, which takes place at the end of the 10 weeks. Dr. Gail Gasparich, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost of Millersville University, is a member of the board for Girls on the Run Lancaster-Lebanon. She explains that Girls on the Run is unique in its focus on both physical and socio-emotional development for its two age groups, 3rd-5th grade and 6th-8th grade students. “The real goal of Girls on the Run stems from the fact that at this age, self-confidence begins to erode. This is a way to get in front of that,” she says. “The girls really build a strong cohort. They look out for each other, build friendships and skills they can take beyond the program, and everybody’s learning together.” “Physical activity is so important for mental health, and being physically active in a group setting can really bring about a positive mental health change for these girls at such a crucial time in their lives,” she adds. “This is a way to make exercise and learning a more fun experience.” The Lancaster-Lebanon Girls on the Run 5k events take place twice a year, with Millersville University hosting the race each fall. The runners began the race at Pucillo Gymnasium to kick off one of the largest 5ks in the area, one which celebrates each individual runner regardless of their finishing placement. Gasparich notes that these kinds of events that bring in the surrounding community are beneficial for the University. “Our students come from our community, and being able to contribute is really important,” she says. “It aligns with the University’s goals to help students develop and to help inspire students to change the world.” Additionally, Girls on the Run is a meaningful organization for Gasparich. “When I first came to Millersville University, I really wanted to find an association that I could get behind,” she says, “My whole career has been spent trying to get women involved and empowered, and this program is a perfect fit.” “The organization is really focused on bringing together the community and helping these young girls discover their own superpowers,” […] “MU Helps Girls on the Run Reach Their Goals”

  • Janet Kacskos wrote a new post on the site Millersville News 3 months ago

    Advocating for Undergraduate Research Ensuring that policymakers and leaders understand the importance of undergraduate research and scholarships is essential to all college students. This is why it’s important that Dr. Carrie Smith and Tatiana Pashkova-Balkenhol, along with five students at MU, were accepted to be part of the Council of Undergraduate Research’s Scholars Transforming Through Research program. The program allows participants to learn and understand how to communicate to stakeholders the importance of their research and scholarships through both virtual and in-person events. As team leaders, Dr. Smith and Pashkova-Balkenhol represent MU through two programs, the Center for Public Scholarship & Social Change and the McNairy Library Music Research Fellows program. They offer guidance to their students, Tehya Walters, Ty Geiger, Sydney Rauchut, Sarah Qundes and Julissa Rodriguez to actively engage in the Scholars Transforming Through Research activities. In order to be part of the program, teams had to submit an application that was reviewed against others from across the country, making for a competitive application process. Each application discussed how team members have been impacted by undergraduate research. Smith, coordinator of the Center for Public Scholarship & Social Change at MU, explains why she wanted to be part of the program. “I work with and mentor students in conducting community-engaged research. For community-engaged research to be truly effective, it requires an understanding of how to explain sometimes complex and obtrusive findings to various stakeholders.” The students involved in the program have completed research or are in the process of completing research. The program will allow them to learn how to communicate with leaders. “The STR program is focused on enhancing undergraduate students’ communication and advocacy skills so that they can convey the value of their undergraduate research experiences to various stakeholders, such as funding agencies, elected officials, future employers and community members,” Pashkova-Balkenhol explains, an Undergraduate Research & Instruction Librarian. The students will present their research at Made In Millersville. Pashkova-Balkenhol notes the connections between Scholars Transforming Through Research and Made in Millersville. “Both STR and Made in Millersville are focused on promoting the undergraduate research experience. Both encourage students to translate their research projects into comprehensive and accessible summaries and communicate the value of their projects to diverse audiences.” Recently, both teams attended the in-person training event where they participated in networking events with faculty and staff from other universities. They also visited Capitol Hill to meet with staffers from Senator Bob Casey, Senator John Fetterman and Representative Lloyd Smucker’s offices where the students put their training to work,  advocating for funding undergraduate research, university-community partnerships, arts and humanities and youth mental health. Pashkova-Balkenhol understands the importance of undergraduate research and the skills students gain from engaging in it. “Students who participate in undergraduate research opportunities are better prepared for graduate schools or professional careers. Students improve transferable skills, such as critical thinking, presentation and written communication and time management skills. They build overall confidence in their abilities and create communities of practice where they learn with and from each other.” By completing the program, Pashkova-Balkenhol hopes to accomplish one main goal. “Upon the completion of the program, we will be able to put our advocacy skills into practice by advocating for sustainable funding to support the future students’ participation in the library’s research fellows’ program,” Pashkova-Balkenhol says. Overall, Smith hopes to create new policies to help make a change by completing the program. “I hope that we will come away with valuable skills in learning how to communicate community-engaged research to various stakeholders. In particular, I hope that we will learn how to translate our work into concrete policies and change on the […] “Advocating for Undergraduate Research”

  • Janet Kacskos wrote a new post on the site Millersville News 3 months ago

    Grant Donation Brings New Equipment to the ‘Ville Millersville students studying automation and robotics engineering technology will soon have access to new equipment, thanks to a grant donation from Phoenix Contact. The Automation and Controls Lab in Osburn Hall will receive new equipment. Phoenix Contact donated close to $50,000 worth of hardware to Millersville as a part of their EduNet educational partnership. This includes industrial-grade computer systems used to digitize and control industrial processes. The equipment is being installed this semester and will be available to students starting in January. The new equipment is an upgrade to previous equipment in the lab. “Our previous equipment was almost 15-20 years old, and while it’s still valid as industry grade, it is becoming technologically ‘old,’” says Dr. John Haughery, assistant professor in Applied Engineering, Safety & Technology at MU. This updated hardware will allow students to get hands-on practice with equipment that is relevant to their education and future careers. The new technology will allow students opportunities to develop and work with Industrial Internet of Things for local and remote connectivity and control. Internet of Things is an industry term that refers to collective networks of connected devices and the technology that facilitates communication among itself. It’s especially relevant to students looking to be automation engineers, controls engineers and manufacturing engineers. “Individuals in these careers are becoming more and more valuable to the industry, as they have the skill set to solve some of the toughest engineering problems facing the industry that supply essential and non-essential products,” says Haughery. Phoenix Contact aims to prioritize sustainability through its business practices and with its equipment. Millersville’s own emphasis on sustainability is supported by the use of this new equipment. “This hardware provides students opportunities to gain experience using technologies necessary to control environmental and industrial systems efficiently with a mind to sustainability,” says Haughery. This includes consideration of lowering energy consumption, using less materials and tracking system health proactively. Click here for more information on Millersville’s Automa […] “Grant Donation Brings New Equipment to the ‘Ville”

  • Janet Kacskos wrote a new post on the site Millersville News 3 months ago

    Education and the Environment at the ‘Ville Millersville students and local educators will soon have the opportunity to engage in hands-on experiences geared toward providing an education-oriented scientific background. Millersville’s Watershed Education Training Institute is offering an environmentally educational workshop this fall semester. The GLOBE Workshop focuses on effective methods to educate students about water quality and will be held on Nov. 18 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. It is free to all participants and is open to all STEM BSE students, as well as formal and informal educators. Another workshop, Project WILD, was canceled and those who were interested are encouraged to attend the GLOBE Workshop. 30 spots are available for the workshop. Those interested in participating can sign up here. Participants will receive a certificate upon completion of the workshop. “Having these certifications shows that you’ve already put in some time in your undergrad to commit to professional development,” says Liz Rickrode, a graduate assistant for Educational Foundations professor Dr. Nanette Marcum-Dietrich. GLOBE certification allows future conducting of GLOBE related activities in the classroom, as well as permission to input findings into their database of ongoing research of water quality across different areas. “These workshops are very much designed to give you a hands-on experience working with a lot of environmental education aspects,” says Rickrode. Dr. Marcum-Dietrich co-founded WETi in 2016 alongside recently retired biology professor Dr. John Wallace. The institute currently aims to hold at least three workshops per semester but is working toward garnering more involvement. It is also available to rent for programs and is used to host local school districts in order for K-12 students to participate in hands-on, outdoor experiences. For more information on current and future WETi events, please visit: https://www […] “Education and the Environment at the ‘Ville”

  • Glorious Sounds of the Season Returns for Its 18th Year Join Millersville University’s Tell School of Music for its annual holiday concert! The popular Glorious Sounds of the Season concert will return for its 18th year with three shows in the Clair Performance Hall of the Winter Visual and Performing Arts Center on campus. The three performances will take place on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 3 at 2:30 p.m. The concert is a popular event, so get your tickets early. Glorious Sounds of the Season is an annual scholarship fundraising concert held by the Tell School of Music. Dr. Jeffrey Gemmell, assistant professor/coordinator of choral studies and founder of MU’s Glorious Sounds of the Season concert talks about the event, “The concert includes over 30 individual musical acts representing every facet of the Tell School of Music. Over 300 students and faculty perform, including singers, instrumentalists, large ensembles, small ensembles, commercial groups, solo acts, and everything in between.” “Selections are presented in a ‘surround sound’ format with performers positioned throughout the hall. The music is continuous, with rapid-fire seamless transitions between numbers, and all are controlled with lighting cues and feature continuous motion for momentum. With no intermission or applause between selections, the total length of the show is usually less than 90 minutes,” Gemmell explains. Gemmell predicts everyone will leave the show ready for the holidays. “A strong Millersville tradition, this concert always sells out as people return year after year to recharge their holiday spirit. The energy and pacing, delightful selections, and quality performances will inspire everyone and provide hope for a brighter future.” The preparation for this event begins in the summer when Gemmell begins researching music to include in the show. He then incorporates student-led groups throughout October, including a cappella ensembles like Chromatic and VilleHarmonics, as well as various instrumental groups. The final show is a mix of choral numbers and performances by the school’s wind bands, orchestra, jazz, and other instrumental ensembles. The show also includes solos by students, faculty, and rock bands from the school’s commercial music programs. Gemmell looks forward to the production and witnessing the audience’s joy throughout the concert. “This year’s GSS promises to be ‘glorious’ on every level, especially with a large variety of music from many different holiday traditions. The audience sing-alongs are always my favorite. It’s so much fun to hear the audience sing out with such gusto.” All profits from the show benefit the students directly through student scholarships in the Tell Sc […] “Glorious Sounds of the Season Returns for Its 18th Year”

  • MU Continues to Combat the Teacher Shortage Millersville University is committed to combating the current educator shortage in a variety of different ways, including expanding its online course options and publicly sharing the possible causes of and solutions to the shortage. This summer, the University hosted the Future Educator Academy to recruit high school juniors who are interested in education and provide a residential college experience. During July, 14 students from five school districts were able to experience what it’s like to be a college student, all while learning more about what their future as an educator could look like. “The ultimate goal is to recruit more students, especially students of color and first-generation students, into the field of education,” explains Dr. Miriam Witmer, associate professor of educational foundations and coordinator of the Color of Teaching program at the University. Witmer facilitated the academy alongside Dr. Jeffrey Wimer, professor of wellness and sports sciences. “Scholars have the opportunity to see what college life is like,” Witmer adds. “They also did a lot of self-reflection and learned about careers in education, so we hope they are motivated to pursue a college degree and to consider becoming an educator. Scholars from different schools were able to bond, so new friendships were made.” This was the first year that the academy was open to students outside of the School District of Lancaster. Other schools represented include York City, Penn Manor, Manheim Township and Ephrata. Students began the week with a low-ropes course team-building activity. This first day focused on good communication and problem-solving between the scholars. After that, the students were able to attend various classes offered by MU faculty, so they could experience a typical college classroom. Supplementary sessions on financial aid, student success, and building friendships were included during the week. A closing ceremony was held on the last day with families. Additionally, each student received a copy of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Sean Covey. “Reading this book and having group discussions about its content promoted a deeper sense of purpose and sense of community for the scholars,” says Witmer. Millersville University continues to address the educator shortage in other ways as well. In a recent survey sent out to 16 Central Pennsylvanian school districts, it was discovered that while many students have high respect for their teachers, they are uninterested in the profession due to their perception of low wages in the education field. “We need to educate high school students on the realities of the teaching profession through programs like the FEA and future teaching clubs in high schools,” says Dr. Lara Willox, dean of the College of Education and Human Services. “The starting salary may be less than in other careers, but there are many opportunities to increase salaries.” As for other strategies, Willox explains, “We have started a fully online early childhood program to allow working adults to earn teaching certification. We also have an emergency certification program that will enable teachers teaching on emergency licenses to get certified in less than 18 months.” Overall, the University is tackling educator shortage in many ways, but the academy in particular is an important tool for easing anxieties students may have about higher education and for recruiting more education students.  “It will be imperative for high school students to be exposed to teaching as a career choice,” Willox says. “Through the FEA, high school students are getting excited about becoming teachers.” “Future Educators Academy is one component of a comprehensive approach that Millersville University is undertaking to combat the pK-12 educator shortage in Pennsylvania,” explains Wimer. “Historically, these types of early college programs in education are called ‘Grow-Your-Own’ or ‘pipeline programs,’ because they increase student awareness and demystify the college experience. They also create enthusiasm for education as a career choice because of the possibility to return to the student’s home community for employment following college.” “Although the teacher shortage is far from over, and fixing it is slowly taking shape, the Future Educator Academy is supporting high school students by bolstering their career preparation and readiness for college,” says Wimer. Interested in becoming […] “MU Continues to Combat the Teacher Shortage”

  • Connection Between Fall Weather and Bird Migrations Does fall weather impact bird migrations? Millersville’s Weather Information Center Director, Kyle Elliott, provides an updated fall weather outlook, and Dr. Aaron Haines, professor of conservation biology, explains the connections between bird migration and fall weather patterns. “Overall, temperatures should be warmer than normal this fall and precipitation near average,” says Elliott. “Early-season cold shots will be few and far between, with the worst of winter delayed until later in January and February.” Haines believes there are some general trends that suggest fall weather impacts bird migration patterns. “Fall migration is related to the passage of cold fronts,” says Haines. “Migrations are heavier in northerly winds, falling temperatures, shortly after the passage of a cold front. The efficiency of downwind flight is enhanced by the facts that average winds blow roughly in the migratory directions of the birds and that the birds show behavioral selection in terms of the wind directions and synoptic weather situations in which they initiate migration.” Hains explains that synoptic weather situations are weather conditions that occur over a large area for the same time period. Thus, birds will opportunistically use cold fronts and winds coming down from the north to help in their southward migrations. Haines’ professional research interests involve identifying more effective approaches to implement on-the-ground conservation strategies to benefit species of conservation concern. Haines has studied birds for the past 20 years and believes his calling is to preserve wild places and wild things for the betterment of human society. “The fall season is so dynamic for birds because of migration activity,” says Haines. “During the fall, we still see our breeding birds leaving at the beginning of the fall on their way south. We can also see birds that breed north of us and are just passing through on their way south. These birds we only see during the migration season. Lastly, we also begin to see birds that breed north of us but will stay and spend the winter in Pennsylvania.” “This is why the fall season is such an exciting time for bird watchers,” says Haines. “The diversity and richness of different bird species in a place like Pennsylvania is maximized during the migration seasons. We see more bird migrations during the fall because there are more young birds migrating after the breeding season.” Recently, Haines was part of a group project that modeled migration pathways for birds using multiple datasets including human counts and observations, satellite tracking, and radar. A resource suggested by Haines is Birdcast which provides real-time predictions of bird migrations: when they migrate, where they migrate, and how far they will fly. Interested in biology? Click here. Interested in studying meteorology? C […] “Connection Between Fall Weather and Bird Migrations”

    • Informative and germane to our changing ecological / climatological times, well done Dr. Haines and congratulations on the Ecological Applications article cited in this text.

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