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Theater Program Strives to Unite Chester

July 24, 2014

By Khalil Williams ‘16

Widener is partnering up with arts and humanities organizations to raise the curtain on an exciting new program that uses theater techniques to bring the city of Chester together and solve problems on issues affecting it.

Widener is entering a partnership with the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, the city of Chester, and Chester Arts Alive! to launch a new and unique civic engagement program that seeks to influence problem solving and help rejuvenate the city.

A result of a $72,000 discovery grant given to the Pennsylvania Humanities Council by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, the initiative will feature nationally known theater artists Bob Leonard and Jon Catherwood-Ginn from Virginia Tech University, who will work with Chester Arts Alive! and Gas & Electric Arts. The project uses theater techniques, such as story circles and image theater, to drive conversations among city residents, youth, seniors, preservationists, business owners, artists, and Widener to expand community engagement.

The program adds on to the proposed Chester Cultural Corridor (C3) project, which spans a one-mile long city district from Widener to the Downtown district that seeks to bring people together through arts and humanities. The conversations held through this project will help guide decisions that will advance the Arts and Culture District with Deshong Park as the centerpiece for the Corridor.

While the project is new, theater isn’t unfamiliar with the Widener community. You might remember that Widener Magazine included a story in the spring 2014 issue about the University’s own student-run theaters: the Lone Brick Theatre Company and the FreshBaked Theatre Company. The story talks about the two companies and their recent plays.

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A conceptual image provided by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council that depicts the possibilities of the Chester Cultural Corridor project.

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Widener Archives Features Brandywine College

July 15, 2014
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Brandywine College’s 1984 Yearbook

By Khalil Williams ’16

The most recent issue of Widener Magazine features the story of alumnus Fred Maahs, director of national partnerships-community investment for the Comcast Corporation and chair of the American Association of People with Disabilities. He earned his associate’s degree at the Brandywine College campus in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1984.

He is one of more than 3,000 alumni to graduate from Brandywine College in its twenty-five year history. The school was opened in 1966 as Brandywine Junior College. Widener entered a merger with Brandywine in 1976. Brandywine graduated its final class in 1991 on the campus that is home to Widener Law’s Delaware Campus.

Now all alumni have the opportunity to view information specific to Brandywine College in the Digital Collections of the Widener University Archives. 

The exhibit, created by Jill Borin, an assistant archivist of the Wolfgram Memorial Library, features an abundance of documents from 1965 to 1991 including photographs, student handbooks, and The Valley yearbook.

Two Brandywine yearbooks – the 1985 and 1989 issues of The Valley – are unavailable at the time of this post.  If anyone has a copy of either issue, they are asked to contact Borin at jmborin@mail.widener.edu.

All Widener and Pennsylvania Military College yearbooks have been online in the Digital Collections since 2011.

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New Grocery Opens Near Widener Campus

July 8, 2014

??By Maria Klecko ’15

A new grocery store in walking distance of Widener’s campus opened its doors in June. Bottom Dollar Food, Chester’s first for-profit supermarket in the city since 2001, is located at 15th Street and Edgmont Avenue, next to the Widener Partnership Charter School. Widener and Crozer Chester Medical Center, formerly joint owners of the lot where the store is located, agreed to sell the 1.6-acre property to the developer last year to support plans to open the new store.

Bottom Dollar is the second new grocery store in Chester. For a dozen years, residents of the city had been without a grocery store and had few options for fresh and healthy food. That void was filled last September when Philabundance opened Fare and Square, a nonprofit grocery located on the 3100 block of West 9th Street. An award-winning story in the spring 2011 issue of Widener Magazine reported the efforts of a Center for Social Work Education program to create maps documenting the lack of food options in Chester — deemed a “food desert” by the USDA — and develop ways to fill those needs.

The Bottom Dollar’s close proximity to Widener also will mean easy accessibility for students living on or near campus. “Being able to take a walk to this market will be more convenient,” said Veronica Vasquez, a senior psychology major from Erdenheim, Pennsylvania.

Photo by Khalil Williams ’16

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Famous Faces Among Speakers Series Lineup

July 1, 2014
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Alan Alda as Hawkeye in the TV show M*A*S*H in 1975

By Khalil Williams ‘16

An actor famous for starring in a Korean War-themed TV show and a well-known film director will take the stage in  the 2014-2015 Philadelphia Speakers Series.

The series, held at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, plays host to a variety of guests and discussions on topics that affect our society. Many of the speakers are leading names in a variety of fields, including journalism, science, politics and education.

One of the upcoming speakers is actor Alan Alda of M*A*S*H fame. In addition to his acting career, which spans the course of 40 years, Alda founded the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science — a branch of Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism designed to educate students on communicating science to the public — and is a visiting professor there.  He will present at the Speakers Series 8 p.m. Monday, September 29.

Ken Burns — who will present November 10 — is known for making renowned documentaries, such as the Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn Bridge. He is currently working on a seven-episode series titled The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, scheduled for broadcast fall 2014.

Other upcoming speakers include Julia Gillard, Australian Prime Minister; Olympia Snowe, U.S. Senator; David Gergen, senior political analyst; David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian; and Dan Rather, broadcast journalist.

The 10th season, which concluded in May, was honored by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter who presented an official tribute recognizing Widener’s role in making the city culture livelier. The series traces its history to October 5, 2004, when former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger made an appearance at the event.

You can visit the Philadelphia Speakers Series page for more information, as well as to view the entire lineup and to get on the waiting list for tickets.

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Widener Gets Its Kicks Out of Soccer

June 19, 2014
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Widener is a sponsor of the Philadelphia Union, the area’s major league soccer franchise based in Chester. The university’s men’s and women’s soccer teams occasionally play games at PPL Park.

By Khalil Williams ’16

Soccer is the talk of town as the World Cup takes place in Brazil. The U.S. soccer team made the country beam with excitement as they scored their first win against Ghana.

Widener University also holds similar levels of enthusiasm toward the sport, hosting a bevy of soccer-related programs, games, and events.

Widener teamed up with the Philadelphia Union Foundation and the U.S. Soccer Foundation to create the Chester Upland Soccer for Success initiative, designed to give children in the Chester and Upland communities opportunities to develop positive life skills, as well as learn how to play soccer.  The program “helps keep interest in school based on the correlation between field to classroom,”  according to an article by Widener graduate Nicolina Givin ’14 on the Blue & Gold.

The program will host a Soccer for Success World Cup Watch Party for the match between the U.S. and Portugal at 6 p.m. Sunday, June 22.

In addition, North Star Sports and Talluto’s on Campus – two outfits that were organized by Widener students – also sponsor the program.  The Blue & Gold’s Autumn Heisler wrote about the collaboration between Soccer for Success and Talluto’s.

To learn more about Widener’s varsity soccer programs, visit the Athletics Department page at widenerpride.com.

 

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Join the Tradition of Widener-PMC Class Notes

June 16, 2014

expositor1In the most recent issue of Widener Magazine, I wrote about the long-running tradition of class notes in this institution’s publications. The earliest class note the Widener University Archives have on record is from an 1865 edition of the P.M.A. Daily Expositor, as the Pennsylvania Military Academy publication was known. Since then, thousands of class notes have been published in Widener Magazine, the PMC News, and other publications.

If you want to be a part of this collective story and send a class note for our fall 2014 issue, the deadline is Monday, June 23. You can submit your class notes and photos three ways:

1. Enter on the Widener Pride Network at alumni.widener.edu.
2. E-mail Patty Votta at pavotta@widener.edu
3. Mail to the Office of Alumni Engagement, Widener University, One University Place, Chester, PA 19013.

Whether you are class of 1934 or 2014, we’d like to hear from you.

And if you want to search for old class notes, visit the  Wolfgram Memorial Library Digital Collections at digitalwolfgram.widener.edu/cdm. There is a wealth of history there.

–Sam Starnes, Editor

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Widener Partnership Charter School Graduates to Receive Scholarships to Further Educations

June 10, 2014
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Widener Magazine’s fall 2006 cover

By Khalil Williams ’16

It’s always exciting to witness the dewy eyes of joyous parents as they watch their children graduate to the next level of their education. However, as parents of the inaugural class of the Widener Partnership Charter School ­(WPCS) – Pennsylvania’s first university-based charter school ­– sat down to watch their children graduate from the eighth grade last week, many probably couldn’t help but wonder how they would be able to financially secure an academic future for them.

It was a worrisome thought that was soon put to rest after announcements were made by Widener University President James T. Harris III and Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (BLOCS) Executive Director Bill O’Brien: All WPCS graduates will receive $100,000 undergraduate scholarships if they attend Widener, and 25 of the students will receive full-ride scholarships to Philadelphia-area Catholic high schools.

The school’s history traces back to 2006. A story covering the school was featured on the cover of the Autumn 2006 issue of Widener Magazine, which further explains the school’s beginnings. The graduation also received extensive news coverage, including a front-page article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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