Archive for November, 2010


Tell Your Story in Widener’s Class Notes

November 24, 2010

Readers of Widener Magazine often cite Class Notes as a favorite section.   If you are an alumnus with news to report,  we want to hear from you. Tell us about new jobs, marriages, new children, and other noteworthy items.  Let us know who you are, where you are, and what you are doing.

And don’t forget to e-mail photos as well (please send larger, higher resolution images — they reprint better that way.)

The deadline to be included in the spring 2011 magazine due out in April is January 5.  You can submit your class notes and photos three ways:

1. Join or log onto the Widener Pride Network
2. Email Patty Votta at
3. Mail to the Office of Alumni Engagement, One University Place
Chester, PA 19013

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!  We hope to hear from you soon.  –Sam Starnes, Editor


Vietnam Documentary Featuring Pennsylvania Military College Graduate to Air This Week

November 22, 2010

Liss received the Distinguished Flying Cross for Valor in 1967

A documentary featuring 1963 Pennsylvania Military College graduate Larry Liss  will air at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Tuesday (Nov. 23) and 9 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 24) on the Smithsonian Channel.  “Helicopter Missions: Vietnam Firefight” will air again next month on the National Geographic Channel at 4 p.m., Sunday, December 19 (all times EST).

Liss, featured in the recent Widener Magazine Class Notes and on this blog in July, flew 650 missions in Vietnam and earned many commendations, including a Distinguished Flying Cross for Valor.  He is being reconsidered for a Congressional Medal of Honor, and a final packet supporting this effort was submitted in September.  For more information, visit his web site at


Widener Alumna’s Children’s Hats a Hit

November 18, 2010

Deborah Webster-Cornell grew up on the Jersey shore, dreaming of designing swimwear.  This goal led her to Widener University, where she majored in fine arts/fashion merchandising on the Delaware campus, graduating in 1988.

Although she never ventured into designing swimwear, she did get into the clothing business – making children’s hats.  She developed an interest in children’s clothing in 2003, and started her company called konjono in 2009.

“Konjono is pronounced ‘kon-jon-nu,’” said Webster-Cornell, a resident of Brunswick, Ga. “It is an Amharic word (the primary language in Ethiopia ) and means ‘it’s beautiful’.”

She said after adopting her youngest daughter, Charlotte, from Ethiopia, she fell in love with the Ethiopian culture and became captivated by the plight of the working women there. (She’s pictured here with Charlotte, 5, left, and Anna Grace, 7.)

“Soon after Charlotte arrived home, I struggled to find winter hats that had satin lining to not mess up her braids,” she said. “I started to try and add satin lining to hats in our closet but that was a bit of a disaster, so then I decided to start from scratch. That is how konjono was born.”

The hats are made in the U.S., with material produced in Lawrence, Mass., but Webster-Cornell hopes to one day make the hats in Ethiopia.   “It has long been my dream to figure out how to actually manufacture my hats there, and help in my small way to start change in this fascinating and endearing country that now I am so connected with,” she said.

The konjono line consists of fancy hats and school spirit hats.  She also recently launched a Chester, Pa. hat.  The colors – you guessed it – are yellow-gold and royal blue.

For more information and to find konjono hats, visit or


A Hole in the Ground No More — Widener University’s New Academic Building Rising

November 17, 2010

The fall issue of Widener Magazine features a photo I took on Aug. 19 of the construction of the New Academic Building.  From the third floor of Muller Hall, home of Admissions, the site was literally a deep hole in the ground.  Today, it is taller than Muller Hall, as you can see below from a photo taken moments ago from the same vantage point.  Click here for photos of today’s topping off event, and here to see a live web cam of the construction site.   — Sam Starnes, Editor


Helping Out A World Away: Widener-PMC Graduate Leading Peace Corps in Pacific Islands

November 16, 2010

A 1968 graduate of Penn Morton College (the civilian counterpart of Pennsylvania Military College, Widener’s predecessor), has been assigned to direct Peace Corps efforts in two Pacific island nations — the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau.

Renwick “Ren” Nelson, a retired Florida attorney and business manager for two financial services companies from 1975 to 1997, will oversee operations in the island nations. “Peace Corps country directors bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to their jobs,” Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams said. “They work tirelessly and compassionately to support the work of our volunteers in the field.”

Nelson has worked for the Peace Corps since May 2007.   In January 2009, the Peace Corps assigned him to Washington as the chief administrative officer for the Europe, Mediterranean and Asia (EMA) Region.  Earlier, Nelson and his wife, Brenda Drew, served as volunteers in Tonga from 2000 to 2002.

Nelson earned a B.S. in Engineering from Penn Morton College while serving in the Air Force.   “I was one of seven U.S. Air Force active duty personnel selected to attend Widener as part of the Air Force Airmen Education and Commissioning Program,” Nelson wrote in an e-mail.  “We were all married and lived off campus. My wife and I lived in Norwood, Pa., during my attendance.”

For more on Nelson, read the Peace Corps press release.  For a map of Micronesia and Palau, click here.


Kicking Off the Campaign for Widener University

November 15, 2010

Widener University has  launched “Taking the Lead – The Campaign for Widener,” a $58 million, seven-year fundraising initiative to strengthen the university’s growing national reputation as an institution committed to leadership education, civic engagement, global awareness and academic excellence.  “Widener University is entering a bold new era,” President James T. Harris III said. “Building on our strong traditions of the past, Widener is taking the lead by addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities that come with our rapidly changing world.”   For more details, visit



Veterans Day at Widener University

November 11, 2010

In commemoration of Veterans Day, Widener community members gathered in front of Old Main on Nov. 11, 2010, for the traditional Laying of the Wreath ceremony. Cadets with the U.S. Army ROTC Freedom Battalion — which include students from Widener, West Chester and Villanova universities, among others — also performed a 21 Gun Salute, a Lowering/Raising of the Colors, and a rendition of Taps.  Click here for a complete photo slideshow. (All photos by John Martins.)

Also, don’t forget that you can explore the library archives online anytime for records and news clippings about veterans from Pennsylvania Military College and Widener.