Archive for the ‘Widener Breaking News’ Category


Widener English Professor Who Developed Prison Writing Anthology to Read at Media Arts Center

January 13, 2015

ContactSheet-026If you enjoyed Jayne Thompson’s article “Writing Wrongs, Mentoring Youth, Redeeming Souls” in the most recent Widener Magazine, you should  come hear her read as part of the State Street Reading Series on Thursday night in Media, Pa.

Thompson, a senior lecturer in the English Department, and Widener student Emily Defreitas co-edited Letters to My Younger Self: An Anthology of Writings by Incarcerated Men at S.C.I. Graterford and a Writing Workbook. The anthology of inmate writing was released last year, and received significant news coverage in the area.  She also recently was profiled by Widener sophomore Ashley DiRienzo on the Blue & Gold, Widener University’s Student Media Site.

Thompson will read at 7 p.m. Thursday night, January 15, and will be joined by Lise Funderburg, a Philadelphia-based writer who is the author of Pig Candy: Taking My Father South, Taking My Father Home. The State Street Reading Series is sponsored by Widener and the Media Arts Council, and is held every other month at the Media Arts Center Gallery, 609 W. State St., in Media. Thompson plans to read an essay about the anthology, as well as excerpts of the work published by the men. Admission is free and reservations are not required.


A Widener Magazine about Chester

December 18, 2014

In addition to my duties as editor of Widener Magazine, I often teach courses for the university. Last spring I taught five very talented students in a Magazine Journalism course who produced content for the inaugural issue of a magazine about Widener’s home city. Three more students assisted in copy editing and design over the summer and into the fall, and last month the first issue of Chester magazine was published.

One of the students from the class, Khalil Williams ’16, a communication studies student from Chester, was honored for his contributions by Chester Mayor John Linder (a 1976 Widener alumnus) with the Mayor’s Recognition Award at a recent City Council meeting.

Although print copies are limited, the magazine can be found online. You also can read more about it in a feature on Widener’s web site that allows you to watch three of the students and me in an appearance on the “Live from the Newsroom” show hosted by Delaware County Times Daily News Editor Phil Herron.

— Sam Starnes, Editor



Widener Helps Commemorate Internet Milestone

August 5, 2014
Drew photo

Widener sophomore Drew Phillipes (right) takes a selfie with panelist Jeff Jarvis, founder of BuzzMachine. (Photo by Emma Litwiller ’15.)

By Maria Klecko ’15

Members of the Widener community recently gathered with leading national journalists in New York to commemorate and evaluate a quarter century of the Internet and online news.

The university co-sponsored the event “Journalism and the Web@25: Lessons in Disruption, Evolution and Endurance” hosted by the Poynter Institute at the Ford Foundation. Industry professionals from advertising, technology, and communication fields attended, interacting with one another and hearing about the impact of the Web on journalism.

A select group of Widener students were invited to help facilitate the event, registering guests and ushering them to the venue. Faculty members from the university also attended.

Dr. Amy Franzini, chairperson and associate professor of communication studies, gave opening remarks expressing Widener’s support of Poynter’s mission to connect journalists across the globe and gratitude for the opportunity to be involved in the discussion.

Poynter Institute President Tim Franklin moderated while a panel of journalists and media executives participated in a lively discussion, reflecting on how journalism has changed since the invention of the Web and speculating the future of digital media. They also shared personal experiences and lessons learned from digital journalism.

Panelists included Rob King, senior vice president of ESPN; Brian Stelter, senior media correspondent for CNN Worldwide and host of the network’s “Reliable Sources”; Melissa Bell, co-founder and executive editor of; Kathleen Carroll, executive editor and senior vice president of the Associated Press; and Jeff Jarvis, founder of and professor and director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Prior to the event, several Widener faculty members wrote opinion pieces for the Poynter website Press Room page on the impact of the web on several fields including privacy, mental health, and the gathering and dissemination of news. Authors included Franzini, Angie Corbo, assistant professor of communication studies; Dwight DeWerth-Pallmeyer, associate professor of communication studies; Sanjay Nath, director of the Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology; and Robert Power, professor of law.

To learn more about the event, read an article from Poynter highlighting its key discussion points.


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.


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


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


Famous Faces Among Speakers Series Lineup

July 1, 2014

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.


Widener Gets Its Kicks Out of Soccer

June 19, 2014

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