Alumni News

Peter Fedoryk, '18, was awarded a yearlong residential fellowship at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site to conduct research on the site and the artist., Peter was a History major and Art History minor. He wrote to say that “I'm very excited to pursue this new opportunity and I feel like the History Department as a whole has done an impeccable job of preparing me to take on bigger challenges in the fields of history and art history.”

Peter writes: The Cole Fellowship is sponsored by the Thomas Cole National Historic Site (TCNHS) and offered as a yearlong post-baccalaureate opportunity to pursue art historical research that is relevant to the artist and the site. Thomas Cole was a nineteenth century American landscape painter—credited today as the founder of the Hudson River School art movement. The TCNHS is a house museum and grounds located on the property where the painter lived and worked from 1836 to 1848. The Fellowship Program is designed to provide experience to recent undergraduates who are looking to pursue a career in art history and the museum field. Fellows will work with curatorial, exhibitions, education, and other departmental staff throughout the course of the year to develop a breadth of knowledge about the workings of a museum site and the role of each department.

In addition helping with day-to-day functions of the site, the bulk of the Fellows' work consists of a primary research project. For the next year I will specifically be researching the broader experience of Thomas Cole in America, aiming to contextualize his social, political, religious, and economic views in the wider scope of Catskill, NY and the happenings in America. This project aims to develop the complex story of Cole's inner monologue as he paints his way into the annals of American art history and determine how this story can best be presented at the TCNHS. This body of research will serve as foundational research for future reinterpretations of how Thomas Cole's story is told through the house museum. Following this yearlong position, I hope to attend graduate school for an art history/curatorial degree.

Katie Boyce, ’17, has been admitted to the PhD program at the College of William and Mary with full funding. Congratulations, Katie!

Update on John Brennan

John has been selected as one of 12 FEMA Corps team leaders at the Iowa AmeriCorps campus for next year. John had previously worked responding to natural disasters in Houston, Florida, and most recently, Puerto Rico (see post below for details). Way to go, John!

John Brennan '17, is a member of FEMA Corps (Federal Emergency Management Agency), an organization within AmeriCorps that is devoted to disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. In 2017, he was in Corpus Christi, Texas  conducting Disaster Survivor Assistance, registering survivors for FEMA assistance and providing updates on their application status. At times he walked door-to-door to reach people who weren't able to travel to established FEMA disaster recovery centers. His team, along with 9 other FEMA Corps teams, lived on the USS Lexington, now a museum ship docked in Corpus Christi Harbor, for the month of September 2017. His team was one of the first to be assigned to Rockport, Texas  where Hurricane Harvey made landfall. On October 1, 2017, his team was sent to St. Augustine, Florida to continue canvassing in support of recovery for Hurricane Irma. Thank you for your service, John!

Michael LaFlash '15 enrolled in Cornell's Historic Preservation M.A. Program that began in the fall of 2017. Congrats, Michael!

Devlin Woods '15 was accepted to Georgetown University Law School and began his studies there in the Fall of 2017. Devlin had been working as a Corporate Paralegal for Lantham and Waltkins since January 2016. Congrats, Devlin!  

Michael Seyer, '12, who is pursuing a concentration in Russian Area Studies, was accepted at the International MA program in Russian and Eurasian Studies (IMARES) at European University in St. Petersburg, Russia. This is a joint program with the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. In addition, Mike received an ACTR (American Council of Teachers of Russian) stipend to master Russian language.

Matthew Thorp '15 received a full scholarship from the Critical Languages Institute to study Tatar language in Kazan, Russia. Matt was an engineering student who spent a year at the Kazan State University.

Gavin Wilk, '00, received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Limerick, Ireland in January 2012. His dissertation title is “Displaced allegiance: militant Irish republican activism in the United States, 1923-39.” During his Ph.D. studies, Gavin was an Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences Government of Ireland Postgraduate scholar (2008-11). Dr. Wilk visited Villanova on February 20, 2012 and spoke about his use of the McGarrity collection in Falvey Library and his research on IRA activities in the Philadelphia area during the early 20th century. The title of Dr Wilk’s presentation was: 'Resolute revolutionaries: Joseph McGarrity and the militant Irish republican networks in the United States, 1922-1940.'

Three former Villanova graduate students wrote articles (under Dr. Judith Geisberg) for the October 2011 edition of the journal, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. CXXXV, No. 4. This was a special issue commemorating the sesquicentennial of the start of the American Civil War. Colleen Rafferty (M.A. 2006), wrote "The Records of Camp William Penn"; Dane DiFebo (M.A. 2011) wrote, "Old Baldy: A Horse’s Tale"; and Emily Hatcher wrote, "The Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society and the Civil War."

At the Pennsylvania Historical Association annual meeting this year, held at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA, Kelly Weber, ‘06, Dana Kellogg-Repash, ‘10, and Brian Taylor, ‘10 presented their research in a session titled, “In Pursuit of Freedom: African American Court and Prison Stories in Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia.”

Kevin Ostlie, ’10, was accepted into the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. Good Luck, Kevin.

Timothy Johnson, '09, received a bachelor's degree is History, wrote his senior paper on “The British in Philadelphia: The Mid-Eighteenth Century Colonial Experience.” His opinion piece, "Unaltered beauty tells story best," appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Johnson is a graduate student in the University of Pennsylvania's History Department.

Allison Nolan, ‘09, has obtained a job as a paralegal at Seeger Weiss LLP. Seeger Weiss is a relatively small firm that handles mostly mass tort cases against pharmaceutical companies.

Jeffrey S. Addis, ’08, is teaching history at the Woodhall School, a small boarding school located in western Connecticut. He has taught ninth-grade global history, eleventh-grade American history, and a senior elective on the Cold War.

After spending part of the summer in England and Scotland with a Villanova Summer Research Grant, James Dudley, '08, presented his paper, "Brittania Ruled the Waves: The Royal Navy and the War Against Napoleon," at the 2008 Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference at Ursinus College on April 5, 2008, and at the 22nd National Conference on Undergraduate Research at Salisbury University on April 10-12, 2008. In May, James graduated from Villanova with a double major in history and political science and a minor in naval science, and he was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.

Eric Webber, '07 is a sales planner for CBS College Sports.

Susan Brandt, ’03, a nurse by training and profession, returned to Villanova in 2001 as an undergraduate to take credits she lacked in history to prepare for graduate school. In her first spring semester here, she began work on the African American women who worked as nurses under Richard Allen during the 1793 yellow fever epidemic. Her further work on this project awarded her the Procko prize for best undergraduate paper that year. With her last child going off to college in the fall, Susan headed for fulltime Ph.D. work at Temple University, where she received a Presidential Fellowship. She pursued her doctorate working with Susan Klepp, an expert in early America, gender, and medicine and health. The fellowship brought full tuition funding, a stipend for four years, and two years of teaching opportunities. Susan was also waitlisted at Penn, a remarkable achievement in itself, given the 500 applications for 17 positions. Congratulations, Susan!

George Phillips, '98, who earned a bachelor's degree in History, launched a bid for a U.S. Congressional seat in Binghamton, N.Y. In his senior year at Villanova, George won the Procko Prize for his outstanding work researching Civil Rights legislation in the 1960’s.

Liz Barszczewski, '95, returned to the National Constitution Center to help plan and promote the April 16 Democrat Candidate Presidential Debate. Liz served as Public Relations Director for the National Constitution Center from 2001-2004 and spearheaded its PR and media relations campaign leading up to and including the Center's grand opening on July 4, 2003.

Anthony Giacchino, '92, has directed the documentary film, The Camden 28. Winner of jury and audience prizes for best documentary at the Philadelphia Film Festival, the film explores the arrest and trial of the Camden 28, a group of antiwar activists seized following their August 1971 attempt to destroy draft documents in the Camden, NJ federal building. For more information, please visit the Camden 28 website.

Steven Runk, '85, who received a bachelor's degree in Art History, was named the new executive director of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The Council selected him as its new executive director at a special meeting in Trenton. Runk had served as interim executive director of the state agency since September, when former head David Miller retired. Steve joined the arts council in 1991 as assistant director of information services. In his 16 years on staff, he rose through the ranks, serving as grants coordinator and program coordinator before becoming director of programs and services, a position he has held since 1996. A graduate of Villanova University, Runk resides in Langhorne, PA. Herbert said the search committee began with 40 candidates. Eight were interviewed and three finalists were selected to interview a second time.

Marc S. Raspanti, Esq., '79, founding partner of the Philadelphia law firm of Miller, Alfano & Raspanti, was appointed to the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing by former Governor Edward G. Rendell.


Temple University offered Justin Clark, ‘12, four years of funding toward his Ph.D. Congratulations, Justin!

Note from Delaware County Community College: Three of the four full-time history faculty hold graduate degrees from Villanova – Anthony Makowski, Kevin Cahill and Jeff LaMonica.

Christopher McGovern, (History M.A. program) had his paper titled, "The Hand and the Hammer: Henry Clay / John C Calhoun and the War of 1812," accepted to the 15th Annual, Brian Bertoti Innovative Perspectives in History, Graduate Conference. The conference was held at the Virginia Tech Graduate Life Center in Blacksburg, Virginia from April 13-14, 2012.

Beth Petitjean, '10, had an abstract accepted for the Southwest/Texas Popular Culture Association. Her paper was titled, "Atlantis on our minds: Through the Stargate and Under the Sea to Find a Lost World." The conference was held in Albuquerque, NM in February 2010. Another abstract submitted by Beth to the 8th Annual International Conference on History, From Ancient to Modern, was accepted for their conference. Beth’s abstract, titled “Reforming Rome’s Relics,” will be presented at the Athens Institute for Education and Research in Athens, Greece in December 2010. Congratulations, Beth!

Brian Taylor, '10, graduate of our M.A. program, has accepted a History Department Fellowship/Teaching Assistantship from Georgetown University for doctoral studies. He intends to study 18th and 19th century American history, concentrating specifically on antebellum sectional conflicts, the American Civil War, and issues of race and slavery.

Kelly Weber, '10, served as a judge for National History Day in Philadelphia, March 2009.

Margaret Ciancio, ‘10, has been hired as an adjunct professor with Atlantic Cape Community College. She will be teaching three classes, U.S. History I and II and Heritage of the Western World. Good Luck, Margaret!

Elliott Drago, ’09, was accepted to the Gilder Lehrman Summer Seminar at Gettysburg college.

John Gilbert, '09, had his paper titled, "Jimmy Carter's Human Rights Policy and Iran: a Re-examination, 1976-1979," was chosen to be published in the 2008 issue of Concept, the graduate student journal at Villanova.

While still in our undergraduate history program, David Heayn’s '09, independent research project, "Nessana: Early Religious Borders in a Lost Kingdom," was accepted for an oral presentation at the 21st National Conference on Undergraduate Research at Dominican University of California on April 12 - 14, 2007. David received a Villanova Undergraduate Student Research Award for the project in 2006, and joined our M.A. program during summer '07. David has also been awarded scholarships from four Ph.D. institutions, including the double honor of a graduate assistantship and a scholarship award from the University of Connecticut. He attended and presented at several conferences in March and April this year, including the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Conference at Villanova University and the Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference at Millersville University.

Michael Chornesky’s '08, "Visceral History: Interpreting Independence National Historical Park," was published in the Hindsight Graduate History Journal, by the history department of California State University-Fresno. The Journal was unveiled at a conference called "Discourse and History," which featured a number of graduate student presentations along with a keynote address by a UCLA professor. Michael’s paper, which connects interpretations at the park to underlying historiographic trends, including Robert Bellah's concept of "Civil Religion" and the shift from "consensus" to "social" forms of American history was published in the 2008, Concept Journal at Villanova.

Abbie Gruseth, ’08, is teaching Western Civ part time at Augustana College in her hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

September 17th, 2013 was the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. In honor of this, the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, published a new essay on “Constitution Commemorations,” by Hillary S. Kativa, M.A. ’08. Hillary’s research interests include American political history and presidential campaigns, public history, and digital humanities. See the entire essay.

Hillary Kativa, ‘08 and Lance Eisenhower, ’08, presented the results of work on the Eastern Penitentiary Catholic Chaplain's office at the Pennsylvania Historical Association annual meeting in Bethlehem, October 16-18, 2008. Their help restoring the Chaplain's office was part of the department's Public History Practicum in Spring 2007 conducted by Dr. Charlene Mires.

Peter Novick, ’08 was accepted into the Ph.D. program at FSU.

Christopher Day, ’07, returned to his undergraduate university, Hawai’i Pacific, in Honolulu following his Villanova graduation and was hired as the Leadership Development Coordinator in Student Life, which included managing over 70 student-run organizations. As of August 2008, Chris relocated to the Office of Athletics as the Campus Recreation Coordinator. His new responsibilities include management of all the athletic facilities and developing and implementing campus recreation activities and Intramural Sports. As of spring ‘09 Chris enrolled in HPU’s Global Leadership and Sustainable Development program in preparation for his doctoral studies in either history or philosophy.

Rachel Wineman, ’07, was admitted to four Ph.D. programs – the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Maryland, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and UC San Diego. She has accepted the UC San Diego offer because of their excellent science studies program and the San Diego/Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship award. This award includes a five-year funding package that covers tuition and fees including a stipend for the first two years, a TA for the third and fourth year, and funding for her dissertation research year. Congratulations, Rachel!

Debra Ronca, '07, presented "The Revolutionary Structure of the Lutheran Reformation" at the New Frontiers Conference in Toronto on February 14, 2007. This conference paper began as a term paper in Dr. McLaughlin's Reformation course.

Skye Lynch, '07, received a full Fellowship for Ph.D. studies at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Chris Parcels, '07, was accepted into the Ph.D. programs at UMASS Amherst (with full funding), the University of Maryland, College Park, Temple and Fordham. Chris chose UMASS Amherst.

David Goldberg, '07 won the prize for the best paper presented at a graduate student conference he attended at Penn State University. David's paper is titled "Greetings from Jim Crow, New Jersey: Contesting the Meaning and Abandonment of Reconstruction in the Public and Commercial Spaces of Asbury Park, 1880-1890." The conference, held on Feb. 9 at the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center at Penn State, was on "New Perspectives on the Civil War Era: Beyond Fragmented History."

James Woytek, ‘07 was accepted into the doctoral program at the University of Delaware with full funding.

Articles by three history graduate students, Elizabeth Crowley, Alexandra Mancini, and David Goldberg, were published in the Spring 2007 issue of Concept, whose editor was Dr. Marc Gallicchio, Professor of History and Chair of the Department.

Under the guidance of Dr. Charlene Mires, four Villanova University graduate students pursued year-long study in public history and produced major original research papers on two local historic sites: Valley Forge National Park, John Andrew Maynard, and Eastern State Penitentiary, Michael Chornesky, Hillary Kativa, and Lance Eisenhower. The students presented their papers at special conferences at each site in May, 2007. The student research at Eastern State Penitentiary was devoted to reconstructing and interpreting the previously known history of the Catholic Chaplain’s Office and Catholic religious life at the prison.

Douglas Fowler, ’06, recently accepted an AmeriCorps VISTA position working for Habitat for Humanity along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Doug is excited about this opportunity, as there is still much to be done in the region as they continue to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina. His main job will be with the "pre-construction" process, to get the land ready and permitted to be built upon. Then on the weekends Doug will be helping with the actual building. Congratulations to you, Doug.

Colleen Rafferty, ‘06, accepted an offer of full funding by the doctoral program at the University of Delaware. She was also accepted by SUNY Albany with full funding.

David Craig Smith, ’06, passed his Ph.D. comps and retains the status of ABD in the Transatlantic History program at the University of Texas at Arlington. David will also retain his position as Director of Advancement Services with the University of Dallas.

Alyson Barrett-Ryan, ‘04, is currently working for the New-York Historical Society’s Gilder Lehrman Collection of American History. This collection houses roughly 70,000 original documents from all areas of American history, with special strengths in the Revolutionary and Founding Eras, slavery and abolition, and the Civil War. There are big-name documents in the collection -- Washington, Lincoln, etc.-- and virtually untouched sources of soldiers collections, diaries, and photographs from the Civil War. Many of the materials are digitized, and she can assist anyone who is interested with searching the collection and obtaining images, transcripts, and general research support. Alyson is also currently working toward a Master's degree in Library Science at the Pratt Institute.

Sean Brennan, ‘03, published his first book, The Politics of Religion in Soviet Occupied Germany: The Case of Berlin-Brandenburg 1945-1949. The book was published by Lexington Books, part of Rowman and Littlefield.

Darin Lenz, '03, is completing his Ph.D. at Kansas State University, with a dissertation on George Muller, a 19th century British evangelical who ran a very large orphanage in Bristol, England. The dissertation is titled “Strengthening the Faith of the Children of God”: Pietism, Print, and Prayer in the Making of a World Evangelical Hero, George Müller of Bristol (1805-1898). Darin has recently published an article, “‘Visions on the Battlefields’: Alexander A. Boddy, Early British Pentecostalism, and the First World War, 1914-1918,” in the Journal of Religious History (32, no. 3) (September 2008): 281-302. He is currently Assistant Professor of History at Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, where he teaches courses in his specialties, the history of modern Christianity and modern Britain, as well as Western Civilization.

Sean Brennan, ’03, received the Nanovic Dissertation Fellowship from the University of Notre Dame.

Paul Bartels, ’02, is now a member of the History of Education Quarterly Book Review staff.

Cathleen Nista Rauterkus, Ph.D., '01, has written a book entitled Go Get Mother’s Picket Sign, published by UP of America. Cathy wrote an original research paper as an M.A. student in Dr. Winer’s two-semester (women and gender) historiography class on the topic of American suffragists as wives and mothers and the material culture generated to argue that the vote would hinder them in these roles and vice versa. Congratulations, Cathy, on this accomplishment -- Dr. Winer is very proud!

Jennifer Riley, '01, graduated from Temple University Beasley School of Law in May 2009.

Gavin Wilk, ‘00, was awarded a postgraduate scholarship from the Irish Research Council for the Humanities & Social Sciences. He attended the University of Limerick, where his Ph.D. research focused on Irish Republican Activism in the United States from 1922 to 1939.

Kevin Switaj, ‘99, completed his Ph.D. in British History from Indiana University in May 2009, with his dissertation titled, "Power in Forgetting: Memory and the Slave Trade in Victorian Britain." He was married on April 25 to Allison Powell-Switaj, who received her Bachelor's in History from Villanova in 2002. Congratulations Kevin and Allison!

Maria T. Williams, '99, was accepted into the doctorate program at Lehigh University. Her dissertation topic is “Reverend James Bevel and the Children's Crusade.”

After receiving an M.A. in History, Araceli Duque, ’98, returned to her native Spain where she joined the convent in 2005. There are presently twenty nuns in her house, and the order now travels to Poland and Mexico giving retreats and teaching spiritual exercises. Araceli is currently a Ph.D. candidate of European Studies at the University Institute Ortega y Gasset, Madrid, Spain, and her main research interests are modern European intellectual history, history of ideas, philosophy, and Russian literature and history. A recent article, “The Vision of Christopher Dawson,” was published by the Catholic Educator's Resource Center (July 2004).

Robert F. Smith, Ph.D., '98, earned a Ph.D. in history from Lehigh University in September 2008. He recently was appointed Assistant Dean for Humanities and Social Sciences at Northampton Community College, and he and his wife welcomed their first child, Samuel, during the summer of 2009.

Congratulations to the new Dr. Shawn Lynch, ’97, who successfully defended his dissertation in history at Boston College on November 28. His dissertation is entitled "'In Defense of True Americanism': The Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and Radical Free Speech, 1915-1945."

Andrew Marcroft, '96, who earned a master's degree in history, has been named assistant director of admissions and coordinator of international students at Montgomery County Community College.

Fran Ryan, ’95, currently teaching at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA, was awarded the Lindback teaching award.

Brian Katulis, ‘94, has co-authored his first book, The Prosperity Agenda: What the World Wants from America--and What We Need in Return, with former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nancy Soderberg.

Dr. Michael Smith, ’94 graduate of our M.A. program and Indiana University Ph.D., has co-edited Citizenship Across the Curriculum, published by Indiana University Press, April 2010. In addition to being a feather in the cap of one of our distinguished alumni, the book provides insight into ways of revising and improving college-level teaching.

Jeff Hartman, ’89, his wife Maria (B.A. Honors/English) and their five children spent two years in Tashkent, Uzbekistan where Jeff served as the Defense Attache at the U.S. Embassy from June 2007 to July 2009. Jeff was promoted to colonel in March 2010 and then in June earned an M.S. in National Security Strategy from the National War College, Washington D.C. In 2011 Jeff and his family will move to Tbilisi, Georgia where he will serve as the Senior Defense Officer and Defense Attache.