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Stop, You’re Embarrassing Us

Robert Morris University has been named to the 2014 Military Friendly Schools list by Victory Media, rating it among the top 20 percent of colleges and universities in the country that welcome military veterans. RMU has been recognized as a military friendly school since 2009.

The online bachelor’s program in psychology has been ranked in the top 20 nationally by TheBestSchools.org. The organization cited academics, student satisfaction, and opportunities for professional experience. Course offerings and return on investment were also factors in the selection process.

SuperScholar, an online education and career information website, has ranked Robert Morris University one of the 25 Best Online Colleges and Universities 2014. SuperScholar also ranked RMU No. 6 in its Top 10 Smart Choice Schools for Online Master’s Degrees 2013. RMU also earned Top 25 rankings from AccreditedOnlineColleges.com for several of its online degree programs.

Savoring Student Engagement

Public relations students volunteered in October at Savoring Sewickley, a major fundraising event for the Sewickley Public Library coordinated by the Friends of the Sewickley Public Library. Local food establishments served delicacies during the event, which raised more than $20,000.

The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators named RMU to the Lead Initiative on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement, a network of 73 colleges and universities dedicated to civic engagement. The association will provide resources to support and publicize civic engagement initiatives for the university.

The National Fraternity of Kappa Delta Rho presented its George E. Kimball Award for outstanding community service to the Eta Alpha chapter at RMU. The award is given to the chapter that demonstrates the strongest and most consistent commitment to community service over the previous academic year.

Expanding Access to Care

The School of Nursing and Health Sciences has received a $923,000 grant to educate family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners who can care for patients of all ages with chronic mental health conditions. The grant, from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, will expand the university’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program for psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, who are authorized to prescribe medications and provide psychotherapy. Grant funds also will be used to purchase distance-learning technology to reach students in rural areas.

The School of Nursing and Health Sciences is one of only 72 nursing schools nationwide to offer a specialty in child/adolescent or family mental health. The grant aims for RMU to expand enrollment in that program from 23 students at present to 72 by 2016.

Ten Years and Growing

Colonial Theatre celebrated the 10th anniversary of its rebirth at Robert Morris during Homecoming with a special concert version of “Rent,” the show that made a name for Colonial Theatre in 2010 when RMU’s production of the Tony Award-winning musical was one of eight finalists in the Kennedy Center College Theater Festival for the Mid-Atlantic region. The anniversary production featured alumni who participated in the original show along with current students.

Eight students in the RMU History Club volunteered at the I’ve Got Your Six 6K and Memorial Mile Race in Pittsburgh, raising more than $3,000 for homeless veterans.

The BEST Club (Bridging Education, Service and Teaching), RMU’s student arm of the Council for Exceptional Children, raised $500 at the Walk Now for Autism Speaks event. The club also sponsored a summer car show fundraiser on campus that raised $2,000 for the Down Syndrome Association of Pittsburgh.

High School Junior, College Freshman?

RMU professors are teaching college courses at local high schools to qualified students under the First Semester College in High School Program. The program is the brainchild of Vice Provost Lawrence Tomei, Ed.D., and was launched at Moon Area and Montour high schools in the fall, with South Fayette and West Allegheny expected to start in the spring.

Students selected for the program take one introductorylevel class each semester, including the summer, in their junior and senior years. Robert Morris gives a 70 percent tuition discount, saving those who take all five courses more than $8,000. The courses — communication skills, mathematics, psychology, sociology, and environmental science — are designed to transfer easily to another institution should the students choose not to enroll at RMU.

The Winners Are

The department of computer and information systems won the Outstanding Research Achievement Award at the Conference for the International Association for Computer Information Systems in recognition of exceptional university research and scholarly contributions. Professors Paul Kovacs, Ph.D., John Scarpino, D.Sc., and Wenli Wang, Ph.D., received an honorable mention in pedagogy for their journal article “A Framework for an Interactive Web-based Application Course.”

At the Biennial Conference of the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States, the Rufus Z. Smith Prize for best paper went to Soren Fanning, Ph.D., assistant professor of history, for “Forging a Frontier: Social Capital and Canada’s Mounted Police, 1867-1914.”

Beth Dolinar Kusbit and Gina Catanzarite-Shapiro, adjunct professors in the School of Communications and Information Systems, were among the producers sharing a Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award for “Hunger: Our Hidden Crisis,” which aired on WQED-TV. Dolinar Kusbit also won for producing and writing “Rose’s Garden,” a halfhour documentary for WQED about an artist who fills abandoned lots with plants and art dealing with the topic of mental illness.

Research Report

The industrial boom around Marcellus Shale has prompted calls for a switch to cars that run on natural gas, both to boost the local economy and cut dependence on foreign oil. But with only five natural gas fueling stations in the entire Pittsburgh region, drivers would have a hard time filling up.

Three professors in the School of Engineering, Mathematics, and Science have developed a mathematical model that determines the best locations for natural gas fueling stations in Pittsburgh. The paper, by Tony Kerzmann, Ph.D., assistant professor of mechanical engineering; Gavin Buxton, associate professor of physics; and Jonathan Preisser, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics, is in the journal Sustainable Energy Technology and Assessments. The authors note that natural gas vehicles are used far more extensively outside the United States, and that they benefit the environment because they create less pollution.

The Newest Rising Star

Gregory Dell’Omo, Ph.D., presented the 2013 Rising Star Award to Gabriella Gasparich. The award is given to a graduating senior who demonstrates academic success, individuality, determination, passion, and potential in her field of study. Gasparich is an honors student and communications major focusing on public relations, who plans to work in international public relations. She has interned with Chemistry Communications, Ten Thousand Villages Pittsburgh, Forum-Nexus Study Abroad, and Dimension X Advertising and Marketing, and is a Colonial Ambassador and member of Delta Phi Epsilon. Gasparich also has volunteered for Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Last but not least, she was crowned Homecoming Queen this fall.

Click here to see Gasparich’s acceptance speech.

This Program Has Unexpectedly Shut Down

The National Science Foundation has awarded RMU a $186,000 grant to develop learning modules and course materials to help software students and practitioners develop reliable computer programs. Sushil Acharya, Dr.Eng., an associate professor of software engineering, will direct the grant along with Peter Wu, Ph.D., associate professor of computer and information systems, and Priyadarshan Manohar, Ph.D., associate professor of engineering. Working with colleagues in the mathematics and English departments, as well as four industry partners and seven other educational institutions, the RMU faculty plan to develop and test a standardized set of materials for software validation and verification. (Read more on page 22.)

New Appointments

Valerie M. Howard, Ed.D., has been named acting dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. Howard is former assistant dean for external affairs of the nursing school, director of development for the school, and director of the Regional Research and Innovation in Simulation Education (RISE) Center. She has helped to raise more than $6 million for the school, including funds for construction of a new building. The school’s founding dean, Lynda Davidson, Ph.D., has decided to return to the faculty.

Lois D. Bryan, D.Sc., has been named senior associate dean for academic excellence for the School of Business. In this newly created position, Bryan will be responsible for issues pertaining to the school’s AACSBInternational accreditation, graduate programs, and faculty promotion, research, merit, and development.

Actuary News

The North American Actuarial Journal accepted a paper co-authored by Chris Groendyke, Ph.D., an assistant professor of actuarial science, titled “Model Selection and Averaging in Financial Risk Management.” Written with Brian M. Hartman of the University of Connecticut, the paper tests a more accurate predictive model for simulated asset returns.