Alvernia names inaugural deans to lead new four-college structure

Alvernia University has named Dr. Travis Berger (College of Business, Communication and Leadership), Dr. Elizabeth Matteo (College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences), Dr. Patricia Reger (College of Health Sciences) and Dr. Rodney Ridley (College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) as the inaugural deans that will lead the academic affairs for the university’s new four-college structure.

In November, the university announced the expanded four-college model to enhance scholarship and inter-departmental dialogue.

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“I am confident their collective leadership will allow us to successfully implement our new academic structure, enhance community among the academic departments and campuses and provide clearer pathways to meet our students’ needs” said Alvernia Senior Vice President and Provost Dr. Glynis Fitzgerald. “The entire Alvernia family joins me in a heartfelt congratulations for our longtime and new colleagues on their new and expanded responsibilities.”

Berger, Matteo and Ridley begin their posts immediately. In June, Reger will join the university when Alvernia trustee emeritus and health care pioneer Dr. Thomas. E. Beeman steps down from his post as the Interim Dean of the College of Health Sciences.

In addition, the university announced that Dr. Mary Ellen Wells, who has been championing faculty and student research through the O’Pake Institute, will expand her role to become the Executive Director of Academic Services, Research and Scholarship.

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“Dr. Wells’ work in overseeing the execution of the strategy within the academic experience pillar of the university’s strategic plan will integrate and innovate how research, scholarship, and experiential learning are delivered across a university primarily devoted to teaching,” said Fitzgerald.

Dr. Travis Berger: College of Business, Communication and Leadership

Before being named Dean of the College of Business, Communication, and Leadership, Berger served as the liaison for the college and co-chaired the Business Department. Dr. Berger’s current research explores the pragmatic intersection of leadership and organizational strategy, leadership and power, servant leadership, strategic talent management, and organizational high performers. His consulting work focuses on organizational strategy and helping organizations and executive teams create a common language around leadership. He holds a Ph.D. in Administration and Leadership Studies from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a master’s in Education from Alvernia University, and a bachelor’s degree from Penn State University. He was awarded the 23rd Annual IUP Doctoral Fellowship at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, received the master’s in Education Award of Excellence at Alvernia University, and graduated with distinction and Phi Beta Kappa from Penn State University.  He is a member of the Academy of Management, International Leadership Association, and the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance.

Dr. Elizabeth Matteo: College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences

Dr. Elizabeth Matteo will lead the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences after spending two years serving as interim dean for the former College of Arts and Sciences, and leading Alvernia’s Academic Support area and Title III Grant. Matteo joined Alvernia’s Psychology Department faculty in 2006. Her work broadly focuses on the transformative power of higher education. Her research has specifically examined how classroom and co-curricular experiences can shape leaders and social justice advocates. Matteo holds a Ph. D in Psychology from Lehigh University, where she also earned a Master of Science in Psychology and Master of Education in Human Development. She holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and fine arts from the University of Oregon and Binghamton University.

Dr. Patricia Reger: College of Health Sciences

Dr. Patricia Reger currently serves as the Dean of the College of Health and Sciences at Eastern University. Reger earned the dean position after many years of academic, clinical and administrative experience. She received a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Physical Therapy and a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from Temple University. She has been in higher education for over 18 years and joined Eastern in 2006. Her roles at Eastern University include professor of Exercise Science, Chair of the Department of Kinesiology, and the Director of the Exercise Science Program. Before joining Eastern, Dr. Reger was an Instructor in the Physical Therapy program at Temple University. Reger has presented and published research on the cardiovascular benefits of exercise with works including poster and platform presentations, original research in journals such as the Journal of Applied Physiology and the American Journal of Physiology, Heart and Circulatory Physiology, and the International Journal of Exercise Science.

Dr. Rodney Ridley: College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics

Dr. Rodney Ridley serves as the vice president of Research, Economic Development and Innovation & Dean, College of STEAM, and he will continue his exceptional work leading the O’Pake Institute. As the appointed leader of O’Pake, Ridley has more than 30 years of higher education experience and has held myriad positions from research assistant and engineering professor to his current role as executive director of The Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at Wilkes University. He also has served in numerous private sector engineering capacities, earned numerous awards, including the 2017 Pennsylvania Acceleration Educator of the Year and holds 27 U.S. patents. Ridley earned a doctorate in engineering science and mechanics and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Penn State University and a bachelor’s degree in physics from Lincoln University.

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