Gannon University Names Vernaza Interim Dean of College of Engineering & Business

Posted: December 11, 2017

Karinna M. Vernaza, Ph.D., has been named interim Dean of the College of Engineering and Business at Gannon University, effective January 2. Vernaza had previously served as the College’s associate dean.

As interim Dean, Vernaza will lead the College — one of Gannon University’s three academic colleges, which also include the Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences and the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences — while the University conducts a national search to fill the position permanently.

“Karinna has shown strong leadership as associate dean,” said Vice President of Academic Affairs Walter Iwanenko, Jr., Ph.D. “We have confidence in her ability to support our students, faculty, and staff in the College of Engineering and Business.”

“I feel honored by the opportunity to serve the CEB students, faculty and staff in this role,” Vernaza said. “We will work together to continue to provide an engaging learning experience for our students.”

Vernaza joined Gannon University in 2003 as an assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering. She was awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor in 2009 and to full professor in 2014. Vernaza has authored more than 35 peer-reviewed publications centering on, high-strain deformation of materials, and engineering education; her primary teaching responsibilities have been in the areas of solid mechanics and materials. Recently, she has focused on systemic strategies for the retention and advancement of STEM faculty.  She is currently the Principal Investigator of a $1 million dollars National Science Foundation S-STEM award (2017-21) and she has secured over $2.5 million dollars in grants during her tenure at Gannon University. 

Beyond her service to Gannon, Vernaza is active in the Erie community, serving on the board of directors for The Nonprofit Partnership and as an Erie Ambassador. She volunteers through the Society of Women Engineers, as a mentor for young women in partnership with the Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania, and as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation and the American Society of Engineering Education.  She is serving a two-year term as the Chair of the American Society for Engineering Education North Central Section.