About Us

  • Strategy One Champions

    Elisa M. Konieczko, Ph.D., Department of Biology, Professor 

    Dr. Konieczko received her bachelor's degree in biology from Gannon University and a Ph.D. in anatomy and cell biology from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Currently, Dr. Konieczko is a Professor of Biology at Gannon University. She teaches Human Gross Anatomy lecture and lab, and currently serves as the Faculty Mentoring Coordinator. She received the 2007 Undergraduate Faculty Research Award, the 2012 Excellence in Undergraduate Advising Award and the 2017 Distinguished Faculty Award all from Gannon University. Dr. Konieczko has mentored over 35 undergraduate research students while at Gannon University. She served as Gannon University Faculty Senate vice president and president. In addition to serving on University committees, she is on the Public Information Committee of the American Association for Cell Biology (ASCB). Dr. Konieczko’s community involvement includes serving on the Board of Directors for the Erie, PA affiliate of Habitat for Humanity


    Theresa M. Vitolo, Ph.D., Department of Computer and Information Science, Associate Professor and Chair

    Dr. Vitolo received her doctorate from the Interdisciplinary Department of Information Science, University of Pittsburgh. Her undergraduate degree was in industrial engineering, also from the University of Pittsburgh. Currently, Dr. Vitolo is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer and Information Science at Gannon University. In addition to teaching courses in the graduate and undergraduate programs and serving on numerous University committees, she is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE). An avid crocheter, Dr. Vitolo offers the skill as a “blanketeer” to the local Project Linus effort. She is now retired from academic life and now enjoying a new chapter of her life.


    Strategy Two Champions

    Weslene Tallmadge, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry, Associate Professor and Chair

    Dr. Tallmadge received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Washington & Jefferson College and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Tallmadge is a Professor of the Department of Chemistry at Gannon University, and an Associate Mentoring Director at Gannon University. Dr. Tallmadge served as department chair for 11 years and interim associate dean of the college for two years. In addition to teaching courses and serving on numerous University committees, she is the chair of the Erie section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and serves as a member of the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety. Dr. Tallmadge was Gannon University’s 2016 Distinguished Faculty Award Recipient.


    Sreela Sasi, Ph.D., Department of Computer and Information Science, Professor

    Dr. Sasi received her B.S. in “Electronics and Communication Engineering” from University of Kerala, India, her M.S. in “Electrical Engineering” from University of Idaho, Idaho, USA, and her Ph.D. in “Computer Engineering” from Wayne State University, Michigan, USA. Dr. Sasi is a Professor in the Department of Computer and Information Science at Gannon University. She has more than 110 research publications in IEEE International Conferences, Journals, Edited books, etc. She has guided several Ph.D. and M.S. theses. She is a ‘Senior Member’ of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and a member of the honor society, Eta Kappa Nu.


    Strategy Three Champions

    Catherine Datte, MEd., Center for Teaching and Excellence, Director

    Catherine Datte, MEd. has been contributing to innovative solutions in education for over 20 years. Her career spans management, curriculum development, and instruction for university, community, and work-force education. Catherine’s strengths as a change agent helped organizations in process improvement and innovation incorporating technology. Managing Online faculty in a remote environment and building teams are two of her strengths – most recently supervising 1700+ professors in remote locations.

    Management strengths include supporting in-house and remote employees, team building through sound hiring practices, mentoring, and restructuring. Projects include curriculum redesign, job-analysis and department redesign, program and course assessment mapping and reporting, and new program research. Academic leadership and guidance involved 45+ programs maintaining academic rigor and accreditation expectations.

    Ms. Datte’s success stems from her ability building teams and empowering them to exceed desired achievements. In the virtual environment, she built learning communities, faculty networks, and peer-to-peer faculty training using LMS platforms. She holds a BS in Biology from Temple University and a Master’s in Education in Instructional Systems from Penn State University.

    Lori Lindley, Ph.D., Department of Psychology and Counseling, Associate Professor and Chair

    Dr. Lindley received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame and her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Iowa State University. She is currently the Associate Dean of the College of Humanities, Education, and Social Sciences, as well as an Associate Professor and Psychology Program Director in the Department of Psychology and Counseling at Gannon University. She serves on various university committees in additional to teaching courses in Psychology. She is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Vocational Behavior and the Journal of Career Assessment and active in the community, serving on the Board of Directors for the Crime Victim Center of Erie County.


    Karinna Vernaza, Ph.D., Department of Mechanical Engineering, Associate Professor

    Dr. Vernaza was born in Panama City, Panama. She attended the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and earned a Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering Systems. After graduating, she was employed as a Ship Manager in Braswell Shipyards in Panama. Dr. Vernaza was awarded a Project Latin America 2000 Graduate Fellowship by the Kellogg Institute, the Coca-Cola Company and the University of Notre Dame to perform graduate studies. She earned a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2001 and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 2003 from the University of Notre Dame. The title of her dissertation was “Thermal Measurements during High Speed Machining.” She is a Professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and current serves as the Associate Dean of the College of Engineering and Business.

    Dr. Vernaza is active in the community, is an Erie Ambassador, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Non Profit Partnership. She volunteers on the Society of Women Engineers National Outreach Committee, serves as a mentor for young women in partnership with the North West Pennsylvania Girls Scout Council, and serves as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program and the American Society of Engineering Education Conference. Additionally, she organizes several yearly outreach activities at Gannon University where students from local schools participate in various engineering hands-on activities. Dr. Vernaza was Gannon University’s 2013 Distinguished Faculty Award Recipient.


    External Evaluation

    Dr. Edith Gallagher served as an external evaluator for the award. Dr. Gallagher is a Research Associate in the Biology Department at Franklin and Marshall College and recipient of a NSF-ADVANCE Fellows award in 2004.

    Two external evaluations will be performed during the five-year period of the grant:

    • The first evaluation took place on May of 2013.  Positive preliminary results were available at this point.
    • The second evaluation took place during the last year of the grant, i.e. summer of 2016.

    Internal Evaluation

    Each strategy team conducted formative evaluations, striving for continuous improvement of the grant’s activities, throughout the five-year period of the grant. A balanced scorecard approach was employed to determine the overall success of the TRANSFORM program (Kaplan & Norton, 1996). Performance measures for each of the four program objectives were identified and  collected.

    Dr. Kliorys provided a copy of his yearly report to the Principal Investigator, and served as a liaison during the two visits of the external evaluator. The strategy teams provided Dr. Kliorys with the data from the formative evaluations yearly. He analyzed and correlated this data to the grant’s objectives, and made recommendations to the Steering Committee. In addition, Dr. Kliorys provided a copy of his yearly report to the external evaluator.