Giving Stories

Our donors know first-hand the impact that the University brings to the lives of students, our community and the region. Their individual reasons for giving vary, but they all share a commitment to ensuring that the next generation of Wilkes students share great opportunities to grow and discover.

Carolann Gusgekofski Besler '76
"The new science center is a major breakthrough for a small university. It will allow Wilkes to attract accomplished, high-level professors as well as the best and brightest students. Attracting excellent students raises the bar for everyone at Wilkes--not just science majors. The amount and kind of research that students can be involved in with a facility of this kind has limitless potential." 
 - Carolann Gusgekofski Besler received her education degree from Wilkes and resides with her husband Phil '76 in Loveladies, NJ.

Eric Pape O.D. ’04
“Wilkes gave me the education and life skills that I needed in order to succeed beyond my time there. As a recent alumnus, I decided to contribute to the campaign because I believe the science curriculum and faculty are second to none. When you give, you're helping improve your alma mater as well as current students.” 
Dr. Pape is an optometrist with HealthDrive Medical Practices who resides in Astoria, New York

Connor Zale '15
"The new science building will add laboratory space for research projects that many students must conduct, such as the work I'm doing in Dr. Kadlec's genetics lab. I greatly appreciate all of the generous contributions from donors and hope that they will be pleased with its usage for future research."
Connor Zale '15 is a sophomore biology major from Clarks Summit, PA. Connor is the recipient of the 2012 Alumni Association Scholarship and plans to enter the health care field. He assists Dr. Lisa Kadlec, assistant professor of biology, with her research.

Mary Rhodes MS ’77
Mary Rhodes recalls the year she spent earning her master’s degree in mathematics at Wilkes as one of her most rewarding and challenging. “I worked so hard that year,” she recalls. “I got the master’s in one calendar year.”

“When I was a graduate student there I had a really heady experience. It was one of the most interesting years that I’ve spent. It’s a great institution and worthy of our time and efforts to make it better.”

A University trustee since 1980, Rhodes quickly heeded the call when she heard about the need for a new science building. “The present facilities are outmoded and wearing out, and we absolutely don’t have a choice,” reasons this retired high school math teacher who still teaches math as a volunteer at Lackawanna County Prison and serves on the board of EOTC of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Rhodes says the new building will not only enhance the science education of current students but also help the University recruit even more quality students.

John ’70 and Jane Cefaly
Contributing to the science building campaign has personal ties for John and Jane Cefaly.  Jane’s uncle, Cromwell Thomas, was a respected member of the Wilkes physics and engineering department. Professor Thomas joined the department in 1938 and pioneered the development of the civil, mechanical and engineering curriculum. His versatility and innovation helped solidify the scholarly reputation of the department.  John and Jane share his genuine interest and concern for Wilkes, its students and the environs of Wilkes-Barre.

The University has always enjoyed a strong reputation in the sciences, including health and engineering, and the current building will not be able to address the needs of the University in the future. “This is an important part of the overall University and campus programs, which will be needed to sustain its reputation in health, science and engineering,” says Cefaly, one of the top real estate professionals in the country and executive vice chairman of the international brokerage firm of Cushman & Wakefield Inc.  We have to demonstrate that Wilkes is on the leading edge of technology and innovation.

Both John and Jane grew up in the area and still have family members in the Wyoming Valley, which they believe will benefit from the new building. “I was a very early supporter of it, right from day one,” says the former University trustee. “The community benefits so much from Wilkes and we benefit from the community. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

Wilkes offers a great opportunity for the region’s young people to be able to attend a high-quality University so close to home. “I’m proud of the University, proud to be an alumni and proud to be a part of its future.”

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