Penn State announces promotions for six Schuylkill faculty members

Photo of white Nittany Lion statue through out-of-focus flowers and grass nearby
Credit: Penn State

SCHUYLKILL HAVEN, Pa. — Penn State has announced faculty promotions for tenure-line and nontenure-line faculty, including six Penn State Schuylkill faculty members, effective Friday, July 1.

“Promotion to professor recognizes a faculty member’s significant contributions in research or creative activity and teaching," said Penn State Schuylkill Chancellor Patrick Jones. “We are fortunate to have these dedicated faculty members on our campus.”

“These faculty members are dedicated to providing opportunities for students to learn in the classroom and beyond,” said Darcy Medica, director of academic affairs at Penn State Schuylkill. “Leaders in their academic fields, they conduct impactful research and scholarship and engage students as research collaborators. They serve as leaders among the faculty at the campus and the University as a whole. We are incredibly pleased and proud to see their efforts rewarded.”

Tenure-line faculty

Valerie Schrader, professor of communication arts and sciences

Schrader began her tenure with Penn State Schuylkill in 2010. Most recently, she has served as associate professor of communication arts and sciences, and this summer, she will be promoted to full professor.

Schrader has spent years as the Penn State Schuylkill Honors Program coordinator, mentoring students and helping them reach their full potential through undergraduate research projects and challenging classroom material. With her assistance, many of Schrader’s students have presented their rhetorical criticism and autoethnographic work at the James C. McCroskey and Virginia P. Richmond Undergraduate Scholars Conference at the Eastern Communication Association (ECA). This spring, the ECA named Schrader as a Distinguished Teaching Fellow, an honor bestowed upon fewer than 1% of the organization’s membership.

Last year, Schrader published a book project titled "Public Memory and the Television Series 'Outlander,'" in which she explores how the popular television series creates public memory of the 18th-century Scottish clan system, the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, and colonial America.

Schrader is an active member of the National Communication Association (NCA) and the Eastern Communication Association. She has served in several leadership positions at ECA, and she is currently serving as vice-chair elect for NCA's Theatre, Film, and New Multi-Media Division. Schrader also is serving as a member of the Schreyer Honors College Distinguished Honors Faculty Program for the 2021-23 term.

Lee Silverberg, professor of chemistry

Silverberg began working at Penn State Schuylkill in 2009, climbing the ranks from instructor of chemistry to full professor of chemistry. Most recently, he has served as an associate professor of chemistry, and he also serves as the campus’ STEM division coordinator.

Silverberg conducts research in heterocyclic organic chemistry, and he often involves students in his work. Last year, Silverberg and some of his undergraduate students presented their original organic chemistry research at the American Chemical Society’s Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting. Later in the year, he published a peer-reviewed paper on a novel method he devised to create organic compounds that have demonstrated antiparasitic properties.

Silverberg has built his career around chemistry research. He mentors undergraduate students to help them publish their work and present their research at conferences, and he has helped many students continue on to graduate school and medical school. 

Lucas Redmond, associate professor of biology

Redmond, who has been promoted to associate professor of biology, began at Penn State Schuylkill in 2015, working as an instructor of biology. Redmond also serves as Penn State Schuylkill’s biology program coordinator.

In addition to his teaching duties, Redmond also conducts research on a population of gray catbirds located on and adjacent to campus. This research is varied, but chiefly focuses on the birds’ breeding biology, examining physical characteristics of the birds between sexes; nest site selection and success; gray catbird parental care; clutch sizes; and more. Last summer, Redmond and some of his undergraduate students presented research projects at the Northeast Natural History Conference, hosted in conjunction with the Wilson Ornithological Society and the Association of Field Ornithologists.

Redmond engages his students in activities both in and out of the classroom, having served as the interim faculty adviser to Penn State Schuylkill’s campus chapter of Beta Beta Beta, the national biological honor society, in 2021. He and his students also recently had their research published, and Redmond is hoping he and his students can present their work at the American Ornithological Society’s 2022 meeting, potentially to take place in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Nontenure-line faculty

Nicole Andel, teaching professor of English and humanities

Andel has been working at Penn State Schuylkill for more than two decades, beginning her teaching career on the campus in 2001. Andel is a Schuylkill County native who conducts regionally specific research, often working in partnership with Harold Aurand, associate teaching professor of history. Andel’s research explores holiday traditions in Eastern European cultures and how they have translated through immigration to the United States.

Since 2017, Andel also has served as a University Teaching Faculty Scholar in the Penn State Office of General Education, where she develops and writes rubrics for integrative studies.

Integrative studies are crucial to Andel’s teaching. Through collaboration with Michael Gallis, associate professor of physics at Penn State Schuylkill, and Jeffrey Stone, assistant professor of information sciences and technology at Penn State Lehigh Valley, she has helped develop an integrative studies general education course exploring the art and science of virtual worlds.

Harold Aurand, teaching professor of history

Aurand began teaching at Penn State Schuylkill immediately following graduate school, beginning his time on campus in 1992. Until recently, he has served as an associate professor of history and will be promoted to teaching professor of history this summer.

Aurand teaches courses in American and world history, as well as ancient Greece and other western civilizations. Like Andel, Aurand also engages in regionally specific research, studying anthracite mine fires and community response, as well as the same Eastern European holiday traditions Andel studies.

Catherine Fiorillo, teaching professor of theatre and speech

Fiorillo, who has taught at Penn State Schuylkill since 2001, has been promoted to teaching professor of theatre and speech.

In addition to teaching, Fiorillo is a gifted performer, writer and producer who creates her own short films, web series and more. During the summer of 2020, she wrote a short film titled "Sanitize This!", which she produced last year in partnership with David J. Higgins, assistant teaching professor of film/video and music at Penn State Schuylkill. The short has won dozens of awards in the independent film festival circuit.

For more than two decades, Fiorillo has been instrumental in producing plays, musicals and other performances at Penn State Schuylkill, helping students break out of their shells and become more confident public speakers and performers.