Skip to main content

Fall 2014

Alumna Inspires as West Virginia’s Teacher of the Year

As West Virginia’s 2014 Teacher of the Year, Erin Sponaugle, MA, ’09, Educational Leadership, asked the public to “think forward and think global.” The WVU alumna met President Barack Obama, traveled the state and shared her story of being a timid child who grew to become one of the state’s notable teachers. The fifth-grade teacher at Tomahawk Intermediate School in Hedgesville, W.Va., plans to share her insights from this year in a children’s book from the viewpoint of Berkeley the Bear.

Review her year of blogging about her time as Teacher of the Year at

Couple Who Met at WVU Celebrate 60th Anniversary

In the years after World War II, WVU was a smaller campus with a lot going on. Neil, BS, ’53, Business Management, and JD, ’56, and Jan (Pugh) Reed, BS, ’54, Medical Technology, met in the early 1950s at WVU, together attending events with the Wesley Foundation and with Kappa Delta and Kappa Alpha Greek organizations. They married in 1954. Neil was from Preston County, W.Va., and Jan was from Lillybrook, a coal camp near Beckley. Today, the couple live in Kingwood where Neil has been an attorney for 57 years.

Their son, Stephen, says, “Beyond the importance of their meeting at WVU for my two older sisters and me, I think they symbolize the great unifying ability of WVU to take two young people from different backgrounds and parts of the state, and for the WVU community of friends, family, faculty and staff to knit them together as they have thousands of couples over the years.”

Wild and Wonderful Tailgating 

One WVU alumna turned her love of Mountaineer tailgating into a blog with her husband, a West Virginian by marriage. Andrea, MS, ’13, Integrated Marketing Communications, and Dave Joliet live in Stow, Ohio, but they still make the nearly three-hour drive to Morgantown for almost every home WVU football game. The Joliets compile photos, video, recipes and chatter in celebration of the gold and blue tailgate.

Visit to see Touchdown City from their eyes.

Brian Glasser

Alumnus Tracks Missing Millions

Attorney Brian Glasser, BA, ’88, International Studies, is looking for a few million dollars.

After developer Timothy Blixseth’s ski resort project, the Yellowstone Club, in Big Sky, Mont., went bankrupt in 2009, a judge eventually ruled that the former billionaire owed more than $200 million to creditors and investors and had to pay.

That was about a year ago. Since then, Glasser, named trustee for the resort, has been searching for the funds that are believed to have been diverted to luxury items such as yachts, a vacation home and a resort in Mexico.

Blixseth hasn’t handed any assets over. And Glasser hasn’t found a dime. Earlier this year, Glasser decided to offer a 10 percent bounty on information leading to the recovery of Blixseth’s assets — the most recent in a series of twists and turns taken in the case that’s appeared in media such as Forbes.

“It’s obviously frustrating,” Glasser said of looking for the assets, “but on the other hand we continue to be vindicated in court every time we go there.” Long before Glasser was named trustee in the case following a national selection process, he was an international studies major at West Virginia University. Born in Morgantown, he headed toward a career as an attorney in the town where his father went to law school.

There he met professors like Sophia Peterson and Robert DiClerico, now both professors emeriti, whom he describes as “excellent, inspiring professors who really took an interest in me.” They opened his eyes to things he hadn’t thought about before: ideas, movies and life directions. With their help he competed for and won both the Truman and Rhodes scholarships, supporting him for a term of service and his studies at the University of Oxford in England.

“I never would have done any of those things if they hadn’t told me about it,” Glasser said.

From there he entered Harvard Law School, and a few years after graduating he helped found the firm Bailey & Glasser, which has since grown to 45 attorneys and approximately 90 total employees.

He said his drive to win and seek high-stakes cases comes from taking pride in his work.

“Any time you’re in a profession, you want to be excellent at it,” he said. “It’s part of the joy of the job.”


Mary M. Durel, BA, MA ’52, Bandon, Ore., published a book titled, “Of Skin and Bones: Life in Verse,” covering the mid- 1930s through 2013.


Guy O. Farmer II, BA, Jacksonville, Fla., was named to the Best Lawyers in America list for 2015. Farmer is an attorney with Gray Robinson, P.A., where he practices employment law (management and labor law), management, and litigation (labor and employment).


Robert Szymczak, BS, MA ’72, Corapolis, Pa., is an associate professor of history at Pennsylvania State University (Beaver campus). In 2014, he received the Gold Cross of Merit of the Republic of Poland for his contributions to Polish and Polish- American history. It was presented at the Fifth World Congress on Polish Studies at the University of Warsaw.


Katherine J. Leisering, MA, Parkersburg, W.Va., won third place in the 2014 Writers- Editors Network International Writing Competition for her poem, “Verses Scribbl’d in My Burning House,” a parody of Anne Bradstreet’s, “Verses Upon the Burning of Our House.”


Shannon Bennett Campbell, BS, MA ’75, EdD ’86, Elkins, W.Va., published “Color Me A Mountaineer,” a children’s coloring book featuring images highlighting West Virginia’s customs, culture and traditions ... Jon E. Travis, BA, Commerce, Texas, is a regents professor with the Texas A&M University System at Commerce ... Thomas, BS, and Roberta Whitfield, BS, Carlisle, Pa., celebrated 40 years of marriage in May. The couple married right after graduation from WVU.


Terry L. Buckenheimer, BA, Tampa, Fla., received the President’s Award from the Florida Dental Association during its convention in Orlando. He played a pivotal role in rebranding the FDA and implementing their switch to new technology ... Cynthia K. Burke, MA, Wheeling, W.Va., was one of six teachers nationwide named as finalists for the Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice. She teaches 7th-9th grade math at Sherrard Middle School.


David H. Johe, MD, St. Marys, Pa., is the national medical adviser for the National Ski Patrol. He completed several medical textbooks for the education of ski patrollers . . . Terry D. Rings, BS, Lake Charles, La., retired June 30, 2014, after 27 years with Himont/Montell/Basell/ LyondellBasell at the Lake Charles Polymers site. He served in numerous positions with the company, including process engineer, line supervisor, start-up engineer in Thailand and South Korea, and as the DCS and advanced process control engineer for the Lake Charles site for 23 years.


Ron Lombardi, BS, Mountain Lakes, N.J., president and CEO of SportsCare Institute, received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in the New Jersey Services category. It is presented to commend vision and exceptional leadership ... Kevin Smith, BS, Canal Winchester, Ohio, was awarded the Wells Memorial Key, the highest honor bestowed by the Society of Professional Journalists. Smith joined the organization 35 years ago as a senior at WVU. He served as national president (2010-11) and on the national board for seven years. He was a 23-year member of their ethics committee. As chair (1994-96 and 2011-14) he led ethics codes revisions and is a noted author and lecturer on media ethics.


Mark Lannan, BA, MS ’83, Avondale, Pa., co-owner of BrightFields Inc., was named 2014 Delaware Small Business Person of the Year, along with his partner and wife, Marian Young. BrightFields is an environmental and remediation services firm headquartered in Wilmington, Del. ... Darrell Pratt, JD, Prichard, W.Va., received the Fort Gay High School Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Judge Pratt is a member of the 24th Judicial Circuit Court of West Virginia, a position he has held since 1997 ... David Rosenberg, BS, Dallas, Texas, was named one of the Best Lawyers in America 2015. He is an attorney with Thompson & Knight, LLP where he practices in the areas of nonprofit and charities law.


Lisa K. Wagner Ryan, MS, PhD ’83, Newberry, Fla., is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine, Department of Medicine, in Gainesville. Her father, Richard Stoetzer Wagner, BS, ’06, and aunt, Susan Jane Wagner Watkins, BS, ’64, are also WVU grads.


Tom Dowling, BS, Pittsburgh, Pa., has been named U.S. chair of the Consumer and Brand Marketing Practice for Burson- Marsteller ... Michael Law, BA, Portola Valley, Calif., is CEO of Burson-Marsteller (U.S.). He previously served as the U.S. president of Burson-Marsteller ... Ishaq Unwala, BS, Austin, Texas, is an assistant professor of computer engineering at Houston Clear Lake.


Paul B. Johnson, BS, High Point, N.C., received a North Carolina Press Association award for coverage of the tragic drowning of a local family. He is a staff writer for the High Point Enterprise, a daily newspaper.


Thomas A. Habegger, BS, Westerville, Ohio, was named dean of the Health and Human Services Division at Columbus State in Columbus, Ohio, where he served as a professor in the sport and exercise studies program and director of intercollegiate athletics for 27 years ... Patrick E. Kelly, MS, Merced, Calif., is finishing 27 years as sports information director/adjunct kinesiology professor at Merced College. In 2012 he was voted the Brass Top award for outstanding performance by his peers in the California Community College Sports Information Association. He and his wife of more than nine years, Marcia, have a 5-year-old daughter named Virginia.


Douglas C. Lasota, BS, Pittsburgh, Pa., joined Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin’s Pittsburgh office as a shareholder in the professional liability department. His primary areas of practice include breach of contract, as well as the defense of construction and engineering professionals and firms in complex construction and design defect claims.


Joy R. Cowdery, MA, EdD ’02, Marietta, Ohio, has been named the Janet Brown Rothwell Distinguished Professor of Education at Muskingum University, where she has been a member of the faculty since 2002.


Michael DeTemple, BS, Charleston, W.Va., received the 2014 Charles Russell Bard Award in recognition of his outstanding character, abilities and achievements.


Mark Thomas, BS, Lovettsville, Va., is VP at Pennoni Associates in Leesburg. He has over 20 years of experience related to creative site planning and land development and is a founding member of the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development Design Cabinet.


Heather L. Marra, BS, Pittsburgh, Pa., rejoined the professional staff of WTW Architects where she is part of a team working on the Wayne State University Student Union expansion, interior renovations to the University of Pittsburgh William Pitt Union and the Burns White Law Firm.


Mara Kozelsky, MA, Mobile, Ala., coedited “Russian-Ottoman Boarderlands: The Eastern Question Reconsidered,” which was published by the University of Wisconsin Press. She is an associate professor of history at the University of South Alabama.


Eric Ammisah, BRBA, Albuquerque, N.M., is a lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Air Force and deputy division chief of the Kirtland-based Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center. Amissah, who was born in Ghana, was a walk-on for the WVU football team.


Korok M. Biswas, MS, MA ’05, Charleston, W.Va., was promoted to the position of tax analyst with the West Virginia State Tax Department, working in the office of Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow ... Justin L. Schooley, MS, Martinsburg, W.Va., was awarded a doctorate of education in organizational leadership from the School of Education and Human Development at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va. Dr. Schooley is associate superintendent of human resources and finishing his 13th year with Berkeley County Schools. He is serving on the executive board of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators.


Zachary M. Richards, BS, Charlottesville, Va., is director of development for the Virginia Engineering Foundation at the University of Virginia. His experience includes working as senior writer and production manager for the UVA Engineering School, public relations coordinator for Charleston Area Medical Center and a reporter for the Charleston Daily Mail. He is co-chair of the annual Boys & Girls Club Cycling Challenge of Central Virginia. Zak and his wife, Megan, have two sons ... Rosemary Thomas, EdD, LaVale, Md., has been appointed chief operating officer of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. She works with the executive committee, board of directors and staff to continue the 125-year mission of the federation.


Angela Canfield, DDS, Savannah, Ga., owns Premier Dental Designs, which offers family preventative care and cosmetic, restorative and orthodontic dentistry.


Anna Pishner Harsh, MA, Wheeling, W.Va., owns Allegro Dance Company, which travels across the U.S. and Italy giving workshops, performances and masters classes in various dances. She is married to fellow alumnus Greg Harsh, MA ’13.


Glen Chilcote, BM, Christiansburg, Va., received the Montgomery County Virginia Public Schools Teacher of the Year award in 2014. He teaches elementary music at Kipps Elementary in Blacksburg. He and his wife, Annie Gruskowski, BM ’09, have a son named Eli ... James Cook, BS, Palm Beach, Fla., is senior VP and senior private banker with Wells Fargo Bank in Palm Beach ... Vonda F. Kirby, JD, Louisville, Ky., was elected to the Louisville Sports Commission Board of Directors. She is an attorney with Stites & Harbison, PLLC where she is a member of the business litigation service group. She advises, represents and defends business and institutional lenders in a wide variety of litigation matters involving contracts, business torts, product liability, personal injury, toxic torts and foreclosures.


Nick Prusack, BS, Downington, Pa., summited Mt. McKinley (20,237 feet) in Alaska’s Denali National Forest in June 2014. While training for his climb, he worked as an arborist in Fairbanks.


Jesse D. Michel, MA, PhD ’13, Mililani, Hawaii, a sport and performance psychology consultant, received Certified Consultant of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology designation. He is a master resilience trainer and owner of JM Sport and Performance Consulting.



Morgan Chey to Nina and Brian M. Baldasare, BSBA ’97, Point Pleasant Borough, N.J. ... Chloe to Garry B. Hall, BA ’09, MPA ’12, Bridgeport, W.Va. ... Roslynn Isabella to Tiffany Stickel Lewis, BS ’05, MA ’07, and Ross Lewis, BS ’07, Henrico, Va. ... Maggie to Shawn and Ashley Hardesty Odell, BA ’00, JD ’03, Morgantown, W.Va.


Andualem A. Alemayehu, MS ’09, Morgantown, W.Va., June 12, 2014.
John E. Blake Jr., BM ’69, Philadelphia, Pa., Aug. 15, 2014.
Martin Ferer, professor of physics, Morgantown, W.Va., June 9, 2014.
Gregory Garrison, BM ’69, Buckeye, Ariz., 2014.
George L. Lemon, BA ’44, MD ’44, Nashville, Tenn, July 31, 2013.
Frank J. Morelli Jr., BSBA ’91, South Fayette Township, Pa., May 5, 2014.
Gina Siddi Pinto, BS ’53, Decatur, Ill., Aug. 18, 2014.
Robert D. Slonneger, professor of engineering, Morgantown, W.Va., July 9, 2014.
Jeannette C. Taylor, BS ’49, Belmont, W.Va., 2009.

Class Notes Archive

Fall 2014

Get to know West Virginia's Teacher of the Year and an alumnus who's on the hunt for missing money.

Continue Reading

Fall 2015

Discover The Monticola yearbook online and send in your union announcements, along with the rest of your news.

Continue Reading

Fall 2016

Catch up with your fellow alumni who reported in this issue from 1967 to 2016. Don't see anyone from your year? Send us a class note!

Continue Reading

Fall 2017

We love hearing form you. Share what you're up to with your fellow Mountaineers.

Continue Reading

Spring 2015

Meet Masters swim champion Janet Bieno McDonough and composer Steven Traugh among many other fellow alums.

Continue Reading

Spring 2016

Catch up with fellow alumni through the years and find out where you can get your very own "Let's Go" flag to take with you on your travels.

Continue Reading

Spring 2017

Here is where we celebrate the accomplishments of your fellow alumni, welcome new Mountaineers to the world and bid farewell to those who've passed on.

Continue Reading

Summer 2016

This issue we mark personal milestones and mourn the death of longtime alumni leader Stephen L. Douglas.

Continue Reading

Summer 2017

We've shared WVU news with you, now tell us your news!

Continue Reading