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Seven Juniata Faculty Receive Promotions

(Posted May 31, 2011)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Seven members of the Juniata College faculty received promotions in the 2010-2011 academic year at a recent Juniata College Board of Trustees meeting.

Jerry Kruse, associate professor of mathematics and computer science, was promoted to full professor; Dominick Peruso, associate professor of accounting, business and economics, was promoted to full professor; Bill Thomas, associate professor of information technology, was promoted to full professor; David Widman, associate professor of psychology, was promoted to full professor; Kathleen Biddle, assistant professor of education, was promoted to associate professor; Alison Fletcher, assistant professor of history, was promoted to associate professor; and Uma Ramakrishnan, assistant professor of environmental science, was promoted to associate professor.

Kruse, a Huntingdon resident, joined the Juniata faculty as an assistant professor in 1999. He earned a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Illinois and went on to earn a master's degree and doctorate in applied mathematics from Brown University. He is a member of numerous honor societies including Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, Golden Key, and Phi Eta Sigma. He was promoted to associate professor in 2005.

Kruse's promotion caps a year filled with several honors. He was named a Teagle Teaching and Learning Scholar as part of the Council for Aid to Education's Collegiate Learning Assessment Project in the fall. Kruse also won the 2011 Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics from the Allegheny Mountain Section of the Mathematical Association of America in April.

Before starting his career in higher education, Kruse served as software engineer for Compaq Computer Corporation in the Mathematics Library Group, where he developed high-performance numerical routines. He also worked for the DuPont Company in such positions as database administrator, information center analyst, and data center supervisor.

Dominick Peruso joined Juniata as assistant professor of accounting in 1999. He earned a bachelor's degree in management and accounting from St. Francis University and earned a master's degree in higher education from Penn State University. He was promoted to associate professor in 2005.

Before joining Juniata's faculty, Peruso worked as a staff accountant with Price Waterhouse and he currently provides services for Barley & Co., a local accounting firm. He has received several professional honors including his inclusion in Delta Epsilon Sigma and being awarded the National Collegiate Business Merit Award. He also serves as the Vice Governor of Tau Pi Phi, the national honor society for accounting, business, and economics.

He is a member of the American Accounting Association, The Institute of Management Accountants and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

Bill Thomas, a resident of Coalport, Pa., earned a bachelor's degree in computer science from Lock Haven University in 1983 and went on to earn a master's degree in computer science from Shippensburg University in 1990.

He was promoted to associate professor in 2005.

He joined the Juniata faculty after working as an assistant professor of computer science at Mount Aloysius College in Cresson, Pa., from 1996 to 2001. He was promoted to associate professor at Mount Aloysius in 1999. He worked as an adjunct faculty member in computer science at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa. from 1995 to 1996.

From 1989 to 1996, Thomas worked as senior analyst for Hoffman Mills in Shippensburg, Pa., where he was responsible for network design, administration, support and maintenance. He started his business career as a programmer/analyst at AMP Inc., in Harrisburg, Pa., from 1984 to 1989.

Thomas has taught a variety of computer courses, including Introduction to Microcomputers, Visual BASIC Programming, COBOL Programming, Technology and Management Information, Advanced Networking and Operations Management.

David Widman came to Juniata in 1999 as assistant professor of psychology. He earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Wyoming and went on to earn a doctoral degree in biopsychology from the University at Albany, State University of New York.

A Huntingdon resident, Widman started his academic career as an assistant professor at Kalamazoo College. He has also served as an assistant professor and postdoctoral research associate at Indiana University and a graduate research assistant at the University of Albany.

He has taught courses ranging from general psychology and experimental methods to physiological psychology, motivations and research methods.

His research has been published in such journals as Physiology and Behavior, Society for Neuroscience, and Journal of Comparative Psychology. He has also presented research at multiple conferences including the annual meeting of the Animal Behavior Society, Tri-State Conference on Animal Learning and Behavior, and numerous appearances at the annual meeting of the Eastern Psychology Association.

He is a member of several professional organizations, including the Eastern Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society.

Kathleen Biddle, a Huntingdon resident, joined the Juniata faculty in 2005 as assistant professor of education. As a licensed Pennsylvania psychologist, she also works as a consultant with numerous private and public schools in the Central Pennsylvania area.

She is co-author of "Strategies for Success: Classroom teaching techniques for children with learning differences," She also is adviser to the Juniata Community Progress and Social Skills Program (COMPASS), which pairs students majoring in special education with high school students with disabilities, in order to provide the high school students with experiences working in the community.

She earned a bachelor's degree in special education in 1976 from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and earned a doctorate in applied child development in 1996 from Tufts University in Medford, Mass.

Biddle started her career as a teacher in elementary and secondary schools in Armagh, Pa., McVeytown, Pa., and at The Grier School in Tyrone, Pa. Biddle left the teaching profession in 1984 to work as promotion director and later general manager for Huntingdon Broadcasters Inc. until 1991.

When she returned to graduate school, Biddle worked as a research assistant at Children's Hospital in Boston, Mass. She was a clinical research intern at the Institute for Learning and Development in Chelmsford, Mass., and at Penn State's Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa. From 1996 to 1997, she worked as a postdoctoral intern and research fellow at McLean Hospital at the Harvard University Medical School and as research coordinator at Tufts' Center for Reading and Language Research.

She is a member of numerous professional societies, including the International Reading Association, Keystone Reading Association and the Raystown Reading Council. She has been active within the Huntingdon, Pa. community, serving on the Huntingdon Area School District Strategic Planning Committee, Pennsylvania Special Olympics Advisory Board and the Huntingdon County Learning Disabilities Association.

Alison Fletcher, a resident of Allenville, Pa., joined the Juniata faculty in 2007 as an assistant professor of history. She previously worked at as assistant professor of history at Kent State University from 2003 to 2007. She received the Henry and Joan Gibbel Award for Distinguished Teaching (by a faculty member with fewer than six years of service) on May 3.

Fletcher is currently working on a book, "Faith in Empire: The London Missionary Society and the Building of British Colonial Modernity," which details how British evangelical missionaries functioned as part of the British empire in southern Africa and Madagascar, as well as how those returning missionaries and their converts became independent influences on colonial policy.

She earned a bachelor's degree in history in 1992 from Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pa. She went on to earn a master's degree in history in 1995 and a doctorate in history in 2003, both from The Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Md.

She has published several articles in professional journals, including Minerva: Journal on Women and War, and the Journal of Religious History.

She started her teaching career as a graduate student at Johns Hopkins, working as a teaching assistant from 1994 to 1995. She held a series of jobs as an instructor in history from 1997 to 2003 at the University of Pennsylvania (1997, 2001-2003), St, Joseph's University (1997-1998), Cedar Crest College (1998), and Bryn Mawr College (2000).

Fletcher received the 2006 Graduate Applause Teaching Award from Kent State and was named a Teaching Scholar in 2004. In 1992 she received the Helen Taft Manning History Prize.

Uma Ramakrishnan, a resident of Huntingdon, joined the Juniata faculty in 2005 as assistant professor of environmental science and studies. She earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry, zoology and environmental science in 1988 from St. Joseph's College in Bangalore, India. She went on to earn a master's degree in ecology in 1990 from Pondicherry University in Pondicherry, India. Her 1998 doctoral degree in ecology comes from the University of California, Davis, where her research focused on predator avoidance behavior in bonnet macaques (a species of Asian monkey).

She started her research career at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, where she was chief deer research biologist from 2000 to 2005. Her research focuses male deer reproductive control. She also has studied deer-vehicle collisions and how collision frequency in male deer varies greatly according to season, as well as home-range use in suburban areas. At Juniata she has worked on restoration projects for the American Chestnut tree since 2007.

After completing her master's degree at Pondicherry University, Ramakrishnan worked as a conservation biologist from 1990 to 1994 at the Asian Elephant Conservation Center, International Union for the Conservation of Nature in Bangalore, India.

She has published her research in such journals as the Journal of Wildlife Diseases, Primates, Animal Conservation, Folia Primatologica, Ethology, the Journal of Comparative Psychology and Biological Conservation.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.