In Brief

In Brief – Summer 2022

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In Brief

In Brief – Summer 2022

A brief look at recent news from the Franciscan University community.

Summer 2022

In This Article

Business Thought Leader Joins Franciscan

Bob Olsen, executive director of Entrepreneurship and Growth.

Bob Olson, a leading tech entrepreneur and business thought leader, accepted the position of executive director of Entrepreneurship and Growth at Franciscan University.

Olson will work closely with the Leadership Institute at Franciscan University to launch the new Entrepreneurship Program for students.

He will also partner with the University’s leadership team to promote a growth and entrepreneurship mindset as the University addresses the changing needs and demographics of higher education.

The founder of Reality Distortion Ventures, Olson is a serial entrepreneur and executive coach who has helped launch numerous start-ups.

Doug Perry, the executive director of the Leadership Institute, said, “Bob Olson is a high energy, enthusiastic business thought leader who will help our students launch their own ventures while remaining true to their faith.”

Find out more at


Franciscan Square Expanding

Franciscan Square, the popular dining and lodging destination located directly across the street from Franciscan University’s main entrance, is expanding with new retail and professional space and 16 to 24 one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.

Slated to open in winter 2023, the properties will be developed by Fraspada Company Limited and Cedar One Realty and will continue to transform one of the main entrances to Steubenville into a welcoming environment for visitors.

Costs for the new properties will be borne by the developers and tenants and will provide a nominal financial return to the University on prior investments made when Franciscan Square was launched in 2016.

Current tenants at Franciscan Square include the Best Western Plus Inn and Suites at Franciscan Square, Bennigan’s Restaurant and Tavern, Brooklyn Bagel, and Rubi’s Pizza and Grill.


Persecuted Nigerian Christians

Nigerian victims of anti-Christian violence are desperate for the world to notice their situation, said an international religious persecution expert in a talk given at Franciscan University in January.

Stephen Rasche, an American lawyer who works to aid persecuted Christians in Nigeria and Iraq, was joined by moderator Kathryn Jean Lopez, senior fellow at the National Review Institute and editor-at-large of National Review Magazine, to tell the story of increased lawlessness and violence in northern and central Nigeria.

Rasche shared video clips from northern Nigeria, which included messages from two Nigerian bishops: Stephen Mamza of the Yola diocese and Matthew Kukah of the Sokoto diocese. Both bishops directly addressed Franciscan University, asking it to lead the world in noticing their situation.

“The feeling is absolutely amongst Christians there that they are being abandoned and not just by the U.S. but by the greater global community,” Rasche said.

“The solution to these problems we need to find from within ourselves, from within our faith, from within our relations, in our brotherhood, in our sisterhood. But it’s up to us to begin acting and not wait for government,” he concluded.


Criminal Justice Day

Over 200 Franciscan University and high school students took part in the first-ever Criminal Justice Day held February 11. Law enforcement professionals from 15 agencies answered students’ questions about career paths in criminal justice.

The event was organized by Franciscan University’s Criminal Justice Program, which draws upon Aquinas, natural law, American founding principles, and an understanding of the inherent dignity of every human life.


Faculty Awards Presented

Four faculty members were honored at the 2022 Faculty Awards Ceremony on April 28.

Dr. Ron Bolster, theology and catechetics, received the Excellence in Teaching Award for his teaching practices that aim to introduce students to Catholicism not just as a subject to be studied but as a life to be lived.

Dr. Emily Sobeck, special education, received the Scholarship Award for scholarly pursuits such as publishing five peer-reviewed articles, engaging other manuscript research, presenting at five education conferences, and other endeavors that benefit children with special needs.

Dr. Ricardo Chaparro-Pacheco, social work, received the Service Award for his contributions to several academic committees and his role as faculty advisor to four student-led groups: Instruments of Peace, Latinos for Christ, Marian Multicultural Club, and the Veritas Society.

Dr. Joseph Pathakamuri, biology, received the Santa Chiara Award for Outstanding Dedication to the Mission of the University for his tireless work to ensure a safe campus environment during the pandemic. Pathakamuri established COVID-19 testing stations, coordinated care for students, faculty, and staff, and helped forge a partnership with Trinity Health System that will benefit the University community for years to come.

Dr. Emily Sobeck, special education, accepts the Scholarship Award from President Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR.


New Vice President of Finance

On March 10, Franciscan University announced Robert Dougherty as its new vice president of Finance.

Dougherty has over 36 years of managerial experience in profit and notfor-profit entities including human services, manufacturing, telecom, and banking.

In assuming the stewardship of Franciscan’s financial resources, Dougherty said, “Two of my four children have graduated from Franciscan, and I have seen firsthand the mission of the University. The focus on being passionately Catholic and looking to evangelize daily resonates deeply with me.”

Dougherty most recently served as chief financial officer for Passavant Memorial Homes Family of Services in Warrendale, Pennsylvania, and as vice president of PNC Financial Services in Pittsburgh.

Rob Dougherty, vice president of Finance.


These are the prerequisites for happiness. We need eternity, we need an infinite being, and we need a soul. Without that, human life is just depressing. – From a lecture given at Franciscan University by Dr. Alexander Pruss, Baylor University philosophy professor.


Center for Beauty Launches Inaugural Season

The Center for Beauty at Franciscan University launched an inaugural series of free evening talks, recitals, and performances during the spring semester.

Presentations included a talk by acclaimed author Joseph Pearce and a listen-and-learn Mozart performance featuring musicians from the Cleveland Orchestra. The season closed with a performance from the Franciscan University Chamber Orchestra in May.

Dr. Paul Symington, professor of philosophy, said artistic expressions connect the transcendent with the human experience.

“We want our students to appreciate beauty when they experience it and inspire them to create beautiful works in various mediums,” he said.

The Center for Beauty is directed by faculty from the Fine Arts and English departments and is made possible by generous support from Student Life, Academic Affairs, and the Henkels Family Fund.

Stanley Konopka, director of the Franciscan University Chamber Orchestra and assistant principal violist with the Cleveland Orchestra.


Franciscan Saint – St. Albert Chmielowski (1845-1916)

Living a holy life can inspire others to holiness. Such is the story of St. Albert Chmielowski and St. John Paul II.

Born near Krakow, Poland, Albert grew up surrounded by hardship. His parents died when he was young. His homeland, too, was immersed in political turmoil. At the time, Poland didn’t exist as a sovereign state, and many resented the foreign governments.

When Albert was almost 18 years old, he enthusiastically joined his fellow Poles in an 1863 insurrection against the Russian Empire. His fighting came to a tragic end; injured by a Russian grenade, his leg was amputated—without anesthesia.

Albert’s interests turned from politics to painting. But as his talent flourished, he questioned if he could serve both art and God. His love for the poor grew until, inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, he ultimately renounced his artistic pursuits and aristocratic lifestyle. In 1887, he donned a gray habit as a Third Order Franciscan.

Men and women joined Albert in his care for the homeless, becoming the Albertine Brothers and Sisters. Together, they cared for orphans and the poor, sick, and elderly across Poland. Albert continued this life of charity and poverty until he succumbed to stomach cancer on Christmas day in 1916.

Years after his death, Albert would inspire another Polish man: Karol Wojtyla. Like Albert, Karol lost both his parents and lived in an oppressed Poland. The promising playwright and poet drew strength from Albert’s example of forsaking his love for the arts to follow the Lord’s calling. In 1949, the young Father Wojtyla even wrote a play about Albert titled Our God’s Brother, which he said was a way “of repaying a debt of gratitude to him.”

After Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II, he beatified Albert during an apostolic visit to Poland. Then, in 1989, he canonized the saint who, in part, inspired his own path to sainthood. St. Albert’s feast day is June 17.

– Jessica Walker



Mary and the Saints: Marian Consecration

Ruthie Greenhalgh

Through an examination of the lives and works of Marian saints and devotees, this book takes the reader on a 33-day preparation for Marian consecration. Ruthie Greenhalgh, a graduate student at Franciscan University, follows the shining witness of saints through the centuries on a proven path of spiritual success: to Jesus through Mary. In this simple guide, Greenhalgh includes several well-known saints, such as St. Louis-Marie de Montfort, and lesser-known Marian devotees, including St. Simon of Cyrene, Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne, and Venerable Jan Tyranowski.



Looking for Lazarus: A Preview of the Resurrection

Dr. Regis Martin

Scepter Publishers, Inc.

The only people specifically called Jesus’ friends in the Gospels are Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary. In his new book on Lazarus and resurrection, Dr. Regis Martin, Franciscan University theology professor, explores what Jesus says about the mystery of death through the resurrection of his friend. Martin explains that Lazarus’ time in the tomb before his miraculous return to life was intended to prepare for the Lord’s similar experience of burial. Looking for Lazarus highlights the Christian belief that life is greater than death if true faith in Jesus is intact.


A Primer in the Philosophy of John Paul II: In His Own Words

Dr. Michael J. Healy Sr.

En Route Books and Media

Pope St. John Paul II’s writings are extensive and often hard to navigate, even for scholars. In his newest book, Dr. Michael Healy Sr., Franciscan University philosophy professor, makes the major philosophical works of the saint accessible to the general reader. Through close textual summaries and interpretations, the book provides background on the foundation of the pope’s spirituality, includes an overview of his early dramatic works, and addresses John Paul’s main themes of person, act, love, and sexuality. Advanced scholars and new students alike will benefit from Healy’s interpretation of the genius of John Paul II.


The Biblical Qur’an: A Christian Investigation

Dr. Michael Healy Jr. ’00 MA ’02, ’06

En Route Books and Media

Dr. Michael Healy Jr. speculates about interpreting the Qur’an from a Christocentric perspective in his book on Christianity and Islam. Healy attempts to answer difficult questions, such as how the Qur’an modifies the understanding of Christian and Muslim history, whether it’s possible that Islam has had a positive part to play in God’s plan for Christians, and the appropriate way to analyze Mohammed’s claim to prophethood. The Biblical Qur’an asks Christians to rethink how the Bible and Qur’an are related and if it is possible to interpret the Qur’an similarly to the Old Testament.


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