University of St. Francis Announces Summer 2019 Dean’s List

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) congratulates the following students who have been named to the Dean’s List for the summer 2019 semester. Students who have attained a grade point average of 3.5 or higher at the end of a semester in which they have taken at least twelve credit hours are named to the Dean’s List. Students residing in USF’s home state of Illinois are listed first below, followed by students from other states.


Country Club Hills: Tanya Washington
Elwood: Jonathan Dillon
Evanston: Tricia Defay
Joliet: Arianna Creamer, Jordyn Day and Shengtao Liu
Lockport: Nyna Anspach and Cameron Moore
Manteno: Nicholas Murray
Naperville: Xiangwei Li
Tinley Park: Thera Ayesh

Centennial: Jonathan Lee
Denver: Aubrey Kilduff

Ellenwood: Nikki Stafford

Durham: Amanda Cass

New Jersey
Mount Laurel: Nisha Shah

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves over 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Illinois Certification Board Authorizes USF to Offer Combined Mental Health and Substance Abuse Program

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) has received Illinois Certification Board authorization to offer a specific program designed to combine both mental health and substance abuse training and education in its Substance Abuse Counseling program. The authorization places USF in select company among its Illinois peers, as only a handful of the state’s colleges and universities offer a similar program.

“Substance use and mental health disorders are often diagnosed together in patients,” said Lawrence Dunbar, USF professor and Substance Abuse Counseling program coordinator.

“Mental illness and substance use both occur on a continuum of severity in people. We see a varied population with ranges from slight or moderate issues to truly severe and profound. Mental illness and substance use both occur on a continuum of severity, and can vary independently and concurrently across individuals, within individuals, across time and between settings,” Dunbar said.

The Illinois Certification Board and the Substance Abuse Counseling program at the University of St. Francis both endorse the concept that the treatment of dually diagnosed substance use and mental health disorders is a specialty field requiring performance by competent professionals, Dunbar explained.

Students that complete the Substance Abuse Counseling degree program at USF, and complete the CADC credential, will have fulfilled the education requirements for the Co-Occurring Substance Use and Mental Health Disorder Professional Level 1 Registration (CODP-1) as credentialed by the Illinois Certification Board.

“It is in the news every day. There is an alarming amount of problematic use of alcohol and other drugs. In many cases there are, in addition, co-occurring mental health problems. Physical problems, difficulty at work, deteriorating relationships, and ultimately, death, dictate that our society provide care and counsel to people where mental illness and substance use coexist,” Dunbar said.

The CODP-1 registration, in addition to the CADC certification, helps prepare students to work in this difficult but growing field. This is a highly valued and requested combination of credentials, education and experience by Illinois behavioral health providers.

“The CODP-1 is a credential combining human services with behavioral science. We will lead and mentor students through at least 21 semester hours of AOD education and 6 semester hours in mental illness education,” Dunbar said.

“The Substance Abuse Counseling program at the USF prepares students to become the professionals that we need to go out into the community and assist others in their rebuilding their lives, creating healthy relationships and putting families back together,” Dunbar added.

For more information on USF’s Substance Abuse Counseling program, visit

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves over 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Sophomore Evelyn Odum Creating “Book Publishing from Beginning to End” Podcast

A SURE (Summer Undergraduate Experience) Program Feature

“Book Publishing from Beginning to End”

Firm in the belief that one of the best ways to learn is by others’ examples, sophomore Elementary Education major Evelyn Odum is creating a podcast featuring interviews with published authors to hear their experiences getting published. The project is part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program, and the hope is that the podcast series will help aspiring writers gain knowledge about the publishing process.

Explaining why she picked this topic, Evelyn noted, “I chose this so that people who are in the same boat as me—those who desire to get published but aren’t really sure how—can get inside information from authors who have gone through the whole process.”

Evelyn Odum - book publishing podcast - SURE feature

Making Connections with Chicago-based Writers

Working with English professor Beth McDermott, Ph.D., who will serve as the podcast’s co-host, Odum is making connections with Chicago-based writers, specifically those who have written children’s books. Odum attended Young Authors Celebration conference, hosted by the Starved Rock Reading Council, where she networked with authors. Additionally, she and McDermott began contacting local bookstores in the Chicago area that invite authors for signing and other events, and also relied on sending email to authors whose work they admire. Luckily, some authors replied back and have been open to speaking with Odum and McDermott. Interviews are being conducted in person, and the podcast so far includes authors Peter Kujawinski, Ruth Goring, Kate Hannigan and Barb Rosenstock. 

Evelyn Odum - Book Publishing Podcast
Evelyn Odum (right) interviewed Barb Rosenstock (left), a children's book author who specializes in historical fiction.

Working with the DARA Department

While Odum and McDermott are handling the interviews and the majority of the editing process, the Digital Audio Recording Arts (DARA) department is also involved. The DARA professors helped Evelyn set up the podcast and are assisting throughout the editing process. Odum’s project is truly interdisciplinary!

Evelyn Odum - Book Publishing Podcast

Coming Soon: “Book Publishing from Beginning to End”

The podcast is launching soon and will be available on Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music. Stay tuned!

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Professional Women’s Network Honors Maribeth Hearn with Ignitor Award

Joliet, Ill. – It is an honor to be recognized as an inspiration. It is an honor to be recognized for overcoming obstacles to climb extraordinary heights. Maribeth Hearn, MBA, University of St. Francis (USF) Career Success Center director, was recognized for both as she and four other honorees were presented with the Ignitor Award by the Professional Women’s Network (PWN) at its 2019 Summer Soiree on Tuesday, July 30, 2019.

Hearn, who has been with USF for five years as the university’s Career Success Center Director, was one of PWN’s founding members and has since held a variety of roles within the organization.

“As one of the original members of the organization, I have been active as a member, secretary, president twice and past president three times,” Hearn said.   

During her first term as PWN president, Hearn focused on building the organization’s membership and management structure.

“The group has had a new president almost every year, and each president has her own a pet project. My project was to grow our membership and to hire an administrator to take care of the duties in order to free up the board enough to allow for networking,” she said.

“In 2006, there was no iPhone, YouTube was in its infancy and social media wasn’t a big thing yet,” she continued. “We couldn’t grow like we can today—we had to rely on word of mouth. We had to learn how to spread the word organically to attract members. We even offered incentives such as PWN bucks, where you would get a discount if you referred a new member, in an effort to grow our membership.”  

During a recent conversation with other PWN past presidents, Hearn said that she and her peers reminisced about how their organization has continued to grow and address the evolving needs of professional women.

“We each talked about each other’s contributions to the group. We started the Third Fridays group when I was president in 2006. That group is designed to provide women who are in charge of their own income an opportunity to regularly meet, network and share best practices. The group still meets today because of the leadership of Debbie Cladis, another PWN past president, who has cultivated monthly discussion themes while also engaging some past presidents and board members to help share the responsibility to keeping the group going,” she said.

“Barbara Karstrom, another PWN past president, created the Summer Soiree,” Hearn continued. “Other presidents are credited with starting First Fridays, which was a group for women in job transition, the annual Picking the Brains of Really Smart Chicks luncheon, a speaker’s bureau, a writer’s group, a diversity discussion night, and the Professional Young Women’s Network (PYWN), which is a mentoring group for women on the rise in high schools. That mentoring group performs mock interviews and career readiness workshops with our volunteers in the high schools. In short, PWN really does offer something for everyone.”

As for what she sees from a personal perspective as the biggest benefit of joining PWN, Hearn points to her current position at USF.

“Kelly Lapetino, a USF alum and the former Director of the Career Success Center, wrote a letter of recommendation for me for my current role.  She and I had met through the network several years before and she served on the Board of PWN with me.  She is now the Dean at Prairie State College and still an active member of PWN.  I’m thankful that I applied and that I get to make a difference to the students and alumni here.”

The difference to which Hearn is referring is that of the daily impact USF’s Career Success Center has on both current USF students and USF alumni.

“We assist students with their internship and employment needs. We are devoted to helping students and alumni research potential career options. In doing so, we focus on the individual needs, goals, and values of each student. We believe in personal and professional development therefore assistance with job search, resume and cover letter writing, along with career counseling are among the services we offer,” Hearn said.

As for what it means to be honored with this award, Hearn looks to the purpose of USF’s Career Success Center and PWN.

“In the Career Success Center, we are proponents of experiential learning and helping students learn about how they can contribute to the world through work and service. I credit my service on the board of PWN as the experiential learning that taught me how to be a better manager and leader. The acceptance speeches of the other recipients resonated with me as they each talked about following their path, igniting their why, and living their purpose. My goal is to help as many people as I can to not only hear their calling, but to also make a plan to live it,” Hearn said.

PWN’s 2019 Summer Soiree was held at Glenwoodie Golf Club, which is located at 19301 State Street in Glenwood, Ill.

Established in 2001, the Professional Women’s Network helps women develop their careers, enhance their businesses and mentor the next generation of women business leaders through educational programs, resource sharing, and network opportunities. Visit for more information.

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves over 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Junior Emily Siegler Researching a Possible Solution to Invasive Species of Crayfish

A SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research Experience) Program Feature

“The effect of carbon dioxide concentration on the invasive species of crayfish faxonius rusticus and procambarus clarkii in relation to the degree of dependence on length of exposure and size of crayfish”

As part of USF’s SURE program, junior biology major Emily Siegler, under the guidance of Bill Bromer, Ph.D., is studying the effects of varying carbon dioxide concentrations on the movement of invasive species of crayfish.

Invasive Species of Crayfish

Though crayfish are native to many areas, oftentimes they enter an environment as an invasive species. An invasive species is a non-native species of plants or animals introduced to a new ecosystem where it has significant negative economic or ecological impacts on the new environments. Both P. clarkii and F. rusticus are considered invasive species in Illinois and Michigan due to their disruption of ecosystems in the states’ waterways. In addition, due to their abundance, they have begun to displace and reduce the native populations of crayfish and game fish, and their feeding habits reduce available habitats for amphibians.

Siegler’s research projects is centered upon the hypothesis that increasing the levels of dissolved CO2 in a body of water will induce movement in F. rusticus (rusty crayfish) and P. clarkii away from the source of CO2. The amount of movement will in turn be dependent on the volume of water present and the size and overall weight of the species tested.

Explaining why she chose this experiment for the SURE  program, Siegler said, “I was interested in this project because in past semesters I have done crayfish research for class assignments and I really enjoyed it! I especially liked being able to go out into the field and conduct hands-on research.”

Emily Siegler - Summer Undergraduate Research Experience at USF

Carrying Out the Experiment

F. rusticus and P. clarkii are kept in separate tanks, and each tank contains roughly the same size crayfish. In the holding tanks, there is no excess CO introduced into the water. Along with weekly water quality measurements, weekly CO2 readings are conducted. In addition, the CO2 level of the holding tank are taken before each testing period.

For testing, the crayfish are moved to a trough that allows a gradient effect to be seen in the concentration of carbon dioxide, if a gradient effect does occur. The gradient will be measured by pH, which corresponds to a carbon dioxide level. For each trial, one crayfish is placed into the testing trough and allowed to acclimate for one minute before CO2 is introduced. After the acclimation period has passed, CO2 is introduced via the airstone at increasing levels until the crayfish begins to move away from the airstone.

A Possible Solution to Combating Invasive Species of Crayfish

From the data collected from this research, a better understanding of crayfish CO2 tolerance will be understood. This knowledge can be implemented in order to help reduce and remove invasive species without invasive or harmful measures. In effect, native species can begin to flourish again. It is not a small task, but one that Siegler’s summer research will be instrumental in helping accomplish.

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USF Seeking Nominations for Annual Distinguished Alumni Awards

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF), through the USF Alumni & Family Relations Office, will honor five outstanding alumni with a Distinguished Alumni Award as part of the university’s Homecoming & Reunion festivities on Saturday, October 5, 2019, in San Damiano Hall, which is located in the Motherhouse on USF’s main campus in Joliet (520 Plainfield Road). One alumnus/alumna from each of the university’s four colleges will be honored based on outstanding professional and personal successes, as well as involvement in civic, cultural or charitable activities, highlighting the diverse disciplines of a comprehensive university. The Presidential Alumni Award, the evening’s most prestigious award, will be selected by the university.

Honoree nominations for each of the university’s four colleges may be submitted online at Nominations may be submitted by family members, coworkers, fellow alumni and others who could testify to the nominees’ achievements. Nominations may also be self-submitted. Please note the nomination process will close on July 31, 2019.

The USF Alumni Association’s Executive Board of Directors will review all nominations and will select award honorees (with the exception of the Presidential Alumni Award).

Winners of the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Awards included: Lillian (Doleshek) Buckley ’72 – College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Award, J. Brian Bain ’02 – College of Business and Health Administration Award, Holly Bontkowski ’93 – College of Education Alumni Award, Dayna (Bernstein) Jaynstein ’09 – Leach College of Nursing Alumni Award, and William “Bill” ‘82 & Patricia “Trish” (Banks) ‘83 Bellah – Presidential Alumni Award.

For more information on the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Awards, please contact the Alumni & Family Relations Office at 877-811-ALUM (2586) or

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves over 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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