Reception reunites former JC science faculty


James Keller

Former and current JC teachers converse and enjoy refreshments after seeing presentations on the future of science laboratories and electives.

President Steve DiBiagio addresses a room full of dedicated faculty, students, donors, and board members that are each connected to JC’s science program. He shares his pride for the school’s strong program as well as how impressed he is with it.

“We have seven members of the faculty who have tremendously impressive academic credentials and experiential credentials and practical credentials, and our science graduates can always point to their time at John Carroll as being when and how they were inspired and motivated and challenged to meet their dreams,” DiBiagio said.

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, JC welcomed former science faculty, current science faculty, board members, donors, and eight distinguished science students to a reception in the new model classroom. DiBiagio chose to hold this reception for a variety of reasons.

DiBiagio believes that while sports are important and should be recognized in the school community, the academic community should be recognized as well. “We need all-stars every place, and I am just really happy and proud that we celebrate our athletic stars and our stars in the performing arts and our stars in the classroom. We have all-stars throughout the community that we should recognize and celebrate,” DiBiagio said.

DiBiagio also held this reception so that Director of Facilities Stewart Walker could share the designs for the new physics lab and the department’s goal to eventually renovate each science classroom. “The design is done for room 208, which is the physics and robotics lab. It’s really going to be physics, robotics, engineering … The plan is to have, if we can get it done, this coming summer of 2018 to do as many rooms as we can, whether they’re science labs or general teaching spaces,” Walker said.  

Walker spoke of the importance of a science renovation not only for the students, but for the school in general. “Science-driven things are critical and so if we are able to have a ‘showcase’ space for science … we can show their parents and those prospective students ‘Hey look, this is what the classrooms of the future look like at John Carroll’,” Walker said.

These renovations will keep academic facilities just as up-to-date as the sports facilities. “Certainly the students who are here are going to benefit from having the more up-to-date facilities and maybe we offer some [new] classes … We’re going to have astronomy, we’re going to have meteorology,” Science Department Chair Dr. Julie Baker said. The faculty is currently discussing the implementation of new classes into the curriculum to expand the science program even more.

The teachers are hopeful that the new classroom renovations will fill the current needs of the program, which include new supplies, new work spaces, etc.  Prior to the reception, Joe Hau and Josh and Erin Nelson from Chesapeake Environmental Management (CEM) spoke with DiBiagio about equipment that the science faculty is currently in need of.

“We kind of came up with a list of equipment that we wanted for the different areas of science and Mr. DiBiagio showed [CEM] that and so then they decided that they would donate to buy equipment for biology, chemistry, and environmental science because they do a lot of environmental work,” Baker said. Some of the new supplies include dissolved oxygen probes, hotplates, and magnetic stirring-rods. These supplies are the first small step toward the renovation of the science program.

Former science faculty members were invited back to the school to share information about the program, reunite with their former staff members, and get excited about the science program. Some of the former faculty included Kyle Leppert, Susan Kraft, John Hughes, Lyle Brennen, Cammie Jennings, Tim Perry, Greg Kachur, and Chris Yeung.

Along with the former teachers, the CEM employees, and the current faculty, current board members and distinguished science students were invited to attend the reception as well. The group of distinguished students included seniors, juniors, sophomores, and one freshman.  Each student spoke about the importance of the science program and how it has shaped them and aided in deciding their future careers.

These students listed teachers’ names instead of labs or classwork. “People don’t remember a Bunsen Burner or a test tube, what they do and who they talk about is the teachers, and teachers are the link between our past and our future,” DiBiagio said. The science faculty at JC is the reason that the program is as strong as it is, so if the classrooms and equipment can be renovated and improved, the program will be even stronger.

Director of Institutional Advancement and Alumni Relations Susan Roarty spoke at the event, and she shared the importance of getting the community excited and hopeful about the future of the science program. Baker also talked about the importance of getting the former faculty excited about the future renovations. “[DiBiagio] wanted them to be informed on what are we doing with remodeling and what are our plans for the future so they can get excited about it too,” Baker said.

Olivia Collins is a Community Editor for The Patriot and