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Deans’ Retirements Spark Change in Academic Leadership at College

Two academic deans will end their Pennsylvania College of Technology careers this month, leaving a proud legacy for the experienced administrators who will succeed them.

Wayne R. Longbrake, dean of natural resources management, and Kathie E. Morr Longbrake, dean of health sciences, will retire effective June 30.

“Each has made significant contributions,” said Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour. “We wish them a happy, healthy and long retirement, and they can rest assured their legacy will remain at Penn College.”

Mary A. Sullivan will be the dean of natural resources management, Sharon Waters will lead the School of Health Sciences, and Brett A. Reasner will fill Sullivan’s current position of assistant dean of natural resources management.

Longbrake began his “incredible 23-year journey” in July 1984 as director of natural resources management/transportation technology, became assistant dean in July 1990, and, in January 1994, was appointed dean of instruction (later renamed dean of academic affairs). He became dean of outreach education/natural resources management in January 1997, a title that was changed to his most recent position in mid-1998.

“My years of service to Penn College have been filled with many challenges, successes and failures,” Longbrake said. “But I have viewed each failure not as an insurmountable obstacle but as a new opportunity to reconsider avenues around, over and under to accomplish a goal.”

Among those accomplishments during his tenure at the Schneebeli Earth Science Center, Longbrake worked with faculty, industry and advisory committees to revise and develop curriculum that has become nationally recognized and professionally accredited for its technical quality. Those programs include forestry, ornamental horticulture, diesel technology and heavy construction equipment technology.

In 1994, he worked with Cleveland Brothers Equipment Co. to apply for a $50,000 Caterpillar Excellence Fund grant to support the diesel equipment technology program. Since then, four additional Caterpillar dealers have joined to provide an annual grant of $110,000; Excellence Fund grants have totaled more than $1 million since 1994. Two years ago, the program was expanded to assist and support electric power generation technology.

“Another strategic relationship was developed with Volvo Construction Equipment in 2002,” Longbrake said. “Since then, Volvo has donated several hundred thousand dollars of equipment in support of the diesel equipment technology program.” In 2005, he added, Volvo began using Penn College facilities to provide service technician training for the northeastern United States.

Among other hallmarks of his college career, Longbrake points to the Student Success Program, which has had a positive effect on helping enrollees adjust to the college environment; endowment of a Natural Resources Management scholarship fund that today stands at $250,000; and the semiannual Career Fairs that now bring scores of prospective employers to the Earth Science campus to meet with students.

Longbrake also was instrumental in the completion of a $4.2 million expansion/renovation project at the Schneebeli Earth Science Center in 1999.

Longbrake’s successor has been assistant dean since 2002, a post she attained after serving 10 years as director of Academic Support Services/Act 101. Sullivan brings to the position substantial experience in curriculum development, enrollment management and technical education, and long has championed opportunities for women in nontraditional career fields.

She holds an associate degree in ornamental horticulture from Williamsport Area Community College; and bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in education from The Pennsylvania State University.

“Academic excellence has always been our goal,” she said. “That goal will not change. Employers eagerly seek out our graduates to fill technical positions within their companies, and the School of Natural Resources Management has been fortunate to have excellent partnerships with business and industry,” Sullivan said. “We look forward to continuing the existing relationships and building new ones so that our students may benefit by additional donations of equipment, training opportunities and employment.”

Reasner comes to the Earth Science campus after nearly 15 years as an associate professor of aviation, a role that won him a coveted Master Teacher Award the college’s highest faculty honor in 1999. He received an associate degree in aviation maintenance from W.A.C.C.; holds a bachelor’s in aviation maintenance technology from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; and earned a master’s in education from Wilkes University.

“I look forward to working with Dr. Sullivan and to share her vision of leadership for the school,” Reasner said. “My transition started in February, which has allowed me the opportunity to learn the culture and people at the Earth Science Center.

“I hope to continue and foster the excellent relationship the school enjoys with industry. The industry relationships are important for students from an employment perspective, but also keep the school on the cutting edge of technology with generous donations of modern equipment.”

A former lead mechanic for Delta Air Lines in Washington, D.C., Reasner has Federal Aviation Administration Airframe and Powerplant licenses, along with an FAA private pilot’s license.

He is the chair of College Council, chaired the Overview section for the last Middle States Report, and serves on the Penn College Alumni Advisory Committee. He is a graduate of the Chair Academy, which provides training for postsecondary leaders, and he chairs the South Williamsport Area School District Foundation.

Morr Longbrake was promoted to dean of health sciences in 2005. She began her career with Penn College in 1992, serving as assistant to the dean of health sciences and director of dental hygiene, during which time she implemented the college’s bachelor-degree program in dental hygiene and directed the bachelor-degree major in applied health studies.

She also has been successful as dean in developing programs for pre-health science students, mentoring program directors, and providing outstanding guidance and direction in accreditation.

“My professional journey has been filled with many wonderful opportunities,” Morr Longbrake said. “Being part of the Penn College family has been an honor, and I celebrate the many accomplishments that together we have achieved.”

Before her work at Penn College, she served on the faculty at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill for 20 years and chaired the dental hygiene department at Idaho State University.

She has been an accreditation commissioner for dental hygiene and most recently served as vice president for the Council of Allied Dental Program Directors of the American Dental Education Association. She has been awarded numerous grants and has been published both nationally and internationally.

Morr Longbrake has been an active member of the Board of the Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition since the mid-1990s and is retiring to North Carolina with her husband, Wayne.

Named to head the School of Health Sciences is Waters, director of counseling, career and disability services at the college.

“I am very much looking forward to the leadership opportunities presented by the School of Health Sciences, specifically the important responsibilities associated with educating students to become competent and caring health-care professionals,” she said. “Health care is a key element of community vitality. It will be my privilege to work with the faculty and administration to prepare students for future careers that will impact the lives of so many in our communities.”

Prior to becoming director of counseling, career and disability services in 1994, she was coordinator of its New Options program. Her work with the program earned an Exemplary Vocational Education Program Award from the Pennsylvania Department of Education in 1991.

She began working for the college, then W.A.C.C., in 1985, and previously was an adolescent and family therapist for Lycoming County Children and Youth Services and a contract therapist for Tressler-Lutheran Services/Family and Children’s Services.

In her role as director of counseling career and disability services, Waters facilitates the College and Community Coalition, which was honored in 2001 with a Governor’s Highway Safety Award.

In addition, she has served more than a decade on the local CareerLink Management Team, has been a big sister for Big Brothers/Big Sisters for seven years and recently joined the Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition. She holds memberships in several professional organizations.

Waters has finished course work and is completing a dissertation toward a doctorate in higher education leadership from Touro University. She earned a master’s degree in counselor education from Penn State and a bachelor of social work degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

“We extend congratulations and best wishes to dean Morr Longbrake and dean Longbrake as they explore new horizons ahead,” said Lizabeth S. Mullens, vice president for academic affairs/provost. “We offer congratulations and support to Sharon Waters, Mary Sullivan and Brett Reasner as they continue their commitment to the success of Penn College in new and productive ways.”

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