Wilkes University


Wilkes University Begins 85th Academic Year

Wilkes University welcomes students returning to campus for its 85th academic year at Welcome Weekend from Aug. 25 to 27. The weekend of events is a prelude to the start of classes on Monday, Aug. 28. The University’s nearly 2,400 undergraduates are returning to a campus that includes the new Clayton and Theresa Karambelas Media and Communication Center housing its communication studies department and a new and expanded Sordoni Art Gallery. Both new facilities are at 141 South Main St. adjacent to the East Campus Gateway.

Move-in day and First-Year Foundations Convocation for freshmen and transfer students will be held on Friday, Aug. 25. Students begin moving in as early as 6 a.m. and continue throughout the day. Upperclassmen move in Saturday and Sunday. The convocation at 3 p.m. on Friday formally welcomes students to the academic life of the University, culminating in an address by University President Patrick F. Leahy. Speakers also include Anne Skleder, University provost and executive vice president, Class of 2013 alumna Melanie Nolt Hamley and student Mmachi “Toria” Dimoriaku. It will be followed by a reception for students, parents and faculty.

Wilkes’ Class of 2021 has 632 students, making it the second largest class in Wilkes history, as well as the strongest academically. Fifty-two students will be in the Wilkes honors program, which is in its third year.

In addition to these first-year students, 125 transfer students and 300 graduate students will attend the University. This brings the total number of students enrolled in all of Wilkes’ programs to more than 5,500.

Remaining faithful to Wilkes’ founding mission, 323 students, 51 percent of the class, are the first in their families to pursue a four-year degree.

“We are so pleased to welcome the newest class to Wilkes University,” said President Patrick F. Leahy. “Our robust enrollment across all bachelor’s master’s and doctoral programs, combined with the significant campus investments, reflects the next phase in our evolution from our founding as a junior college to a doctoral university.” 

The class also includes 40 international students, and students from 14 states. The three most popular majors among first-year students are nursing, pharmacy and mechanical engineering. Sixteen percent of all new entering students counts a Wilkes graduate among their immediate or extended family.

The class includes the first students to participate in WilkesEDGE™, an innovative program designed to help first-year students who need additional support with the transition to college life. Students in the program receive opportunities for learning and growth that include a reduced academic course load in the first semester, weekly meetings with a WilkesEDGE™ program mentor and guaranteed on-campus employment.

The new 17,726-square-foot Karambelas Media and Communication Center debuts with the start of classes. It includes faculty offices, classroom space and brings the communication studies departments’ co-curricular activities under one roof. These include WCLH Radio, Wilkes Now television, The Beacon student newspaper, the student-run public relations agency Zebra Communications and the speech and debate team. A formal dedication of the center is planned for 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 31.

The Sordoni Art Gallery has been relocated to a new, larger space adjacent to the media center at 141 South Main St. The gallery debuts in October with its first exhibit, “15 Minutes: From Image to Icon,” featuring the work of legendary Pennsylvania artist Andy Warhol. It will be dedicated during Homecoming Weekend with a ceremony on Oct. 6.

Other highlights of the new academic year include:

  • Wilkes first Ph.D. program, an online doctorate in nursing offered in the Passan School of Nursing, begins this fall. It brings the total of doctoral/terminal degree programs offered at Wilkes to five. In addition to the doctor of philosophy in nursing, they include the doctor of nursing practice, doctor of education, doctor of pharmacy and the master of fine arts in creative writing. 
  • A new major in hospitality leadership will be offered for the first time in the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership. Hospitality majors find careers in lodging, restaurant, tourism, and gaming management. They learn to run hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and other businesses that serve business travelers and vacationers. The major requires an experiential component with students gaining experience working in businesses such as hotels, resorts, restaurants and casinos.
  • Graduates of the digital design and media art major will now be awarded a bachelor of fine arts degree upon graduation. The new degree provides students with a more comprehensive education by requiring additional classes in fine arts.
  • New sidewalks, lighting and tree plantings have been installed on streets bordering the Wilkes campus, funded by a $1 million grant from the Pennsylvania State Transportation Alternatives program. Work was done to enhance pedestrian safety on West South Street between South River and South Franklin streets and on South Franklin between West South and East Northampton streets. A new pedestrian crosswalk was installed in front of the Henry Student Center.

About Wilkes University:

Wilkes University is an independent institution of higher education dedicated to academic and intellectual excellence through mentoring in the liberal arts, sciences, and professional programs. Founded in 1933, the university is on a mission to create one of the great small universities, offering all of the programs, activities, and opportunities of a large, research university in the intimate, caring, and mentoring environment of a small, liberal arts college, at a cost that is increasingly competitive with public universities. The Economist named Wilkes 25th in the nation for the value of its education for graduates. In addition to 42 bachelor’s degree programs, Wilkes offers 25 master's degree programs and five doctoral/terminal degree programs including the doctor of philosophy in nursing, doctor of nursing practice, doctor of education, doctor of pharmacy, and master of fine arts in creative writing. Learn more at www.wilkes.edu.