Our Opinion: Marywood’s grade is dropping, earns D on report card


Photo credit/ Jennifer Flynn

The Wood Word Editorial Board evaluates the University in our annual report card.

Each year The Wood Word Editorial Board issues a “report card” to evaluate the university’s performance, similar to how professors grade their students.

We’ll grade the university on a scale from A to F: A is exceptional, B is above average, C is average, D is below average and F is a failure.

This year, Marywood had some definite successes, but many challenges.

The Good

  • Late in the spring 2023 semester, Marywood broke ground for the expansion of the O’Neill Center for Healthy Families building. The project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2024 and will give health sciences students more classrooms, laboratories, conference areas and updated technology. Once completed, the Healthy Families Center will house the Physician Assistant, Respiratory Therapy, Nutrition and Dietetics and Nursing programs. This will keep the health-related majors and minors in one building.


  • Marywood’s Student Health Services made progressive strides toward better health and wellness by hosting the first-ever sexually transmitted infections (STI) testing clinic in October. Students were able to access free and confidential screenings for gonorrhea and chlamydia and receive treatment through Caring Communities, a non-profit organization that provides STI testing and treatment throughout Northeast and Central Pennsylvania. Director of Student Health Services Maura Smith explained that if students are interested, the clinic could become a more frequent occurrence.


  • Despite controversies, The Marywood Activities Council (MAC) organized and hosted a drag show featuring Mrs. Kasha Davis, a Marywood alum and RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant. Promotional Instagram posts for the event received backlash from people both within and outside the Marywood community, but the event itself remained positive and peaceful. Marywood students attended free and non-Marywood students could purchase tickets. MAC announced on Instagram the day of the event that they had sold out tickets and had to set up a waitlist due to the event’s popularity. The event was held off-campus at the Scranton Jewish Community Center.

The Iffy

The drag show simultaneously brought about celebration and controversy.

  • Although the show certainly was a success, it did not occur on Marywood’s campus. When asked about this, MAC members explained that the show was held off-campus to support a larger audience and to encourage members of the community to attend. However, Marywood’s Sette LaVerghetta Center for Performing Arts can seat over 1,000 people and regularly hosts theatrical and musical performances produced by the university that are open to the public. Perhaps in the future, the event will return to campus, but for now, we’ll celebrate the fact that the event occurred in the first place.

The Bad

  • Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Christina Clark has been unavailable for comment as she has been on sabbatical since the conclusion of the Fall 2023 semester, leaving Academic Affairs without a senior administrator. University President Sr. Mary Persico, I.H.M., Ed.D. is acting as Chief Academic Officer through December 2023, at which time a decision will be made regarding the future of the provost position. At a time when faculty are being reduced, students and faculty are likely to feel the effects of the vacancy.


  • Marywood administration attempted to reduce a projected deficit of $7-8 million by offering faculty members Voluntary Separation Offers (VSO). During a convocation held in March, Persico announced that 18 faculty members elected to take the VSOs during the 2022-2023 academic year; however, she explained that the university still needs to reduce the academic budget by $2 million. More non-reappointments of faculty are likely to occur before the end of the fiscal year on June 30. It is unclear how the results of the VSO will affect students and departments already facing staffing challenges. Administrators say that students will not feel the effects of the loss of 18 full time faculty members, but we are skeptical that this will not have an impact on classes and programs.


  • A lack of staffing has affected multiple departments on campus. The Psychology and Counseling Department staff has seen decreases in the number of core faculty members over the past few years. Faculty members in the department have been spread very thin, and have experienced heavier workloads as a result. The Career Development Center was downsized to just one graduate assistant after the director left and was not replaced. The Office of Student Disability Services experienced staffing issues during the 2022-2023 academic year, but those challenges are starting to be addressed. Students are most likely experiencing the effects of understaffed departments and a lack of staffing could lead to a lack of resources available.


  • Students expressed concerns about safety on campus and the effectiveness of the emergency blue light systems. Issues with doors, locks, and keys lead to doors being unlocked and propped open, causing students to feel unsafe in their residence halls. In response to this, Chief of Campus Safety Michael Pasqualicchio said the key card issues were resolved and that campus safety officers are supposed to monitor the desks overnight in Madonna Hall, Regina Hall and Loughran Hall, but only when staffing is available. Campus Safety planned to address safety concerns with a cell phone application that will act as a personal panic button with a direct contact line to campus safety officers. In November 2022, Pasqualicchio said that the app would be released by the end of that month., However, the app was not officially launched until April 2023.


  • Despite concerns expressed by students, an active shooter drill took place on campus, with members of law enforcement firing blanks in Loughran Hall. Worried that the drill could be potentially upsetting or triggering to those present for the drill, psychology major Maxwell Haynes created a Google Form petition to request that law enforcement refrain from firing blanks. Law enforcement carried out the drill, firing of the blanks in an effort to prepare students for a real-life emergency situation.


  • Marywood’s former South Campus property received a new loan servicer in August of 2022. The property was purchased by the The Jarett Yoder Foundation in 2021, however according to an Assignment of Mortgage without Recourse in the Lackawanna County of Recorder of Deeds online database, the mortgage was reassigned to 1801 Jefferson LLC, a domestic limited-liability corporation. 1801 Jefferson LLC was formed just five days before the transfer of the mortgage. Representatives from neither the Yoder Foundation nor 1801 Jefferson, LLC could be reached for comment. Persico, who signed the mortgage document, declined to comment via an email from her executive assistant, as did Mary Theresa Gardier-Paterson, Esq., Secretary of the University and General Counsel for Marywood. It remains unclear whether Marywood received the full payment for the South Campus Property.


  • Marywood’s rollout of the new website brought about challenges for students, faculty and staff. Users reported glitches in the site such as dead links, incomplete pages and incomplete text boxes. Because converting an old website to a new website is such a massive overall task, glitches were to be expected. To address this, the website was rolled out in stages, and the marketing team hopes to continue to update and improve the site.

From concerns about safety on campus, projected budget deficits and faculty downsizing, Marywood is up against some big challenges. These challenges are concerning to students and the greater Marywood community, and because of these challenges, The Wood Word staff gives Marywood a D this year.

We are hopeful that next year may bring solutions to these challenges, more support for faculty and staff experiencing heavy workloads and more resources for student success.

Contact the Editorial Board: [email protected]