University brings on fourteen new full-time faculty members


Among the masses of new faces at Point Park University for the 2016 fall semester are 14 new full-time faculty members working across several departments.

Many of the academic departments hired at least one new full-time faculty member, but not all of them are new to Point Park. Several have been with the university for several semesters, serving as adjunct professors.


Sandra Mervosh is a Pittsburgh native and spent the last 20 years at Point Park as an adjunct professor of human resources (HR) in the Humanities and Human Sciences department, but only recently moved to the School of Business full-time. Mervosh earned her M.A. at La Roche College, as well as two personal certificates for HR.

Mervosh strongly believes that HR is a true business degree and can be used in every company and that education should be all about the students and focused on students gaining knowledge that they will use in their careers.

“It’s not about me,” Mervosh said. “It’s about the students learning and developing in their fields. My job is to support you and your application to your careers.”


Ben Schonberger is the only new full-time faculty member brought on to the School of Communications for the 2016 fall semester.

Schonberger earned his B.F.A. in Photography and Computer Imagery from Shepherd University in West Virginia and earned his M.F.A. in Photography at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. Schonberger has exhibited his work as part of exhibitions in Chicago, Guatemala, Tokyo and Australia.


Point Park’s Conservatory of Performing Arts’ dance department brought on two new full-time faculty members.

Mark Burrell, who has participated in multiple Tony award-winning Broadway productions, joins the university as an assistant dance professor. Burrell attended the Juilliard School of Dance, though halfway through his degree he took two years off school to do many shows for Broadway including “Fosse,” “Cats,” “7 Brides for 7 Brothers” and two versions of “Pippin.”

Burrell worked as the assistant choreographer of the Radio City Rockettes and was cast in the film and stage version of “The Producers,” and has also done considerable commercial work. Burrell went back to school and earned his B.F.A. at the age of 25.

The second addition to the school’s dance department is Colleen Hooper, a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia, who received her M.F.A. and Ph. D. in dance and spent time teaching modern dance and dance history at Temple after graduation.

Hooper has danced for several professional companies in New York and Philadelphia, including Merian Soto, Katherine Kiefer-Stark/The Naked Stark, Beau Hancock, George Russell, Emily Faulkner and Red Dive, a Bessie award-winning Site Specific dance theater company.

Hooper specializes in site specific choreography, which is choreography that is presented in non-traditional stage spaces. Her most recent projects have been focused on water conservation and how people use modern technology.

“The name and history is what drew me here,” Hooper said. “The students are hungry for training and to apply themselves so early into the semester.”


Denise Beverina-Moore is one of four full-time faculty members hired by the Education department. Beverina-Moore has been working at Point Park since 2010 as an adjunct professor and developed and taught the course Differentiated Teaching and Learning and also worked as the student teacher outreach coordinator. She now joins the department as a full-time education instructor and continues as the student teacher outreach coordinator.

Prior to teaching at Point Park, Beverina-Moore spent more than 30 years in public education and taught at Waynesburg University and California University of Pennsylvania.

Ronald Dufalla joins the Education Department as a full-time instructor of education. Dufalla spent more than 30 years at Brentwood Borough School District after earning his Ph.D. of Philosophy, Educational Administration at the University of Pittsburgh.

Most recently, Dufalla has spent the last 10 years as an adjunct professor teaching M.A. Educational Administration at Point Park, training teachers to become principals and was recently involved in the doctoral program where students can earn their Ed.D. certification to become superintendents.

Elisabeth Ehrlich also starts the fall semester as a full-time instructor of education for the Education department. Immediately after earning her Ph.D. at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Ehrlich began working at Point Park as an adjunct professor, and even delayed her retirement to focus on her work at the university.

Ehrlich teaches an online class, as well as graduate classes such as Teaching and Learning, Emerging and Teacher Leadership and Educational Administration.

Eric Stennett, an Army Reserve veteran of three operations, was brought in by the Education department as the director of Ed.D. in leadership and administration program and a full-time faculty member.

Stennett worked in public education for 25 years before being hired by the university.

As of now he is working on growing the program and updating technology and resources, mainly through social media as this is a popular way to connect with students outside of the classroom.

Stennett has set up two Twitter pages for his courses to share the success of the program and students. He created the hashtag #WhoYouAreIsHowYouLead, as a way to share his philosophy with his students.


Associate professor of psychology Jill Thomas is the newest faculty member for the Humanities and Human Sciences department, having previously taught at State University of New York (SUNY) and SUNY Upstate Medical University.

Thomas hopes that undergraduate students will continue their degrees after achieving their B.A. and she certainly practices what she preaches as she has degrees that not only make her a teacher but also make her a clinical psychologist, practice therapist and sex therapist.

“[Point Park] has a great vibe, a lot of positive energy, especially within the students. It is much different than in a medical university, but in a good way,” Thomas said.


Chris Girman is the only new full-time faculty member brought on by the university for the fall semester to the Literary Arts department. He earned his M.A. in law at the University of Texas, his M.F.A. at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and his Ph. D. at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Girman went on to teach middle school for four years in South Texas and at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Girman shakes up the first day of class as a meet-and-greet mixed with class requirements and expectations with mini lessons, which are lessons that help students apply what was learned to lessons that will consequently follow. As students give their names, majors and hometowns, Girman asks students to also describe a childhood image that has shaped them into who they are today, while creating a comfortable and trusting environment.


Pittsburgh native Kristy Long joins the full-time faculty as an instructor of natural sciences. Originally from the South Hills, Long went to the University of New Mexico for her M.A. Afterwards, Long worked lab science at the Los Alamos National Lab on various projects involving nuclear materials for 10 years.

Another addition to his department is Yaser Roshan, an assistant professor of electrical engineering. Roshan received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad in Mashhad, Iran.

Immediately prior to coming to Point Park, Roshan was a post-doctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where he earned his doctorate in Philosophy, Mechatronics Systems Engineering.

Roshan has worked as a project manager or research engineer for multiple private sector companies, including The MathWorks Inc. and Unity Integration Corporation.


Tracey Brent-Chessum has been teaching at Point Park as an adjunct professor since 2013, later teaching online courses from 2014-16. This semester, Brent-Chessum will teach multiple theater courses.

Brent-Chessum attended the University of Maryland in Washington, D.C. in 2007 for her Ph.D.

In 2010, Brent-Chessum founded the Pallas Theater Collective, a non-profit organization that provides theater students and scholars with opportunities to work outside of the academic year in theater productions. Earlier this year, the Pallas Theater Collective was named a nominee for The John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theater Company at the Helen Hayes Awards.

Prior to teaching at Point Park, Brent-Chessum taught at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.

April Daras was also hired by the theater department as a full-time faculty member beginning in August. Daras will serve as a visiting artist for the theatre department.

Daras received both her bachelor’s degree in theater and Masters of Fine Arts degree in directing from Florida State University, before working at Davis and Elkins College in Elkins, W.V. as an associate professor of theater. She has been serving as an adjunct faculty member at Point Park since 2013.

All new faculty members started classes as full-time professors at the start of the fall 2016 semester.