Penn State Scranton recently welcomed three new faculty and staff members to the campus community.
The new employees are: Angela Bassani, lecturer in accounting; Kate Lafferty-Danner, coordinator for the Writing Center; and Josh McAuliffe, marketing communications specialist.
All three employees bring a wide range of professional and educational experience to their respective positions.
Angela Bassani, lecturer in accounting
Bassani arrived at Penn State Scranton in 2019 after serving as a business faculty member at Lackawanna College.
She teaches a variety of accounting and finance courses, including Auditing, Managerial Accounting, Principles of Taxation 1, Corporation Finance, and Investment and Portfolio Analysis. Meanwhile, she advises 30 students per semester, and has served on several faculty search committees.
In addition to her faculty duties, Bassani continues to work as an accountant in her role as director of the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne County's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which prepares free tax returns for about 3,000 local residents annually.
Bassani said her students appreciate the professional experience she brings to the classroom, not only in terms of the real-life anecdotes and examples she uses in her teaching, but also the connections she has within the accounting and finance fields.
“When it comes to accounting, my main goal is to make sure my students leave the course feeling confident in their ability to ‘do’ accounting,” she said. “I want them to understand the theories and reasons for why accounting is done a certain way, and the effects of these decisions on business as a whole.”
And, thanks to VITA, Bassani has the opportunity to provide valuable real-world accounting opportunities to students interested in serving as program volunteers.
"I get to watch them take what they have learned in the classroom and actually utilize it, all while helping people. It's amazing to see them transform from nervous, unsure individuals into confident accountants by the end of the process,” said Bassani, who serves on the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ (PICPAs) Education and Schools and Colleges committees.
“This also ties into my interests as a scholar,” she continued. “The accounting profession is currently calling for changes in accounting education, as they are finding recent accounting graduates lack skills such as communication, teamwork, ethical reasoning, etc. I care very much about improving accounting education to ensure students leave as well-rounded individuals who are capable of making positive contributions to their workplace and communities.”
Bassani received both her bachelor’s degree and her MBA from the University of Scranton. There, she started her undergraduate career as an early childhood education major before switching to accounting.
Eventually, though, her interests swung back around to education.
Not long after completing her master’s degree, Bassani was conducting a tax training class for a group of adults. Afterwards, a woman approached her and asked if she had ever considered becoming a teacher, “because she felt I was meant to be one,” Bassani recalled.
“It turns out she was the chair of the Education department at Marywood University for years,” Bassani said. “I applied to adjunct teaching jobs after that … and now here I am!”
Besides teaching full-time and managing the VITA program, Bassani is pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership and management from Drexel University. For her dissertation, she’s researching existing literature on the skills that accounting graduates lack and studying the impact service learning (specifically the VITA program) has on them once they enter the workforce.
A lifelong animal lover, Bassani resides in Scott Township. with three giant rescue dogs, three cats and a horse.
“I never outgrew the little girl's dream of having a horse, so two years ago I bought a horse for Christmas and started taking weekly lessons. This has challenged me and taught me more about myself than I ever realized possible, and I'm so glad I went for it,” said Bassani, who assists with the transportation and fostering needs of two national dog rescues -- BFW Rescue and Big Fluffy Dog Rescue.
Since arriving at Penn State Scranton, Bassani has found the campus community to be more than living up to its “Welcoming Campus” motto.
“I am thrilled to be a part of the business department, which is comprised of caring, driven faculty members, both full-time and adjunct. I feel very blessed to be able to work alongside others who share a passion for our students' success,” she said. “I think the appeal that Penn State Scranton has for me is the same as for our students: it offers all of the wonderful resources that comes with Penn State, yet has that small-campus community feel. … Overall, I'm just so grateful to be here and can't wait to see how this campus will continue to grow and help students achieve their dreams, and how I can be a part of it.”
Kate Lafferty-Danner, coordinator at Writing Center
In the newly created coordinator position at the Writing Center since the start of the spring semester, Lafferty-Danner joins a Learning Center staff committed to enhancing the tutoring services available to campus students.
Besides providing one-on-one tutoring to students, Lafferty-Danner will supervise the center’s student writing tutors.
Lafferty-Danner has been teaching at the college level for the past six years. Previously, she was an adjunct instructor at Misericordia University and Jefferson Community and Technical College, as well as a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Louisville, where she’s currently completing her doctorate in comparative humanities.
While she loves teaching, Lafferty-Danner was intrigued by the idea of working with students in a somewhat different context.
“The Learning Center is seeing an increase of students using tutoring services, and this position opens more opportunities for students to get writing assistance,” she said. “It’s amazing to help students improve as writers. I’m very passionate about the writing process and do my best to explain writing techniques and skills in a way that makes it not so overwhelming. Also, I use a lot of my own experiences in writing to make it not so terrifying. A lot of people say they ‘can’t write,’ and I believe that is simply untrue. I think everyone can become a good writer, but it does take time and patience.”
Lafferty-Danner's initial focus will be on getting acclimated to her new surroundings and tailoring the Writing Center’s services to student needs.
“I also want to work with faculty members to see what the needs are for individual classes and how the Writing Center can contribute to their courses,” she said. “A more long-term goal I have is to work on implementing writing assistance for our English Language Learners (ELL) since there is a growing need in Scranton and throughout Pennsylvania.”
In addition to her doctoral studies, Lafferty-Danner has a master’s degree in bioethics and medical humanities from Louisville, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Rutgers University-Camden, and an associate degree in liberal studies from Camden County College.
So far, she said, the Penn State Scranton campus community is proving to be “unlike any other I’ve experienced before.”
“Even when I visited for my interview back in December, people were so kind and generous right away and I left thinking, ‘I need to be part of this community!’ I feel so welcome here. There is something very special about this campus culture and I am already feeling like this is home,” said Lafferty-Danner, who resides in Scranton with her husband, Patrick Danner, and their “two wonderful cats.”
Speaking of felines, for the past seven years Lafferty-Danner has fostered and rescued cats for several organizations, including One Life to Live Rescue in Scranton. She also gives her time to the Kentucky Health Justice Network as a remote abortion access hotline volunteer.
Since moving to the area six months ago, Lafferty-Danner has been busy exploring its scenic hiking trails. And, she’s taken up cross stitch, which she jokingly referred to as “an incredibly tedious and frustrating hobby.”
Josh McAuliffe, marketing communications specialist
A proud Penn State alumnus, McAuliffe attended both the Scranton and University Park campuses, graduating in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in history.
For 17 years, McAuliffe worked as a reporter at a Scranton daily newspaper The Times-Tribune, primarily as a features writer for the paper’s Lifestyles department. Among other things, he wrote arts and entertainment features, personality profiles and trend stories. In addition, he was responsible for the “Local Flavor” and “Heroes of War” features, and covered all things related to the Scranton-set NBC sitcom, “The Office.”
Since joining the campus’ strategic communications office last year, McAuliffe has primarily focused on writing news articles, feature stories, press releases and social media posts spotlighting campus events, initiatives and student, faculty and staff accomplishments. Meanwhile, since 2014, he has been an adjunct member of the English department, teaching courses in journalism, rhetoric and composition, and professional writing.
“I’m thrilled to be back at the place where my college career began 25 years ago,” McAuliffe said. “Penn State Scranton is a special place for me, so it’s a privilege to be able to help promote all the great things that are happening on campus. I love the mission and I’m honored to serve it.”
A West Scranton resident, McAuliffe also serves as a board member for the Penn State Scranton Alumni Society. In his spare time, he enjoys running, hiking, reading, traveling to craft breweries and, of course, attending Penn State football games.