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Academic Leadership Profiles

Dr. Brenda Fredette

Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

As PennWest’s chief academic officer, Fredette is responsible for assisting the president in achieving the mission, vision, and values of the university. She serves as a strategic leader for the Academic Affairs division through collaboration with other university divisions, serving as a university representative at functions with external constituents and organizations, and creating community relationships.


  • Ph.D. in Biochemistry, State University of New York at Buffalo
  • Ed.M. in Chemistry Education, SUNY Buffalo
  • B.S. in Biology, Daemen University

Dr. Daniel Engstrom

Deputy Provost

Engstrom is responsible for advising the provost on matters within Academic Affairs and directing the individuals within the division. He provides leadership and oversight for operational activities, including working with the deans to create and execute a student-focused academic schedule, implementing and assessing student success and academic support programs, monitoring program enrollments, and engaging in discussions with APSCUF, the faculty union. He also is responsible for monitoring implementation of the synthesized graduate and undergraduate academic programs.


  • E.D.D. in Instructional Leadership, Duquesne University
  • M.E.D. in Career and Technology Education, Bowling Green State University
  • B.S. in Technology Teacher Education/Industrial Arts Teacher Education, Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Dr. David Hartley

Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Faculty Relations

Hartley provides leadership on contractual issues and faculty-related questions. Before being named associate provost and associate vice president for faculty relations, he served as interim associate provost and veterans services coordinator at Clarion. Hartley was dean of the College of Business Administration at Clarion from 2005-2019. He also he served in the U.S. Army for 20 years.


  • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership and Human Resource Development, Regent University
  • M.A. in Management, Webster University
  • B.S. in Liberal Studies, Excelsior University

Dr. Mary Paniccia-Carden

Interim Dean, College of Arts and Humanities


Before being named interim dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, Carden was a faculty member at Edinboro for 20 years. During that time she served for eight years as chair of the Department of English and Philosophy, and she was twice named Scholar of the Year. Carden, who previously taught at SUNY Binghamton and Southeastern Oklahoma State University, is the author of two books and co-editor of a third; a second collection of co-edited essays is under contract.


  • Ph.D. in English, State University of New York at Binghamton
  • M.A. in English, State University ofNew York at Binghamton
  • B.A. in Speech Communication and English Writing, State University of New York College at Geneseo

Dr. Thomas Wickham

Interim Dean, College of Natural Sciences and Engineering Technology

Wickham moved to his current role after serving as associate dean of PennWest’s College of Natural Sciences and Engineering Technology. A faculty member at California for 20 years, he also served as interim assistant dean of Cal U’s Eberly College of Science and Technology from 2020-2022.


  • Ph.D. in Parks and Recreation, Penn State University
  • M.S. in Recreation and Parks, minor in public administration, West Virginia University
  • B.S. in Parks and Recreation, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Philip Frese

Dean, College of Business, Communication, and Information Sciences

Before being named dean of PennWest’s College of Business, Communication, and Information Sciences, Frese served as dean of Clarion’s College of Business Administration and Information Science, beginning in 2013. At Clarion he strengthened the business core by incorporating data analytics to meet employers’ needs. He also developed graduate programs in accounting and data analytics, as well as an online MBA with added concentrations. Frese increased fundraising to support faculty research at Clarion and restructured the college’s Business Advisory Council to increase participation and input. He led the college’s American Association for Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) reaccreditation process and is active in AACSB, where he has been a peer reviewer.


  • Ph.D. in Accounting and Business/Management, Drexel University
  • M.B.A in Accounting and Taxation, Fairleigh Dickinson University
  • B.S. in Accounting, Fairleigh Dickinson University

Dr. Timothy Stevenson

Interim Dean, College of Education

Before becoming dean of PennWest’s College of Education, Stevenson was associate dean for the college. He previously led the Clarion Office of Field Studies. Prior to joining Clarion, Stevenson taught as an adjunct instructor at Gannon University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Butler County Community College. Prior to joining the university in 2017, he was a music educator in the Brookville Area School District for 15 years.


  • Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • M.A. in Music Performance, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • B.S.Ed. in Music Education, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Deborah Kelly

Interim Dean, College of Health Sciences

Before her appointment as interim dean, Kelly was a faculty member in Clarion's Department of Nursing for 18 years. During her career at Clarion, she served as department chair and nursing administrator, and she oversaw five programs that spanned the nursing career ladder from the associate to the doctoral level, including Clarion's in-person A.S.N. and B.S.N. degrees and online R.N.-B.S.N., M.S.N. and D.N.P. programs. Kelly also is a certified hospice and palliative care administrator.


  • D.N.P in Nursing Practice, University of Pittsburgh
  • M.S.N. in Nursing, University of Pittsburgh
  • B.S.N. in Nursing, Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Dr. James Fisher

Interim Dean, College of Social Sciences and Human Services

Before his appointment as interim dean, Fisher spent more than 20 years as a professor of politics and legal studies at Edinboro, including six years as chair of the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice. He also served as Edinboro's associate provost and interim provost and vice president for academic affairs.


  • Ph.D. in Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • J.D., William & Mary Law School
  • B.A. in Political Science, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania