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Academic Leadership Profiles

Dr. James Fisher

Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs


Before his appointment as interim provost, 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 PennWest’s interim dean for the college of social sciences and human services, Edinboro's associate provost, and Edinboro’s 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

Dr. Jacqueline Knaust

Interim Associate Provost


Before her appointment as interim associate provost, Knaust was an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry, Mathematic, and Physics. She served as Assistant Department Chair, was Co-Chair of the inaugural PennWest Faculty Senate, and served as the Chair of the Faculty Senate at Clarion University for the two years leading up to integration. She has been the faculty mentor for the Clarion Women’s Volleyball Team for many years and was honored with the 2019 Faculty of the Year award, as voted on by the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, representing all student athletes.


  • Ph.D. in Chemistry, University of Missouri-Columbia
  • B.S. in Chemistry, Quincy University

Dr. Bob Mehalik

Interim Associate Provost and Graduate Dean


Before his appointment as acting associate provost and graduate dean, Mehalik was the acting associate dean for the college of health sciences and human services (and previously the acting associate dean of the college of social sciences and human services). He also serviced as the Chair for the department of Counseling, was Faculty Senate President at California University for 5 years leading up to integration, and the NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative. Mehalik is a tenured counseling faculty member.


  • Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision, Waynesburg University
  • M.Ed. in School Counseling, California University of Pennsylvania
  • M.S. in Community Counseling, California University of Pennsylvania
  • B.S. in Political Science, California University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Shayne Gervais

Associate Vice President for Academic Services and University Registrar


Leveraging both domestic and international experience in higher education, Dr. Gervais is responsible for advising and providing guidance in the Office of the Provost and directly to the Provost. Additionally, he provides leadership for the Office of the Registrar regarding a range of items that relate both directly and indirectly to academic issues and challenges. These items include overseeing the university catalog, curriculum, degree audit, registration, schedule, student academic records, graduation and transfer articulation.


  • Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration, University of Alabama
  • M.A. in Higher Education Administration, University of Alabama
  • B.A. in Psychology, Laurentian University

Dr. Brenda Fredette

Dean, College of Science, Technology and Business.


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. Mary Paniccia-Carden

Dean, College of Education, Arts and Humanities


Before being named interim dean of the College of Education, 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. Deborah Kelly

Dean, Health Sciences and Human Services


Before her appointment as 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