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Cabinet Biographies

Dr. R. Lorraine (Laurie) Bernotsky

Interim President

Bernotsky assumed the role of interim president on July 1, 2023, four months after her appointment as PennWest’s acting president. She succeeds founding president Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, who retired on June 30, 2023.

Before her appointment by the PASSHE Board of Governors, Bernotsky served PennWest as its executive vice president and chief operating officer, providing guidance and direction in all operational areas. Since October 2022 she has focused on operational excellence, strategic enrollment management, and long-term plans for financial sustainability.

Bernotsky is on loan to PennWest from West Chester University, PASSHE’s largest university, where she has been executive vice president and provost since 2017. In this role she led the Academic Affairs division, which housed five colleges and roughly 850 faculty, and was responsible for leadership in the areas of budget and labor relations.

A former associate provost and dean of The Graduate School at WCU, Bernotsky has extensive experience in undergraduate and graduate admissions, enrollment management, financial aid, student support services, curriculum development, program review, and assessment.


D.Phil. in Politics, University of Oxford
M.Phil. in Politics, University of Oxford
M.A. in Sociology, Temple University

Dr. James Fisher

Interim Provost and Vice President for 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. Susanne Fenske

Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Student Affairs

Fenske collaborates with offices across the university to address institutional effectiveness, institutional research, compliance and audits, assessment, and accreditation. She provides leadership to align those efforts with PennWest’s strategic plans and priorities, drive retention initiatives, assess organizational excellence, and foster a culture that promotes exceptional experiences for students, faculty and staff.

As chief student affairs officer, Fenske advises the university president on all aspects of student life and advocates for students’ non-academic and co-curricular needs. She supervises staff who oversee areas including institutional research; auxiliary, dining and commuter services; student conduct; events services; campus programming; health and wellness; counseling; services for students with disabilities; center for career and professional development; public safety; and student housing/residence life.


Ph. D.in Advancement of Learning and Service in Higher Education, Cardinal Stritch University
M.S. in Student Personnel Administration, Concordia University of Wisconsin
B.A. in Communication, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Jim Geiger

Vice President for Advancement and Clarion Campus Administrator

Geiger provides strategic direction for the university’s comprehensive advancement program, including brand strategy and marketing, communications and public relations, fundraising and donor relations, and alumni engagement. He leads teams responsible for shaping the university’s public image and reputation directly and through the media; marketing PennWest to future students and their families; raising funds to provide student scholarships and support PennWest and its campuses; working with campus-based foundations; and engaging with California, Clarion, Edinboro and PennWest alumni.

As campus administrator for PennWest Clarion, Geiger acts on behalf of the university president, as needed, to oversee campus-specific projects, direct and coordinate emergency operations, provides general oversight and management for Clarion’s Golden Eagles athletics, provide remarks at on- and off-campus events, and act as the university liaison and campus spokesperson when the president is on another campus.


M.H.A. in Health Administration, Ohio University
B.S.C. in Communication Systems Management, Ohio University

Dr. Sarah Freed

Interim Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management

Freed is responsible for providing strategic direction and oversight of the university's enrollment management efforts related to student recruitment and retention. She leads development of the university’s strategic enrollment management plan, an integrated recruitment and admissions effort that supports PennWest’s strategic goals. She collaborates with offices across the university on initiatives that support the success of recruitment strategies and maximize student outcomes.

Freed provides leadership to the offices of admissions, recruitment, financial aid, and grant-funded programs, including TRIO and TRIO Upward Bound.


M.A. in General Psychology, Adelphi University
B.A. in Counseling and Human Services, University of Scranton

Fawn Petrosky

Vice President for Finance

Petrosky oversees the university’s financial operations, facilities management, safety and risk management, and technology services, including information technology, systems and operations, financial planning and analysis, student accounts, and business analytics.

She is responsible for developing the university budget and ensuring fiscal integrity and sound financial reporting incompliance with accounting and auditing standards. Under her leadership, the Fiscal Affairs staff prepares financial and budget statements; coordinates external audits; administers all unrestricted, restricted, agency, plant fund and auxiliary accounting operations; and handles cash management, banking and grants accounting. The university’s liaison to campus-based foundations, Petrosky also works closely with campus leaders, the State System and external auditors to keep PennWest on a sustainable path.


Certified Public Accountant
M.S. in Business Administration and Accounting, California University of Pennsylvania
B.S. in Business Administration and Accounting, California University of Pennsylvania

Kelly Repinski

Vice President for University Affairs and Advocacy

Repinski provides strategic vision and leadership to build advocacy capacity, support University Affairs and advance the university’s mission and priorities. She is responsible for building and supporting existing relationships with external stakeholders across the government, business, civic, and nonprofit sectors, while serving as an internal expert on advocacy and University Affairs.  Repinski collaborates with offices across the university to communicate with elected officials, community leaders, members of associations and other relevant institutions about University initiatives and their impact on the region and the Commonwealth.

Repinski is the primary liaison to PennWest’s Council of Trustees, serves on the PASSHE Public Affairs Senior Leadership Group, and acts as PennWest’s Right-to-Know officer.


M.S. in Sport Management: Intercollegiate Athletic Administration, California University of Pennsylvania
M.H.A. in Healthcare Administration, Louisiana State University
B.A. in Communications, University of Maryland University College

Eric Guiser

Senior Associate Vice President for Human Relations

As PennWest’s chief human resources officer, Guiser provides direction and strategy on issues involving employee recruitment and retention, onboarding, employee and labor relations, benefits and compensation, and performance standards and assessments.  

He ensures that all HR plans, programs, communications, and activities are aligned to the mission, strategic objectives and brand identity of PennWest.


B.S. in Business Logistics, Penn State University
SHRM Senior Certified Professional

Scott Heinrichs

Special Assistant to the Interim President

Heinerichs brings more than 17 years of executive leadership in the fields of specialized and regional accreditation and health sciences to his role as adviser to the interim president. He is on loan to PennWest from West Chester University, where he was dean of the College of Health Sciences.

Heinerichs has held in a variety of leadership roles, including interim assistant vice president; faculty associate for teaching, learning, and assessment; interim chair of the WCU Sports Medicine Department; and program director for West Chester’s inaugural entry-level master’s degree in athletic training.


Ed.D. in Higher Education Academic Leadership, Widener University
M.A.T. in Health Education, University of South Carolina
B.S. in Athletic Training, West Chester University of Pennsylvania