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Penn State Berks announces August LionSide Chats

By Penn State Berks

Jul 31, 2020

Penn State Berks is reaching out to the local community in a new way – through LionSide Chats, a modern interpretation of President Roosevelt’s Depression-era “Fireside Chats.” These webinars provide current and timely talks from college faculty and staff experts on a variety of topics and disciplines. The one-hour webinars (30 minutes of content, 30 minutes discussion/questions) are free and open to the public. All LionSide Chats will be delivered via Zoom webinars. A complete schedule of talks and recordings of past LionSide Chats are available on the LionSide Chats website.


“Digital Wellness: Connectivity, Privacy, and Health During a Pandemic”

Alex Chisholm and Sarah Hartman-Caverly, reference and instruction librarians

August 3, 7 to 8 p.m.

Digital wellness seeks to align wellness goals and habits with the use of technology. This presentation will explore the role of technology in maintaining social connections while social distancing, reflect on how technology impacts wellness, and create a Digital Wellness Wheel to achieve conscientious connectivity based on personal values and goals.


“Where’s the Vaccine? Analyzing Statistical Data Related to COVID-19 Treatment”

Dr. Ryan Hassler, associate teaching professor of mathematics

August 6, 3 to 4 p.m.

This presentation is a very friendly introduction to analyzing statistical data related to the treatment and search for a COVID-19 vaccine. We will cover basic principles in designing and conducting clinical trials and how these principles relate to both efficacy and the efficiency of bringing a drug/vaccine to development.


“The Impact of COVID-19 on the Drug Overdose Crisis”

Jennifer Murphy, associate professor of criminal justice

August 12, 2 to 3 p.m.

The opioid overdose crisis continues and Pennsylvania has been one of the hardest hit states. This presentation will look at how the drug overdose rate has been impacted by COVID-19 and what is currently being done to deal with the opioid crisis.


“Professors Spill Student Success Secrets?”

Dr. Justin DeSenso, assistant teaching professor of english and African American studies

Dr. Lolita Paff, associate professor of business and economics

Dr. Allison Singles, assistant professor of kinesiology and mechanical engineering

Moderated by Dawn Pfeifer Reitz, assistant teaching professor of communication arts and sciences

August 18, 7 to 8 p.m.

What makes or breaks a student as they enter college? Tune in as three guest professors weigh in on what behaviors, habits and mindsets they believe can help students be successful in their first semester of college and beyond. Geared toward incoming first-year students, this panel presentation will include professors representing all three academic divisions at the college.

Inspired by his family and friend’s desire for intellectual engagement during the current stay-at-home orders, Ryan Hassler, associate teaching professor of mathematics at Penn State Berks, realized that the faculty and staff at the college could help to fill that void. After approaching colleagues Dawn Pfeifer Reitz, assistant teaching professor of communication arts and sciences, and Sonia Delaquito, learning center coordinator, they put their heads together and came up with the concept for LionSide Chats, an educational platform for communication and gathering as our nation continues to face the challenges of COVID-19. 

Hassler stated, “What most impressed me was the faculty and staff who immediately indicated interest in offering a LionSide Chat based on their own unique expertise. LionSide Chats will enable us to reach beyond the boundaries of our campus and invite ourselves into the homes of our neighbors as we provide enriched and engaged dialog for our community.” 

Delaquito commented, “In a time when the majority of our everyday tasks have shifted online, this is Penn State Berks’ attempt to bridge the gap between the community and the college.” 

“The LionSide Chat series is a classic example of great ideas blossoming through communication and collaboration,” summarized Reitz.

For more information and to view the LionSide Chats schedule, visit the website or email [email protected]

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