Amazing Alumni: LAS Class Notes


Jones elected to ACS

Loretta Jones

Loretta Jones.

Loretta Jones, PhD, (’79 chemistry) was elected as a 2014 Fellow of the American Chemical Society. She is among 99 new members of the class of 2014, who were recognized for their outstanding achievements to both chemistry and society. Jones is a professor emerita of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Northern Colorado. During her tenure, she did pioneering work in multimedia instruction and visual learning, promoting chemical education research as a scholarly activity.




Marino releases new poetry collection 

Elizabeth Marino

Elizabeth Marino.

Elizabeth Marino (MA ’82 English) has released her new chapbook, Ceremonies, with Dancing Girl Press. The hand-bound art chapbook grew out of a writers’ workshop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her earlier chapbook, Debris: Poems and Memoir, was published by Puddin’head Press in 2011. Marino has performed her work at venues including Guild Complex and her poems have been published in the anthology Cantologia (2013, Pandora lobo estopario Press) and several online sites.





Pacyga returns from Fulbright year teaching in Poland

Dominic Pacyga

Dominic Pacyga.

Dominic Pacyga, PhD, (’81 history) returned to his stateside schedule as a professor of history at Columbia College Chicago in September 2014, after completing a year in residence at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland as a Fulbright Teaching Scholar. During the 2013-14 academic year, Pacyga served as guest faculty in the Institute of American Studies and Polish Diaspora, teaching American and Chicago history. Pacyga has authored or coauthored five books concerning Chicago’s history including Chicago: A Biography (2009) and Polish Immigrants and Industrial Chicago (1991). Pacyga has also consulted with numerous neighborhood organizations, student groups, and ethnic, labor, and fraternal groups to preserve and exhibit their histories. He was guest curator for a major exhibit, “The Chicago Bungalow,” at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and is a coeditor of the exhibit’s companion volume, The Chicago Bungalow (2001). Pacyga is a winner of the Oscar Halecki Award from the Polish American Historical Association and a winner of the Catholic Book Award. Pacyga attended the Chicago Circle (UICC), earning his undergraduate degree in the teaching of history in 1971, his master’s degree in history in 1973, and his doctoral degree in history in 1981.


Penn mentors GWS students

Suzanne Penn

Suzanne Penn.

Suzanne Penn, PhD, (’79 psychology) returned to campus on March 12, 2014, to share her expertise with junior and senior students at the “Balancing Your Life: After Graduation” workshop sponsored by the Gender and Women’s Studies Program. Penn joined Mark Martell, assistant director of UIC’s Office of Career Services, to coach students in preparing for the world of work. Penn, who is the national director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Development, discussed goal setting, branding and marketing yourself, securing internships and fellowships, the new economy and working remotely, the shift from corporate jobs to freelancing and entrepreneurship, and financial planning and managing student loan debt. Martell addressed constructing resumes and cover letters and interviewing tips.


Raccah receives publishing award

Dominique Raccah

Dominique Raccah.

Dominique Raccah (’78 psychology), founder and CEO of Sourcebooks, an independent book publishing company, was named “most inspiring digital publishing person of 2013” by FutureBook Innovation Awards, established in 2010 to recognize digital innovation across the global publishing business. Raccah has overseen the launch of Sourcebooks’ Put Me In the Story™ personalized children’s book platform, which includes partnerships with Sesame Workshop®, Hello Kitty®, The Berenstain Bears®, and Anne Geddes, as well as a series of interactive digital editions of Shakespeare’s plays. The 26-year-old publishing company continues to publish fiction and non-fiction works in traditional hardcover and paperback formats, while innovating in the burgeoning industry of digital publishing.


Shearer publishes debut novel

Jay Shearer

Jay Shearer.

Jay Shearer, PhD, (2011 English) has published Five Hundred Sirens with Cairn Press, LLC. The comedic novel centers on the story of a frustrated playwright and stay-at-home father who gets entangled with the personal lives of his neighbors while struggling with his own midlife crisis. Shearer’s work has appeared in publications including Other Voices, Beloit Fiction Journal, Southeast Review, Southern Indiana Review, Peregrine, and Main Street Rag. His novella, The Pulpit vs. The Hole, won the USC Gold Line Press chapbook competition. He is currently reworking his short story collection How Exquisite the Dead Girl, which was a finalist in the 2013 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. Shearer is a lecturer in the English department, where he teaches first-year composition, media and professional writing, and fiction and non-fiction writing workshops.


Smith publishes history book

Eric Smith

Eric R. Smith.

Eric R. Smith, PhD (2007 history), a full-time instructor at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, is the author of American Relief Aid and the Spanish Civil War, published in 2013 by the University of Missouri Press. The scholarly work examines Americans’ activism around aid for the Spanish Republicans in the charged political climate in the years leading up to World War II. Smith, who earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology at UIC in 1993, continued in LAS for graduate school, earning his master’s and doctoral degrees in history. Smith has previously taught at Loyola University Chicago and Columbia College Chicago.



Stufken joins Arizona faculty

John Stufken

John Stufken.

John Stufken, PhD (’86 MSCS) has been appointed as the inaugural Charles Wexler Professor in Statistics at the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences at Arizona State University. Stufken will lead the future expansion plans to form a department of statistics within the school. That growth will start with hiring two new faculty positions this year, and planning for five positions total over the first three years. The initial focus will be to substantially increase the quality and size of the school’s doctoral statistics program. A native of the Netherlands, Stufken studied mathematics at the University of Nijmegen, now known as Radboud University, and chose UIC for his doctoral work in statistics. As the University of Georgia’s head of statistics, Stufken was one of the architects of the Modeling and Analytics Graduate Network. Stufken previously served for several years as program director of statistics, Division of Mathematical Sciences, at the National Science Foundation. He was also a professor at Iowa State University. Stufken is a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and the American Statistical Association, and is an elected member of the International Statistical Institute.


Vondracek awarded Phi Kappa Phi scholarship

Hugh Vondracek

Hugh Vondracek.

Hugh Vondracek (2014, political science) has been awarded a fellowship by the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi—the nation's oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. Vondracek is among 57 students nationwide to receive the highly competitive award of $5,000. Vondracek, who received an LAS Alumni Association Merit Award in 2013, was the 2014 winner of the Donald and Leah Riddle Prize for Outstanding Graduating Senior, one of UIC’s top undergraduate honors. In 2012, he wrote about his experience as a Critical Language Scholar for AtLAS magazine. Vondracek is currently completing a graduate degree in international relations at the University of Glasgow.


Zarate wins ABA scholarship

Jonathan Zarate

Jonathan Zarate.

Jonathan Zarate (2013, political science) is a recipient of a 2014 American Bar Association (ABA) Legal Opportunity Scholarship, and is currently attending IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, focusing on health law. Zarate is one of 20 first-year law school students who will receive a total of $15,000 over the course of three years in law school. The scholarship was established by Former ABA President William G. Paul to encourage racially and ethnically diverse students to apply to and enter law school.