Wilkes University


Wilkes University Provost Anne Skleder Announces Appointment of Four New Deans

Wilkes University Provost Anne Skleder has announced the appointment of new deans to lead the colleges of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and Science and Engineering and the schools of Education and Nursing.

William Hudson, Dean of the College of Science and EngineeringWilliam B. Hudson has been named Dean of the College of Science and Engineering. Hudson will lead academic programs that include aerospace studies, biology and health sciences, chemistry, biochemistry, electrical engineering, physics, environmental engineering, earth sciences, mathematics, computer science, mechanical engineering, engineering management and environmental sciences and sustainability. 

Previously, Hudson was professor of electrical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and served in a variety of administrative roles, including department chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Technology at Minnesota State University, Mankato and dean of the College of Engineering, Mathematics, and Science at University of Wisconsin-Platteville. His industry experience includes serving as principal network design engineer at Sprint. 

Hudson was a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, New Mexico State University, Kansas State University and Minnesota State University, Mankato, and also conducted research. His most recent research focused on human performance related to law enforcement efforts. He holds three patents and has won grants totaling more than half a million dollars from funding agencies that include the National Science Foundation, National Academy of Science, BioServ and from companies in the private sector. His grants have supported many initiatives, from engineering design projects to programs to enhance student retention. 

He received his doctoral and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from New Mexico State University and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with a minor in biology from Metropolitan State College. Hudson has completed additional study in biochemistry and business and management. 

Paul Riggs, Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social SciencesPaul Riggs has been named Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Wilkes University. Riggs will lead programs that include the behavioral and social sciences, global history and languages, integrative media and art, communication studies, humanities and the performing arts. 

Previously, Riggs was interim associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and department head and professor of history at Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Ga. Prior professional positions include department head and associate professor of history, department head and assistant professor of history, and temporary assistant professor of history at Valdosta State University. He also served as executive assistant to the president, secretary of the college, assistant dean of the college, and assistant to the Office of Academic Affairs at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa.; and academic advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences at University of Pittsburgh. 

He has authored or co-authored articles in peer-reviewed journals; written reviews, abstracts, and an annotated bibliography; and delivered numerous paper and scholarly presentations nationwide and in the United Kingdom. He has served on multiple volunteer and professional committees and as a manuscript reviewer, historical consultant, grant reviewer, and panel chairperson. He has received two pre-doctoral fellowships and numerous research and travel grants. Notably, he was co-principal investigator on a three-year U.S. Department of Education grant totaling nearly $1 million under the Teaching American History program. 

Riggs received his doctorate and master’s degree in history from the University of Pittsburgh and a bachelor’s degree in history from Dickinson College. 

Rhonda M. Rabbitt, Dean of the School of EducationRhonda M. Rabbitt has been named Dean of the School of Education. Rabbitt will lead programs that include elementary and early childhood education, middle level education, a major and minor in secondary education, special education certification, and master and doctoral degree programs, domestically and internationally. 

Previously, Rabbitt served as assistant dean and director of Graduate Programs in Education at Viterbo University, La Crosse, Wisc. There she oversaw 17 graduate licensure, endorsement and degree programs across Wisconsin and Iowa. She coordinated and co-authored for submission data and accreditation reports. She was also a regional development outreach specialist and interim director of the Master of Education-Professional Development program at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Faculty appointments and teaching positions include assistant professor in the School of Education at Viterbo University; adjunct faculty member at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse; team teaching lecturer at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, Minneapolis campus; and high school Spanish teacher. 

She is the author of six publications regarding education, action research, and continuous improvement and has delivered research presentations at conferences internationally. She serves as judge for International Team Excellence Awards and Education Team Excellence Recognition. Rabbitt is the recipient of four grants specific to education. She has served as a peer reviewer for numerous professional associations, served as president of the Wisconsin Independent Colleges of Teacher Education; and has served on various state-level education and university committees, councils, and task forces. She also has volunteered her time and expertise to support school districts and teachers to meet state-required teacher professional development plan requirements. 

Rabbitt received a doctorate in educational leadership and change from Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, Calif., a master’s degree in secondary education – Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She is also a certified manager in quality and organizational excellence. 

Deborah Zbegner, Dean of the Wilkes University Passan School of NursingDeborah Zbegner has been named Dean of the Wilkes University Passan School of Nursing. Prior to her appointment, Zbegner, a Mountain Top resident, had served as interim dean for the school since August 2014. She will lead the school’s undergraduate program leading to the bachelor of science degree in nursing and graduate programs that include programs offering master’s degrees in nursing education and nurse executive; two programs that offer the nurse practitioner certification with specializations in adult gerontology primary care or psychiatric/mental health; and for the doctor of nursing practice degree. 

As interim dean, Zbegner developed a strategic plan for the school and, working with a marketing firm, developed online programs for nurse executive and nursing education master’s degrees that are being marketed on the national level. Prior to serving as interim dean, Zbegner was director of the Passan School of Nursing’s graduate programs, where she co-developed Wilkes’ doctor of nursing practice program, earning Pennsylvania Department of Education and Middle States accreditation for the program. Launched in 2010, the program – considered the standard for advance practice nursing education – was the first of its kind in the region. She also played an integral role in the development of the University’s online programs in adult gerontology primary care and adult mental health nurse practitioner programs. The student pass rate for certification in those programs under Zbegner’s leadership has been 100 percent. In addition to innovative program development, Zbegner has also delivered numerous scholarly presentations nationally and internationally. 

Zbegner joined the Wilkes nursing faculty as assistant professor in 1993 and was promoted to associate professor in 2003. She holds national board certification as a women’s health nurse practitioner and is certified in reproductive endocrinology/infertility and obstetric/gynecology ultrasound. She maintains a clinical practice as a women’s health nurse practitioner with Valley GYN Associates in Luzerne. 

She earned her doctorate from Widener University, a master’s degree in nursing with certification as a women’s health nurse practitioner from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from DeSales University.