Wanner named Barry Director of Paterno Fellows Program

May 20, 2013

Catherine Wanner, professor of history, has been appointed to the Rick and Sue Barry Directorship of the Paterno Fellows Program in the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State, beginning July 1. She will succeed Jack Selzer, who is the founding director of the college’s leadership program and who will return to teaching and research responsibilities as the Paterno Family Professor of Literature.

The Paterno Fellows Program is an academic excellence and leadership program for students in the College of the Liberal Arts, and a unique partnership between the college and the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State.  The program now has 160 graduates, and this fall, there will be more than 150 juniors, 200 sophomores, and 400 incoming freshmen who are pursuing the Paterno Fellow recognition.

Chris Long, associate dean for undergraduate and graduate education and professor of philosophy and classics, noted, “Cathy has been such a dedicated teacher and scholar in the college since 1996. I’m delighted she has agreed to lead the program and continue its success in providing challenging and fulfilling educational and career experiences for our undergraduates.”

The Barry Directorship was established by a leadership gift from Rick and Sue Barry, who are leading benefactors of the University. Rick is a 1980 graduate with a bachelor of arts in political science and has had a successful career in the financial industry. He retired as the managing director of Eastbourne Capital Management, a California-based hedge fund investment firm he founded in 1999. He is on the board and part owner of the San Diego Padres baseball team and a member of Penn State’s Campaign Executive Committee.  

Wanner teaches a variety of undergraduate courses including the comparative history of communism, modern Eastern European history, and religious studies. Graduate courses have spanned topics such as religion and secularization, modern European Imperial history, and the history of the Soviet Union. She is currently conducting research on how the politics of religion shaped regional, national, and civic allegiances in the USSR.

The Penn State historian is the author of several books including "Burden of Dreams: History and Identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine" and "Communities of the Converted: Ukrainians and Global Evangelism;" editor of "State Secularism and Lived Religion in Soviet Russian and Ukraine;" and co-editor of "Religion, Morality and Community in Post-Soviet Societies." She is currently completing a book titled "Love Thy Neighbor: Rituals of Belonging in Ukraine." Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, MacArthur Foundation, and Swiss National Science Foundation, as well as alumni support such as The Woskob Family Fund for Ukrainian Studies.

Wanner joined Penn State in 1996 as a senior lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and was named assistant professor of history in 2001, associate professor in 2007, and professor in 2011. She earned a bachelor of science in International Studies, from Franklin & Marshall College; and an masters of art and doctorate in anthropology from Columbia University. She also has studied at the Université Paris IV and Universität Zürich.

Susan Welch, the Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts, said, “I want to express my appreciation to Jack, who had the vision to transform undergraduate education through the Paterno Fellows Program. He has done an amazing job, and we thank him very much for his commitment and hard work. I look forward to working with him in his new role as the Paterno Family Professor in Literature, and with Cathy as our new Barry Director of the Paterno Fellows program.”


  • Cathy Wanner

    Catherine Wanner is professor of history, anthropology, and religious studies in the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated January 09, 2015