Prof. awarded ‘PA Acceleration Educator of the Year’


The Beacon/Steffen Horwath

Dr. Rodney Ridley stands with his Pennsylvania Acceleration Educator of the Year award, given to him for his contributions to technology education.

A faculty member was recently given a prestigious award. Dr. Rodney Ridley was named a Pennsylvania Acceleration Educator of the Year by the Pennsylvania Acceleration Project.

The award was presented on Jan. 18 at East Stroudsburg University. This year’s ceremony was the revival of the awards, which previously existed in the past.

“The backbone of the awards is that they are trying to highlight people who they think are in some way shape or form, accelerating technology and innovation throughout the state through their sphere of influence,” said Ridley.

Ridley won an award in the category dedicated to the education of technology, along with Dr. Charlene Brennan, the executive director of Colonial Intermediate Unit 20; and Dr. Marcia Welsh, the president of East Stroudsburg University.

“My initial reaction was that I didn’t think it was a real award,” he joked. “The email looked like spam. I was close to hitting delete, then I saw the name at the bottom and realized I knew the name: Kelly Lewis, a former Congressman from Stroudsburg.”

Lewis, along with Kevin Dellicker, the former adviser to Governor Wolf in technology and innovation, are the leaders of the Acceleration Project, which is a team meant to oversee bringing of broadband internet throughout Pennsylvania.

“The Pennsylvania Acceleration Awards are designed to recognize and honor organizations and leaders that are driving technology and innovation across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” according to a press release released by the organization.

Ridley is the executive director and a professor at the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. He is also the co-founder of the center’s business mentor program, and the director of the campus’ industry and and community outreach office, the Kirby Scholars Program and the Allan P. Kirby Center’s micro-grant fund. He also serves on a number of area committees and boards, including CAN DO and the Northeast Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center.

“It was very interesting how they found me, of all people,” he said. “I had asked who nominated me but they couldn’t tell me, it was confidential.”

“We do a lot here in the Kirby Center which pushes the boundaries of innovation, through entrepreneurship, energy transfer, and the bringing to life the commercialization of technology.”

Wilkes’ Allan P. Kirby Center is one of the only university-run programs to commercialize innovation, or to have a technology-transfer office, in the area.

“Dr. Ridley is certainly deserving of the award he just recieved. He is very innovative, his vision carries the entire organization through its vision as an establishment of technology transfer,” said fellow faculty member Gerald A. Ephault, the executive in charge of residence of Allan P. Kirby.

The office was initially a center to teach and practice entrepreneurship. When Ridley became director in 2014, he switched the center’s focus to the commercialization of university technology. The center takes clients of students, faculty, and for a charge, members of the Wilkes-Barre community, and helps them take their ideas and form them into a business.