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Fr. J. Allan Panuska, SJ, former Provincial and University of Scranton President, Dies

March 7, 2017 — Jesuit Father J. Allan Panuska, the longest-serving president in the history of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania and a former provincial of the Jesuits' Maryland Province, died on Feb. 28 in Philadelphia. He was 89.

Fr. Panuska was born in Baltimore on July 3, 1927. He graduated from Loyola College in Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in biology and entered the Society of Jesus in 1948. He received both his Licentiate in Philosophy and a doctorate in biology from Saint Louis University and a Doctorate of Sacred Theology from Woodstock College in Woodstock, Maryland. He was ordained a priest on June 19, 1960.

Following ordination, Fr. Panuska taught biology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., before obtaining his post-doctoral in biology from Cambridge University. He then returned to Georgetown University as the associate department chairman of biology and rector. In 1973, Fr. Panuska became provincial for the Maryland Province Jesuits, serving until 1979. He then served as academic vice president at Boston College for three years.

At a reunion for Georgetown biology graduates in 2003, Fr. Allan Panuska, SJ, (center) posed with fellow Jesuits, Fr. John Braverman, SJ, (left) and Fr. Timothy Cadigan, SJ, (right).

In 1982, Fr. Panuska began a 16-year tenure as the president of the University of Scranton, the longest-serving president in university history. Under his leadership, 15 new buildings were added to the campus, including the renovation of several local churches. His heartfelt dedication and close relationship with students earned him the nickname “Papa Bear.”

In 1998, Fr. Panuska began serving as rector for the Jesuit Community of St. Isaac Jogues in Wernersville, Pennsylvania, and then returned to the University of Scranton in 2004 as president emeritus, working closely with campus ministry. In 2008, he moved back to Baltimore and assisted the advancement staff at the Maryland Province.

Fr. Panuska moved to Manresa Jesuit Community in Philadelphia in 2012, praying for the church and the Society of Jesus. [Source: Maryland Province]

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