Thomas J. Thomas

Tom ThomasMr. Thomas is currently Dean, University College at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania.  He has been responsible for the Act 101 Educational Opportunity Program, Advising Services, Career Services, Disability Support Services, Transfer Student Services, Tutoring and Supplemental Instruction, and the TRIO Upward Bound Program.  University College also administers the First Year Bridge Program (for conditional-admit students) and the Undeclared Majors Program. In 2000, he designed and implemented the First Year Bridge Program that has grown from 75 to 175 students.  From 2004 to 2009, he administered the Federal Title III grant that created the Advising Services component in collaboration with NACADA.  These efforts included a revised registration process for first year students and the development of the Electronic Early Alert System.  In those same years, he supervised the creation of an Intensive English Language Program (IEP) that achieved national accreditation in three years.

Previously, Mr. Thomas served as Director of the Learning Center/Act 101 and worked 18 years as counselor, assistant director and director of the TRIO Upward Bound Program.  In addition to his administrative positions, he serves as adjunct faculty in the history department and also teaches Intelligence Applied, the course he designed for students in educational opportunity and developmental programs. He is also the past president of the Act 101 Pennsylvania Association for Educational Opportunity.   At Wilkes, he has been the recipient of the Inspirational Teacher Award and the Innovative Teaching Award.  He was also recognized for Outstanding Support to Developmental Education by the Pennsylvania Association for Developmental Educators; and was recognized for Excellence and Distinguished Service by the Tri-State Consortium for Educational Opportunity.

He has served as keynote speaker at the following conferences: Student Success Institute (2019) sponsored by Penn State University: “Universal Design for Student Success: Bridging the Gaps in the Higher Education Environment”; *PA Association of Developmental Educators Regional Conference (2011): “Developmental Education: Gateway to Opportunity”; and the *PA Association of Educational Opportunity Programs Conference (TRIO-2009): “Equality of Opportunity: Returning to a Consensus”

Areas of expertise:Higher Achievement through goal-setting and decision-making, Effective Career Decision-making, Pennsylvania: The State of Educational Opportunity, Intelligence Applied: A Non-remedial Course for Students in Developmental Programs, Minor Steps to Making Major Decisions, Advising and Academic Support: A Model of Collaboration to Support Student Success, Developmental Education: Gateway to Opportunity, Equality of Opportunity: Returning to a Consensus, Our Highest Risk Students: Beyond Remediation, Creating and Administering Exemplary Advising Programs, Creating and Administering Exemplary Opportunity Programs, and Academic Advising: Creating a Foundation for Student Success and Retention.

Election results

The Tri-State Consoritium welcomes the 2019-2021 Tri-State Executive Board officers. Their respective term will begin on January 1, 2020.

  • President – Phyllis Breland
  • 1st Vice President – Paul Dorestant
  • 2nd Vice President – Angela McNeil
  • Recording Secretary – Audrey Bennerson
  • Treasurer – Brett Pulliam

Watch for updates to the site after the transition begins and get ready for the 16th Biennial Conference in Pennsylvania in 2021!

Remembering Henry Durand, PhD

Dr. Durand

The Tri-State Consortium of Opportunity Programs organization was saddened to learn of the passing of Henry James Durand, Jr. Ph.D., on December 27, 2018. A member of the Tri-State Consortium for years, he dedicated his career to higher education. Read the full obituary at The Buffalo News.

The family will receive friends in Buffalo on Saturday, January 5, 2019, from 10 am-noon at First Shiloh Baptist Church, 15 Pine St., where a Celebration of Life will immediately follow. Rev. Jonathan R. Staples officiating. The family will also receive friends Thursday, January 10, 2019, 1-3 pm at the Spring Grove Funeral Home, 4521 Spring Grove Ave., Cincinnati, OH, where a Celebration of Life will be conducted at 3 pm at the Entombment Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, OH.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that Dr. Durand’s life and legacy be remembered by supporting the Drs. Henry J. and Bonita R. Durand Scholarship Fund, c/o University at Buffalo, Office of University Advancement, 503 Capen Ave., Buffalo, NY 14260-1660,

Please share condolences at

Christine A. Zuzack

Ms. ZuzackMs. Zuzack spent 39 years in active roles in student financial aid administration. She retired in 2017 from her post at the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) where she served as Vice President, State Grant and Special Programs for 11 years. Previous to her years at PHEAA, Ms. Zuzack was a financial aid administrator at the Community College of Allegheny County and financial aid director at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Ms. Zuzack served as President of the Pennsylvania Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (PASFAA) from 1994-1995 and as President of the Eastern Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (EASFAA) from 2003-2004. Additionally, she was a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) from 2003-2005 and served on two NASFAA Executive Committees. She also served on the federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance (ACSFA) Higher Education Regulatory Study (HERS) as a panelist. Most recently, Ms. Zuzack served as President of the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP). Recognized for her leadership in financial aid administration, Ms. Zuzack has received both the PASFAA and EASFAA Distinguished Service Awards, PASFAA Lifetime Membership Award, EASFAA Leadership Award, EASFAA Volunteer Award, and NASFAA Leadership Award. Ms. Zuzack holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Grove City College and two Master’s Degrees, one in Clinical/Community Psychology and one in Student Personnel Services in Higher Education, from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She has completed her coursework for a doctorate in Adult Education at the Pennsylvania State University and is currently working on a Ph.D. in Administration and Leadership Studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Areas of expertise: Student Financial Aid, Strategic Planning, Legislative Advocacy


Karen Riley

Karen RileyMs. Riley has worked in equal opportunity programs for nearly 20 years.  For the past 14 years, she has worked at Wilkes University in the Act 101 Program as the Assistant Director and Counselor.  She has also served as an Undeclared Major’s Advisor and teaches a career planning course.  In 2011, Karen had the honor of being presented the Academic Support Award from The Teacher Recognition and Effectiveness Committee (TREC) at Wilkes University. While continuing to currently serve Wilkes University students as the Assistant Director and Program Counselor for the Act 101 Program, she has the opportunity to work with many first-generation college students from low-income families who face financial, social, and academic barriers to a college education.  A first generation college student herself, who depended on financial aid and a part-time job, she has the privilege to be in this advisor/counselor role that allows her to get to know the students, their fears about college as well as their talents and strengths. For the past two years, she has also had the opportunity to support students by serving as Secretary of the Act 101 Pennsylvania Association for Educational Opportunity.  She took on this additional commitment because the state was significantly decreasing funding for Pennsylvania student support programs.  In this position, she could be part of a collective voice and work with the Executive Committee to advocate retaining state funding for the support services these students need to achieve their college degrees.  Traveling to Harrisburg and throughout the state to be a strong advocate for the Act 101 Programs and student financial aid has added yet another dimension to the work Karen does to support students.

Areas of Expertise:  Academic Advising, Career Counseling, Student Counseling, Student Financial Aid, Student Development