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Dr. Robert Ziegenfus

Professor of Geography

Difference Maker Nominator: Mark Allegranzi '92

Mark's Memories: To put it simply, without Robert Ziegenfus, Barack Obama might not have become the 44th President of the United States.

President Obama is the first community organizer to be elected to our highest office-and this unprecedented phenomenon is directly related to the efforts of my Land Use and Environmental Planning educator, Dr. Robert Ziegenfus.

In the early 90s, Dr. Ziegenfus took our class to a blighted community in Philadelphia, and I couldn't believe my eyes at what I saw. Residential buildings were literally falling down in disrepair. Long before Detroit became what it is today, this entire swath of Philadelphia-somewhere near Kensington (I believe)-resembled London, after German bombardment during WWII.

It was this searing memory that prompted me to the revisit this same area in 2003. I photographed the buildings so that I could use them in a report that I mailed to President George W. Bush, Senator Barack Obama and 16 other influential citizens of the United States. I'm certain it was my 65-page report that prompted Senator Obama to appear at the 2004 Democratic National Convention so that he could get the necessary publicity to run for president in 2008.

Samuel Westmoreland and Dr. David Tavikoli also influenced me during their Racial and Ethnic Minorities class and Urban Sociology class, respectively. Dr. Richard Wells, my Music Literature professor, one day exuberantly told me to "go for the gold!" He knew I was to succeed while at Kutztown and beyond. 

It has been my unique privilege to engage with Dr. Ziegenfus and with other top-notch educators at just this precise point in history. Dr. Ziegenfus, others and I have had and will continue to have a direct impact on the future course of our country.

Dr. Robert Ziegenfus epitomizes what is great about our crown jewel of higher education. 


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