Jesuit Father J. Allan Panuska died on February 28, 2017 at the age of 89. He was born in Baltimore on July 3, 1927. He graduated from Loyola College in Maryland with a B.S. in biology and entered the Society of Jesus at the Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues in Wernersville, Pennsylvania in 1948.
He received both his licentiate in philosophy and doctoral in biology from St. 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 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.
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 ministries. 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.