Checkmate! Student-Actors Win in "Chess"

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Chess_students_250.jpgThe rock musical Chess, an IUP Lively Arts production in its last week, is a story of intrigue and political manuevering.

But not among the cast, made up entirely of IUP student actors. In them you'll find just dedication, hard work, talent, and a love of theater. 

What's it like to be a student AND an actor at IUP? We asked Joe York (photo, right), who plays Freddie.

"One thing you can't do is procrastinate," says York. "You have to be on top of your game 24-7 to be able to balance school work and rehearsals and stay healthy. And you need to be willing to give up your social life."

Indeed. The student-actors rehearse at least four hours a day during the week and maybe six hours on the weekends, York says. Preparation usually begins two months before opening night.

York, a senior musical theater major from Rolling Springs, enjoys all kinds of theater, but especially musical theater and opera productions.

He says he's been in "too many IUP theater productions to count." If he had to name a favorite? "Probably Chess. Or White Christmas."

Why does he spend the hours, giving up his free time, for IUP theater?

"I love it. It's my favorite thing. If I didn't have theater, I'm not sure what I'd do."

York will graduate in May and plans to pursue an MFA in musical theater playwriting.

The production is directed by Jeannie-Marie Brown with musical direction by Sarah Mantel

"Chess is a very abstract piece," Brown notes, "requiring a great deal of research prior to even beginning rehearsals.

"The students have worked incredibly hard, negotiating through their own class schedules and rehearsals. They have been present and attentive, and that is why we've been able to realize the vision for this production."

Chess, which features hit songs including One Night in Bangkok, I Know Him So Well and Pity the Child, will close this weekend with shows at 8:00 p.m. Thursday,  Friday, and Satuday. The production is staged on the Waller Hall Mainstage in the IUP Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available at the door.

IUP Professor Uncovers the "Real" Dr. Livingstone

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The Scottish explorer and abolitionist Dr. David Livingstone was immortalized by the words fellow explorer Henry Morton Stanley uttered on a chance encounter in Tanzania in 1871: "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

As it turns out, Livingstone was not quite as historians have presumed.

wisnicki_table_280.jpgA team of experts led by IUP's Adrian Wisnicki, assistant professor of English (left, photo), has used spectral imaging to recover text from Livingstone's original journals that disputes the edited official journals and helps historians to know the REAL Livingstone.

On February 29, 2012 at 5:30 p.m., Wisnicki and his team, which includes two scientists and IUP doctoral student A.J. Schmitz (right, photo), will present a panel discussion on how they recovered the text from the original journals.

This will be the first time the team presents about the project in the United States. When they presented their findings in November in England, they made international news headlines. 

"The Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project: Behind the Scenes" panel discussion is free and open to the community. It will be held in the IUP Libraries (ground floor).  

In 2009, Wisnicki, who specializes in British literature, found pages from Livingstone's original diary in an unmarked box in Scotland. He worked with a team of scholars, including Roger L. Easton Jr. from the Rochester Institute of Technology and Mike Toth from R.B. Toth Associates, to make the original journal pages legible. Easton and Toth will speak as part of  the panel at IUP.

Wisnicki compares the technology they used to the science in the movie National Treasure, in which Nicholas Cage recovers the "real" Declaration of Independence.

Of course, the science to recover the Livingstone journals is real.

As a great story in Pittsburgh Post Gazette notes, "Besides providing scholars with new information about Livingstone's adventures, reactions and comments about African culture, the project also advertises the potential of spectral imaging to transcribe illegible manuscripts written on paper, parchment, animal skins or other surfaces."

"It's been an extremely exciting project, not only because of what we have learned about Livingstone, but because of how technology and science have helped us to make this discovery," Wisnicki says.

At noon on Wednesday, March 1, the day after the panel discussion, Easton will present a program in the IUP Libraries about his work to recover text written by the philosopher and scientist Archimedes.

In addition to teaching, Wisnicki is codirector of IUP's Center for Digital Humanities and Culture. He believes that his work with the Livingstone journals fits into the work being done by the center.

"Projects like this show the importance of centers like this, recognizing that technology is part of academic work across all disciplines."

It's especially exciting to see how experts from the humanities and sciences, by working together, literally rewrite history.

IMG_5857_260px.jpgIn September, IUP's student chapter of the American Chemical Society was recognized as an outstanding chapter by the national ACS.

Not only will the chapter  be honored at the national meeting March 25 - 29 in San Diego, but they are spotlighted in the February/March 2012 issue of inChemistry magazine.

And they are REALLY in the spotlight!

In addition to a great photo of the students in the chapter, the publication has a full-page of Q&A about the chapter activities and an interview with Professor Nathan McElroy, the chapter's advisor for the past six years.

The article showcases many of the chapter's projects and initiatives. This group offers free chemistry tutoring four nights a week, raises funds with weekly sales of hot dogs and T-shirts and uses these funds to make an annual donation of $1,000 to a local elementary or high school science program. The group also participates in local science fairs and recruiting events, including National Chemistry Week at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh.

McElroy, who is an IUP alumnus, was secretary of the Chemistry Club as a student. When he returned to IUP as a faculty member, he said, "I asked to become the advisor."

When asked about advice for new club advisors, he suggested, "Don't underestimate your students' creativity."

Clearly, it's a formula that works.

Rieg, Sue-300.jpgNote: Sue Rieg, faculty member and chair in the Professional Studies in Education Department, is serving as chair of this year's University Family Campaign, which invites faculty and staff members to financially support IUP.

 

You may be asking yourself, "Why should I make a contribution to IUP through the University Family Campaign?  After all, I work here...isn't that enough?" 

 

Unfortunately, it isn't.  

 

I see, and I'm sure you do, too, how students in my classes need support, and I see how they benefit from scholarships that come from private gifts. I was moved enough by what one of my own teachers did for me to find inspiration to start in his memory a scholarship fund in the Foundation for IUP. Very soon, that fund will supply scholarship awards to Education majors.

 

The fund didn't start with one big gift. I started the scholarship by making small gifts to the fund myself and seeking small gifts from friends and family. From that experience, I learned that it takes participation from many and not necessarily large donations, to make that difference--although large donations are always welcome! It's not unlike voting--we all know that every vote counts in an election. A gift is an endorsement that illustrates we believe in what we do. Your gift can be designated to whatever cause inspires you.  As chair of this year's campaign, I believe in the power of what our private gifts can do.

 

In case you think your participation doesn't count, I want to share with you the following e-mail message, sent to our Annual Giving Office from a student who missed the chance to stop by the HUB on Tuition Freedom Day to write out a thank-you card to a donor. She asked that her message be sent to those who had contributed to IUP:

 

"I want to thank you for all of your contributions and your hearts of gold. I am a mother of three and decided to go back to school to enrich my family life and to show my children that anything is possible. It is cases like these that your generous contributions help to fund. I appreciate your kindness and hope that many others will strive to be just like you."

 

Please consider making your gift to the campaign today. Together we can, and will, make a difference in the lives of IUP students.

 

See this video to learn more about the scholarship Sue Rieg established. 

 

Thumbnail image for phikappaph_260pxi.jpgPhi Kappa Phi, the oldest, largest, and most selective all-discipline honor society in the nation, honored its IUP chapter as a "Chapter of Excellence" in November.

Now, IUP junior, senior, and graduate students in the top 10 percent of their classes have the chance to join this most excellent chapter.

The honor society recently sent membership invitations to 430 undergraduate students and 557 graduate students, mailing the invitations to the students' home addresses on record with the university.

The IUP chapter will have two initiation ceremonies: March 28 for undergraduate students and April 3 for graduate students. Both ceremonies will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the Blue Room, Sutton Hall.

Students may accept the invitation to join by mailing in a form or completing one on the web and should indicate whether they will attend the ceremony -- for undergraduates, the deadline is March 7; for graduate students, March 13.

"We really hope that all invited students respond to this invitation -- it's a wonderful opportunity for students to be part of a national network of scholars," said Professor Dennis Giever, IUP chapter president.

In addition, he notes that "Phi Kappa Phi has more than $700,000 in scholarships and graduate fellowships for its members nationally, and several IUP students have been selected for these awards since IUP's chapter was chartered in 1993."

He asks that faculty encourage invited students to reply. "We know that students get inundated with information and mailings, but this is something that can be of great benefit to them, especially if they have an interest in scholarships or graduate fellowships."

Check your mail. You are already a winner! 

Foreign Film Festival Brings Reel World to Indiana

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DSC_0009_unityDay_260px.jpgThe Spring semester Foreign Film and Music Festival, starting this Sunday, February 19, is the whole package.

Not only does the series, presented by the IUP Office of International Education, show great films from all over the world, it also features musicians from all over the world.

And it's all free!

Screenings are every other Sunday night, with each film shown twice, at 5:30 and 8:00 p.m., in McVitty Auditorium, Sprowls Hall. All films are in native languages with English subtitles. The series is open to the public.

The series begins with the guitar and vocal duo of Pengfei Yi and Yuxiang Qiu, students from China, performing in conjunction with the screening of I Bring What I Love, a portrait of Senegalese pop sensation Youssou N'Dour, this Sunday. 

Kittiphong "Mu" Praphan, a student from Thailand, will play guitar for the Argentinian movie The Paranoids on March 4. Mu (short for "music," he notes) is well known on campus, having played at the 2011 Foreign Film and Music Series, International Lunch Hour, and other community events.

Dr. Carl Rahkonen, IUP music librarian and professor of music, known throughout the region for his talent on the violin, will be the guest artist on March 18, in conjunction with the showing of the Irish movie Kisses.

The April 1 screening of the Chinese movie Last Train Home will feature Si Lu Jia, a student from China, performing on the erhu, a traditional Chinese two-stringed instrument.

The showing of the Italian movie Mid-August Lunch on April 15 will feature Faisal Jousari, a student from Saudi Arabia, who will sing and play the lute. 

The series ends on a Terribly Happy note on April 29, featuring student John Grant along with the screening of this Danish noir flick. Grant is a 30-year performer who sings and plays banjo and guitar. 

It's a great two for one evening. Bring the popcorn.

Welcome to Northern Appalachia!

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Center Appalachian Studies 81111D_0181_crop260.jpgFor the first time, the Appalachian Studies Association has selected a location north of the Mason-Dixon Line for its annual conference of hundreds of scholars and artists. That location is IUP.

Thanks to the work of English professor Jim Cahalan and sociology professor Jim Dougherty, and the strong reputation of IUP's Center for Northern Appalachian Studies, the university will host more than 500 people for the ASA's 35th annual conference, "The Wide Reach of Appalachia," on March 23-25.

All are recognized experts on various topics associated with Appalachia and will be making presentations and participating in panel discussions.

Some 50 IUP faculty, staff, graduate students, and retired faculty will showcase their expertise as presenters.

While most presentations are open only to conference registrants, there are four presentations free and open to the community:

  • "Pennsylvania as Greater Appalachia: Historical Perspectives" 
  • "Appalachian Impacts of Global Warming: Reasons for Hope"
  • "The Significance of Powwows to Native Americans in Pennsylvania's Appalachia"
  • "Uncovering Racist Sundown Towns in Appalachia and Beyond"

si kahn.jpgInternationally known folk singer and songwriter Si Kahn will present a concert, open to the public, on March 24 at 8 p.m. in Fisher Auditorium. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students, and will be on sale starting February 20 at the Hadley Union Building or at the door immediately before the concert.

Kahn has worked for more than 45 years as a musician and civic rights, labor, and community organizer. He was named the 2010 top folk artist by the Folk Alliance. 

AND, to set the mood, Dougherty will be the presenter for the Six O'Clock Series program this Monday, February 20. His presentation, "You Are Living in Appalachia," offers a "myth busters" perspective on Appalachia.

"People don't realize that being in Indiana, Pa., you're smack dab in the northern tier of Appalachia. Our goal is to raise awareness about this region and its connection to larger society," Dougherty says.

ScholarshipFundingStudentDebt.jpgAs a contributor to IUP Magazine, the publication we send to more than 100,000 alumni and friends, I wrote a story for the summer edition about student loan debt. I was surprised to learn while conducting the research for it that the average loan debt of an IUP graduate exceeds that of a private college or university graduate.

"How could that be?" I wondered, knowing that IUP is a state-owned school, and its cost is considerably lower.

In the magazine story, Patti McCarthy, IUP's director of Financial Aid, summed it up fairly and squarely: Unlike private schools, "We don't have a pot of money to automatically award scholarships upon admission to students who have a certain grade point average and SAT score." In other words, we don't have a centralized stash of private funding to defray our tuition costs.

As of February 2012, that has changed. IUP has established the Academic Achievement Scholarship Fund. The fund is meant to give our undergraduate admissions staff the ability to recruit the most qualified students with $1,000 and $2,000 awards and keep them here with renewable funding that is dependent on academic performance. By seeking gifts for this effort, IUP also is taking a crack at defraying student loan debt, a problem that concerns young graduates across the country.

Each year, a chunk of my paycheck goes toward two or three IUP causes. Last year, I gave to the John A. Pidgeon Scholarship (my father established this fund to benefit IUP's swimming team) and the Allegheny Arboretum (to help with the upkeep of the trees in the Oak Grove I purchased in memory of my mother). This year, I plan to direct some of my payroll deduction to the new Academic Achievement Scholarship.

I hope when you are asked to give to IUP--either through a mailing from our Annual Giving Office or through the University Family Campaign--you'll consider what your gift can mean. It could help IUP recruit qualified students through the Academic Achievement Scholarship Fund, or you could direct your gift in numerous other ways that enhance the experience we offer our students.

 



This video, produced by grad student Kevin Kramer and provided by IUP-TV, says it all.

Every Saturday this month, IUP's basketball teams play at home in Kovalchick Complex. The spectacle of what surrounds the game is as much fun as watching our student athletes battle it out on the court. The best part is that much of what you see is orchestrated by students--the newly formed pep band, the cheerleaders, two dance troupes, the Crimson Crazies (the rambunctious group that sits in the front rows of the student section)--and it all adds up to a fun event. Even the activities organized by the Kovalchick staff involve students hired to operate the facility--things like Kissin' Cam (yes,that moment when you and your date might be encouraged to kiss on camera for a prize) and three-point shot competition.

So, on the eve of March Madness, when it's really the best time to watch basketball, head to Kovalchick Saturday night. The women's game starts at 5:30, and the men's game at 7:30.On February 11 we play Mercyhurst; February 18, Slippery Rock, and February 25, Gannon.  Students are admitted free with an I-Card, and other ticket prices vary, depending on seating.

Visit www.iupathletics.com for scores, stats, standings, and more.

jackthomas3.jpgWhile the IUP community awaits the arrival of our new president, Michael Driscoll, it seems an opportune time to check in with Jack Thomas D'90, the newest university president in the IUP alumni ranks.

Thomas is the new president of Western Illinois University and is six months into his term. 

"My first year is going quite well in light of a very challenging economy," he told us.

His biggest obstacles, he noted, are those faced by presidents of many public universities: a decreased budget, declining state support, and deferred maintenance.

Thomas became president of WIU after serving as the university's provost, a position he took in 2008. Before joining WIU, Thomas served as senior vice provost for academic affairs and interim dean at Middle Tennessee State University.

His IUP degree is a Ph.D. in Literature and Criticism. 

Thomas offered the following advice to the IUP community as Driscoll's arrival draws near: 

"Approach his tenure with an open mind and give him all the support necessary for him to be successful as a university president. Give him an opportunity, and help him to learn the culture of IUP. Let him know that you are genuinely available to assist him. The community should champion transparency and openness on all issues that concern the new president."

Photo: Western Illinois University, Dr. Jack Thomas at his investiture as the university's 11th president.

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