December 2011 Archives

An "Around the Oak Grove" Top Ten

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We're about four months into our blog "experiment" here at Around the Oak Grove, and frankly, here at IUP's Office of Communications, we're ready to drop the "experiment" label. We've found this blog a great place to bring you stories that you wouldn't see elsewhere, and we've been very pleased with the attention we've been able to bring to them.

And now--time for a break. We'll be back on January 4, but until then, here's a top ten list of some of our favorite stories from our first four months.

See you next year!

IUP Students, Staff on Santa's "Nice" List

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HolidayTreesChristmasStudents11309PF09_260px.jpgFood. New books. Christmas trees and ornaments. Toys. Monetary donations. And hundreds of volunteer hours.

IUP's students and employees should definitely be on Santa's "nice" list this season when it comes to providing support for families in need in Indiana County.

Here are a few of the projects and programs held in December:

The IUP Libraries has a long-standing tradition of collecting new books for local families, to be distributed through the Salvation Army. This year, the drive benefited 150 children with new books as holiday gifts.

At IUP Punxsutawney, the sixth annual holiday dinner generated 450 donated toys and more than $800 for local families and children in need. This project is a great town-gown event, involving the Red Hat Society of Punxsutawney and many other community members, along with IUP students and staff members and the Aramark staff, to benefit the Salvation Army's Treasures for Children program and the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots.

Students in Dr. Ray Beisel's class also worked with Rotary International of Punxsutawney to decorate the community holiday tree in preparation for the community's Circle of Trees and tree-lighting ceremony.

IUP Toys for TotsThe Office of Service Learning, which works throughout the year to help coordinate and encourage outreach and volunteerism, organized the university's having 45 children adopted through the Treasures for Children program, with more than 180 gifts purchased for these families. In addition, more than 75 toys were collected for the Toys for Tots program.

The African-American Cultural Center collected hundreds of donated food items for the Indiana County Community Action Program food bank through its Ujamaa Food Drive.

One of the first holiday outreach projects of the season is the university's annual tree-lighting and tree-decorating event. The university has done a tree-lighting program for decades, inviting members of the community and elementary school choral groups to perform and then offering seasonal refreshments and time with Santa.

However, seven years ago, the University Events office and the Office of the President joined with IUP's fraternities and sororities to do a tree-decorating event.

This year, 14 trees were donated and sponsored by IUP and community groups. Then, the decorations and a certificate for a live, fresh tree are donated to families through the Salvation Army. The students go out into the community to collect money for the Treasures for Children program and for a special scholarship encouraging leadership and service.

It's a wonderful way to end the semester.

Happy holidays to all. Best wishes for a healthy and restful semester break.

Hair for a Month, Impact Here Forever

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man of movember Mike Stough_260px.jpgIUP's Greek fraternities raised $1,500 for the national Movember project, which promotes awareness of men's health issues, especially prostate and testicular cancers.

No, that wasn't a typo.

"Movember," a.k.a. November, is named to reflect both the month and the activity. During November, men at IUP were encouraged to grow a mustache (or "mo") in support of the project and men's health.

Some 30 IUP men, most in fraternities, grew mustaches and participated in a "pack the house" event for the November 14, 2011, men's basketball game, staged a bowling tournament, and held several other fund-raising events throughout the month, plus the Movember Gala early in December.

There were prizes--for teams and for individuals--including the "Man of Movember" award, won by Mike Stough from Phi Kappa Tau fraternity.

A very nice way to end the semester.

IUP Students Living-In and Saving Lives

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IFA IUP Award 02_260px.jpgOn October 20, 2011, three IUP student members of the Indiana Fire Association helped to rescue and save a man from an apartment fire.

Then, W. Travis Burket, Simeon Logan, and Matthew Reynolds got back onto the fire engine and went home.

The three students--along with fellow firefighters Michael Santos and Benjamin Harley, who were also part of that rescue operation--are live-in members of the Indiana Fire Association.

According to Bill Simmons, IFA president, in the 1970s, there were 300,000 volunteer firefighters in the nation; today, there are 50,000.

"We knew we needed to be innovative if we wanted to keep up our ranks," Simmons said. "So, we approached IUP's Safety Sciences Department to see if their students would want to be part of our program."

Today, 16 of the 70 members of the association are IUP students, and six are part of the live-in program. The bedrooms for the students are at the Indiana Fire Association-West substation, along Indian Springs Road. To be eligible for the program, applicants must be employed full-time in the Indiana or White Township area or be part-time or full-time students at IUP. Students must have at least a 2.0 grade-point average. They can live at the substation for four years.

On December 15, 2011, the team was recognized with a resolution of commendation from the IUP Council of Trustees, along with much applause and pride from members of the Indiana Fire Association in attendance, including Simmons and IFA chief Chuck Kelly.

(Pictured, from left, are Simeon Logan, Travis Burket, and Matthew Reynolds.)

Big Opportunities in the Big Apple for Students

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NYC1270_260px.jpgOn December 8 and 9, 2011, 75 IUP students took a bite out of the Big Apple.

For the sixth year, the Office of Alumni Relations and the Career Development Center organized a networking opportunity in New York City for Business Honors students in the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology, students in the Hospitality Management program, and students in Fashion Merchandising.

Students toured businesses where IUP graduates work that are also in the students' chosen career fields. One of the businesses was Jones of New York, where designer Sarah Graby-Boris, a 2003 graduate, met with a group of Fashion Merchandising students and Eun Jin Hwang, associate professor and coordinator of the Fashion Merchandising program.

Students also had the chance to be part of a panel discussion of noteworthy alumni, including the following:

  • Kevin Carrai '86, head of Member and Connectivity Services for Direct Edge, a financial services company
  • Leland Hardy '84, a global marketing advisor for the Hennessee Group. He has served as an advisor to many sports greats, including Venus and Serena Williams and Muhammad Ali.
  • Sarah Hogue '09, a graduate of the Robert E. Cook Honors College and a senior research assistant at Datacorp, a financial services company
  • Stephanie Perry '88, managing director, Deutsche Bank
  • Derek White '82, president of Interative & Media Networks, LodgeNet Interactive, which serves the hospitality industry

Fashion merchandising students in NYC_260px.jpgIn addition to the panel discussion, students also networked at a 150-person reception with many IUP alumni, including Marla Sabo, a 1979 graduate and a Distinguished Alumni Award winner, who has held top positions at Hermes North America and Dior.

"Many of the students that attended this event are ones who want to work in urban areas and, in particular, in New York City," Mary Jo Lyttle, executive director of Alumni Relations, said. "So not only did this event offer them the opportunity to meet with IUP graduates who have been successful in New York City companies, but it also exposed them to life in the city."

Student Success in Schools? Thank a School Counselor

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John McCarthyIt's a chance for IUP to recognize and honor the work of professional school counselors throughout Western Pennsylvania.

On December 16, the College of Education and Educational Technology will host the ninth annual School Counselor Professonal Development Day. The event, which annually draws about 100 school counselors, will be in the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex. The event is free and open to all area professional school counselors. It includes panel discussions and workshops conducted by Counseling Department faculty and students.

IUP's Counseling Department ofers two graduate degrees--the Master of Arts in Community Counseling and the Master of Education in School Counseling. IUP also offers these programs at the Monroeville Graduate and Professional Center.

The Department of Counseling also has significant outreach programs and opportunities through the Center for Counselor Training and Services. This center, launched in 2005 and directed by John McCarthy, offers programs for both undergraduate and graduate students and for professionals in the field. In fact, on April 20, 2012, the CCTS will host a pioneer in the career counseling field, John Krumboltz. He will present the program "Helping to Create a Meaningful Life in a Difficult Economy."

The Department of Counseling is part of the IUP College of Education and Educational Technology and is just one of the departments that serve our region, our commonwealth, and our nation in preparing educators, couselors, and so many others who create success for our children.

Creating a Culture of Writing Success

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There's an old saying by writer Red Smith: "There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein."

Many students might very well agree with that sentiment.

Fortunately for IUP students, there is a great resource to help with becoming better writers, the IUP Writing Center. Students make good use of the facility and its tutors: The Writing Center helps more than 1,500 students each semester.

Ben Rafoth in his officeThe IUP Writing Center is directed by Bennett (Ben) Rafoth, a member of the IUP Department of English, who also holds the title of University Professor. (He was selected for this honor, which recipients hold for a lifetime, in 2010.) As the University Professor, he was the undergraduate commencement ceremony speaker in December 2010.

He is recognized internationally for his work with teaching writing, and during his tenure as University Professor, his projects included a book focused on better serving multilingual writers in writing centers and an online writing center, which is now offered through the IUP Writing Center. His most recent book is ESL Writers: A Guide for Learning Center Tutors.

The center, located in Eicher Hall, took its expertise "on the road" recently, when Dr. Rafoth; Mitch James, assistant director of the center; and Lindsay Sabatino, a teaching associate in the English Department, visited West Virginia University for a special colloquium last month focused on creating writing center learning cultures.

They joined 21 tutors and directors from WVU and Duquesne. IUP's presentation at the event focused on online writing centers. (IUP's online center was launched in September.)

Dr. Rafoth will continue to showcase IUP's Writing Center and its successes when he co-hosts the International Writing Centers Association Summer Institute in July 2012 at Seven Springs Mountain Resort. This weeklong event is expected to draw writing center directors throughout the nation.

Our IUP alumni also are demonstrating what they've learned at IUP about teaching writing and writing centers. Columbia University recently published a new book on writing centers, The Successful High School Writing Center: Building the Best Program with Your Students, co-authored by Dawn Fels and Jennifer Wells, graduates of IUP's Composition and TESOL doctoral program.

And they did not forget about IUP and Dr. Rafoth in writing the book. He co-authored the first chapter with the former students.

There's No Place Like Home (Health Care)

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NursingSimLab111711PF34_260px.jpgOn Friday, December 9, the IUP Department of Nursing and Allied Health Professions will introduce Red Yoder, Carl Shapiro, and Tamara Clark.

However, you probably won't see their biographies on the IUP website.

Red, Carl, and Tamara are residents of the new Nursing and Allied Health Professions Simulation Laboratory, located on the ground floor of IUP's Donna D. Putt Hall.

IUP will formally "cut the ribbon" for the new facility at 10:30 a.m. Friday. It will be open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

This new simulation laboratory is designed especially to help prepare nursing students for careers in home health care. One of the areas in the laboratory is Red's "apartment," which includes a telehealth system. Telehealth allows the patient to work with a monitor at home that transmits health information to the home health care agency.

The simulation laboratory also includes training on electronic medical records.

Department chair Elizabeth (Lisa) Palmer was successful in 2010 in securing a $299,890 federal grant to create the new laboratory. She is the project director, and Julia Greenawalt, assistant chair, is co-director.

"Because of a shortage of nurses, there are an increasing number of home health care patients, especially in the rural areas, who are monitored by telehealth systems," Palmer explains. "This simulation equipment enhances undergraduate nursing education with opportunities to practice nursing care using electronic documentation and telehealth services prior to a student's on-site experiential work.

"The new simulated laboratory will advantage IUP students because a telehealth nurse must not only receive data from patients, but learn how to work with patients in the home."

The Putt lab manikins are designed with programs to mimic a rural patient with a common chronic illness, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, or obesity. 

During the open house, visitors will "meet" Red in his "home" at 11:00 a.m. At noon, visitors can observe a critical care situation with Carl. At 1:00 p.m., Tamara will be examined after having a baby. Then, at 2:00 p.m., Red is in need of additional care.

In addition to the simulations, tours of the new facility are available throughout the day, and visitors can also check their own blood pressure at a kiosk.

The department introduced its first simulation laboratory in 2007. This lab, in Johnson Hall, was renovated and expanded in 2009 and includes nine adult manikins, two adolescent manikins, a pediatric manikin, and other training equipment. (This lab has two hospital rooms that are so accurate in their resemblance to a real hospital setting that the lab was used by a national recording artist as the site for a music video!)

The best thing about these labs is that they are in constant use by students and faculty members. Nursing majors are initiated into use of the lab with medium-fidelity manikins in their sophomore year, and "by their senior year, our nursing students have become very skilled with hands-on care," Palmer said. In addition to the hands-on experience, the entire class has an excellent learning opportunity when it watches the simulation from the observation room.

Our nursing students continue to excel. For example, IUP's pass rate for the NCLEX, the national exam for nurses, is 96.1 percent for first-time test takers, compared to a national average of 87 percent. They also are in high demand by employers in all types of health care.

So, come congratulate them Friday and learn more about how our nation's future nurses are being trained. I think you'll breathe a little easier, thinking about your health care future.

Stamp's World Premiere Represents Tragedy of September 11

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Fine Arts Dr. Jack Stamp 10304D12_260px.jpgJack Stamp, one of IUP's outstanding music professors and the chair of the IUP Department of Music, will bring the world premiere of his "Canticle: Voces Candentes" to IUP on December 8 at 8:00 p.m.

"Voces candentes" means falling voices. According to Dr. Stamp, the composition "represents the feelings of the tragedy of September 11, 2001, including the horror as well as the love." The work was written in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the September 11 tragedy.

The libretto for the piece is by Anna George Meek, who has had many of her works published in noteworthy journals including the Missouri Review, where she was awarded the Tom McAfee Discovery Prize.

Program coverIn addition to Dr. Stamp as conductor, the presentation will feature Michael Hood, dean of the College of Fine Arts, as the narrator, and the musical talents of the IUP Symphony Orchestra, the IUP Wind Ensemble (conducted by Dr. Stamp), and members of the IUP Chorale and IUP Chorus.

In the first half of the concert, the IUP Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Stanley Chepaitis, will perform works by Franz Joseph Haydn and Igor Stravinsky.

The December 8 performance is certainly not Dr. Stamp's first world premiere. This entry would be several pages long if it included all of his well-known pieces, many of them commissioned by individuals or organizations.

Respected internationally as a composer and conductor, Dr. Stamp is IUP's 2008-2009 University Professor, an honor reserved for our most outstanding teachers, researchers, and scholars. It's a title that the recipients hold for a lifetime.

Dr. Stamp, who came to IUP in 1990, has accomplished a great deal during his tenure here. One of "our own" (he earned his bachelor's degree in Music Education at IUP in 1976), he is also the recipient of the 1995 IUP Distinguished Alumni Award and the 2007 Distinguished Faculty Award for Creative Arts. He also was honored with a citation of excellence from the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association in 1999 and by the American Bandmaster Association in 2000.

Dr. Stamp's talents and reputation led to the presentation of "And The Time Is," a poem by Pennsylvania poet laureate Samuel Hazo, for use in one of Stamp's compositions.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he has been an invited performer and conductor both nationally and internationally. He is the director and recording producer of the Keystone Wind Ensemble, a university-alumni group. The group's CDs are amazing and showcase IUP's outstanding faculty and alumni. The group has also been part of international performances and events, including the 2009 International Trumpet Guild conference.

Not only will this concert showcase IUP's talented students and faculty members, it's another chance to celebrate our nation's resilience after the tragedy of September 11.

Thank you, Dr. Stamp, for offering this amazing opportunity to our students and to all of us.

Art in Public

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Art in Oak Grove, full viewStudents in Robert Sweeny's art class are REALLY putting themselves out there.

For their final project, students were asked to take something personal that they do and put it on public display. One group decided to showcase its personal interests right in the Oak Grove.

Nicole Keebaugh, Asia Sanchez, Emily Manno, and Jake Good set up a tent to showcase an interest in camping (Good's interest).

Art in Oak Grove, close upOther students in the group are in the tent doing things that they do in their personal lives. Manno is knitting, Keebaugh is texting, and other students will be "on display" later today.

The students hope to be in the Oak Grove throughout the day today, for as long as weather permits (50 degrees in December definitely makes the project much more comfortable). "It might rain later this afternoon, so we'll have to see," Manno said of the ending time for the project.

Least Happy and Low Marks? A Perplexing Contradiction

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We were more than a little perplexed to find IUP on two "bonus lists" in this year's Princeton Review Best Colleges guidebooks: "Professors Get Low Marks" and "Least Happy Students."

When we asked how the surveys were done, the guidebook editors would not tell us much. They did tell us that they conducted the survey for these bonus lists during the 2008-2009 academic year and that they would resurvey IUP students this year.

We know that students can be, and will be, brutally honest. But in this case, the truth from student surveys is better than any well-crafted press release.

Here's what our students said about IUP in the Best Colleges 2012 listing:

"An affordable school that has something to offer everyone," with "excellent academic programs" that are "academically challenging but not impossible if you make an honest effort."
Students recognize "music, nursing, and education" as IUP's "greatest strengths," along with the "fantastic fine arts program," the College of Business, the Robert E. Cook Honors College, and "solid programs in theater, mathematics, chemistry, criminology, and English."
They said IUP is "about learning to be the best at your career in the future" and offer that IUP's "academic programs are exceptional."

One of the things of which we are most proud is the opinion our students have of our faculty. Here's what they said to guidebook editors:

Students here enjoy "awesome professors" who are "concerned with [students'] welfare and academic growth," and the students find their teachers "ridiculously easy to get into contact with--no need to make an appointment."

Students also have positive things to say about extracurricular life at IUP:

The school also boasts a "good selection of clubs" that provide a quick way "to meet people."
"No matter what your interest is, it wouldn't be too hard to find someone that you can share this interest with," students write.

I'm not a data person, nor an expert in survey methodology, but I do know that every day, I learn about students who are winning national and international awards:

And the list goes on.

I wouldn't agree that students who are working this hard, giving back to the community, and achieving these kinds of honors are the "least happy" among their peers at other colleges and universities.

Again, I'm not an expert on surveys, but I know that these accomplishments don't happen without an excellent faculty--with members who are routinely recognized for outstanding teaching and research, who win Fulbright Scholarships on an almost annual basis (61 to date), who involve students in cutting-edge research, and who mentor students on their way to great internships and careers. Students like Chad Hurley, a 1999 graduate who went on to co-found YouTube and then donated $1 million to the university in honor of his former track coach, music professor Edwin Fry.

The accomplishments of our students and faculty would fill pages. (Check out a sampling in the archives of this blog.)

IUP has been selected by the Princeton Review for inclusion in its Best Colleges guidebook for the last eleven years, not to mention receiving recognition as "Best in the Mid-Atlantic" and on another bonus list: "Outstanding Professors." The Eberly College of Business and Information Technology has been listed for the last seven years in the Princeton Review's "Best Business Schools."

Add to that list the many honors from Forbes magazine, U.S. News and World Report, the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, and Washington Monthly magazine, to name a few. 

The listings, literally, fill several pages and cover several decades.

There has been discussion about IUP's inclusion on these two bonus lists by the IUP community, especially on Facebook. The student and alumni postings have vigorously defended IUP, offering that life at IUP is very happy, and its faculty is excellent.

This same discussion, I would imagine, is going on at Rutgers, the University of Oregon, the University of Connecticut, and Iowa State University (who join us on these listings).

One of the student comments in the Princeton Review is that "college is all about what you make it." I think our faculty and students make IUP a pretty happy, A+ place.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2011 is the previous archive.

January 2012 is the next archive.

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