From Autism to the Real Gidget: Six O'Clock Series Has It All

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Six O'Clock SeriesBuildings rise and fall, people come and go, but IUP's Six O'Clock Series goes on.

Even after 36 years, this icon of ideas continues to bring interesting and thought-provoking programs to the community.

Every semester, students have come to expect a presentation that is sometimes academic, sometimes purely entertaining, but always interesting and relevant, on Monday evenings at 6:00--at the Hadley Union Building Ohio Room in recent years.

According to our Student Affairs area, it's almost unprecedented to have a program continue for three decades and still be successful.

So, what's the key?

"For one thing, faculty truly believe in the programs and encourage students to attend," Rick Kutz, Center for Student Life staff member and current series coordinator, said. "We also try to respond to current events and mix outside experts with IUP presenters. The quality of the presenters are a draw for students and members of the community.

"It's a part of the institutional memory and culture here. We probably have students here whose parents remember going to the Six O'Clock Series programs."

Intriguing. So, we decided to go right to the source, Sherry Kuckuck, a 33-year member of the Student Affairs Division (now retired).

"I got the idea for the program at a conference in 1975," Dr. Kuckuck said. "I told Ron Thomas, then dean of men, 'Well, let's try it and see how it goes.' So, we started the program in February 1976."

Obviously, it went well. She directed the program for all but two of her years at IUP, and it was clearly a labor of love.

So, how did Dr. Kuckuck set the stage for its success?

"We chose topics that were relevant and important, and I got the best faculty speakers possible. The faculty knew that the presentations were going to be of high quality, because of of the presenters, and they recommended it to students and supported it. I never had a faculty member tell me no when I asked them to present.

"I also constantly invited people to submit program ideas. We'd get our suggested topics, put them on index cards, and match the topic cards to dates on the bulletin board with Scotch tape.

"My philosophy, in directing the program, was that we were responsible not only for helping students to learn to make a living, but to learn to make a life," she said.

Six O'Clock Series poster from 2000Harrison Wick, Special Collections librarian and university archivist, recently archived the Six O'Clock Series files and information. He shared several of the older posters with us.

"The first program for which we have documentation is from February 7, 1977, when Dr. John Merryman presented a values clarification workshop," Wick said. He also noted a program titled "All in the Family: People and Alcohol," presented by Robert Witchel, professor of counseling.

This semester, the series begins Monday, January 30, with Burrell Brown, a professor of management and labor management at California University of Pennsylvania, for the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Program and Black History Month Kickoff.

His program will be followed each Monday by 10 presentations by a number of IUP faculty and staff members and external speakers:

  • "A Woman's History of IUP," Theresa McDevitt, IUP Libraries
  • "Navajo Nation," Melanie Hildebrandt, Sociology, and students
  • "You Are Living in Appalachia," Jim Dougherty, Sociology
  • "Financial Literacy," Patricia McCarthy, Financial Aid
  • "College Scams and Identity Theft," Eric Rayko, PNC Bank
  • "Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys," Victor Rios
  • "Bullying: Making a Difference for All," Kelly Champion, Peaceful Families
  • "Autism: A Multidisciplinary Perspective," College of Education faculty
  • "Healing in Native American Culture," Pat Star Dancer Selinger, Thunder Mountain LenapĂ© Nation
  • "Accidential Icon: The Real Gidget Story," Kathy Zuckerman

All of the programs are free and open to the community. If you've not taken the time to come over for a Six O'Clock Series program, clear some time on a Monday evening.

It's an IUP tradition. Be part of it.

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This page contains a single entry by Michelle Fryling published on January 27, 2012 9:00 AM.

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Ohio University Endowed Research Chair Named for IUP Alumnus, Inventor Kopchick '72, M'75 is the next entry in this blog.

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