Recently in Alumni Category

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.

Thumbnail image for kopchick_lab.widea.jpgJohn Kopchick '72, M'75 recently learned that Ohio University's Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine's newest endowed research chair would be named for him.

Kopchick, the Goll Eminent Scholar and Professor in Molecular and Cellular Biology at OU, is widely admired as an inventor of Somavert, a drug that treats acromegaly. Somavert has saved the lives of millions of people with this disorder, which can cause excessive growth of organs and bones and lead to premature death. It has also brought millions of dollars to Ohio University.

The new chair was established in recognition of Kopchick's extraordinary contributions to the medical field and the university. 

"This position is such an honor," he said. "The John J. Kopchick, Ph.D., Osteopathic Heritage Foundations Endowed Eminent Reseach Chair -- those words are very special. Thank you."

His stature notwithstanding, Kopchick's colleagues and students refer to him fondly as a down-to-earth friend and mentor who has a knack for building research teams, makes research fun, and is an inspiration. 

The new Kopchick Chair is funded by a $5 million endowment supported by the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation and Ohio University. It will be held first by a researcher recruited into the college's Department of Biomedical Sciences in 2016.

"I would hope whoever is the recipient would do their research with the same philosophy that I had, which is to do something that's going to change the world," Kopchick said. 

A recipient of IUP's Distinguished Alumni Award several years ago, Kopchick returned to campus in 2008 to receive an honorary doctoral degree and give the Commencement address.

See a story from the Athens (Ohio) News that explains the how the sale of partial royalty income rights of Somavert will help Ohio University.

Photo credit: Ohio University 


Scholarship Recognizes Professor Emeritus's Inspiration

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Faculty members inspire many things--success, fortitude, vision, and, sometimes, the desire to give back in return for those things. That's Bob Stouse's story.

Stilwell-Strouse.JPG A member of the Class of 1970, Strouse recently pledged his support to establish a scholarship fund in honor of Merle Stilwell, a retired professor. Strouse, of DuBois, has pledged a portion of the amount needed to establish the Merle Stilwell Scholarship for Mathematics fund. The charitable foundation associated with his employer, Illinois Tool Works, will match the balance.

The scholarship will be awarded to Mathematics or Mathematics Education majors. Preference will be given to those who demonstrate involvement in community service and who exhibit attributes of a well-rounded person.

If you would like to give to the Stilwell or another scholarship fund,
visit our Give a Gift page today.

Stilwell, a longtime faculty member, was granted emeritus status in 1991. He lives in Indiana.

"Merle went out of his way to help me," Strouse said. "No matter who you were, he took care of all the students. He really was the professor in the Math Department students could go to for help.

"I went from a very immature kid entering IUP to a very focused adult who launched a successful career," said Strouse, a member of the football squad that played in the 1968 Boardwalk Bowl.

Strouse dreamed up the idea of a scholarship after being contacted by IUP's Development staff.

"You know, alumni are contacted to donate to the Foundation for IUP to help the university. I thought about it, and my employer would match three dollars for every one dollar. I thought if I'm going to help IUP, why not do it this way. We can fund a scholarship to honor Merle. Merle helped students, and a scholarship is a great way to help students," he said.

Strouse invites fellow alumni who were inspired by Merle Stilwell to also contribute to the Stilwell Scholarship Fund.

Upon his graduation, Strouse became a mathematics teacher and then entered private industry. After retiring from Illinois Tool Works and settling in DuBois, he now is helping students at DuBois Business College. He also is among a group of Boardwalk Bowl alumni leading the charge to develop a scholarship that supports IUP's football team members.

It could be that Stilwell also inspired Strouse to lend his time as well as his treasure to worthy causes.

In the photo are Eleanor and Merle Stilwell and Bob and Susan Strouse. The photo was taken during the last football season at a pregame party.

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.

Borrowed Babies, Revisited

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Home Economics House 1953.jpgI was delighted to receive this photo from Theresa McDevitt, a Libraries faculty member, a few weeks ago. She sent it as a homecoming greeting, but she also knows that in 1995 I wrote a story for IUP Magazine about the Home Management House.

The story was called "Borrowed Babies," and you can read it, thanks to an effort by the Libraries'  Special Collections and Archives Department. Harrison Wick and colleagues have made a decent effort to scan IUP publications of the past and make them accessible through

But, you probably chose to open this post because of its title, so let me explain. From the early 1910s to the 1960s, Home Economics majors at IUP had a semester-long immersion experience in Home Management House, which was located on a street that no long exists near Cogswell Hall. In addition to keeping the house in operation in the spirit of any modern-day domestic engineer, the students also cared for a baby lent to them by a nearby orphanage. Hence, the reference in the photo to Rodger--the baby who resided in Home Management House in fall, 1953 (Rodger says, "It's time for a change. Beat California"). After the story ran in the magazine, we received many letters to the editor from alumnae who had nothing but wonderful things to say about the experience, who wondered what had happened to the babies they cared for, and who wanted to share their memories with others. Still, isn't it difficult to believe?

Fast forward to 2011, and we all know things are quite different today. We no longer have a Home Economics Education major, per se, but instead several majors entailing Family and Child Studies and Family and Consumer Sciences Education, both housed in the Human Development and Environmental Studies Department. All you have to do is take a look at that website to know we focus on modern issues, employ modern techniques, and that we're a long way from Home Management House.

Eating Less in the Presence of Men

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thesalt-banner-4622.gifOver morning coffee, NPR listeners recently learned about eating habits that were discovered right here in Indiana, Pennsylvania. You can see the full story in The Salt, NPR's food blog, which describes research by two former students and two faculty members. It suggests the gender of your dining company can influence what you eat.

Molly Allen-O'Donnell '04, M'06, Marci Cottingham M'09, Kay Snyder, and Tom Nowak of the IUP Sociology Department collaborated on "Impact of Group Composition and Gender on Meals Purchased by College Students," which was published in September in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

The research shows that men and women both eat less when in the presence of men. Read or listen to NPR's coverage. UPDATE: ABC News also has covered the issue and has cited the research done by Allen-O'Donnell, Cottingham, Snyder, and Nowak.

Nowak and Snyder retired in the summer. Currently, Allen-O'Donnell, whose bachelor's degree is in Nutrition, is a social worker at Helpmates, Inc., in Ridgway, Pa. Cottingham is a graduate student at the University of Akron.

Nursing Simulation Lab Makes Music Video Debut

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IUP's Nursing and Allied Health Professions degrees are some of our most rigorous programs, and for good reason--the things that the students learn there ARE a matter of life and death.

The faculty work very hard to create real-life experiences for students, so they are well prepared for work in hospitals and other health care settings. In September 2010, faculty members Lisa Palmer and Julia Greenawalt were successful in receiving amost $300,000 to create a simulation lab, which mirrors the home of a rural patient with a common chronic illness. The lab is designed to help train nurses for home health care especially and includes telehealth monitors used by home health care agencies. Dr. Palmer explained that with the shortage of nurses, more and more patients are being treated in their homes, and this laboratory offers a significant advantage to IUP students who go on to work with home health care agencies.

This new home health care simulation lab adds to the department's current simulation laboratory, established by the department in 2007 and renovated in 2009. This lab includes manikins of all "ages," including an infant, two simulated hospital rooms, and IV and other training devices.

While this laboratory gets very heavy use by students and faculty and will undoubtedly help future nurses save lives, it was the site of a very unusual project this summer.

David Altrogge, a 2006 IUP art studio/graphic design graduate, is making a name for himself as a cofounder and creative director of Vinegar Hill, a full service production company and creative agency based in Indiana. IUP has used his company for projects, and he has used IUP and Indiana places and spaces for several of his productions.

David recently was contracted by Centricity Records to produce a music video for Aaron Shust's My Hope Is in You. The story is about a couple waiting as their daughter is treated in a hospital following an accident. I won't give away the ending, but you might want to have a few tissues handy while you watch it.

If you've ever visited Johnson Hall (home to the department), and the "hospital" in the video looks sort of familiar to you--well, that's because it is. IUP's Nursing and Allied Health Professions Department's simulation lab is the hospital, and the hospital lobby is the lobby of the Nursing department in Johnson. The video features several IUP Nursing graduates, including Megan Wallwork (doing chest compressions), Janelle McCombie, and Kristi Altrogge. The Bennets, of Indiana, are the grieving parents.

While IUP is proud of David's work, we are also proud to know that the simulation lab did exactly what it was supposed to do, albeit in a fairly unorthodox setting: It offered a very real hospital environment, with a realistic patient and believable injuries. A win-win for all involved.

The Importance of Building a Culture of Philanthropy

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sidewalk Alumni Gift Sign 200.jpgYou probably noticed the signs and sidewalk chalk messages during the first week of school. They were part of an educational campaign the Annual Giving Office sponsors to help students understand the impact of gifts from alumni and friends of IUP. It's part of an effort to build a culture of philanthropic giving on campus. Students who understand how private gifts affect their education are more likely to understand why we ask them to give when they become alumni--and then respond by giving.

Activity like this is essential to the fund-raising process, and schools like IUP--state-owned institutions--have an additional hump to overcome, because of a misperception that we are fully funded by the commonwealth. Earlier this year, the New York Times ran an article that included interviews with administrators from numerous public universities. It described the misperception well:

When the State University of New York at Geneseo surveyed its alumni three years ago as part of a plan to increase fund-raising, the initial response was heartening. Former students described their time there with words like "love" and "the best four years." Then came what one administrator, Michael J. Catillaz, called "the cold shower." Asked if they would donate, almost all said they thought the university was financed entirely by the state. The state's contribution was actually 25 percent, and it has been dropping ever since.

"Inviting alumni in large numbers to actively support the college is a foreign notion," said Mr. Catillaz, the vice president for college advancement.

In truth, some of our current students have been inspired to give or facilitate philanthropic action on behalf of the university. The IUP Ambassadors, for example, conducted numerous fund-raisers to name a room in the new Kovalchick Complex. Members of the IUP History Club work tirelessly to make sure the Eric Slebodnik Memorial Scholarship, housed in the Foundation for IUP and established in memory of a student who died in the line of duty in Iraq, continues to help a deserving student. These same students also raise money for the Jack Kadlubowski Scholarship, established in memory of a late faculty member. There are other examples, but the point is that instilling in students the importance of the impact private gifts have will, we hope, reap long-term rewards after they leave us for the greater world.

Stories about student and alumni philanthropy that we can share with funding agencies and large-gift prospects often inspire them to also give. When members of the campus community give, they are expressing their belief in the institution. That's a powerful thing. After all, charity does begin at home.

Chad Hurley's New Delicious Venture

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chadhurley.jpgYouTube cofounder and IUP alumnus Chad Hurley is jumping into a new venture by purchasing Delicious, the link sharing and organization tool, from Yahoo. As an off and on Delicious user, I'm excited by the prospect, because Hurley and his colleague Steve Chen seem to understand how so many of us are overwhelmed by the all good stuff we might want to keep track of on the web. The New York Times tells the story better than I can.

I first discovered this nugget of information when a few of my Facebook friends subscribed to Hurley's Facebook page. When I visited, I was delighted to find his profile picture was one Keith Boyer, our university photographer, shot for IUP Magazine. (The photo appears in the print edition, not the online edition.) Hurley earned a BFA at IUP in 1999. Through a gift, he named the arena in the Kovalchick Complex in honor of his track coach, Ed Fry, a retired professor.

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