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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! 

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.

The Fear Never Goes Away, IUP Sociologist Says

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Boxing_260px.jpgProfessor Christian Vaccaro's recent study of men's fear management continues to attract media attention, with a profile in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on January 30, 2012.

Vaccaro, a visting faculty member in IUP's Department of Sociology, conducted a two-year ethnographic study of mixed martial arts fighters to further understanding of how men manage their fears. The study was published in the December 2011 issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.

The PPG profile, "Study of martial arts fighters attempts to shed light on how men manage their fears,"  quoted Vaccaro as saying that most fighters never fully overcome their fear of losing or getting injured. However, they learn to manage it through "a number of mental strategies to exude dominance and maintain their masculine identity."

Vaccaro's research included interviews with more than 100 persons. He calls the process used by men "managing emotional manhood." His article also suggests that this ability may "create an emotional orientation that primes men to subordinate and harm others."

Vaccaro describes himself as a sociological social psychologist and symbolic interactionist interested in the study of gender, emotions, identity, and enbodiment.

The PPG article follows a number of mentions in national media, including in the Huffington Post and Men's Health News.

IUP at Home on "Hometown Magazine" Radio Program

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giever.jpgIf you think the voice on the radio sounds familiar, you're probably right.

In January, Renda Broadcasting expanded its community programming with Hometown Magazine, a show hosted by one of IUP's journalism graduates, Nick Ruffner '06. This news-talk show on WCCS (AM 1160), which airs conversations with two guests each weekday at 8:00 and 9:00 a.m., has made IUP feel right at home.

Be sure to catch the 8:00 a.m. show this Monday, February 6: Professor Dennis Giever from the Department of Criminology will discuss the November 11 White House shooting event and the related arrest, made here in Indiana.

Since it launched, Hometown Magazine has also hosted Dr. David Chambers, professor of political science, talking about the presidential primary, and Bill Spiedel, associate vice president for development in the University Relations Division. Spiedel discussed how private giving makes a difference in the life of the university.

Mike Lemasters, executive director of housing, residential living, and dining and associate dean of campus living and learning, appeared on the program to give an update on IUP's new campus dining master plan.

IUP's media relations director (yours truly) has been on the show twice to talk about the selection of IUP's  new president, Michael Driscoll, and about a variety of campus programs and events, including the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. program and the Six O'Clock Series

Thank you, Nick, and congratulations on your new show.

For several years, IUP has also been a significant presence on two other Renda Broadcasting shows. Indiana in the Morning, on WDAD (AM 1450), was developed by Bill Otto and is hosted by Todd Marino, airing weekdays at 7:45 and 8:30 a.m. On the first Tuesday of every month, I share the latest IUP news.

We've also been featured many times on A Closer Look, which airs weekends at 7:20 a.m., 8:20 a.m., and 12:20 p.m. Hosted by Ashley Pribicko, the show is broadcast on WCCS (AM 1160). 

IUP Daily lists upcoming IUP guests for these shows. What a great resource for the Indiana community. Hope you tune in. 

Rigorous Research = Successful Students

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James Jozefowicz

James Jozefowicz and Stephanie Brewer Jozefowicz are committed to helping students be successful in the field of economics.

The pair, both faculty members in IUP's Department of Economics, created a specialized economics research project and required it of their students. And, like good economists, the Drs. Jozefowicz collected and analyzed data related to students who had completed the project.

In reviewing the work of students post-project, they found that they were correct--this project HAS made a difference.

The Jozefowiczes' findings were the subject of a presentation at the 2011 Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Trustees fall conference. "Ten Years of Learning by Doing: The Benefits of Undergraduate Research for IUP Economics Students" documented that students who completed the project have won many awards for research and have secured competitive jobs at national companies and organizations.

Stephanie Brewer Jozefowicz

For example, their students have won "best paper" awards at competitive regional competitions, the "best undergraduate student paper" award at the Pennsylvania Economic Association Conference, and seven "best presentation" awards at IUP's Undergraduate Scholars Conference.

Altogether, 80 students have done presentations at local and regional conferences, and 34 students have been published in national and international journals, including Applied Economics, Atlantic Economic Journal, International Advances in Economic Research, International Journal of Applied Economics, and New York Economic Review.

Students have found employment at places like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Science Foundation, Federal Reserach Bank of Philadelphia, Bank of New York Mellon, and many local and regional financial organizations.

Research papers are pretty routine for college students--what makes the Jozefowiczes' project different?

First, it's a 10- to 15-page paper, much more rigorous than most required writing. Students must select a topic of personal interest, build a data set, review economic literature, analyze and interpret the data using statistical methods, write a referred report for their peers, and then give an oral presentation. On top of it all, the paper has to be formatted like a professional journal article.

"The project is very student-focused," Stephanie Jozefowicz said. "We believed, and our research and the student evaluations confirmed this, that our 'let me show you how to do econometrics and send you out to do it' approach engages students and challenges them intellectually better than a more traditional instructor-focused 'let me tell you about econometrics' approach."

James Jozefowicz agreed.

"Not only did the students develop a positive attitude about learning because they could be creative in their choice of topic, but this type of project helps students to build a lifelong ability to 'do economics,'" he said.

Comics Are No Laughing Matter, IUP English Professor Finds

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Gian Pagnucci, English professorEnglish Professor Gian Pagnucci is a very well-rounded guy.

His scholarly interests include narrative theory and research, technical writing, and technology and literacy, and he's well published on this topic.

BUT he's also written and published a number of creative non-fiction pieces about his Italian-American upbringing and a chilldren's book of folk tales, Don't Count Your Chickens! Stories for Kids to Tell!

He has also been recognized for his outstanding record of teaching, research, and scholarly activity and service with the 2009-2010 University Professor Award. The University Professor designation is something that award recipients hold for a lifetime. So, I'm not surprised to see interesting and diverse research and presentations from Dr. Pagnucci.

Recently, he presented "The Death of America in Comic Books: A Socio-Cultural Analysis of Identity Crisis Narrative in Superman and Captain America Comic Books" at the 22nd annual conference of the Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association.

Dr. Pagnucci was joined on the panel by Alex Romagnoli, a doctoral student in IUP's Composition and TESOL program.

He describes this conference as an opportunity for scholars from a wide range of disciplines to explore how trends and events in popular culture shape the world in which we live.

In his presentation, he compares Superman and Captain America, and notes that these fictional characters have true cultural significance beyond comic book pages. He also asks how these events reflect the current notion of American identity and several other interesting questions, including "Are these superheroes merely fictional or do their evolving identities represent a moment of crisis for the nation?" He also concludes that what happens in the pages of comic books needs to be given significance in the academic world.

His work makes me think about another extremely innovative student research project and internship. Melissa Rogers, a graduate of IUP's Robert E. Cook Honors College and an IUP McNair Scholar, did an internship with Marvel Comics in New York City. She also explored autobiographical comic books by women and how they challenge the portrayal of women in mainstream comics and traditional literature.

This certainly makes me think very differently about comics as literature!

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