Recently in Staff Category

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. 


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. 

Welcome, Dr. Driscoll, IUP's Next President

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Michael Driscoll, IUP's next president

It's official.

Michael A. Driscoll, who currently serves as provost and executive vice chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), was selected January 19, 2012, by the Pennsylvania State System Board of Governors to serve as the next president of IUP.

Dr. Driscoll will begin his work at IUP on July 1.

We had a chance to meet Dr. Driscoll in November. If you're keeping track of candidates by the order in which they visited, he was the second (a.k.a. "the guy from Alaska").

He has an outstanding record of success in all areas, including the creation of the strategic plan at UAA and creation of the university's College of Health. He was part of a team that helped to secure UAA's largest corporate gift, $15 million from ConocoPhillips to name the university's new integrated science building and establish an arctic science and engineering endowment.

Before his work at UAA, he was at Portland State University for 18 years, last serving as vice provost for academic personnel and budget. He has had numerous works published in academic journals including the Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing and the International Journal on Computers and Electronics in Agriculture.

UAA seems to have many similaries to IUP. It's a bit bigger, with about 16,000 students on its main campus and 5,000 more at community campuses in several other areas. Like IUP, it is part of a university system.

His background is in electrical engineering. He earned his bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in that field from Michigan State University, but he's also kind of a renaissance man.

In his biography, he admits to an interest in naval history and "an addiction to crossword puzzles." He also says he enjoys music and theater (he is REALLY in the right place, with IUP's outstanding music and theater productions) and nice dinners in quiet restaurants (again, many from which to choose in Indiana County).

Congratulations to Dr. Driscoll. We truly look forward to having him join us as our new president. Thanks and congratulations are also in order for the IUP Presidential Search Committee and its chair, trustee Susan Delaney. There have been many hours spent in this process, and it wasn't an easy task.

We will continue to have more on the presidential transition on the IUP website and in IUP Daily, the employee e-mail newsletter, as more information becomes available. Keep watching. He's also been in the news already--check out the following coverage:

And, keep watching local eateries come July. Chances are you might see IUP's new president and his wife, Becky, enjoying one of Indiana County's great restaurants.

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.

Welcome, Citizens!

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I always enjoy the annual International Education Week events and presentations, especially the panel of students talking about how study abroad has made an impact on their lives. It's very gratifying to hear from IUP students--many from tiny little towns here in Pennsylvania--who have had entire new worlds opened up to them due to study abroad opportunities.

But this year, we will be hosting something REALLY special and different.

On Friday, October 14, at 11:00 a.m. at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex's Toretti Auditorium, 102 people from forty different countries will officially begin their lives as American citizens.

Last month, Michele Petrucci, director of IUP's Office of International Education, was contacted by the Pittsburgh field office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

"Would IUP be interested in hosting a naturalization ceremony?" they asked. "We are thinking about Friday, October 14," (which just happened to be the final day of International Education Week. So perfect).

Dr. Petrucci checked with university leadership, and the answer was an enthusiastic "yes!" 

In fact, David Werner, IUP's interim president, agreed to welcome the candidates and offer remarks during the ceremony.

This particular ceremony will also have a very special meaning to one of our own. Pooja Rishi, originally from Madras, India, and a faculty member in the IUP Department of Political Science, will be naturalized Friday. She also will take part in the ceremony as a candidate speaker.

"It's a sense of permanency," she said of her upcoming citizenship. She and her husband are the parents of a young son, and she said that she also wanted to be a citizen for family reasons. "I'm here, in this community, raising my child. I have a stake in this community, and being a citizen is important to me."

Becoming a citizen is not as easy as it seems. You cannot become a citizen simply by marrying an American citizen (I had that one wrong), and it takes years to complete the process. For Dr. Rishi, it took four years from the beginning of the process until the ceremony tomorrow, and she considers herself "very, very lucky" to have completed the process that quickly.

I've not been to a naturalization ceremony before--only seen them on television shows and in movies. I know how proud I am of my citizenship, which I way too often take for granted, so I can only imagine what it means to internationals who have worked hard to complete paperwork and pass the citizenship exams. (I understand that a lot of "born here in America" Americans would have some trouble passing that exam!)

The ceremony is open to the public and to media. If you have the time, come join us in welcoming some of American's newest citizens. What a great end to IUP's International Education Week.

Being an Ally Can Be a Lifesaver

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GLBT History MonthTomorrow, we celebrate National Coming Out Day. It's part of a national observance in October, which is National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History Month. It's been observed in America since 1994.

Tonight, the IUP Six O'Clock Series will host a presentation by Faisal Alam."Hidden Voices: The Lives of LGBT Muslims," which will be offered in the Hadley Union Building Ohio Room and is cosponsored by IUP's GLBT Commission, the Office of International Education, Pride Alliance, and the Department of Religious Studies. This program is designed to highlight the struggles and challenges facing sexual and gender minorities within the Muslim world. Tonight's program is also part of IUP's celebration of International Education Week, October 10-14.

IUP is vocal in its support and acceptance of GLBT lifestyles. We have joined our colleages across the nation to encourage acceptance of GLBT students at colleges, and we all mourn for the families of those students who have suffered and who have lost their lives as a result of harassment and bullying.

IUP has several groups that address GLBT issues. Recently, I asked Todd Cogar, chair of the GLBT Commission at IUP, to offer information for parents whose children are members of the GLBT community as a release for media to use in back-to-school publications. IUP's GLBT Commission is an advisory group to the Office of the President that works to improve the climate for diversity within IUP.

"One of the most important things parents and families can do for their students--and other family members--is to never assume that anyone is heterosexual," he said.

Cogar is an assistant director in the Center for Student Life and Office of Student Conduct and an advisor to Pride Alliance, the LGBT student group at IUP.

"One doesn't have to agree with those who identify as LGBT, but it is so important for individuals who do identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning, to hear that they are supported by their loved ones. Parents and families can impact harassment and bullying in simple ways by addressing inappropriate jokes, by supporting students when incidents occur, and by helping students appropriately address bullying and harassment.

"Students are always looking for those individuals who identify with the community as allies. An ally is someone who is not LGBT, but who is a supportive individual who accepts the person. Being an ally can be a life-saving role for people in the LGBT community. Allies can work with the community for equal rights and fair treatment; they can assist in the coming-out process, and are huge voices of acceptance and respect."

Cogar also advised students to "get involved" at their college.

"College students are always encouraged to get involved in campus life. Students who are involved on campus gain great leadership skills, make the most of their college experience, meet new friends, and often do better academically," he said.

For LGBT students at IUP, for example, there is Pride Alliance, a student organization that has as its goals fostering a safe and supportive academic and social environment for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and ally community of IUP.

IUP also has an active Safe Zone program. This group strives to improve the campus climate for LGBT individuals by providing a visible sign on campus to indicate a safe place for students to go for support. The program provides training to members of the IUP community so that members are knowledgeable and sensitive to LGBT issues. Members pledge to challenge homophobic and heterosexist comments or behaviors in an educational and informative manner.

As part of efforts to raise awareness of issues, last October, the IUP GLBT Commission sponsored an "Anti-Bullying, Anti-Homophobia Vigil of Remembrance" in the Oak Grove on campus, drawing more than two hundred people.

In addition, for the past two years, IUP students, staff, and faculty have participated in the "Only Love" photography awareness program. This event was created by R.C. Stabile, a graduate student in the Student Affairs in Higher Education program.

Here's what Stabile says on the "Only Love" website: "There is so much hate spread through bullying, bashing, and violence. ... We, as college students, the future of America, believe that everyone deserves a chance to love and be loved."

Hard to argue with a message promoting acceptance and love.

Don't Believe Everything You Hear about Greek Life

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A sorority rides in the Homecoming parade October 1, 2011There are certain words that come to mind when you say "fraternity" or "sorority."

You know them. I know them.

Parties. Wild behavior. Animal House.

However, if you're not aware of this by now, I need to tell you this: you really CAN'T believe all that you see on television and the movies about university students.

Let me suggest some other words, and these are ones that I can absolutely prove to be fact about IUP's Greek organizations:

  • Community service
  • National philanthrophy
  • Networking
  • Study hours
  • Academic standards
  • And this past week, pomps and pickup--garbage pickup, that is

While you were on your way home to dry out after this year's wonderful (albeit wet!) Homecoming parade, after enjoying the amazing floats built by members of IUP's fraternities and sororities, some three hundred fraternity and sorority members were busy VOLUNTEERING to clean up the Indiana Borough streets. Not quite the Homecoming "party" most expect of our Greeks.

Betsy Sarneso, assistant director for Student Life, oversees Greek life on campus. It's a big job--there are about eight hundred students at IUP in one of thirty social sororities or fraternities. She coordinated the cleanup, among many, many other projects and programs.

"Every Greek organization is required to do service or contribute to a philanthropy, local or national, and sometimes they do both," she explained. The Homecoming cleanup is just an extra.

Often, these students get excited about projects and move forward to DO THEM without notifying her office, so we don't always get the word out. I can't really fault them for that--the commitment to a good cause isn't, for them, about getting credit or being in the newspaper. That's kind of a refreshing thing in a world where it's too often about people doing things for the recognition.

For example, we just learned of a project happening today and Wednesday--the annual "Rocking the Grove" fund-raising event, sponsored by the Panhellenic Association. Members of the Greek community will be in rocking chairs in the Oak Grove today from 4:30 to 11:30 p.m. and from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Wednesday. Funds raised go to the Alice Paul House, a shelter for survivors of domestic violence and their children here in Indiana County.

Then, on Friday and Saturday of this week, sororities and fraternities will be doing a food drive at the Fourth Street Bi-Lo for the Indiana County Community Kitchen. This event, done in conjunction with the Office of Service Learning, will involve students from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. both days.

The Community Kitchen, the recent beneficiary of a special fund-raising event sponsored by the Bridge Corps, works to fight hunger in Indiana County. Since its creation in 1994, the Community Kitchen has served more than 150,000 meals. They get no government or state funding--it all comes from donations.

For some fraternities and sororities, this is a "been there, done that" kind of thing, as they've already done food drives for the community. We just don't always hear about it.

In addition to rocking, members of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority are part of a breast cancer awareness event, Bras for a Cause, organized by the Indiana Business and Professional Women's Club. (This project I know about...I was a celebrity bartender last year, complete with pink sweater, scarf, and hair!) The decorated bras are on display in front of Stapleton Library until tomorrow, so come out and vote for your favorite (that's how the project raises money). All proceeds go to Birdie's Closet at Indiana Regional Medical Center, a place for women diagnosed with cancer.

And those are things being done just THIS WEEK by our fraternity and sororities THAT WE KNOW ABOUT. I am certain there are many more things that we'll never hear about, and that will never make the news.

However, the recipients of the funds raised or service offered will know.

Maybe that's all that matters.

Planning for the Future

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Residential Revival housingI got a call recently from a freelance reporter writing for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review who had heard that IUP had "done some major construction."

Talk about an understatement.

"Yes, we've just finished a $243-million project to renovate or replace all of our university-owned residence halls, the Residential Revival. It's the largest project of its kind in the nation, ..." and on I go.

It's been such a major presence for this university and our communications work (four groundbreakings, four ribbon cuttings, two "demolition teas," a front-page feature in the Chronicle of Higher Education, of which I am particular proud) that I tend to into PR-autobot mode when talking about Residential Revival.

He listened politely, and then asked me something that most reporters don't generally even think to consider. "Yes, I know of the project. I wondered whom I could talk to about how all your construction fits into campus planning efforts."

That switched OFF my auto-reponse. "I have the perfect person," I assured him. "Mr. Tom Borellis, he's currently the assistant to the vice president for Administration and Finance for Special Projects. He's THE MAN when it comes to campus planning."

IUP's Residential Revival is a very visual demonstration of IUP's commitment to a new way of living and learning on campus. The new buildings are beautiful, and students and parents are loving them. But most people, probably even most people on campus, don't understand the back story as to how they fit into the long-range campus plan.

Tom does. He was the director of Student Housing Development during the four phases of the construction of the eight buildings and is a key figure in IUP's long-range development plan, which looks at EVERYTHING physical plant related, from parking needs to pedestrian and vehicle patterns to signage.

Because he's worked with colleges and universities, he's a specialist in the field and "gets" that form has to follow function on the campus--that the academic strategic plan comes first, then the plans for new buildings. He also understands that as plans are developed, they have to be as a result of consensus, input, meetings, more meetings, discussions, and did I mention meetings?

He comes to IUP from GWSM, a nationally known landscape architecture and planning firm in Pittsburgh (he was president and chief operating officer), and I remember when Tom and his firm were consultants to IUP. Ed Receski, then vice president for administration, wisely realized that IUP needed Tom in this role full time, and he brought Tom to IUP in 2001 as the university landscape architect. Happily for IUP, he stayed, expanding his role to take on the Residential Revival.

I usually try to be present during media interviews, not because I am necessarily needed to provide information, but because I learn so much from the experts that I set up to talk with reporters. This was no exception. Two hours flew by (Tom is a very entertaining storyteller, by the way), and I learned a great deal about how the living-learning trend began in California (state of, not California, Pa.) and that IUP's long-range plan was the impetus for the entire State System of Higher Education to require long-range plans of all its member universities. Tom also talked about how these buildings, because of the public-private partnership, truly are outside-the-box thinking that made badly needed facilities possible during some very challenging economic times.

The reporter also asked about the future of IUP and its facilities. Tom brought out our recently approved long-range plan, which strategically details five, ten, fifteen, and twenty years into the future, promising a new Humanities and Social Sciences building and a new Natural Sciences and Mathematics building.

The story appeared recently in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, with the headline "IUP Ditches 'Dungeon' Dorms amid a Residential Revival." It tells the story of IUP's efforts to revitalize the campus quite nicely. And, I look for this reporter to be back, and to be calling on Tom and other IUP experts.

Talk about making IUP look good, now and into the future.

Good News "for a Change"

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What They Said screen shot

I truly do enjoy my job, and I am very appreciative of the folks who go out of their way to tell me that they are happy with the media coverage I've arranged. One of my favorite things is when folks e-mail me or stop me out walking around campus with story ideas. Alumni, especially, are very loyal to IUP, and they like to see their university represented fairly for the accomplishments of its students, faculty, and graduates. So, I try not to take it personally when I hear, "Let's get some good news out there about IUP for a change." I know they care deeply about IUP and its reputation and are just trying to help.

For the past several years, I've been maintaining a log of media hits on the What They Said web page. I think it's a nice record of IUP in the news, and I hope that people (hint, hint: This means YOU, blog reader) visit it often.

But I've not really done an "official" count of media hits for several years, so, last year, I was asked to  count and measure the number of "good news" stories about IUP out there with circulation information. Here's what we found:

There were 435 positive stories about IUP from January 2010 to January 2011 in 46 different media outlets locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

This does NOT include the hundreds of stories featured on our local radio station OR any stories on athletics. ... I imagine the number would probably triple if I counted sports reports and features.

Anyway, these media hits ranged from places like Religion Dispatch (with a circulation of 2.3 million), the New York Times (circulation 740,007), and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune (circulation 534,750) to 29 hits in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (circulation 393,071), 22 hits in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (circulation 319,987), and 310 stories in the Indiana Gazette (circulation 16,000). Using what researchers call the "industry multiplier" (how many people actually read or hear news reports), this means that good news at IUP "for a change" reached 76,474,622 people. Yes, 76.5 million people.

Of course, we don't catch every media hit, so this is just what I've been able to document. I think it's a pretty impressive number.

That's the good news. But be assured, I'm working to get that 76.5 million up past 100 million for 2011-2012, story tips and ideas are always welcome!

When Students Meet Alumni

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alumni_connections.jpgSome say who you know is as important as what you know. If that's true, what do you do when you don't know someone? My colleagues in the Alumni Relations Office are working with the staff of the Career Development Center and IUP's academic areas to make sure our students make connections in the working world.

Next week, students from Eberly College of Business and the Computer Science Department will travel to Pittsburgh to attend a reception the Alumni Relations staff has planned with employees of PNC Bank. The idea is to give students the chance to make contacts with alumni within the company; those contacts could in turn lead to internships, cooperative experiences, inside knowledge, and, maybe a job after graduation. Mary Jo Lyttle, director of Alumni Relations, asked me to acknowledge the alumni from PNC who have volunteered to serve as the event's host committee: Davie Huddleston '69, David Williams '79, Brady Wise '95, Joanna Ender DiCiurcio '02, Gary Greenwood '06, Jennifer Butter '07, and Benjamin Pollock '09.

Alumni Relations and others in University Relations are working on a similar event in New York City in December for students studying business, Fashion Merchandising, and Hospitality Management. More on that later.

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