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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.

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! 

Foreign Film Festival Brings Reel World to Indiana

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DSC_0009_unityDay_260px.jpgThe Spring semester Foreign Film and Music Festival, starting this Sunday, February 19, is the whole package.

Not only does the series, presented by the IUP Office of International Education, show great films from all over the world, it also features musicians from all over the world.

And it's all free!

Screenings are every other Sunday night, with each film shown twice, at 5:30 and 8:00 p.m., in McVitty Auditorium, Sprowls Hall. All films are in native languages with English subtitles. The series is open to the public.

The series begins with the guitar and vocal duo of Pengfei Yi and Yuxiang Qiu, students from China, performing in conjunction with the screening of I Bring What I Love, a portrait of Senegalese pop sensation Youssou N'Dour, this Sunday. 

Kittiphong "Mu" Praphan, a student from Thailand, will play guitar for the Argentinian movie The Paranoids on March 4. Mu (short for "music," he notes) is well known on campus, having played at the 2011 Foreign Film and Music Series, International Lunch Hour, and other community events.

Dr. Carl Rahkonen, IUP music librarian and professor of music, known throughout the region for his talent on the violin, will be the guest artist on March 18, in conjunction with the showing of the Irish movie Kisses.

The April 1 screening of the Chinese movie Last Train Home will feature Si Lu Jia, a student from China, performing on the erhu, a traditional Chinese two-stringed instrument.

The showing of the Italian movie Mid-August Lunch on April 15 will feature Faisal Jousari, a student from Saudi Arabia, who will sing and play the lute. 

The series ends on a Terribly Happy note on April 29, featuring student John Grant along with the screening of this Danish noir flick. Grant is a 30-year performer who sings and plays banjo and guitar. 

It's a great two for one evening. Bring the popcorn.

ScholarshipFundingStudentDebt.jpgAs a contributor to IUP Magazine, the publication we send to more than 100,000 alumni and friends, I wrote a story for the summer edition about student loan debt. I was surprised to learn while conducting the research for it that the average loan debt of an IUP graduate exceeds that of a private college or university graduate.

"How could that be?" I wondered, knowing that IUP is a state-owned school, and its cost is considerably lower.

In the magazine story, Patti McCarthy, IUP's director of Financial Aid, summed it up fairly and squarely: Unlike private schools, "We don't have a pot of money to automatically award scholarships upon admission to students who have a certain grade point average and SAT score." In other words, we don't have a centralized stash of private funding to defray our tuition costs.

As of February 2012, that has changed. IUP has established the Academic Achievement Scholarship Fund. The fund is meant to give our undergraduate admissions staff the ability to recruit the most qualified students with $1,000 and $2,000 awards and keep them here with renewable funding that is dependent on academic performance. By seeking gifts for this effort, IUP also is taking a crack at defraying student loan debt, a problem that concerns young graduates across the country.

Each year, a chunk of my paycheck goes toward two or three IUP causes. Last year, I gave to the John A. Pidgeon Scholarship (my father established this fund to benefit IUP's swimming team) and the Allegheny Arboretum (to help with the upkeep of the trees in the Oak Grove I purchased in memory of my mother). This year, I plan to direct some of my payroll deduction to the new Academic Achievement Scholarship.

I hope when you are asked to give to IUP--either through a mailing from our Annual Giving Office or through the University Family Campaign--you'll consider what your gift can mean. It could help IUP recruit qualified students through the Academic Achievement Scholarship Fund, or you could direct your gift in numerous other ways that enhance the experience we offer our students.


This video, produced by grad student Kevin Kramer and provided by IUP-TV, says it all.

Every Saturday this month, IUP's basketball teams play at home in Kovalchick Complex. The spectacle of what surrounds the game is as much fun as watching our student athletes battle it out on the court. The best part is that much of what you see is orchestrated by students--the newly formed pep band, the cheerleaders, two dance troupes, the Crimson Crazies (the rambunctious group that sits in the front rows of the student section)--and it all adds up to a fun event. Even the activities organized by the Kovalchick staff involve students hired to operate the facility--things like Kissin' Cam (yes,that moment when you and your date might be encouraged to kiss on camera for a prize) and three-point shot competition.

So, on the eve of March Madness, when it's really the best time to watch basketball, head to Kovalchick Saturday night. The women's game starts at 5:30, and the men's game at 7:30.On February 11 we play Mercyhurst; February 18, Slippery Rock, and February 25, Gannon.  Students are admitted free with an I-Card, and other ticket prices vary, depending on seating.

Visit for scores, stats, standings, and more.

Punxsutawney: Even Bigger Than Phil

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Academy of Culinary Arts Ice Sculpture 32105D90PF_260px.jpgWill he or won't he? It's a question on everyone's mind on February 2.

We're talking, of course, about Punxsutawney Phil, the world's most famous groundhog, and whether he'll see his shadow at dawn on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney.

With all the fun around Groundhog Day, Phil has put Punxsutawney on the map.

But, there's a lot more to Punxsutawney than Phil.

IUP Punxsutawney, a residential first-year campus with 350 students, will celebrate its 50th birthday this summer. The new $19 million Living-Learning Center houses the academic programs, dining facilities, book store, and fitness facility.

Punxsutawney also is home to IUP's Academy of Culinary of Arts, where about 100 students learn all facets of the culinary arts, including a specialized baking and pastry program, from world-renowned chefs. Our grads go on to internships at five-star restaurants and resorts and are in demand from hospitality providers throughout the country. 

The Fairman Centre is also new, the result of a $1.9 million gift from the Fairman family of Jefferson County and more than $2.4 million in grants and contributions from federal, state, and local agencies. The center, located in the heart of downtown, has allowed for expansion of  culinary classes; residential space for students; and on the first floor, upscale retail facilities.

The campus is committed to service to the Punxsutawney community. Students and faculty regularly volunteer with Rotary International of Punxsutawney; Big Brothers and Sisters; and  the Salvation Army and Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. The commitment is mutual: The Punxsutawney Area College Trust is a longtime supporter of IUP, with gifts from members, including the Fairman family and Elaine Light, which have been critical to the continued success and recent new growth of IUP Punxsutawney.

But don't get us wrong -- we love Groundhog Day. Each year, hundreds of IUP students come out for the festivities, which include students in the academy's Ice Carving Club showcasing their skills in the square. On Wednesday, the academy hosted the annual Groundhog Day Chili and Hot Wing Cook-Off. 

Can't make it to Punxsutawney on Thursday? Celebrate at home by making a batch of groundhog cookies -- a special recipe from Light and her husband, Sam, former president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. Don't forget to use your groundhog cookie cutters,  available from the Punxsutawney Phil's Official Souvenir Shop.

Whether you see your shadow or not, come out and celebrate. You'll certainly see more to enjoy in this community than just its world-renowned weather forecaster.

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.

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.

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