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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.

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. 


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

IUP in Spotlight as Host for Kennedy Center Theater Festival

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Lindsey's Oyster, produced by IUPAll is NOT quiet here during the winter break--and IUP could not be more happy and proud.

IUP is hosting the Region II Kennedy Center Theater Festival through Monday, January 16. This means that 1,000 faculty members and students from colleges and universities from the eight-state region are here on campus for workshops, lectures, and performances. This is the second time that IUP has been selected to host the event; we also were the site for the 2010 festival, which featured keynote speaker Bill Pullman.

The keynote presenter for this year's festival is John Cariani. He's been in many television series and popular movies, including Kissing Jessica Stein, and was nominated for a Tony Award (Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical) for his performance in the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof. He also has an interesting IUP tie: He was one of the stars of Elephant Sighs, the movie written by former IUP theater professor and playwright Ed Simpson.

There are a number of plays open to the community throughout the festival in the Performing Arts Center's Fisher Auditorium, along with four special productions for festival audiences. These plays, offered in the Waller Hall Mainstage Theater, are open to community members as seating permits (available seats will be distributed starting about 10 minutes before the performances).

Productions have to be selected for festival performances, and the competition is fierce; 80 colleges and universities are eligible to enter a production for selection.

So, IUP is very proud that festival officials selected an IUP production, Lindsey's Oyster, for showcase at the festival. The show will be presented in the Waller Hall Mainstage Theater on Friday, January 13, at 5:00 p.m. This is among the performances for which festival attendees have first priority for seating. Tickets are $10 per person.

This show, in addition to presenting outstanding student talent and excellent direction by IUP's Jason Chimonides, represents IUP's inaugural commitment to the National Theatre Conference's Initiative to Celebrate American Women Playwrights. (Note: This production may contain language and situations to which some audience members may object.) 

Make sure to check out the festival website to find about more about the peformances. An amazing opportunity for outstanding theater, right in our own backyard.

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