Under the Oaks

When most Indiana University of Pennsylvania alumni think of the Oak Grove, they recall walking to class under lofty trees and encountering friends in the park-like setting. When Audrey DeLaquil Madia ’70, thinks of the Oak Grove, she remembers it as the place of her first kiss with her husband.

She met Bill Madia ’69, M’71 through her college roommate, who had attended Bill’s high school in Swissvale. “I don’t think either of us thought we were going to meet somebody when we came here,” Audrey said. “It just happened.”

Bill and Audrey Madia

Bill and Audrey Madia

It had all started at a Saturday night dance at the Student Union, Bill said. “All of my friends back then told me the same thing: ‘She’s out of your league,’ they would say. But I was smitten from that first dance on. All these years later, I still am.”

From their first kiss in the Oak Grove to walking to Lefty’s for cheese and chili, their romance grew as he studied Chemistry and Physics, and she studied Home Economics. Now happily married for forty-one years, they feel a special attachment to IUP.

“The further away you get from it, the more nostalgic it seems to you,” Audrey said. “IUP was a great place to go to college.”

Audrey remembers going with Bill to Sigma Tau Gamma's sweetheart dance, which was called the White Rose, and to toga parties. One night, after dark, her sorority sisters from Sigma Sigma Sigma and his Sig Tau brothers gathered around the fountain in front of the Tri Dorms, carrying candles for the couple’s “formal pinning.” Lit by candleglow, they sang during the ceremony in which Bill gave Audrey his fraternity pin.

“It was a little corny but very sweet,” Audrey said. “I enjoyed the sorority and made good friends through it. “

The summer before her senior year, Bill sold his Vespa motor scooter, on which he had taken her for many rides, to buy Audrey an engagement ring. “He asked me to marry him,” she said. “It was a big surprise.”

Just as their years at IUP brought dramatic changes for Bill and Audrey, those same years saw the university growing and evolving as well. The campus was a state college when Bill started his freshman year. By the time the couple graduated, it was a university, Audrey said.

“When I started as a freshman in the summer, we couldn’t wear slacks to dinner,” she said, “and you couldn’t wear shorts on campus. If you lived in Sutton Hall, you had to meet your dates in the Blue Room.”

Audrey remembers she had to be in her dorm for study hours from 7:00 to 9:00 each evening when she first started at IUP. In later years, that was no longer a rule, and things were much more relaxed, she said.

The couple now lives in California. They came back to campus in 1988, when Bill received a Distinguished Alumni Award. He currently serves on the presidential advisory boards for MIT, Michigan State University, and Princeton, for which he consults on research matters. He also works as a vice president at Stanford University on a variety of federal research and development projects and helps oversee Stanford’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Bill has visited IUP to lecture and encourage growth of the university’s scientific research programs. He and his wife were also back a few summers ago for a Sig Tau reunion.

As they look back on their years as students at IUP, they remember studying hard and working in the summers to pay for college. Bill worked in the steel mills in Pittsburgh, and Audrey worked in a hospital kitchen. Several years ago, the IUP couple endowed an annual scholarship to provide tuition support for an IUP student.

“Bill especially thought it was a good thing to do,” Audrey said. “It’s a wonderful school, and he wanted to help someone who couldn’t otherwise afford college to get an education.”

Marilyn Berry Kukula ’89 met her husband, Henry Kukula, Jr. ’87, while both were students at IUP. For another IUP love story, be sure to read The Football Player and the May Queen.