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IUP Spring 2015 Commencement Overview

(KCAC, Events) Permanent link

Indiana University of Pennsylvania will hold commencement ceremonies May 9, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. and at 1:30 p.m. at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex for more than 1,889 graduates. The ceremonies will combine undergraduate and graduate students.

The 9:00 a.m. ceremony will be for students from the colleges of Fine Arts, Health and Human Services, and Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

The 1:30 p.m. ceremony will be for students from the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology and the colleges of Education and Educational Technology and Humanities and Social Sciences.

The breakdown of degrees to be offered is as follows: 1,580 bachelor’s degrees, 256 master’s degrees, 51 doctoral degrees and two associate degrees. Of the bachelor’s degree applicants, a total of 795 qualify for Latin honors (3.25 grade point average or above), with 48 achieving a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.

The total number of graduates by college are: 297 from the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology; 151 from the College of Education and Educational Technology; 92 from the College of Fine Arts; 585 from the College of Health and Human Services; 224 from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; 233 from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and 307 from the School of Graduate Studies and Research.

Both ceremonies will feature an IUP graduate with more than five decades of leadership in higher education administration as the keynote speaker.

Dr. Donald J. Mash, a 1964 graduate, will speak at the ceremonies and will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree at the ceremony. Mash is a 1995 recipient of the IUP Distinguished Alumni Award, honored for his outstanding contributions to the field of education. He is a native of Jeannette. He served as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, as president of Wayne State College, as vice president for student affairs and as executive vice president for administration at George Mason University and as dean of student services at Ohio Dominican College. He began his career in higher education as an instructor of geography at the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford.

In addition to his IUP degree, he received a master’s degree in geography from the University of Pittsburgh and his Ph.D. in higher education-student development from The Ohio State University.

The ceremonies also will continue the tradition of honoring the 50-year reunion class (the class of 1964). These alumni will lead the procession into Ed Fry Arena during the morning ceremony.

The student speakers will be Franklinn M. Alexander, of Ernest, who will receive a master’s degree in sports studies with an emphasis in exercise science, in the morning, and Ashley Niccolai, of Fairmount City, who will receive a bachelor’s degree in sociology, in the afternoon.

Alexander, son of Constance and Gerald Alexander of Home, is a 2002 graduate of Marion Center High School. While at IUP, he was a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, Phi Epsilon Kappa honor society, Golden Key International Honour Society, won best research poster for the College of Health and Human Services at the 2013 undergraduate scholars forum and attended Undergraduate Research at the Capitol in 2014. He is married to Karina Alexander.

Niccolai, daughter of Ralph Niccolai, Fairmount City, and Diane Niccolai, of New Bethlehem, is a 2011 graduate of Redbank Valley High School. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Delta honor society and won the honor society’s outstanding graduating senior award. She was president of the Sociology Club and was member of the University Chorus. She is a dean’s list student and provost scholar.

IUP President Michael Driscoll will preside over the commencement ceremonies.

Recipients of the 2015 Distinguished Faculty Awards will also be recognized. They are Dr. W. Zachary Collins, associate professor, Department of Music, Distinguished Faculty Award for Creative Arts; Dr. Benjamin Ford, associate professor, Department of Anthropology, Distinguished Faculty Award for Research; Dr. DeAnna Laverick, associate professor, Department of Professional Studies in Education, Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching; and Dr. Michele Papakie, associate professor, Department of Journalism and Public Relations, Distinguished Faculty Award for Service.

Again this year, all students participating in May commencement ceremony will be recognized by name and congratulated on stage. 

Parking on campus will be open to all visitors, except in the following areas: the Clark Hall parking lot, closed for construction; portions of the Miller Stadium parking lot, reserved for handicapped parking; and the Kovalchick Complex VIP parking area, located in front of the building, and loading dock area. Police officers will be at each intersection from Grant Street south to the Kovalchick Complex to assist visitors.

Many departments are holding individual commencement ceremonies. A complete list is available on the IUP commencement website. Details about live webcasts of the commencement ceremonies are also available on the website.

Partnership the Principal Theme of Hotel Groundbreaking Ceremony

(KCAC, Events) Permanent link

IUP Dignitaries Break Ground for the Hilton Garden Inn Across from the KCAC

Partnership was the principal theme highlighted during groundbreaking ceremonies Wednesday, April 29, 2015, for the Hilton Garden Inn hotel adjacent to the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.

President Driscoll addresses the crowd at the hotel groundbreaking ceremonyMichael Fiore, from Fiore Brothers Management, LLC, of Altoona, and and Mark Morath, president of Hospitality Asset Management Company (HAMCO), State College, developers of the project, stressed the strong partnership and great cooperation of IUP and the community to bring the hotel project to fruition. 

IUP President Michael Driscoll commented that the hotel will help to solidify the Kovalchick Complex as a destination for visitors, as well as enhance the Wayne Avenue Corridor project and be a spark for future development. 

Senator Don White addresses the crowd at the hotel groundbreaking ceremonyOther speakers during the groundbreaking included Senator Don White, who noted to President Driscoll that “good things happen while you’re around;” Trustee James Miller, who spoke to how the hotel will help to give the university a competitive edge for students; and Cornelius Wooten, vice president for administration and finance at IUP, who commented, “this was well worth the wait.”

Construction fencing will be installed today and Friday, May 1, 2015, with construction set to begin May 4.

The upscale, six-story hotel will include 128 guest rooms and suites, and is projected to open in summer 2016.

IUP Sorority to Raise Autism Awareness with Three Upcoming Events

(Events, Student Opportunities) Permanent link

IUP President Michael Driscoll receives a blue light bulb from Alpha Xi Delta sorority members and Autism U members for Autism Awareness Month

An Indiana University of Pennsylvania sorority will have several events to raise funds and awareness about autism during April. April is national Autism Awareness Month.

Alpha Xi Delta sorority is currently selling blue light bulbs as a kick off for this month’s events. Members will be selling blue light bulbs at the Hadley Union Building from noon to 4:00 p.m. on April 2, which is World Autism Awareness Day. Blue is the color symbolizing autism awareness.

On April 22, the group will host its 12th Quarter Mile event from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in downtown Indiana along Philadelphia Street. The students will attempt to make a quarter-mile of donated quarters along the street, and will be collecting at the university and in the community during the month of April. Laid side by side, 15,840 quarters—totaling $4,000—are required to span that distance. Businesses or individuals that make a donation will be invited to write their names in chalk on the sidewalks.

The sorority is also planning a 5K run on April 25 at Blue Spruce Park. Registration for the run begins at 4:30 p.m. and the race begins at 6:00 p.m. The students plan to have blue lighted items for runners and have blue lights along the path of the run. Early registration for the run (before April 11) is $25; after April 11 and day of race is $35. Registration information is available by calling (484) 883-6421 or e-mailing

All funds raised during the month will benefit Autism Speaks, the largest organization in the nation focusing on autism. The sorority is also working with Autism Speaks U, a student organization raising awareness about autism.

Photo information: From left, IUP President Michael Driscoll receives a blue light bulb from Alpha Xi Delta sorority members Rachel Clippinger, Megan Hart, and Sarah Harrington. Pictured in back are Autism U members Kenneth Snell and Sara Jamison. 

IUP Honor Fraternity Sponsoring Autism Awareness Week Events

(Events) Permanent link

Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Phi Sigma Pi national co-ed honor fraternity has organized six different events for its first Autism Awareness Week, planned for March 30 through April 4, 2015.

All of the events are designed to raise awareness about autism, and donations also will be welcomed at events throughout the week to benefit the international autism awareness project, “Light It Up Blue.” Autism Awareness Month is celebrated internationally in April.

All of the events are free and open to the community. IUP’s Office of Housing, Residential Living, and Dining are cosponsors for the events.

The fraternity will begin the week’s events on March 30 with “pin it blue” from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Stapleton Library. Members will be distributing autism awareness pins, information, and blue ribbons, and will offer the opportunity for persons to write messages on puzzle pieces related to autism awareness. The color blue and a puzzle piece shape is associated with autism awareness.

March 31 is “Piece by Piece” day with members of the fraternity distributing awareness items and offering puzzle pieces for persons to write messages about autism from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Stapleton Library, the Hadley Union Building, and in five residence halls: Stevenson Hall, Wallwork Hall, Suites on Pratt, Northern Suites, and Whitmyre Hall.

On April 1, three members of the IUP faculty will serve on an Autism Awareness Panel at 7:00 p.m. in the Hadley Union Building Delaware Room. Faculty panelists will be Joanne Migyanka, IUP College of Education and Educational Technology, and Diane Shinberg, Sociology Department.

The movie Temple Grandin will be shown April 2 at 6:30 p.m. in G-98 Wallwork Hall.

On April 3, the fraternity hopes to have more than 100 persons be part of a special photography project to create a mosaic of individuals in blue shirts or with face painting to create a mosaic of individuals who want to raise awareness about autism. Any person is welcome to participate by getting a photo taken for this project in the photo area on the ground floor of the Hadley Union Building (next to the Delaware Room) from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The week’s events conclude with an autism awareness walk on April 4 starting and ending in the Stephenson Hall courtyard. Events for the walk begin at 5:00 p.m. with persons invited to make signs and have faces painted. Families involved in the IUP Special Needs Activity Program have been invited to be part of the walk. The Stephenson rotunda will be lighted in blue for this culminating event, and members of the fraternity will make brief remarks to begin the walk.

For more information about the events, contact Robert Matchett at or at (412) 480-8193 or Aubrey Keperling at

The group is encouraging persons to use social media to build awareness at #LIUB and #LIUB2K15.

IUP to Honor Nell Jack with President’s Medal of Distinction

(Events) Permanent link

Nell Jack Receives President's MedalNell G. Jack will receive the 2015 Indiana University of Pennsylvania President’s Medal of Distinction for dedication and support.

Michael Driscoll, IUP president, will present the award to Jack at the annual Leader’s Circle of Indiana County awards event on April 22 at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.

The President’s Medal of Distinction is the highest non-degree award the university presents. It was established in 1985 to honor citizens of the state and region whose professional achievement or public service is of national significance or special significance to the university. 

As a longtime Indiana resident, and even after her departure for the warmer temperatures of Arizona, Jack has been a loyal friend to IUP and the Indiana community, backing a wide range of interests that have benefited university tradition and raised institutional visibility and prestige, Driscoll said.

“Mrs. Jack has been actively engaged and has supported the university and the community her entire public life,” he said. “Her generosity has enhanced this university in many arenas. She has helped us to present cultural and educational offerings that have elevated the stature of the university, and her support for scholarships has benefited, and will continue to help, hundreds of students, including our student-athletes. She has my admiration and respect, and I feel fortunate to have gotten to know her during my time here at IUP.”

With her husband, the late Sam Jack, Nell Jack was responsible for the restoration of the Blue Room that came on the heels of a legendary alumni and community movement to save John Sutton Hall. Sutton is the campus’s original building and housed all of Indiana State Normal School.

The building had been slated for demolition, but public outcry and a subsequent capital campaign saved the structure, now on the National Register of Historic Landmarks.

The Jacks’ gift, made in 1978, amounted to nearly a third of the campaign goal. They said they made the gift not only to restore the Blue Room, but also to inspire others to invest in IUP’s historic architectural treasure.

In 1984, Jack and her husband established the Nell and Sam Jack Distinguished American Lecturer Series. The caliber of speakers attracted coverage in the Pittsburgh media, raising the stature of IUP regionally while also providing the university and surrounding community access to thought-provoking lectures by America’s most prestigious figures. They included Alexander Haig, Carl Sagan, Sandra Day O’Connor, William F. Buckley Jr., and Beverly Sills, among others.

For the last three decades, Jack has lent her name to a golf tournament to raise scholarship funds for women athletes at IUP. In addition, she and her daughter, Christine Toretti, established a scholarship that has benefited scores of athletes. In recognition of her contributions, Jack was inducted as an honorary member of the IUP Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.

In 2012, Jack established two new scholarships in honor of Indiana residents and IUP alumni Walt and Sue Lewis. One benefits students in the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology who are pursuing degrees in energy management, and the other benefits members of the men’s basketball team.

The Leader’s Circle awards dinner, now in its 16th year, recognizes the recipient of the IUP President’s Medal of Distinction and the nominees and recipients of the Indiana County Male and Female Civic Leader awards and the ATHENA Award. The Leader’s Circle of Indiana County includes representation from IUP, civic organizations, past award recipients, and award sponsors.

IUP Winter Commencement Features Student Speakers, Distinguished University Professor

(Events) Permanent link

Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s graduate and undergraduate winter commencement ceremonies will take place Saturday, December 13, with nearly 800 students eligible to receive degrees.

The ceremony for graduate students will be at 9:30 a.m. in the IUP Performing Arts Center’s Fisher Auditorium. The undergraduate ceremony will be at 1:00 p.m. in the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.

This December, the university will award two associate degrees, 616 bachelor’s degrees, 126 master’s degrees and 46 doctorates. Students who completed their master’s or doctoral work in August or who are completing it this month are invited to participate in the December ceremony.

A total of 262 of the undergraduate degree recipients are graduating with honors.

Morgan Chase, a theater major in the Robert E. Cook Honors College from Dalton, will be the student speaker for the undergraduate ceremony. Chase has won awards for film directing and choreography, and recently completed in the Rumshpringe International Short Film Festival. He is a member of Alpha Psi Omega Honors Theater Fraternity and the Sketch Comedy Group and is a founding member of the Factors Improv Troupe. He served as a member of the student advisory committee to the IUP theater department.

Michael Paff, a doctoral degree recipient in the School Psychology program, will be the graduate ceremony student speaker. A native of Newburgh, N.Y., he received his bachelor’s degree in psychology and history from Grove City College in 2004. He earned his master’s degree in educational psychology at IUP in 2005, and completed the certification program in school psychology in 2007. While at IUP, he was a graduate assistant and a teaching assistant.  He has worked as a school psychologist for Penncrest School District in Saegertown and was recently appointed as a visiting instructor of psychology at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. 

A total of 13 students will be recognized for achieving a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

Krzysztof (Krys) Kaniasty, professor of psychology and IUP’s 2014–15 Distinguished University Professor, will serve as the keynote speaker for both the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies. The Distinguished University Professorship is an annual award presented to an IUP faculty member based on outstanding teaching, research, and scholarly activity. Recipients retain the title for life.

Kaniasty is perhaps the foremost authority on post-disaster social support, having written or co-written numerous empirical and theoretical articles, chapters, and reports on the topic.

A member of the Institute of Psychology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, Poland, he has studied psychology both in Poland and the United States. He conducted and collaborated on several large-scale longitudinal studies investigating social support exchanges, individual and communal coping, and psychological well-being following natural disasters and other major stressors in several countries, including the United States, Mexico, Poland, and China.

He is president of the Stress and Anxiety Research Society, and his scholarship has been recognized with several prestigious honors, including STAR’s Lifetime Career Award in 2011.

Early in his career, Kaniasty was recognized by the American Psychological Association with the Community Psychology Dissertation of the Year award (1993). In 2006, he was honored with the Individual Award by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education for his book about the 1997 Polish flood and its psychosocial consequences.

A member of the IUP faculty since 1990, he has been honored with the Outstanding Researcher Award from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the Sponsored Program Award for Outstanding Achievement in Research, and the University Senate Distinguished Faculty Award for Research. He also serves on many national and international boards and associations, as well as many university committees.

Kaniasty has been an author or co-editor of several books and has written or co-written many highly cited social support and trauma chapters and articles in professional journals. He also has served as chief editor of Anxiety, Stress and Coping: An International Journal, and as associate editor of the Encyclopedia of Psychological Trauma.

He regularly presents his research at national and international conferences and seminars, including serving as keynote speaker at the Australian Psychological Society Conference; the annual conference of the Stress and Anxiety Research Society in Munster, Germany; and the International Conference—Contemporary Quality of Life at the University of Opole, Poland.

He has been successful in securing research grants totaling more than $500,000, including several projects funded through the National Institute of Mental Health.

IUP Distinguished Alumnus, CEO of Warner Music Nashville, Returning to IUP for Presentations

(Events) Permanent link

Indiana University of Pennsylvania Distinguished Alumni Award recipient John Esposito, president and CEO of Warner Music Nashville, will be at IUP on October 31, 2014.

In addition to meeting with students and faculty, he will be offering two presentations, both free and open to the community: one at 10:15 a.m. in 418 Davis Hall addressing journalism students and majors; and one at 1:30 p.m. in Cogswell Hall, room 126, to students in fine arts and communications media. The afternoon presentation will discuss the “Business of Music” and will include a music presentation.

John Esposito, IUP AlumnusEsposito is a 1978 journalism graduate of IUP and received his Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011 in recognition of his outstanding achievements in the world of music.

His father, the late Jerry Esposito of Indiana, was a 1966 IUP Distinguished Alumni Award winner; the Espositos are the first (and only) father-son Distinguished Alumni Award recipients. Jerry Esposito was instrumental in the establishment of Citizens’ Ambulance in 1964 and helped to grew the organization to the nationally recognized entity that it is today.

Warner Music Nashville is a division of Warner Music Group that comprises Warner Bros. Nashville, Atlantic Nashville, Elektra Nashville and Word Label Group. In September 2009, Esposito became the first executive to head the new division, which was created to expand WMG’s presence in the Nashville music community. 

Prior to becoming president of Warner Music Nashville, Esposito was president and CEO of WEA Corp., WMG’s U.S. sales and retail marketing company where he was responsible for the U.S. sales and marketing activities, distribution, as well as global management and distribution of WMG's digital assets. 

Esposito joined WMG from The Island Def Jam Music Group (IDJ), where he served as general manager/executive vice president.  Prior to IDJ, Esposito held a variety of executive positions at PolyGram, Inc. 

Esposito spearheads WMG’s environmental campaign, WMGreen, for which he was awarded the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) “Forces for Nature” honor in 2006 for his leadership on environmental issues.  He is also a Founding and Steering Committee Member of NRDC’s Global Leadership Council. 

In addition, Esposito serves on the following board of directors: the TJ Martell Foundation, the Country Music Association (CMA) as president elect, Country Radio Broadcasters (CRB) and the Nashville Music Council.  He is also a member of the FLO Thinkery Advisory Board and the Air Service Coalition Advisory Board created by the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority.

Esposito is an accomplished guitar player and drummer.

While a student at IUP, he was chair of several Student Co-op Activities Board Committees;  was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity; was a host on CIUP-TV (now IUP-TV), the university’s student-operated television station; was a DJ on WIUP-FM radio and wrote for The Penn, IUP’s student newspaper. He also was a paramedic for Citizen’s Ambulance Service.

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