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IUP Journalism Department Newslitter, Resurrected March 2009

Present at the Creation Randy Jesick Photo 

It’s overwhelming, to me at least, when I read of the collective success of the graduates of our journalism department since its inception as a separate academic unit—thanks to Craig Swauger and David Truby—in the summer of 1980.  And it’s been my pleasure to have been along for the ride since that first week in September 1979 when I entered 105 Leonard Hall to teach my first class as a journalism professor:  PR I. 

You’ll never know how much I was shaking and how nervous I was to be there in front of my first students, who, whether they knew it or not, were really my guinea pigs. But with their help and encouragement, especially during two or three classes when I went blank up there in front of everyone, here I am nearly 30 years later, no longer in Leonard but, since 1990, on the fourth (top) floor of Davis Hall. You know that building with the eight sides and the 103 steps from the basement to the fourth (top) floor, don’t you? 

Well, those three decades have allowed me to witness the birth, growth and fruition of that “collective success” I referred to above. What’s also overwhelming are all those wonderful, interesting and inspiring stories of and even just plain current and accurate facts about our department’s alumni that you and I don’t know about. But I’m going to try to discover as much as I can and then share it with all of you.

To spread the word about all yunz guys and gals out there still trying to decide whether you’re drinking soda or pop, we’re going to try a little experiment:  a periodic—monthly?  or quarterly? or maybe just every so often?—newsletter.  A resurrection of a publication we used to produce called Newslitter.

When I first had this idea, which occurred last summer thanks to a suggestion from Lee Vest, our journalism secretary, I planned to launch it early in the fall semester. But, then, when my semester was interrupted halfway through because of my medical problem and subsequent leave, a postponement was necessary. Not a cancellation, thank goodness.

What prompted this newsletter idea occurred during the summer of 2008 when I discovered some truly fascinating news about one of our grads:  Francie Brown. She’s been working in the movie industry for quite some time. Who knew? I didn’t, but when I read the list of movies and TV shows she’s worked on as a dialect coach, I said to myself:  “All of our alumni should be aware of what one of their fellow IUP journ grads is doing.” 

So my thinking, when I sent my request to our alumni listserv, was to, every once in a while, update all of our alumni on all of our alumni.  It truly is my pleasure to serve as your editor and writer to enable you to read about your fellow grads. But I need your continuing help. Send me your stuff. You’re all writers. Write for me and everyone else a blurb to let us know what you’re doing and where you’re doing it. The responses I received last summer were terrific, and you’ll have the special opportunity to enjoy all that “journalism news” in the coming months.

Remember we’re still experimenting with this idea. Don’t expect a regular format. Not yet. But I do hope there will be at least a semi-regular schedule for you to count on. How about a sampling right now. Let’s start with Francie Brown.

FRANCIE BROWN (1982) lives in Woodland Hills, Calif. If I remember correctly, she studied in the acting/theater master’s program at the University of California-Irvine, where one of her professors recommended her as a dialect coach. Please keep in mind that I just about never go to movies, but even I can proudly report that the professor’s reference led to her work in, among scores of other titles, “Thelma and Louise,” “Home for the Holidays,” “Crash,” “The Sixth Sense,” “The Perfect Storm,” “Remember the Titans,” “Artificial Intelligence:  AI,” “Batman Begins,” “Memoirs of a Geisha” and, certainly not least and not her last either, “The Dark Knight.” Plus:  Get ready for “Angels and Demons,” another of Francie’s movies to be released this year.

One of Francie’s classmates in 1982 was TIM HAYES, who has his own communications firm in Pittsburgh. According to IUP Magazine, he recently received “the national Award of Excellence in Speechwriting,” presented by PR News at its Platinum PR Awards event in New York City. Tim also won an Award of Honor from the International Association of Business Communicators, Pittsburgh Chapter.

Jumping ahead quite a few years, KARI ANDREN (2008), following her May graduation and summer internship in the Capitol newsroom in Harrisburg, where she secured clips in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Harrisburg Patriot-News among others, is working hard in a one-year master’s program in public-affairs reporting at the University of Illinois-Springfield. As part of this program, Kari’s covering the Illinois state capital and capitol for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Two other fairly recent grads are working in the magazine industry, perhaps due, in part, to the magazine course introduced by BERNIE ANKNEY (1987) during his time on our faculty. JANA HOFFMAN started at Lehigh Valley Style magazine in her home Allentown area two days after her December 2007 commencement. Now, as an editorial assistant, she’s writing a variety of stories ranging from fashion and beauty to local legends, and she helps with the color and design of page layouts and photo shoots, too. Each month, she proofs “the book” of at least 112 pages. Jana’s successful summer internship at this magazine led to the staff’s creating a position for her and holding it until her graduation. Bernie, known as Ray Ankney when he was a student here, is now the chairman of the journalism and mass communication department at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

LAINIE ROSENTHAL’s internship at Johnstown Magazine, like Jana’s experience, was instrumental in her magazine position. But she went from Western Pennsylvania back to her New Jersey roots and all the way into Manhattan—at Forbes magazine—where she works as manager of publicity. Lainie’s responsibilities include “pitching” the magazine’s experts to the news media to comment on breaking business news. In recent months, she has placed editors on, for example “The Today Show,” “NBC Nightly News” and “Good Morning, America” plus CNBC and MSNBC. She graduated in 2005.

Another former journalism major now in the New York area is THERESA ANDERSON MILLER (1985). Earlier in her communications career, she was a business editor and regional city editor at the Express-Times in Easton, Pa., and a writer about the financial services industry for Bestwire, Bestweek and Best’s Review.  Now she’s working in Newark, N.J., as vice president of global communications at Prudential Financial.

ROB BOSTON also graduated in 1985. Since 1987 he has served as assistant director of communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a nonprofit advocacy group in Washington, D.C. Rob, also assistant editor of his organization’s magazine, Church and State, has written three books and has appeared occasionally on cable and network news programs to discuss church-state issues. I’ve felt proud when I saw and heard him on “Countdown” on MSNBC and “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox.

Well, there you have the “test flight” of your new-old Newslitter.  I’d really like your comments, suggestions, criticisms. Contact me through one or more of the following:

E-mail:  randyj@iup.edu

Office:  724-357-2748

Home:   724-465-5970

Address:  422 Davis Hall, IUP, Indiana, PA 15705

To reiterate, I’d really like you to help with this entire effort. So I need your input and any information you can provide me directly or by completing the form on the department’s website. Leads on other J grads will help, too.

Here are some specifics from Lee Vest:  "Journalism alumni will be able to go to the journalism department website, where there is an Alumni section.  Included will be the journalism department newsletter and a form, Journalism Alumni Information Form, used to request that your name be added to the Alumni Listserv.  Plus, alumni can look at other sections of the journalism webpage to see what's happening in the journalism department."

I can't wait to dig into the next edition of Newslitter because I already have so much good stuff to share with our alumni world  So, again, please keep your updated info flowing into Davis Hall:  long or short, trivial or important.

You gotta know that it’s a wondrous feeling to be back in the classrooms, on the campus, in the academic environment once again and to be writing about, communicating with and clearly remembering a group of important people—my former students—who have always been and continue to be such a vital part of the individual I am and the calling I was fortunate enough to find. I thank Craig Swauger and David Truby for bringing me onto the journalism faculty 30 years ago.

Me?  A professor?  Who knew?

Thanks for listening.

Randy Jesick

  • Journalism Department
  • Davis Hall, Room 434
    570 South Eleventh Street
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-4411
  • Fax: 724-357-7845
  • Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.