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Mentors: Spring 2018

Tandem Tribute

Charles Davis and Robert Ensley

Charles Davis, left, and Robert Ensley collaborated on Swing Out, a springtime music-theater production from the 1940s through the 1970s (photo credit: IUP Archives).

Individually, Charles Davis ’34 and Robert Ensley made lasting contributions to the university. A member of the music faculty, Davis started the popular Mellowmen dance band in 1947 and conducted the Glee Club and University Chorale. As director of dramatics, Ensley founded the school’s Summer Theater Guild, which eventually became Theater-by-the-Grove.

But Davis and Ensley may be best remembered for work they did in tandem. In 1947, they started Swing Out, a spring program of Broadway-style productions that drew crowds to Fisher Auditorium for nearly 30 years. They were also known for taking music-theater productions on the road—to high schools in Pennsylvania and New York and to American military installations in Iceland and Greenland.

Barbara Ensley Mack and Nancy Davis Smith

Barbara “Peach” Ensley Mack ’68, left, and Nancy Davis Smith ’70, in front of a plaque honoring Mack’s father, Robert Ensley, and Smith’s uncle, Charles Davis (photo credit: Jenn Dunsmore)

Last fall, a reception in Fisher Auditorium centered on the unveiling of a plaque honoring Davis and Ensley for their many joint successes: “They inspired excellence in music and theater production, and many of the students they influenced went on to teach others,” the plaque reads. “That is their living legacy.”

Faculty Accolades

  • “Hidden in Plain Sight,” an essay by English professor Chauna Craig, was included in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2017, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Part of the annual Best American series, this collection of new fiction, nonfiction, poetry, comics, and more was chosen by a panel of high school students under the guidance of a guest editor, author Sarah Vowell. Craig’s essay originally appeared in the literary journal Ploughshares.
  • The New Zealand Herald ranked Pictures, the latest solo album by award-winning pianist Henry Wong Doe, fifth on its list of the top classical CDs for 2017. A New Zealand native, Wong Doe joined the IUP music faculty in 2010. Pictures is his fourth commercial recording.
  • A professor in the Department of Communication Disorders, Special Education, and Disability Services, Shari Robertson was named a fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, an honor she shared with only 14 others last year. Elected president of the association in the fall, she will assume the post in 2019.
  • The Pennsylvania chapter of the American Planning Association presented Whit Watts with its Planning Leadership Award. Retired from IUP’s Geography and Regional Planning Department since the summer, Watts was honored for his contributions to the field through teaching and through work on community planning projects.
  • The Pennsylvania Vector Control Association honored Jan Humphreys, professor emeritus of biology, with the Gary E. Jones Award, its highest recognition for leadership and service. A PVCA member for 25 years, Humphreys remains active in his research of vector-borne diseases. One of his former students, PVCA President Leah Kostelnik Lamonte ’03, presented the award.

Faculty Deaths

The following former faculty members died in recent months:

  • William Blacksmith M’68, a professor emeritus who retired from the Health and Physical Education Department in 2003 after 34 years of service, died November 1, 2017. He also coached wrestling for many years at IUP.
  • Gerald Buriok ’65, a professor emeritus who retired in 2007 after 36 years in the Mathematics and Computer Science departments, died November 8, 2017. He also served the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics as dean’s associate and interim dean.
  • Sam Furgiuele ’49 died November 1, 2017. A professor emeritus, he retired in 1978 after 11 years on the English faculty and a decade as director of Public Relations.
  • Manton Gibbs, who retired as a professor of management in 2011 after 22 years of teaching, died January 25, 2018.
  • Philip Rivers ’65, who retired from the Safety Sciences Department in 2007 after more than 29 years of service, died November 21, 2017.
  • David Rotigel, who retired from the Foundations of Education Department in 1999 after more than 28 years of service, died November 6, 2017.
  • Kenneth Shildt, a professor emeritus who retired as chair of the Management Information Systems and Decision Sciences Department in 1998 after 33 years of service, died December 30, 2017.
  • Ford Swigart, a professor emeritus of English who retired in 1995 after more than 28 years of service, died November 25, 2017.