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Members for Life

Lasting Bonds Forged in Student Groups, Programs

Jeff Hill ’00, M’04 credits the IUP Ambassadors with changing his life.

Hill, an academic advisor at Penn State University, said he didn’t really feel connected to IUP until he joined the group. “I decided to check it out,” he said, “and I’m glad I did.”

The group—known as the “student alumni association,” as it was created to keep alumni in touch with campus life and make students more aware of their potential roles as alumni—recently marked 20 years, joining several other university organizations and programs in celebrating significant anniversaries last year.

Hill had never heard of the Ambassadors until his supervisor suggested he join the group. “I was a student employee in custodial services,” he said, “and my boss, Bob Betz, handed me a form and said ‘I think you should apply to this.’”


The Council of Trustees recognized the IUP Ambassadors in September as the group marked its 20th anniversary. Pictured with the Ambassadors are Sara Barnett Lawer ’06, M’08, left, the group’s advisor, and Bill Speidel, back center, vice president for University Advancement.

Joining the Ambassadors during his sophomore year, Hill enjoyed the exposure the group gained through its work with alumni and prospective students. “It was my first real eye-opening experience with student groups and organizations,” he said.

Once he received a bachelor’s degree in computer science, he worked for a short time in the field before realizing he really wanted to be part of the academic life he enjoyed while an Ambassador, so he decided to pursue a master’s degree in student affairs in higher educationat IUP. As part of the SAHE program, he became the graduate assistant advising the Ambassadors, and he believes the experience led him to his position as academic advisor. “It was exactly what I needed and didn’t know it,” he said.

Holly Holt Wadding ’04 was also unaware of the IUP Ambassadorsuntil nominated by one of her professors, but she now calls it “the best part of my college experience.”

Wadding was a member of the marching bandand volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters, but when she joined the Ambassadors, it “just clicked,” she said.

“I met all of these people in 2001, and there are at least 10 of us who still see each other all these many years later. We get together every Homecomingand have so much fun.”

These kinds of lifelong relationships are often mentioned by members of other IUP groups that recently celebrated milestone anniversaries.

Kathy Gillis Kinderman ’81 is director of the IUP West Penn Respiratory Care Program, which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.

The program, in which students attend IUP for two years and then spend the last two in the West Penn Hospital system, was the first consortium of its kind in the state, she said. Graduates are trained to evaluate, treat, and care for people with breathing and other cardiopulmonary disorders.

As director, only the third in the program’s history, Kinderman has witnessed numerous changes in the respiratory care field. “Providers of respiratory care used to be called ‘inhalation therapists,’” she said, “so the joke among us was that apparently no one ever exhaled!”

More than 100 alumni attended the anniversary celebration last fall, and Kinderman said IUP respiratory care graduates enjoy catching up with each other at annual professional conferences, as well. Alumni also look out for recent graduates as they begin their careers, especially since a number of them are in supervisory or management roles and they are doing the hiring, she said.

IUP received the following gifts of $25,000 or more, made to the Foundation for IUPfrom October through January. The university community thanks all who invest in IUP and its students.

  • From Tim Cejka ’73 and Debra Phillips Cejka ’73, of Houston, $1.25 million in support of a new science and mathematics facility that is in the planning stages
  • From Daniel Griffith ’70, M’72 and Diane Griffith, of Dallas, $72,000 in support of a scholarship they endowed that assists students who pursue degrees in geography and mathematics
  • From Warren Martin, of Honey Brook, $250,000 in memory of his wife, Eileen Martin ’63, in support of scholarships for nontraditional-age, married female students who are participating in student teaching
  • Paul Miller ’74 and Susan Walker Miller ’74, of Holland, Ohio, in excess of $101,000 to establish scholarships for students from Pennsylvania’s northern tier
  • From the Shattuck Family Foundation, of Baltimore, $250,000 in honor of Molly George Shattuck ’89, to establish a women’s leadership program in the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology
  • From anonymous, $28,000 to create the Geoscience Next Generation Field Geology Fund

“Our field is small enough and our alumni are spread out all over the country, so they tend to put new graduates under their wing.”

The opportunity to develop relationships, including as a mentor, is also important to Paula Burnett, longtime advisor to Alpha Xi Delta, which celebrated a half century at IUP in 2013. Burnett said there have been many changes in those 50 years, including the increase in technology and social media, but the core values of the sorority have not changed. “The caring for the local area and the university, the friendships that are formed, and the emphasis on academics have remained the same,” she said.

Burnett, who attended Ohio University and was a member of that school’s Alpha Xi Delta chapter, said belonging to the sorority doesn’t stop with the local community and goes well beyond the social aspects.

“It’s ever so much more than just the collegiate experience. As a member of Alpha Xi Delta, if I graduate, for example, with a degree in architecture, I can contact the national headquarters and find other architects and job opportunities.”

Alpha Xi Delta members are also proud of their philanthropy, which includes promoting Autism Speaks, an organization that aims to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders. “The members not only get a social sense, but get a broader sense of helping the IUP community,” Burnett said, “which becomes a lifelong commitment when they are assisting their own communities.”

Helping the local Sigma Chi organization, which celebrated 40 years at IUP last year, has been a longtime goal for Jeff Bird ’85. A member of the fraternity’s House Board, Bird has organized a golf tournament every August for the last four years to raise funds for Camp Orenda, a residential summer camp in Indiana County for people with disabilities, and to maintain the Sigma Chi house at IUP. The annual outing has raised more than $35,000.

“We have a group of alumni come back to Indiana, stay in the Sigma Chi house, enjoy a pig roast in the parking lot, and golf at Meadowlane,” Bird said. “Brothers from age 21 to 65-plus attend—it’s an incredible mix of guys.”

Bird said the brothers enjoy coming back to IUP to catch up and see the changes to the Sigma Chi house, IUP, and Indiana. “Some of them haven’t been back since they graduated 20 years ago,” he said.

Bird knew from the beginning of his association with the fraternity that he would be a member for life. “That’s something that’s pledged into you from day one,” he said. While an undergraduate, Bird was involved in several leadership positions in the fraternity—ritual chairman, assistant pledge trainer, pledge trainer, and vice president—and believes “success sticks with you.”

“I can’t imagine what my undergraduate experience would have been without Sigma Chi.”

Major Anniversaries
IUP Ambassadors 20 years 2013
IUP West Penn Respiratory Care Program 40 years 2013
Sigma Chi Fraternity 40 years 2013
Alpha Xi Delta Sorority 50 years 2013
Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity 60 years 2013
Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority 100 years 2014
Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority 100 years 2015
Alpha Sigma Tau Sorority 100 years 2016
Alpha Sigma Tau
Sigma Chi 40th Anniversary
Alpha Xi
Alpha Xi
Sigma Chi 40th Anniversary
Alpha Sigma Tau
Sigma Chi 40th Anniversary
Alpha Xi Delta Homecoming at
Sigma Sigma Sigma

More from the Spring 2014 Issue of IUP Magazine

Living the Vision

Living the Vision

In need of a shared vision to guide its future, the university turned to the Journalism Department for help

Mission to Protect

Mission to Protect

Alumnus John Gilly is on a quest for vaccines to prevent some of the world’s most threatening diseases

Message from the President

IUP offers an excellent return on investment—for the students it serves and for the alumni who generously support the university.

Namedroppers | Achievements | Mentors

Photo Gallery | Letters to the Editor

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They Believe in Science

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