Here are the last “Special People”—short essays about IUP people who have influenced the writers’ lives, submitted in honor of the university’s 125th anniversary. The deadline for submissions has long since passed, and this is the final published installment. Check the backissues of IUP Magazine for all the “Special People” tributes.
Who influenced me at IUP—that is a list that could go on forever. However, I decided to write about one of my professors who changed my life. First, I must say thank you to all my professors. I would not be the teacher I am today without the help and guidance of everyone in the Department of Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education. You all influenced my life in many ways. This, however, is a special thank you to the one of you that is no longer with us, Mr. Clyde Miller.
Mr. Miller influenced my life by teaching me how to teach children of all ages and all abilities. He did this by teaching his class in a fun and interesting way. He never just lectured his students. He taught us to use the “Hands On Approach,” by running his class in this manner. How many students can say they went to class and were handed a sheet of paper, some crayons, and told to draw with their opposite hand, what they thought soft was? Not many, I bet. I know this sounds like a strange assignment, but how else do you learn how a little child learns to draw and color?
This was just one of the many fun assignments Mr. Miller gave us. I believe that semester my roommates all started to hate me, because it always looked like I was having fun instead of just doing homework. Mr. Miller did all this because he wanted us to see things firsthand. Anyone can read about things, but if you experience them, you learn so much more. He taught me this, and I use it every day when I teach.
Mr. Miller also encouraged his students to try anything. Every child learns differently, so teachers must be able to teach in different ways, no matter how long it takes. Most important, he taught me always to make learning fun. Anyone can teach a child to learn, but only a real teacher can make learning fun. He did just that, and we all learned so much more.
Mr. Miller passed away my senior year of college, and I will never forget how it affected some of us in the Department of Education. I would like to thank you, Mr. Miller, for everything you taught me and for still being there when I need that little push as I teach. I can still hear you say, “Any child can learn as long as you try hard enough to teach them.”
—Carol S. Husband ’97
I just finished reading the Winter-Spring, 2000, issue of the IUP Magazine. Congratulations to you and your staff—it was outstanding! I was so pleased to see the university had recognized these remarkable ladies: Dr. Lois Blair and Ruth Podbielski. Thank you for recognizing their accomplishments.
As I read about IUP Magazine’s invitation for readers to share something about the IUP person who had influenced our lives, one of my favorite professors, Dr. Alberta R. Dorsey, instantly came to mind. She has had a profound impact on my college days, my professional career, and my personal life, as well.
I remember walking into her Children’s Literature class on the first day of the 1967 Spring semester. I was instantly impressed with the vast knowledge she had about children’s literature. Prior to beginning at IUP, she had worked with a publishing company for five years. The contacts and experiences she brought with her from this job and her years in public education were immediately evident to each of us as we sat in awe of her. Her love for literature and teaching is obvious to everyone.
Alberta is always upbeat, pleasant, compassionate, caring and encourages everyone she sees. What a wonderful role model she’s been to me throughout my career. Dr. Dorsey always believed I could do more that I thought I could do—and since I never wanted to disappoint her, I always tried harder. Her confidence and support made me look for the best in all situations, try my best, and keep working harder. As mentor, model, and guide, Alberta has made a difference in my life and career.
She has instilled in me a professional work ethic that I’ve continued to live by. Recognizing her high standards and dedication, I once told her that “If I can ever become one-fourth of the teacher you are, Dr. Dorsey, I will have accomplished much in my career.” She has continued to encourage me throughout my professional career by encouraging me to “stretch my skills” and make a difference for the children with whom I work. I will be forever grateful for her guidance, encouragement, and assistance. It is with great pleasure that I say, “Thank you, Dr. Berta, from the bottom of my heart. You’ll always be special to each of us whose lives you’ve touched.”
—Barbara Barr Thompson ’70, M’72
Dr. Eugene Lepley of the Department of Health and Physical Education had a profound impact on my life, and he never knew it. I had him as an instructor first semester freshman year, for numerous courses the next two years, and finally worked for him in the Aquatics program my junior and senior years. During this time he was commuting to and from Morgantown, where he was working on his doctorate. The strain of family, job, commuting, and graduate school must have been overwhelming at times, but you would have never known it. He appeared to have more energy than any of us twenty-year-olds. He had a zest for life and an uncompromising nature when it came to excellence. Dr. Lepley had high expectations of his students but no less for himself.
Teachers that change lives touch people. He was an excellent teacher, but he was just as adept at going beyond the lesson. Many times this took place without his protégés’ recognizing what was taking place. Many times the seeds were planted deep. I wasn’t one of the best students, and I wasn’t a university athlete, but I was in a department that frequently afforded certain privileges to those that were.
I found Dr. Lepley to be an exception. He saw value in most all of us if we showed him effort. He was exceedingly keen on “being prepared.”
There was a defining moment my junior year when I was scheduled to assist him in CPR training. Although I figured I would do just that—assist—I also knew I had better be prepared for just about anything. I was right.
Just before class, he came up to me and said, “I think I’ll let you do this and I’ll watch…you are prepared, aren’t you?” He was close to my face, staring me in the eye to judge my reaction. I was more anxious about letting him down than about teaching the class. I answered, “Yes I am,” and he retorted, “Then, go in there and show me.” The class went fine, and I was rewarded with “Nice job.” I’ve been prepared, sometimes overprepared, for every presentation since.
Dr. Lepley’s lessons didn’t always take place at the Field House either. More than once, he’d gather a few students and take us to Pizza Hut for a meal and conversation. Many of the conversations drifted to our plans for the future. I think he enjoyed listening to the dreams and aspirations of young men and women as much as we liked verbalizing them. Always wide-eyed and enthusiastic, he would provide wisdom and reassurance that we could do anything if we committed to it. No one at IUP touched me more than he.
I was deeply saddened ten years ago while thumbing through IUP Magazine to learn that Dr. Lepley had died in October, 1989. He had so much energy, enthusiasm, and love for life, I couldn’t quite believe he was gone so young (sixty-one years old). I never got to tell him what an impact he made.
—John Strein ’74
A Special Graduate
It was more than half a century ago, but Willard F. Dominick ’46 remembers each and every hour as if it were yesterday. Now his memories are preserved and protected in the U.S. Army Military History Institute at the War College, Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, Pa.
Willard was a senior at IUP when he was called to serve. Just 75 days away from graduation, at the age of 21, he was pressed into duty and sent to Camp Wheeler, Georgia. Following his training, he spent three years and three months of amphibious jungle warfare in the South Pacific during World War II. He served in the Twenty-fifth Infantry Division on Guadalcanal and in the Central Solomon Islands. On Luzon, in the Philippines, his infantry unit saw the longest battle engagement in U.S. military history (165 days).
How lucky we all are to be able to study how it really was in the jungles through the eyes of an artist. Willard’s major at IUP was art education. He has been an artist all of his life. His creative genius is evident in four years of illustrated diaries, sketch books, and photographs. He is not only talented in art work but also in writing. The details of all the misery, disease, death, humanity, inhumanity, and triumph during the war are revealed in his work. Included in the massive collection are personal v-mail letters and handcrafted artifacts that Willard fashioned on site.
The War College trains senior officers from many nations to become generals. It is an institution of respectability and honor. On the campus of the college is the museum, which houses military memorabilia of the history of our country. Willard’s contribution is particularly valuable, since it was not an officer’s viewpoint but a worms-eye view of jungle warfare. His reflections are unique and intimate, and they provide priceless visual documentation of the war from the inside.
His entire donation is currently being sorted and catalogued and will be available for viewing on line as well as at the museum. His taped interview will also be accessible on the Internet. According to General James B. Stoddart, retired commander of the Twenty-eighth Division, Pennsylvania National Guard, the museum officials rated Willard’s contribution as the best and most extensive of the thousands of exhibits on file. Historians and civilians alike will appreciate the sight of this firsthand account.
Born and raised in Bolivar, Pa., Willard Dominick was creative, even as a child. At an early age he was active in arts and crafts, kept illustrated diaries, and wrote poetry. In high school, he was art editor for the school newspaper. He started his college career in 1938 and met the woman he would later marry at IUP. After active duty, Willard was able to complete his studies and earn his bachelor’s degree in 1946. He married Caroline McCunn ’41 in 1947 and took up residence in Clearfield, Pa., where he had a dual role as art educator and a producing artist for forty years. He earned his master’s degree in Art Education from Pennsylvania State University. Caroline and Willard both worked in the public school system until their retirements in 1980 and 1982, respectively. Their two children, Susan Dominick Mussoline ’71 and Kathryn Dominick Marino, also became teachers.
Throughout his adult years, Willard has created many paintings, murals, and sculptures that have been exhibited throughout the region. Among his various recognitions is the Purchase Award of the 1996 IUP Alumni Art Exhibit. His Broomrakes graces a university vice president’s office in John Sutton Hall. His Stonehenge was exhibited in the National Academy Gallery, Pennsylvania State Museum, and Mainstreams U.S.A. In 2000 he was awarded best of show in the Bald Eagle Art League of Wiliamsport, where he received first prize in 1999. His work is in numerous private and corporate collections. Willard continues to be a dynamic, civic-minded citizen in Clearfield, where he actively produces paintings and is quite involved in church and community functions.
—Susan Dominick Mussoline ’71
The IUP person who most influenced my life is Marie Bahn. To me, she was Mrs. Bahn but later became Dr. Marie Bahn and served the Department of Special Education at IUP until her retirement. She was my advisor, my professor for many classes, and my student teaching supervisor.
As I worked toward my goal of becoming a special education teacher, Mrs. Bahn was my inspiration. She was knowledgeable, clear, and concise, but most of all she truly cared for children with disabilities. In addition to learning curriculum content and teaching methods from her, I observed her joy in the minute successes of a child with Down Syndrome and learned to rejoice in the small successes of my students.
For a child with a disability, small successes in the eyes of the world can be major achievements for the child. During my student teaching experience, Mrs. Bahn answered my unspoken questions with a smile or a knowing look. From her I learned respect and caring for children as well as good instructional practices.
Mrs. Bahn so inspired me that I fondly hoped to follow in her footsteps one day, although I really never believed I would have the opportunity. Today, I am training special education pre-service teachers at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia. I will finish my Ph.D. this year. I only hope I am making the impact on the teachers I train that Mrs. Bahn made with me. For giving me my start in this profession, for inspiring me to be the best that I could be, and for making my initial training in special education something of which I have always been proud, thank you, Marie Bahn!
—Susan Bugay Worth ’74
As a music major, I heard even in high school about the legends on the music faculty at IUP: Mr. Charlie Davis, Dr. Daniel DiCicco, Dr. Gary Bird, Dr. Tibor Bachman, Dr. Harold Orendorff, Mr. Wallis Braman, Dr. Irving Godt, Dr. Hugh Johnson, Dr. Charles Casavant, etc. The one faculty member in the music department who left the biggest impression on me was the late Dr. H. Eugene Hulbert.
Dr. Hulbert, from what I could gather, was a fellow student with Dr. DiCicco back in the 1940s. I was a student in his choral conducting class, as well as the University Chorale, when he returned to active status as a faculty member in the late 1970s, after a bout with a serious heart problem.
I remember two principles on which he based his philosophy of music pedagogy. The first was that any one can learn anything, at any age, as long as it is put in terms that they can understand. I was reminded of this principle again today, decades later, as I was working with a client. (I currently am working as a computer field support technician, providing in-home service to customers who purchased computers from Sears.) My client did not have the slightest idea of why her computer was so slow. I tried to explain to her,
but kept forgetting that I was dealing with a novice, until she said, "I haven't the foggiest idea what you're telling me." I could hear Dr. Hulbert, after I had finished with the client’s service, chiding me about me going over her head. (This is one of the reasons I washed out of Millersville University as a music student seeking teacher certification.)
In the computer industry, this is called the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Dr. Hulbert’s second basic tenet was teaching children how to read music should be taught in the same way as teaching children how to read any language, whether it be English or Esperanto.
While I did not have him as a supervisor for student teachers (I changed my major from Music Education to Music History), friends of mine who were in the field and had him as a supervisor told me that he was very fair. If he thought that you handled teaching a concept poorly, he would tell you, then suggest, in a very positive manner, how to handle the problem. He was always very supportive of his charges and encouraging.
Even when I auditioned for a solo part my last semester at IUP in 1980 with the University Chorale (the part eventually went to my accompanist at the time), he encouraged me to keep at it after I graduated. I guess I surprised him in that audition, as he commented to me afterwards, "Why did you wait so long to audition for a solo?"
Unfortunately, he would never live to see his daughter graduate from IUP. I spoke to him briefly at Homecoming festivities in 1980. A few months later, he was dead, from a massive heart attack, shortly after a concert he conducted. When I found out about his death in IUP Magazine’s predecessor in 1981, I was floored. When I perform solo or on occasion conduct the church choir, Dr. Hulbert is pretty much in the back of my mind when I study a part, either as a performer or as a sometimes-conductor.
—Randy Miller ’80