From left: Dr. Tony Atwater, IUP president; Auditor General Jack Wagner, Friend of Higher Education award recipient; and Dr. John Henry Steelman, representing IUP APSCUF.

IUP honored Auditor General Jack Wagner with IUP's Friend of Higher Education Award and welcomed Representative Gary Haluska as IUP's twelfth Legislative Fellow at a luncheon December 17, 2009.

The Friend of Higher Education Award is given in recognition of an individual's continued support and advocacy for public higher education in Pennsylvania.

The IUP Legislative Fellow program is the result of an initiative begun in 1998 by APSCUF, which represents the IUP faculty. APSCUF representatives, IUP administration, and students designed the structure of the program.

Legislative Fellows serve as guest speakers in classes and meet with students, faculty, and staff.

Each year, a Legislative Fellow Program Committee of faculty members and administrators meets to select a Legislative Fellow from among Pennsylvania legislators, usually from the western part of the commonwealth, and a Friend of Higher Education award recipient.

The selection is based on a demonstrated record of leadership in state government and in their local community. Each candidate must possess knowledge and expertise related to aspects of state government or issues important to the welfare of the state. In addition to the sharing of expertise, it is believed that on-campus contact among students, faculty, and state legislators will result in greater understanding of the roles each plays in higher education.

Wagner, a 1974 graduate of IUP, is a 1994 IUP Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. He is in his second term of office as Pennsylvania's fiftieth elected auditor general.

Before he was elected auditor general, Wagner represented Allegheny County as a state senator. He served in the leadership of the Senate and as the Democratic chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. He also served on the Appropriations, Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness, Rules and Executive Nominations, and Policy committees.

Wagner was a member of the Pittsburgh City Council for ten years, representing all city neighborhoods, and was City Council president from 1990 to 1993.

After graduating from South Hills High School in Pittsburgh, Wagner was employed by Duquesne Light Company in various capacities and was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers for five years.

While employed by Duquesne Light Company, Wagner enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and served from 1966 to 1968. Wagner received a Purple Heart and other military commendations while serving in the Vietnam War in 1967.

Following his military service, Wagner enrolled as a student at IUP. While a student, he worked as a paramedic with Citizens' Ambulance Service.

He received the Veteran of the Year award from the Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program and the Outstanding Legislator Award from the Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Haluska, who represents the 73rd Legislative District, has served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives since 1995. He is a member of the Tourism and Recreational Development Committee, the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, the Transportation Committee, and the Game and Fisheries Committee.

Before joining the legislature, Haluska was a small business owner in Patton and graduated from Williamsport Area Community College with an associate degree in forestry. He has served thirty years as a member of the Patton Volunteer Fire Company and is a member of Cambria County Firemen's Association and the Pennsylvania State Firemen's Association.

He is a member and past president of the Central District Firemen's Association. Haluska has been a Pennsylvania forest fire warden since 1979. He serves on the board of the Southern Allegheny Travel Council, the Seldom Seen Mine tourist attraction, the Cambria County Tourist Council, and the Patton Centennial Committee. He is chairman of the Rock Run Recreational Area Board of Directors.