IUP Honors Volunteers for Leadership and Engagement at Annual Volunteer Appreciation Ceremony

Posted on 4/21/2021 4:22:59 PM

Indiana University of Pennsylvania honored nine volunteers during the annual Volunteer Appreciation Ceremony event.

Held virtually on April 21, the event honored both the 2020 and 2021 recipients of the Awards of Excellence in Volunteer Leadership, which are presented annually to alumni or a friend of the university in recognition of their exemplary work on behalf of the university. Due to the pandemic, the event was not held in 2020.

This event was part of the university’s Celebration Week, which included the Celebration of Philanthropy on April 16 and the Distinguished Alumni Awards celebration on April 17.

A total of 15 alumni—recipients of the 2020 and 2021 Distinguished Alumni Awards—were honored during a virtual event. Over the past 37 years, the IUP Alumni Association and the university has honored less than 400 out of its more than 150,000 alumni with the Distinguished Alumni Award. This award is the highest award given by IUP and the IUP Alumni Association to university alumni and is presented to alumni who have achieved distinction in their chosen fields or who have demonstrated loyal and active service to their alma mater.

Imagine Unlimited artmarkThe Celebration of Philanthropy recognized the volunteers and donors who were part of the Imagine Unlimited comprehensive campaign, which raised $81.36 million, exceeding its $75-million goal six months ahead of schedule. Almost 200 volunteers, donors, and student recipients of scholarship funds participated in this virtual event.

During the Celebration of Philanthropy event, testimonials were provided by current students, as well as by Lara Luetkehans, dean of the College of Education and Communications, and Deanne Snavely, dean of the John J. and Char Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Through technology, the tradition of having donors and volunteers meeting with the student recipients of their gifts took place.

“Several years ago, the university began holding events where students get to have dinner with supporters,” said Dennis Cramer, a 1975 and 1982 graduate of IUP. Cramer and his wife, Elizabeth Michaliszyn Cramer, a 1976 IUP graduate, support scholarships for students studying trombone.

“These events are outstanding—giving students have a chance to see philanthropy in person and the supporters get to see how their investments are improving our world,” he said. “Bravo to the school that changed our lives to the better, and still does today.”

Dennis Cramer was a music teacher at Ford City High School from 1977 to 2008 and is currently a self-employed musician. Elizabeth is self-employed as the owner and teacher of Cramer Music in Kittanning.

There are four categories for the Awards of Excellent in Volunteer Leadership.

Recipients of the Affinity Service Award, which recognizes a volunteer who engages alumni through reunions, departmental, and or college activities, are James Perry ’20 and Craig Cox ’21.

Perry, of Greenburg, is a 1971 graduate of the Management Department within the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology. A member of Kappa Delta Rho fraternity, Perry has been an ardent volunteer for the fraternity, active in bringing the KDR alumni brothers back to IUP on an annual basis and encouraging them to support IUP either through active volunteerism or financial contributions.

Perry was also instrumental in bringing a group of brothers together and worked tirelessly to reestablish the fraternity chapter on the IUP campus. The focus of the fraternity under his guidance and leadership has been academics and positive social impact.

Cox, of Delmont, a 1979 criminology graduate, a member of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity, worked to reactivate an annual reunion for the fraternity. The reunion has continued over the past decade. In 2016, Cox was instrumental in re-establishing the chapter on the IUP campus.

The Advancement Support award, which recognizes a volunteer who continually inspires others to give back of their time and treasures to advance IUP, was presented to James Jozefowicz and Stephanie Jozefowicz ’20 and Debra Evans Smith ’21.

The Jozefowiczs, of Indiana, are professors in the Department of Economics. They serve as members of IUP’s Leadership Society Council and have been consistent champions for philanthropy at IUP. They have started their own endowed scholarship which has inspired others to give.

He has also been an avid volunteer for the University Family Drive and annually facilitates 100 percent participation in each of his assigned area. When not in the classroom or working to philanthropically support IUP, the Jozefowiczs could often be found at the Kovalchick Complex cheering on the IUP women’s basketball team, even serving as on-site volunteer hosts for a NCAA pre-game celebration in 2019.

They are also both active in their departments, university governance, and their profession. He is the chair of the Department of Economics Student Affairs Committee, chair of the Department of Economics Evaluation Committee, a member of the editorial board of the Pennsylvania Economic Review, and an ex-officio member of the Pennsylvania Economic Association Board of Directors.

Stephanie Jozefowicz serves as an at-large member of the IUP University Senate, a member of the IUP Library and Education Services Committee, a mentor in the IUP Belonging Learning and Exploring New Directors (BLEND) project, chair of the Department of Economics Curriculum Committee, and secretary of the Pennsylvania Economic Association.

Evans Smith, a 1981 criminology graduate, has been an active volunteer for several years with the Office of Alumni and Friends. She has served as a keynote speaker for a Washington, DC “Lunch and Learn” event, has been a Criminology Department reunion host, and was elected to serve on the IUP Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, a 16-member volunteer service board, in 2018.

Evans Smith has provided valuable expertise by serving on the President’s Commission for Diversity and Inclusion. She is a founding member and co-chair of BEAC, the Black Experience Alumni Committee. In March, she served as a panelist for the IUP Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in a Professional Workplace panel.

Evans Smith retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2019 after 30 years of service.

The Regional Impact award recognizes a volunteer who champions IUP in their region by engaging alumni through events, supports recruitment efforts, or provides internship and employment opportunities. The 2020 recipient of this award is Christopher Ofalt, of Philadelphia. The 2021 recipient of the award is Bethany Barefoot, of Pittsburgh.

Ofalt, a 1998 theater graduate, is a third-grade teacher at Interboro School District. He has been an active volunteer and advocate for more than 15 years in the greater Philadelphia region.

He has served as a First Thursday regional volunteer/contact between 2008 and 2010, a role in which the volunteer would work to locate restaurants to host IUP alumni informal Happy Hours for local alumni in the region. Ofalt has also served as an ongoing Career Networking Host Committee member, from 2008 to now. While serving in this capacity, he would lend his name to the marketing of the event, connect with fellow IUP alumni in the region, invite others to attend, and at the event help others establish conversations.

Ofalt has also served as admissions recruitment volunteer and as a regional representative, helping alumni who were relocating to the city, connecting with alumni at events, and supporting the Office of Alumni and Friends with events. He began as the second regional ambassador to the Philadelphia region in November 2019.

Ofalt is originally from Mechanicsburg and is a graduate of Cumberland Valley High School. He is the son of Janice Ofalt and the late Joseph Ofalt. While at IUP, he received the Outstanding Achievement in Theatre Award and was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.

Barefoot, a 2016 finance and marketing graduate of the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology, has served as a speaker in IUP classrooms and to student organizations. She recently took on the role of Regional Alumni Ambassador for the Pittsburgh territory, serving as a career networking host (virtually and in Pittsburgh), Crimson Network mentor, and a social media influencer. She is currently serving as a project manager with the Grow Up Great initiative at PNC Bank.

A native of Fishertown, Barefoot was selected as a recipient of the 2020 Pittsburgh Business Times’ 30 Under 30 award. While at IUP, she was a member of the Cook Honors College and Eberly’s Business Honors Program; and served as president of PGN (a professional development organization) and the College of Business Student Advisory Council. She was also a member of the IUP Finance Association and worked in Eberly’s Student Services Office as an undergraduate.

The recipients of the Aspiring Alumni Award, a special award that recognizes outstanding initiative by a graduating senior working to inspire students to be active in the life of the university, are Benjamin Snyder ’20 and James Johnson ’21.

Snyder, a native of Indiana, a finance and economics graduate of the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology, now living in Pittsburgh, was recognized for his leadership and work with the IUP Ambassadors student-alumni association. As president of the organization in 2019, he conducted a full review of each of the committees of the group, with the intent to focus the IUP Ambassadors’ programs even more on helping to connect students with alumni and IUP.

Johnson, a senior criminology major from Titusville, is an active member of the IUP ROTC program, where he serves as the executive officer of the battalion, running day-to-day operations for cadets in the program. James is also serving as the president of the social networking club and served as the president of Kappa Sigma Fraternity during his sophomore year.