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“Make the Impossible Possible”

Bill Strickland’s Make the Impossible Possible: One Man’s Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary, has been selected as next year’s Common Freshman Reader.

This is the fourth year for the program at IUP, which was introduced by President Tony Atwater shortly after his arrival on campus. The program is one of many initiatives designed to promote first-year student success.

The selected text is distributed free to first-year students before they arrive on campus, and they are encouraged to read the book before beginning their studies at IUP.

“The Common Freshman Reader program is designed to enhance new students’ personal investment in the earliest stage of their learning experience at IUP,” Atwater said. “Through active discourse and intellectual engagement with faculty and other students, our freshman class will develop an active and ongoing involvement in the intellectual life of the campus.”

The book was selected by a committee of faculty and staff, cochaired by Cathy Dugan and Jamie Martin.

An extensive range of programs and discussions related to the chosen book are held throughout the academic year and integrated into classroom activities. The program usually culminates in a presentation at IUP by the author of the book.

Strickland is president and CEO, Manchester Bidwell Corporation and its subsidiaries, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and Bidwell Training Center.

In his current work, Strickland recently completed the development of a new 40,000-square-foot production greenhouse, created for horticultural training; a 70,000-square-foot medical technology complex; and a 62,000-square-foot facility as a mortgage-free asset for both Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and Bidwell Training Center. The facilities also serve as a demonstration site for Hewlett Packard and Steelcase products. He founded the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild at age nineteen, while still a college student.

Throughout his career, Strickland has been honored with awards for his contributions to the arts and the community. In 1999, he received the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Arts Leadership and Service Award. In 1998, he received the Kilby Award and Coming Up Taller Award, presented in a White House ceremony by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In 1996, he received the MacArthur Genius Award for leadership and integrity in the arts. Strickland was honored by Pittsburgh Magazine as the 2007 Pittsburgher of the Year and by Ernst & Young in 2007 as the Entrepreneur of the Year in Arts and Education.

He has served as chairman of the Expansion Arts Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., and served a six-year Presidential appointment as a council member. He has served on the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, as a trustee at the Carnegie Museums, and as a consultant with the British American Arts Association in London.

In 2002, Strickland was sworn in as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. He also serves as a consultant, grant evaluator, and mentor in the field of arts and arts education, community development, and workforce development training.

After the Common Freshman Reader selection committee made its selection, Atwater announced that Strickland had been chosen, independently, as IUP’s 2009 President’s Legacy Award for Civic Service recipient. Strickland will be honored with the award April 4 at the IUP Legacy Gala in Pittsburgh.

IUP’s first Common Freshman Reader text in 2006-2007 was Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. The 2007-2008 selection was Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change. This year’s book is Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell.