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Common Freshman Reader Author Strickland Presents Personal Story

The author of the 2009 Common Freshman Reader, Bill Strickland, will present his personal story on November 17 at 7:00 p.m. in the IUP Performing Arts Center’s Fisher Auditorium.

The lecture is free and open to the community. A reception and book-signing session will follow the lecture.

Strickland will also visit several IUP classrooms and tour facilities in the College of Fine Arts while at IUP. More than thirty faculty members have incorporated Strickland's book, Make the Impossible Possible, into classroom discussions and activities.

Now in its fourth year, the Common Freshman Reader program was established by President Tony Atwater to set the tone for academic excellence by encouraging new students to read the same book. Each new student receives a copy of the chosen book and is invited to read it before the start of the school year.

In his book, Strickland uses his own life experiences and those of others to demonstrate how people can overcome their circumstances and build on their passions and strengths to achieve success and help mentor and inspire others.

Strickland is president and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corp.—a jobs training center and community arts program—and its subsidiaries, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and Bidwell Training Center in Pittsburgh. In 2009, Atwater presented Strickland with the Presidential Legacy Award for Civic Service at the annual Legacy Gala.

Strickland was born in Pittsburgh in 1947 and graduated from David B. Oliver High School in 1965. In 1969, he graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in American history and foreign relations from the University of Pittsburgh. He founded the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild while a student at the university.

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 Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In 1996, he received with 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 and was a trustee at the Carnegie Museums and 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.