Especially because winter break cuts so late into January, February at IUP is jammed pack with activity. It tends to move at what seems like lightening speed—a blur that keeps all of us moving toward that one common goal of creating meaningful and memorable experiences for students.
The academic side of the house is putting the final touches now on this year’s Undergraduate and Graduate Scholars forums, which coincide with Research Appreciation Week in April. In the last few years, the topics students have explored have been impressive. More important, they have been tangible efforts at solving some of life’s real problems. Last year, we saw studies in kidney regeneration in Zebrafish, which could have larger implications on the human kidney; high school and college student drug use; and pedestrian fatalities in Pittsburgh, among many others.
Students work closely with faculty mentors to identify topics, lead their own research projects, and then, after months of study, make a convincing argument on their findings at the forum. Many go on to present at professional and scholarly conferences.
Our athletes are in the thick of the winter season. Swimmers are focusing on the PSAC championships this coming weekend, and we have high hopes for the post season for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams. It has been nice to see many IUP Leadership Society members at basketball games and receptions. Let’s hope for more!
February also is the traditional beginning of our internal fundraising efforts, starting with Philanthropy Day. On February 25, students, faculty, and staff will gather in Stapleton Library’s commons to jot out postcards of thanks to people who this year have invested for the first time in the IUP experience. Annually, we also ask students to reinvest in their own education through the Senior Class Gift program, and we ask our faculty and staff members to give to IUP through our University Family Drive.
Some might find it odd that we ask our own employees to give—and even odder that we ask students. Think of it this way: If our faculty and staff members invest charitable dollars into their own work, we believe we make a statement that our work is worthy of the investment of alumni and others. Likewise, when students give to the university, they take responsibility for the future.
When you attend the annual Leadership Society reception on March 2, you’ll have the opportunity to see the results of some of their generosity. As you know, this year’s reception takes place in the new Humanities and Social Sciences building. Gifts from current and retired faculty members helped to establish the building’s Irwin Marcus Public History Room, and students who gave to the Senior Class Gift last year chose to restore stained glass windows from the long-demolished Thomas Sutton Hall. You’ll see the windows in the lobby and on the second floor.
I am thrilled with both efforts. In the case of the Marcus Room, students now are working to archive historical materials that will be used for generations to come. The stained glass window project returns to the public eye craftwork that has been in storage since the 1970s—nearly two decades before the Senior Class was born. Both cases illustrate that students have an appreciation for our historical culture and that they want to pay that forward.
Engaging students—involving them with worthwhile pursuits—can happen in many different ways. What’s important is that they take away a meaningful nugget—an experience they’ll draw from later in life.
We value your involvement in the university. Please feel free to leave a comment here–or share a meaningful experience you had at IUP.