Page 1

California University


Celebration Showcases Cal U Talent al U celebrated the grand opening of its new Convocation Center April 20 with festivities that showcased its roles as an academic, cultural and community resource. A formal dedication and ribbon cutting set the stage for a free Community Celebration of Music featuring performances by student musicians, alumni and staff. The grand opening culminated with a concert headlined by American music icon Kenny Rogers. The Convocation Center already has become a campus landmark, University President Angelo Armenti, Jr. pointed out. Since December, it has hosted basketball games, winter Commencement, business conferences and a museum exhibition that has attracted thousands of visitors. “With these events, we’ve been putting the building through its paces, integrating it into the day-to-day life of our campus,” the President said. “Step by step, we’ve been testing the Convocation Center’s capacity to fulfill its promise — as an academic center, an athletic facility, a venue for arts and culture, and a resource for our Western Pennsylvania neighbors.” Robert J. Irey, chair of the Council of Trustees, also spoke at the dedication, along with student Trustee Autumn Harris and Dr. Charles Pryor ’73, vice president of L.R. Kimball, the architectural firm that designed the new facility. The celebration that followed the ribbon cutting had a distinct Cal U flavor. Taking the stage were Cal U’s Jazz Ensemble and Nashville performer and alumna Amber “Ambie Mac” McDonald, who sang a number with the University Choir. Student Seamus Hutchens and his band brought their own “mini fan club” to the courtyard. And Brother Jeep and the Old Shoes Band, featuring Cal U police Sgt. George “Jeep” Kyle ’75, kept the crowd entertained until the doors opened for the Kenny Rogers show. Opening for Rogers was Grammy Award-winner Billy Dean and singer-songwriter Andy Gibson, one of Nashville’s hottest young talents. Gibson met with commercial music technology students before the festivities began, fielding questions about the music industry and his own background in the business. He played — Continued on page 3


Cutting the ribbon at the grand opening celebration for the Convocation Center (from left to right): Jake Ploeger, of P.J. Dick; State Rep. Peter J. Daley; the Rev. Jana Quisenberry, pastor of United Christian Church in Coal Center, Pa.; Leo Krantz, Council of Trustees; Lawrence Maggi, Council of Trustees; Dr. Charles Pryor, vice president of L.R. Kimball; President Angelo Armenti, Jr.; Robert J. Irey, chair, Council of Trustees; Autumn Harris, student trustee; Annette Ganassi, Council of Trustees; Aaron Walton, Council of Trustees; Dr. Lenora Angelone, vice president for student affairs; James Davis, Council of Trustees; and Michael Napolitano, Council of Trustees.

Convocation Center Opens with ‘Greatest Hits’ usic fans were treated to an evening of “greatest hits” as Cal U celebrated the grand opening of the Convocation


Center. Audience members clapped and sang along, and couples danced as American music icon Kenny Rogers delivered a high-energy performance of “the hits I know you all are expecting to hear.”

But the real star of the show was Cal U’s newest building. “This place is just amazing,” said Ray Kelley, of Donora, who enjoyed the show with his wife, Claudia, and their friend Linda Huss, of Elizabeth. “I took some night classes here in the 1970s, but I haven’t been back in awhile,” said Kelley, a — Continued on page 3

Geology Students Get Head Start Outstanding early 40 geology students from seven area universities got a head start on their careers when the Department of Earth Sciences and the Cal U Geology Club hosted a Pittsburgh Geological Society Drilling Workshop on April 14 at the SAI Farm. Students experienced a geologist’s typical workday, complete with drilling, taking core samples and installing water monitoring wells that Cal U students will use for future research. “You are going to get a wealth of knowledge in a short period of time,” said Frank Benacquista, a project manager at KU Resources, as he addressed the students. “We can’t talk about every detail, but we will get you experience, so when you get a job, you can handle field work on the first day.” Students from the University of Pittsburgh and Cal U, Indiana, Slippery Rock, Robert Morris, West Virginia and Kent State universities gathered in the newly renovated SAI Farmhouse to hear presentations from industry professionals. Topics ranged from how to read

Women Accept Award


hree women with an impressive list of academic and civic credentials have been honored by the President’s Commission for the Status of Women with a Spring 2012 Outstanding Woman of the Year Award. All three will graduate in May. Jessica Lane (Master of Advanced Studies in Secondary Education) received the graduate award. Amber Preston (Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, with minors in sociology and women’s studies) and Maxine Latisha “Tish” Neiberg (Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, with a minor in justice studies) both won awards in the non-traditional undergraduate category. “I am always impressed with the caliber of these women,” said Provost Geraldine Jones, who attended the — Continued on page 2

T Students from seven area universities gain insight into a geologist’s typical workday at a Pittsburgh Geological Society Drilling Workshop, held at the SAI Farm and hosted by the Department of Earth Sciences and the Cal U Geology Club.

topographical and landslide maps to soil chemistry and drilling techniques. “This is an exciting opportunity for us, because most geology students don’t get this experience,” said Kelsey Ruff, a

junior who is studying both geology and secondary education at Cal U. “As much as I understand the concepts in class, this is where I actually get — Continued on page 2

Blout Accepts Lifetime Achievement Award urrounded by the key players in her life — family, friends, and former Cal U mentors, colleagues and beloved students — Dr. Marcella Rye Blout ’65 accepted the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award on April 19 as part of Cal Pride Weekend festivities. “Get out your red pens,” said Blout, who taught for 32 years in Cal U’s Communication Studies Department, with a smile as she accepted her award. “Everyone will be critiquing my speech.” It was a night of perfect 10s. “I never had another student teacher who came across my path like her,” said Jane Grote, who oversaw Blout’s work at German Township High School more than 40 years ago and was a guest at the awards presentation. “I told her she belonged at the college level, and I am so glad she took my advice. She was one in a million, and she came prepared every day.” Professionally, teaching always mattered most for Blout. She retired in 2000 after grooming hundreds of students for careers in broadcasting, sales, education and public relations. Blout has a long list of students with whom she has stayed in touch over the years, and she continues to offer them advice and professional support. Many were in the crowd as she accepted her Lifetime Achievement Award. Flora Posteraro ’84 and Laura Michalak Schmidt ’03 both work at ABC-27 WHTM in Harrisburg, Pa., and were delighted to attend the dinner held in Blout’s honor at the Kara Alumni House prior to the formal presentation in the Peformance Center. “There are many teachers who teach,


Cal U President Angelo Armenti, Jr. presents the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award to Emerita Professor Dr. Marcella Rye Blout '65 at the Kara Alumni House during Cal Pride Weekend festivities.

but few who touch lives,” Posteraro said. “She went to my wedding, and we always exchange Christmas cards.” Schmidt, who originally was an environmental sciences major, remembered meeting Blout when Schmidt coanchored the CUTV news with James Lokay ’02. “She would always come back and give us the best compliments.” Also making a drive to honor Blout was Angela Sherrow Suarez ’90, who

teaches in the communications department at George Mason University in Virginia. She and her mom, Renny Sherrow ’92, were effusive in their praise of Blout’s influence. “She was insightful,” Suarez says. “She always told us to let your voice reflect who you are, and I tell my students that to this day.” Giving back to Cal U through encouragement, mentoring and giving

Outstanding Women Honored — Continued from page 1 awards luncheon on April 18 in the Kara Alumni House on behalf of President Angelo Armenti, Jr. “I take pride in our students. Your success shows we are on the right path at Cal U.” The mission of the President’s Commission for the Status of Women is to look into the status of women on campus, advocate for positive changes in policy, sponsor events to raise awareness and promote leadership among women. Each of the spring 2012 winners has built an impressive resume. Some examples: • Lane has led several projects that donate to women’s shelters and raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. She is a peer mentor; logistics chair for Relay for Life; a founding member of the California University Lions Club; a member of Kappa Delta Pi education honor society; and vice president for membership, secretary and alumni secretary for the Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity. She also participated in The Harrisburg Internship Semester in spring 2010. • Preston is a founding member of Social Justice Activism Now, which has merged with the PEACE Club to form the Activist Club, in which she is an officer.


has always been important to Blout, as well. While at Cal U, she was a devoted coach for the forensics team and a member of the Honors Advisory Board. In 1997, she was awarded the President’s Faculty Award for Teaching. Today, she is an active member of Emeriti Faculty Association; she served as the group’s board of directors for more than 10 years. In 2006, she won an Emeriti Faculty Award, and in 2010, she added a Distinguished Alumna of the Year Award. In 2003, former student Teri Naus Dunn ’80 established a scholarship in honor of Blout and her longtime colleague, Emeritus Professor Patrick Miller. Other alumni, friends and family members contributed and quickly endowed the scholarship. “If you had Marcy Blout as a professor, if you were willing, you became a part of her life — she would pray for you, mentor you, and be there for whatever you needed,” Dunn said. “She obviously understood that these people are a part of our future and wanted to pass on what Cal U represented.” “Imagine getting a call telling you that one of your students wants to donate funds in your honor,” Blout said. “What a humbling experience.” Added President Angelo Armenti, Jr.: “Cal U is blessed to call her a professor, mentor, benefactor and friend.” As Blout accepted her Lifetime Achievement Award, she had a message for those who touched her life as much as she touched theirs. “Think of yourselves as my lifetime achievement — and that constitutes the greatest fame of all.”

Geology Students Get a Head Start — Continued from page 1

Seated (left to right): Maxine Latisha Neiberg, non­traditional undergraduate category; Amber Preston, non­traditional undergraduate category; Jessica Lane, graduate category; and guest speaker Deborah Takach. Standing (left to right): Dr. Cassandra Kuba, who nominated Neiberg; Dr. Marta McClintock­ Comeaux, who nominated Preston; Dr. Lisa McBride; Provost Geraldine Jones; and Dr. Marcia Hoover, who nominated Lane.

She has helped to plan the AudreyBeth Fitch Women’s Studies Conference, and she is an author and graphic designer for The Voice, a newsletter published by the women’s studies program. • Neiberg originally came to Cal U on a volleyball scholarship, but she left the University before graduating. She restarted her academic career at a community college before coming back to Cal U and becoming a stellar student. She completed an internship with the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office, and she has been accepted to Ball State University on a full scholarship to continue her studies in

anthropology. Deborah Takach ’05, vice president of business banking for First Commonwealth Bank, addressed the recipients and other guests at the luncheon. In 2010 she received the Outstanding Woman in Business Award from the Washington County Chamber of Commerce. She, too, has a long list of awards and other accomplishments. “I am in awe of each of you,” she told the recipients. She also stressed three points: “Never stop growing and developing. Be there for other women. And enjoy the rewards of volunteering.”

experience I can take into a job interview.” After being prepped for drilling, students left the comfort of the farmhouse and entered a simulated realworld experience. Two drilling rigs were on display to demonstrate the difference between push and stem-auger drilling techniques. Core samples were collected from the drills and handed off to geologists, who explained how to determine soil consistency and test for chemicals. Students could feel the differences between various layers of soil, and they took notes as if they were preparing a soil remediation report for a client. “This is what I hope to be doing next year, and today I have the opportunity to experience a day on the job,” said senior Nathan Polen, a geology major at Cal U. “It is really good to see the machinery and … hear from industry professionals.” The Pittsburgh Geological Society, Dominion Foundation and the Cal U Geology Club helped pay for drilling and food costs, and geologists donated their time and equipment for the event. This type of sampling would normally cost a client about $10,000, said Benacquista. The workshop was successful in providing a realworld experience, but finding water proved more difficult. Both drills hit rock only 7 feet below the surface, and the drillers found very little water. “I know they hit shale at a pretty shallow depth, but this is still a valuable day,” said Jim Scheutz, a hydrologist at the Parsons Corp. in Buffalo, N.Y. “The students will realize that there is not much of a difference between compiling research in a classroom setting and in the field. Most students don’t get this boost of experience and confidence before entering the workforce.”

Convocation Center Opens with ‘Greatest Hits’ — Continued from page 1 former vocational teacher. “It wasn’t much to look at back then. Now the whole campus has become beautiful. And this building is magnificent.” The show opened with Andy Gibson, an up-and-coming singersongwriter whose song “Don’t You Want to Stay” went to No. 1 on the country charts and won a Country Music Association Award last year for Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson. His set included songs from his forthcoming debut album, including his current single, “Wanna Make You Love Me.” Grammy Award winner Billy Dean finished the opening set with his own Top Ten country hit, “We Just Disagree,” and got the crowd rocking with “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” “That’s me. I’m a big country music fan,” said a Monroeville resident who uses the nickname Li’l Junior. “This building is really beautiful, and the view from the handicapped seats is awesome. It’s a big help for those of us who have (disability) issues. “And it was easy to get here, too — no traffic like you get when you go to Pittsburgh.” Headliner Kenny Rogers opened his show with “the two loudest songs I know,” including a rock-infused version of “It’s a Beautiful Life.” The entertainer bantered with the crowd, joking about a career that has lasted longer than some audience members have been alive. Singling out a young man in the first row who seemed lukewarm about the performer at first, Rogers tossed out a $10 bill and offered to do the same every time the man recognized a hit song.

By the end of the evening, the young man had a pocketful of cash, and he left the arena dressed like a fan, in a Kenny Rogers T-shirt. Rogers performed a roster of his hits, including “Through the Years,” “She Believes in Me,” “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” and “Coward of the County.” He even flashed back briefly to the 1960s, with a video of his hippie-era chart-topper with the First Edition, “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In.)” But it was Rogers’ love songs that got the audience moving. Couples snuggled closer when he sang “Buy Me a Rose,” and some turned the arena into an impromptu dance floor for “We’ve Got Tonight” and “Through Love’s Door.” “I didn’t realize until it was done that I knew almost every song!” said student Regis Whetzel. “I guess I was a closeted Kenny Rogers fan all these years and didn’t even know it. In the new building, every seat was a good seat, which is rare for a larger venue.” The good feelings lingered, and the audience sang along, as Rogers closed the show with signature numbers “The Gambler,” “Lucille,” “Lady” and “Islands in the Stream.” The audience filed out to find one more surprise — the fountain in the Convocation Center Courtyard illuminated by colored lights. Dozens of people pulled out their cellphones to snap photos of the dancing water before heading home. “I’m just amazed by this building,” said Ben Varga ’09, a former physics major who returned to campus to run a spotlight for the show. “It feels like I’m in a stadium in Pittsburgh. It just blew me away.”

First Lady Barbara Armenti, Kenny Rogers and President Angelo Armenti, Jr. share a moment before the Convocation Center grand opening concert.

Singer­songwriter Andy Gibson opens the show inside the Convocation Center. Earlier in the day, Gibson spoke to a class of commercial music technology students.

Kenny Rogers performed a roster of hits during a crowd­pleasing show.

Amber ‘Ambie Mac’ McDonald, a Cal U alumna, performs ‘I Want to Know What Love Is’ with the University Choir at the free Community Celebration of Music. McDonald and the choir members recently recorded the song together in Nashville.

Celebration Showcases Cal U Talent — Continued from page 1 several acoustic numbers with his band and answered questions about recording equipment and the process of writing a hit song. “I believe that if you keep working hard, opportunities will come to you” Gibson told the students. “I’m not in this industry for the rich and famous part of it; I just want to be able to play my music. That has worked for me.” CMT student Regis Whetzel appreciated the opportunity. “As a songwriter, I thought the Andy Gibson event was a great chance to see inside the machine, as it were, and get insights and stories from someone who is actively doing what my classmates and I aspire to achieve,” he said. “Having his entire band come in and play for the CMT majors was such a great bonus, too.” In the courtyard, McDonald welcomed the University Choir to the stage and joined the students for “I Want to Know What Love Is,” a tune they recently recorded together in Nashville. Named one of the city’s “Most Beautiful People” by Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, McDonald also was the emcee at Cal U’s Red & Black Affair fashion show fundraiser earlier this month. “The University has been so kind to me, and I am so fortunate that they include me in their activities,” said McDonald, who grew up in South Park. “I’m thrilled to come home, and the Convocation Center is beautiful. It’s going to be great for the University. I am proud to be part of it.” Hutchens’ band brought its “feelgood acoustic pop” sounds to the courtyard as the sunny afternoon heated up. A junior social studies major, Hutchens performs with Rich Baur ’11, a recent graduate of the CMT program, and current students Scott Spindler, another CMT major, and Nick Conti, who majors in graphic design.

Cal U students Andrew Tischler and Valerie Herrero dance to music by Brother Jeep and the Old Shoes Band at the free Community Celebration of Music, held outside the Convocation Center.

“It’s very exciting,” Spindler said. “We’ve played at some local clubs and whatnot, but nothing as big as this. It was a great opportunity to open for a legend.” Kyle also was pleased to join the celebration. “We are honored and excited to have this opportunity to be part of such a historic event,” he said. “To be involved with the opening of the Convocation Center is just a real blessing.” Music fans also enjoyed the free outdoor celebration, from a preschooler in boots and a cowboy hat to the Kenny Rogers look-alike who wandered through the crowd. “All of the music outside was really good,” said Ted Dillon ’07, a California resident who works for CONSOL Energy. “This was a great lead-in to the concert.” President Armenti said the grand opening festivities were meant to acknowledge officially that the dream of the new facility has become a reality. “Cal U has a world-class Convocation Center, a hard-working building that can serve our University’s needs, enhance our capabilities and stand as a point of pride on our campus,” he said. “In the days to come, we intend to press this magnificent building into service.”

Cal U police Sgt. George ‘Jeep’ Kyle ’75 (left) sings with members of his group, Brother Jeep and the Old Shoes Band, at the community music celebration.


Hip-hop Speakers Discuss Power of Media fter a wide-ranging discussion that touched on topics ranging from hip-hop music and the media to politics and education, students lined up to pose questions to BET television host Rocsi Diaz and Lehigh University professor Dr. James Braxton Peterson as Cal U’s seventh annual Hip-Hop Conference drew to a close. The keynote discussion April 13 in Morgan Hall drew an audience of more than 150, including high school students from Hip Hop on L.O.C.K., an arts education and mentoring organization that works with students in 11 Pittsburgh-area schools. In addition to their love of hip-hop music, the panelists shared concerns about their public image. As the longtime host of BET’s music video countdown program 106 and Park, Rocsi acknowledged that many viewers, especially younger teens, look up to her. With that fame comes responsibility, especially in light of her Christian faith. “I choose the image I want to portray. I’m not perfect; far from it. But you have to know what’s right and what’s wrong,” said the TV host, who goes by a single name. On the other hand, “sex sells,” she admitted. “Ratings go up when Rocsi’s wearing a miniskirt. But that’s TV; that’s a persona. That’s not who I am.” Peterson, the director of Africana Studies and an associate professor of English at Lehigh, appears regularly on MSNBC news and other television programs. He spoke of “representing my family and the larger (African-American) community” in his role as a commentator. He said he encounters “a lot of love and a lot of hate” after voicing opinions about controversial topics, such as the recent Trayvon Martin case in Florida. Noting the power of public figures to change people’s minds, Peterson urged performing artists to be more socially responsible in both their messages and their offstage behavior. And he advocated education in “media literacy” for students who are bombarded with nonstop messages from television, websites and social media. “We need to give young people the tools to dissect video and videogames, music and other media, including social media,” he said. “They need to know how to process, engage and interpret the media in their space.” As the panel concluded, students posed questions abut the speakers’ career paths and their relationship to hip-hop culture.


Above, Cal U Dancers Vince Wilson (left), Jordan Boatwright and Chaquille Joseph perform cipha free­style break dancing at Jozart's Studio. At left, Dr. James Braxton Peterson and Rocsi Diaz lead a panel discussion in Morgan Hall's Learning Resource Center during the 2012 Hip­Hop Conference.

The keynote panel was the capstone to a three-day event that included a roundtable discussion of racial stereotypes and hip-hop that took on deeper significance in light of the Trayvon Martin shooting. “The conference was filled with provocative topics, excited audiences, and civic engagement at its highest,” said conference organizer Dr. Kelton Edmonds, director of the Frederick Douglass Institute and an associate professor in the Department of History and Political Science. The conference also included a participatory event at Jozart Studios, on Second Street, that paid tribute to the West African “cipha” tradition. “Cipha is a West African word for ‘circular,’” Edmonds explained. “It describes the cultural activity of storytelling and rhythmic expression, a tradition that lives on in hip-hop culture.”

“Rocsi and Dr. Peterson did a great job of engaging the audience in a discussion about hip-hop through the correlation of their own personal experiences,” said Ronald Taylor, a student adviser to the Student Activities Board. “The love that both speakers expressed for hip-hop culture helped students not only gain knowledge but walk away with a different outlook on the hip-hop industry as a whole.”

Campus BRIEFS Writing Celebration Tomorrow Composition, creative writing, journalism and literature students will present their scholarly and creative work to the Cal U community when the English Department’s Celebration of Student Writing takes place from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Performance Center and rooms 206/207 of the Natali Student Center. The celebration is a way to recognize the hard work students put into writing personal essays, research papers, analyses, journalism articles and creative pieces, said event coordinator Dr. Krystia Nora. Composition 101 and 102 students will exhibit posters and digital work. Feature writing by journalism students will be showcased in a newsletter produced by student editors. Creative writing and drama students will give readings from plays they are writing, and literature students will present research and analyses.

Retired English professor Peggy Roche launched the first Celebration of Student Writing in 2008, and Dr. Nora has assumed the coordinator’s role. For more information, contact her at .

Exhibition, Sale in Frich Lobby An exhibition and sale of biological illustrations by Cal U students is on display in the lobby of Frich Hall through May 8. Art and science students from the Biological Illustration: Form and Function class are selling their drawings and watercolor paintings of plants, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Assistant professor Maggy Aston, of the Department of Art and Design, teaches the course with Dr. Mark Tebbitt, of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences. They base the course on the live animals and greenhouse plants in Frich, as well as prepared specimens from the department’s museum collections.

Included in the exhibition will be drawings-inprogress of two new species of begonia that Tebbitt recently discovered in Bolivia. Under his direction, Cal U students are illustrating the new species in preparation for publication. For more information, contact Aston at 724-9384563 or e-mail .

‘Cal U Day’ at PNC Park Today is the deadline to order tickets for the second annual “Cal U Day” at PNC Park, scheduled for Saturday. All Cal U students, faculty, administration, staff, alumni, friends and families are invited to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates host the Cincinnati Reds at 7:05 p.m. Fireworks are scheduled afterward. The $20 ticket price includes $5 that can be used for food or merchandise. The event is sponsored by the Cal U Sports Management Club. To reserve tickets, contact Dr. Laura Miller at 724-938-5032 or .

The California Journal is published weekly by California University of Pennsylvania, a member of The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Dr. Angelo Armenti, Jr. University President

Dr. Charles Mance Vice President for University Technology Services

Sharon Navoney Interim Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations

Geraldine M. Jones Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs

Robert Thorn Vice President for Administration and Finance

Christine Kindl Editor

Dr. Lenora Angelone Vice President for Student Affairs

Craig Butzine Vice President for Marketing and University Relations

Bruce Wald, Wendy Mackall, Jeff Bender Writers

Office of Communications and Public Relations

250 University Avenue

California, PA 15419


April 30, 2012 - Cal U Journal (Flash)  

California University of Pennsylvania is a diverse, caring and scholarly learning community dedicated to excellence in the liberal arts, sci...