Wednesday, September 30, 2009

4th Annual Susan K. Hofacre 5K Run/Walk

Just today, I got an e-mail announcing the 4th annual Susan K. Hofacre 5k Run/Walk, which will take place at RMU’s Moon Township Campus on Saturday, Nov. 7, at 9 a.m.

This e-mail came at an interesting time, since I’ve recently been considering getting back into running again. Considering. I have a two-year-old daughter, you see. Ever since she was born, instead of running, I’ve been working on my long-distance loafing on the couch, which is a lot easier on the knees.

Susan K. Hofacre, Ph.D., was RMU’s first female athletic director. Hofacre, who earned an MBA from RMU in 1999, joined the university’s athletic department in 1989 as its senior women’s administrator, assisting with compliance issues, academic advising, events scheduling and policy development. She also served as department head and professor of sport management.

As athletic director from 2000-2005, Hofacre helped the Colonials add seven new NCAA Division I athletic programs, including the first men’s and women’s hockey teams in Pittsburgh. She also oversaw the development of the new track and field at the RMU Island Sports Center, as well as the construction of Joe Walton Stadium and athletic administration building.

In 2002, Hofacre was awarded the Robert Morris University Alumni Philanthropist Award by the Alumni Association for her establishment of endowed scholarships and her raising of funds for the University. She passed away on Jan. 8, 2005, at the age of 54, after a courageous battle with cancer.

The Susan K. Hofacre 5k Run/Walk benefits the Susan Hofacre Memorial Scholarship Fund. If you’re an avid runner or considering getting back into running like me (considering), be sure to mark November 7 on your calendar and support this important cause. (Registration starts at 8 a.m. at Joe Walton Stadium. The race begins at 9 a.m.)

-- Valentine J. Brkich

Friday, September 25, 2009

Who Was Gus Krop?

University’s are always bragging about their shiny new, state-of-the-art facilities—and rightly so. When RMU built Joe Walton Stadium in 2005, for example, it was yet another example of how the university was growing and continuing to enhance the overall experience of its students.

But as we celebrate the new, it’s also important to revere the old.

As you walk into John Jay Center, the first door on your left leads into the Gus Krop Gym. This is a special place. Wooden rafters support the large domed ceiling – a feature not seen in many modern gyms – and old-fashioned bleachers sit on just one side of the court, recalling the days when the university was much smaller. It a warm, cozy place that reminds me of the small-town gymnasiums in “Hoosiers,” the 1986 basketball classic staring Gene Hackman.

Gus Krop (1917-2005) is known as the founder of RMU basketball. From 1963 to 1976, he led the Colonials to an impressive record of 287-58. Krop coached nine All-Americans at then Robert Morris College, and, in 1969, he took the Colonials to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) title game. It was the success of Krop’s teams in the mid to late 1960s that really helped market Robert Morris and put it on the map, so to speak.

After retiring from coaching in 1976, Krop became the university’s director of security until he retired altogether in 1997.

Today, the men’s and women’s basketball teams play over in Sewell Center Arena, and the Gus Krop Gym is mainly used for RMU’s indoor intramural activities. But hopefully this little gym that holds the ghosts of teams past will always serve as a tribute to one of RMU’s greatest coaches.

-- Valentine J. Brkich

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What about Pittsburghese?

Many of you already know that a major event of great international import takes place this week in the Pittsburgh area. Yes, I am referring to RMU's Homecoming. But this week also sees Pittsburgh playing host to the G-20 Summit. As a service to the thousands of international visitors who are descending on our fair city, RMU students and staff have prepared downloadable walking tours of downtown Pittsburgh in 10 G-20 languages. Click here to download a tour. You can also learn about RMU's other international initiatives here.

Speaking of Homecoming, we certainly hope to see you Saturday. In addition to the usual festivities, our alumni magazine, Foundations, will be hosting a booth where you can get a picture taken for your own personalized magazine cover. You'll also want to bring along a business card, so you can enter it into our Colonial prize pack raffle.

And you tweeters, take note: Whoever sends the best RMU-related tweet during the football game against Bryant will receive a prize pack at the end of the third quarter. Just follow and use the tag #rmusports.

--Jonathan Potts

Friday, September 18, 2009

Celebrating Diversity at RMU

When I was growing up, I didn’t give much thought to diversity. Sitting behind my desk in Catholic school, my mind was occupied with doodling elaborate outer-space battle scenes in my loose-leaf notebooks. When I did occasionally pick up my head to scan the classroom, I’d see twenty or so white kids – some of them also drawing, some of them dozing off, and maybe one or two teacher’s pets actually paying attention to Sr. Margaret.

A diverse group, we were not. We were all from the same county, the same state, the same country. We were all Catholic, and we were all Caucasian. During my eight years there, we only had one African American student – a boy named Maurice – who was only there for half of my second-grade year. But again, this was normal to us. We didn’t know any better. We didn’t understand why diversity was important, and frankly, we didn’t care. We just wanted 3 o’clock to come.

When I entered public high school, diversity was suddenly thrust upon me. Now the classroom was filled with kids from various backgrounds. At first it was a little intimidating. In no time at all, however, the strangeness wore off, and I had an entirely new idea of what was normal. Soon, I had African American friends, Asian friends, Hispanic friends, Jewish friends, Protestant friends, Methodist friends…and it was wonderful.

The diversity I encountered in high school opened my eyes to the world and helped me see it in an entirely new way. By the time I reached college, instead of being surprised by diversity, I was surprised if my classes lacked it. Diversity had become the norm rather than the exception.

Here at RMU, we’re lucky to have an incredibly diverse student and faculty population. Just a couple days ago, I attended the first installment of the Diversity Speaker Series, organized by Paul Spradley, assistant director of student life for multicultural affairs. Around 60 people gathered in the Rogal Chapel to hear the first guest speaker, Saleem Ghubril. Ghubril, who was born in Beirut, Lebanon, fled to the United States with his family when civil war broke out in his country in the mid-1970s.

Ghubril embodies everything that is good about diversity. In addition to being the executive director of the Pittsburgh Promise, this Asian-African-Arab-American is also an ordained minister who is committed to serving the community and bringing people together. “I am the world!” he said.

During his talk, Ghubril spoke of how much the world has changed for the better over the years in terms of racial and ethnic tolerance. He also spoke of the many challenges we still face today. As I listened to him speak of diversity with passion and youthful exuberance, I noticed the diverse audience that had gathered to hear him speak, and it warmed my heart.

RMU’s diversity is something to be celebrated. The many cultures and backgrounds that make up this university help to teach us tolerance and understanding, and it gives us all a global perspective. And in an ever-shrinking world, few things are as valuable.

- Valentine J. Brkich

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Man. The Foil. The Legend.

When you hear the name Dave Hanson, reading probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.

Hanson is best known for is memorable portrayal of “Jack Hanson,” one of the fight-starting, thick-glasses-wearing Hanson Brothers in the 1977 movie, “Slap Shot,” starring Paul Newman.

But as it turns out, he’s just as handy with a pen as he is with a hockey stick.

Hanson, general manager of the RMU Island Sports Center, will be appearing at Bridgewater BookFest on Saturday, Sept. 12, from 9 a.m to 3 p.m., in Bridgewater, Pa, where he will be selling and signing his autobiography, Slap Shot Original: The Man. The Foil. The Legend. Proceeds from the sales of the book will go to the Association of the Hole In The Wall Camps, which Newman founded in 1988.

Hanson was a defenseman for the St. Paul Vulcans and for the University of Minnesota, whose coach was the legendary Herb Brooks. After that, he played 10 seasons of professional hockey with the Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota North Stars of the NHL, and the New England Whalers, Minnesota Fighting Saints, and Birmingham Bulls of the WHA.

Also at Bridgewater BookFest, Nicole Bazner ’09, a graduate of RMU’s Elementary Education program, will be heading up the BookFest Children’s Tent. Bazner, who now works in the Canon Mac School District as a 2nd grade teacher, was a student in Assistant Professor Michele N. Hipsky’s Special Needs and Assessment classes. At BookFest, she will be organizing and coordinating book readings, crafts, and other fun activities for the little ones.

Be sure to come to Bridgewater BookFest next Saturday to say hello to Nicole and get a signed copy of Dave’s new book. Just don’t get him angry. He may check you into the boards.

Ha! Just kidding! That was just in the movies.

(Seriously, don’t make him mad.)

--Valentine J. Brkich

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

...and so, we hope, are the Italians

RMU decided to extend a formal invitation to Homecoming to another delegation visiting Pittsburgh for the G-20 Summit, a.k.a the Pittsburgh Summit. This time it's Italy, which as you can see from the letter below has a special connection this year to RMU:

His Excellency Giovanni Castellaneta
Italian Ambassador to the United States
Italian Embassy
3000 Whitehaven Street, N.W.Washington, DC 20008

Dear Ambassador Castellaneta:

As Pittsburgh prepares to welcome the world’s leaders for the G-20 summit, it is my pleasure as the president of Robert Morris University to invite your delegation to attend our annual Homecoming celebration on Saturday, September 26, the day after the summit is completed. We would be honored for you to meet two Italian students who are studying at RMU this year, Berardo Artieri and Luca Lugini.

Berardo and Lugini were students at the University of L’Aquila in April when the university was heavily damaged in an earthquake. RMU has gladly agreed to pay the cost of their tuition so they can continue their studies, and I am pleased to tell you that they have made an excellent impression on our faculty and staff.

Berardo and Lugini came to the United States through the efforts of the American Italian Cultural Institute of Pittsburgh, which was co-founded by Joseph D’Andrea, a former honorary Italian consul to Pittsburgh. Joseph is a great friend of mine and this university, and in May we awarded him an honorary degree at our commencement ceremony.

Homecoming is a wonderful American tradition, with great food, music and an American football game. The students will elect a Homecoming king and queen, and graduates of the university visit for reunions with their former classmates. We would welcome your delegation as my special guests to meet Berardo and Luca and enjoy a relaxing day before they travel back home. Personally, I am eager to repay the hospitality my wife, Polly, and I experienced when we traveled to Italy last winter to visit our students studying abroad and make connections with your universities.

RMU is very close to the Pittsburgh airport, and we would be glad to make all transportation arrangements for your group’s visit, on Homecoming or on another day. If your schedule is too full, we would be pleased to meet you at your convenience to share ideas about how Robert Morris University can strengthen its commitment to giving its students a global perspective.

I wish you a pleasant and productive visit to Pittsburgh, and sincerely hope to have a chance to welcome you to RMU.


Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Ph.D.President, Robert Morris University

-- Jonathan Potts