Skip to main content
A1 A1
Community organization hosts awareness fair for mental health

On Thursday, despite a temperamental sky, the Community Support Program, an organized network of consumers, family members and professionals, hosted a Mental Health Awareness Fair at IRMC Park.

In addition to learning about mental health, participants could partake in spin art, face-painting, slime-making and had the chance to enter into a basket raffle.

Multiple western Pennsylvania organizations dedicated to treating a variety of mental health issues were in attendance such as Achieving True Self, a treatment provider for children and adults with autism, intellectual disabilities and other behavioral health needs; The Community Guidance Center, a local, private, nonprofit behavioral health treatment provider; and many more.

Kendra Cruz, who coordinated the event and is a co-chair of the CSP, said this event was their kick-off to Mental Health Recovery Month. This event is held every first Thursday of May.

“This is a great way to get to know the resources in Indiana County,” Cruz said, “and get to know other consumers that use the resources and just to get everyone together.”

Also in attendance was the Indiana County District Attorney’s Office. District Attorney Robert F. Manzi Jr., believes that mental health treatment is an important facet of criminal justice.

“The large majority of criminal defendants have some sort of intersection with the need for mental health treatment,” Manzi said. “One of the goals of my office is to advocate for more mental health treatment because I believe with that happening, we have a strong likelihood of reducing crime.”

Heavy rain came in waves during the event, but that didn’t stop community members from showing up and showing their support.

“We’re pretty grateful that it’s a nice turnout despite the rain,” Cruz said. “We decided we’re going to do it rain or shine, but it was a nice turnout.”

According to Cruz, the Community Support Program meets every first Thursday of the month where it hosts a speaker who informs attendees of the speaker’s services to spread awareness of what’s available. Its next meeting will be June 1 at 1 p.m. at the Indiana Borough Building where they will be discussing the mental health needs of consumers and families.

National Mental Health Month has raised awareness about mental illness and related issues in the United States since 1949.

Meet Topaz: Shelocta family to welcome service dog this month

“I am Topaz! I am named after the beautiful yellow fairy in the Barbie movie, ‘Fairytopia.’ I am a beautiful yellow-colored Golden retriever so this just fits! Just like I know we will!”

This was part of the letter by Topaz, the Clouser family’s new service dog, when the family received notification in April that their son, Chaise, would soon have a service dog to help him cope with his symptoms stemming from autism and ADHD. Topaz will join the family thanks to the generous donation of community members after they met the family’s goal in 2020.

“We are beyond humbled and grateful for our community’s support,” Justin Clouser, Chaise’s father, said, “in addition to our friends and family, who have witnessed or understand the struggles we have with Chaise’s autism diagnosis and the behaviors that prevent him from living a normal, day-to-day lifestyle.”

Topaz, a Golden retriever born on Oct. 2, 2020, was bred and trained at the 4 Paws For Ability facility in Xenia, Ohio, and “volunteered” in multiple families as part of the organization’s Puppy Enrichment Program and her Advanced Training Program. Topaz “writes” that PEP is similar to kindergarten for puppies where she prepared every day to become a service dog.

While the family hasn’t directly interacted with her yet, they have seen many pictures of her and are very elated that will be bringing her home shortly.

“(Chaise) has been struggling to control his emotions and communicate his needs appropriately in school,” said Ashley Clouser, Chaise’s mother. “We’re hoping that after working with her in the summer and getting her acclimated, she will join Chaise in school next school year.”

Throughout her training, Topaz has learned many simple and advanced skills to help Chaise, including the ability to track him down in case he gets lost and behavioral redirection, which consists of providing tactile comfort to a child experiencing sensory overload or a meltdown.

The Clousers would like to thank Shelocta’s Sportsman Club for its sponsorships of their last three raffles and assisting with selling the tickets to help them raise money for the trip to receive the training from 4 Paws for Ability and bring Topaz home.

The family will travel to Xenia on Wednesday in the evening to meet Topaz the next day and work with her for a few weeks before returning home on May 21. All those that have donated will receive a special invite to a meet-and-greet later this summer as a way to show the family’s gratitude and introduce them to the lifeline they helped the Clousers obtain for Chaise.


Obituaries on Page A-4

DUFFY, Harold Francis, 83

CONRAD, Erma Louise (Caylor), 91, Indiana

Late death

BOTHEL, Dorothy “Dottie” I., 90, Indiana

IUP trustees hear of tightened spending efforts

Indiana University of Pennsylvania President Dr. Michael A. Driscoll told the IUP Council of Trustees Thursday that he is hopeful Harrisburg will provide a budget that “will help us accomplish our goals without our students having to pay more for tuition.”

However, there is distance between what the State System of Higher Education wants for IUP and other state-owned institutions, and what is being proposed by Gov. Josh Shapiro, though PASSHE Chancellor Dr. Daniel Greenstein is working with Shapiro and the General Assembly “to craft a budget that all sides can agree to,” Driscoll said.

“Early in this process, the State System had asked for an operational budget of $573.5 million, which would allow IUP and its state system sister schools the flexibility to not increase tuition for the fifth consecutive year,” the IUP president told the trustees. “But Gov. Shapiro requested only a 2 percent increase in base appropriations for the State System, significantly less than the 3.8 percent the Board of Governors had asked for.”

Belt-tightening seems to be in order at IUP.

“We have had some frank and difficult internal discussions to get us back on track toward a balanced budget, which have led to actions to tighten our spending even further than we had been,” Driscoll said. “Thanks to good work from my leadership team, especially vice presidents Lara Luetkehans, Debra Fitzsimmons and Tom Segar, we are making progress and have a good start on a plan for the next two years.”

It appears tightened spending will not translate into a new round of retrenchment. After the meeting, Driscoll said there was an April 1 deadline to send the faculty a notice about any new layoffs, and “no letter was sent by me.”

The Council of Trustees gathered on the day before the start of spring commencement weekend at IUP.

The graduate ceremony will be held tonight at 7 p.m. at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex’s Ed Fry Arena, followed by two rounds of undergraduate ceremonies on Saturday, also at Ed Fry Arena.

During tonight’s ceremony, IUP will award an honorary doctoral of science degree to 1980 IUP medical technology graduate Bonnie Harbison Anderson, who previously was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2012.

Anderson is the co-founder, former chief executive officer, former president and chair of the board of directors of Veracyte Inc. a pioneering genomic diagnostics company headquartered in south San Francisco.

“This recognition is an incredible honor, and I am humbled,” Anderson said. “IUP prepared me for a career I never imagined, and it is with great pleasure I am able to give back to this community of great educators.”

Anderson currently serves the IUP strategic priorities cabinet, was on the National Campaign Cabinet for the Imagine Unlimited fundraising effort, and will be a member of the President’s Task Force for the School of Osteopathic Medicine.

Anderson and her late husband, Steve Anderson, made a $250,000 donation to Imagine Unlimited, and the couple was honored in 2020 with the naming of a rotunda in the John J. and Char Kopchick Hall in memory of her parents, Edward J. and Donna M. Harbison, life-long residents of Indiana.

Students in the Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the College of Health and Human Services will be honored at 9 a.m., followed at 2 p.m. by those in the Eberly College of Business, the College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Education and Communications and the University College.

“This weekend, I get to share in the students’ celebration when the IUP alumni family welcomes 1,446 new members,” Driscoll told the trustees. “We know they are well-prepared, and we are excited to see what’s next for them as they go out and confidently join the workforce.”

One of those new alumni is ending her tenure as a student trustee.

Maura King was named to that role by the PASSHE Board of Governors in April 2021, with a term extending through her graduation. A member of the Cook Honors College who is graduating with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average, King will receive a degree in early childhood education with a minor in middle level mathematics.

“Maura has been an exemplary member of the Council of Trustees,” Council Chairman Samuel H. Smith said. “She has provided very thoughtful perspectives and insights on important issues and has stepped up many times to represent the Council of Trustees at university events, and always makes us proud. We will miss her, and we wish her well as she pursues her teaching career.”

King headed up the search for her successor as student trustee, Shagufta Haque, an economics honors track and finance double major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, who was confirmed by the PASSHE Board of Governors on April 20. Her first Council of Trustees meeting will be on Sept. 7.

Speaking of the process of possibly bringing a school of osteopathic medicine to IUP, Driscoll said, “we are in the search process for hiring a founding dean, which is expected to happen this summer. After that, we will seek accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association. It’s a three- to five-year process that includes submission of self-studies and a feasibility study, along with site visits.”

In her report, Council Treasurer Laurie A. Kuzneski, pinch-hitting for University Advancement Committee Chair Jennifer Baker, said several meetings and events have taken place during the past few months which center on funding priorities and strengthening the momentum for a school of osteopathic medicine at IUP.

Also at the council gathering Thursday, Baker was named to chair the committee that will do an annual review of Driscoll’s efforts as IUP president, serving with fellow trustees Kuzneski and Anne White.

Meanwhile, council officers were named for the 2023-24 academic year, with Smith remaining chairman, Kuzneski moving up to vice chair, Joyce R. Fairman remaining council secretary and White being named new council treasurer.

Resolutions dominate activity at last trustee meeting of 2022-23

The final Indiana University of Pennsylvania Council of Trustees meeting for the 2022-23 academic year had a long list of honors handed out.

• One resolution honored a couple that met on a tennis court at IUP. They will be memorialized with the naming of the James D. Taylor and Poom Sunhachawi-Taylor Tennis Court.

Taylor, a 1986 safety science graduate, and Sunhachawi-Taylor, a 1987 political science graduate, “are longtime tennis enthusiasts ... who have generously given their time and treasure to the IUP tennis program,” the resolution read.

Taylor was hired by Lockheed Martin — as were many IUP graduates at that time — and spent 25 years working for Lockheed Martin and United Space Alliance on the United States space program.

Sunhachawi-Taylor went on to earn master’s degrees in public administration from the University of Central Florida and library science from the University of North Texas, before coming back to Indiana to volunteer in community functions, including her service on Indiana Borough Council.

• Another resolution honored the memory of a founding member of the IUP Department of Geoscience faculty, the late Dr. Walter Granata, with the naming of a geoscience lab in Kopchick Hall.

“Geology graduate Daniel Markey and several other alumni came together” to name the lab, the resolution read.

Markey, a member of the Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Advancement Council, made a matching gift commitment of $50,000 in “Doc” Granata’s honor, and worked with members of the university to solicit alumni support to meet the $100,000 goal for the laboratory, which will be used by geoscience faculty and students.

“Doc Granata ensured that we were well prepared for our careers,” Markey said. “For much of the success I had in my decades-long career in the oil and gas industry, I owe to IUP.

Kopchick Hall, which will be the hub of activity for all things math and science, will be open in spring 2024 for classes.

• A third resolution names conference rooms 6 and 7 in the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex in honor of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity, “a longtime leader among Greek organizations” at IUP.

And. according to the resolution, Phi Sigma Kappa members “made significant contributions to assist in the building” of the KCAC.

Alumni of the fraternity Kim Lyttle, a 1972 bachelor’s degree and 1974 master’s degree graduate; Vito Don Giovanni, a 1972 bachelor’s degree graduate, 1975 master’s degree graduate, and 1988 doctoral graduate; and Carl Johnson, a 1973 graduate, represented the fraternity at Thursday’s trustee meeting.

“The bonds that our alumni create at IUP last for a lifetime,” IUP Vice President for Advancement Khatmeh Osseiran-Hanna said. “The care and affection they have for one another, and for this university, continues to be demonstrated through their gifts of time, talent, and treasure.”

• Another resolution commends the IUP men’s and women’s swimming teams, noting that swimmers Paige Mikesell, Rachel Johnson, Jordan Crupie, Amber Baldani and Athanasios Diamantidis earned All-America honors at the NCAA Division II championships in Indianapolis in March.

Separately, Rachel Johnson was commended for being named recipient of the prestigious NCAA Division II Elite 90 Award, presented to the athlete with the highest cumulative grade point average participating in the NCAA finals, while Paige Mikesell was commended for being named to the 2022-23 College Sports Communicators’ Division II Academic All-America Team.

• Another resolution commended IUP men’s indoor track student-athlete Kendall Branan for being named the 2023 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Men’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.

• Still another honored the IUP men’s basketball team for putting together “an outstanding season by winning the (PSAC) tournament and the PSAC West regular-season title while serving as the top seed and host for the 2023 NCAA Division II Atlantic Region tournament.

Players Shawndale Jones, Dave Morris, Tomiwa Sulairman and Ethan Porterfield and head coach Joe Lombardi also were noted for various achievements. Jones separately was honored in a resolution for being named to the 2023 National Association of Basketball Coaches’ All-America Team, in addition to earning honorable mention All-America honors from the Division II Conference Commissioners Association.

In his remarks to the Council of Trustees, IUP President Dr. Michael A. Driscoll noted all these achievements, as well as some other recent activity, including the recent announcement that alumnus Rich Caruso was donating $1 million in honor of his mother “as we explore a medical school that would have a huge impact on rural health in our community.”

Driscoll also called attention to the recent IUP Day of Giving, where friends and alumni — 126 in all — donated $44,630, “exceeding the goal we had set for the 24-hour event.”

Also, Driscoll said, “Whether it be receiving the largest single research grant in IUP history, as Dr. Waleed Farag was awarded for cybersecurity work; presenting at a national anthropology conference, as Abigail Adams and Amanda Poole did recently; being chosen for the prestigious fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., as Steven Jackson has; or being some of the 56 faculty members to complete the DEI Summer Academy program, our faculty continued to shine.”

“In closing,” the IUP president said, “thanks to everyone who has pitched in to make our 148th year of educating students a successful one. That goes for the faculty and staff, the students who represent IUP so well, our alumni and community supporters, and the council of trustees.”


“Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.” Soren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher (born on this date 1813-1855)