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Five administrators have been removed in IUP "streamlining"

Patricia McCarthy

In a major reorganization announced internally Monday, Indiana University of Pennsylvania has eliminated four management positions, including vice president for Enrollment Management, and separated itself from a fifth.

“We’re really focusing on student centeredness, on streamlining the process, and on financial stability,” IUP President Dr. Michael A. Driscoll said in an email distributed to IUP employees.

The position of Vice President for University Advancement has been vacated, with Khatmeh Osseiran-Hanna leaving the university‘s employment.

The positions eliminated included those of:

• Vice President for Enrollment Management Dr. Patricia McCarthy.

• Chief Marketing Officer Christopher Noah.

• Associate Vice President for Academic Administration Dr. John N. Kilmarx.

• Associate Vice President for Human Resources Dr. Craig Bickley.

All have left the university employment, according to the email.

Part of that streamlining will be to reassign affected divisions.

Driscoll said in that email that:

• The Division of University Advancement will report directly to the President.

• The Division of Academic Administration will report directly to Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Lara Luetkehans.

• The Division of Marketing and Communications and the Division of Enrollment Management will report directly to Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Thomas Seger.

• The Human Resources Office, now to be headed by Director of Human Resources Operations Lindsey McNickle, will continue to report to Vice President for Administration and Finance Debra Fitzsimmons.

Prosecutor ends probe of FBI's Trump-Russia investigation with harsh criticism, but no new charges
A special prosecutor has ended his four-year investigation into possible FBI misconduct in its probe of ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign

WASHINGTON — A special prosecutor found that the FBI rushed into its investigation of ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and relied too much on raw and unconfirmed intelligence as he concluded a four-year probe that fell far short of the former president’s prediction that the “crime of the century” would be uncovered.

The report Monday from special counsel John Durham represents the long-awaited culmination of an investigation that Trump and allies had claimed would expose massive wrongdoing by law enforcement and intelligence officials. Instead, Durham’s investigation delivered underwhelming results, with prosecutors securing a guilty plea from a little-known FBI employee but losing the only two criminal cases they took to trial.

The roughly 300-page report catalogs what Durham says were a series of missteps by the FBI and Justice Department as investigators undertook a politically explosive probe in the heat of the 2016 election into whether the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia to tip the outcome. It criticized the FBI for opening a full-fledged investigation based on “raw, unanalyzed and uncorroborated intelligence,” saying the speed at which it did so was a departure from the norm. And it said investigators repeatedly relied on “confirmation bias,” ignoring or rationalizing away evidence that undercut their premise of a Trump-Russia conspiracy as they pushed the probe forward.

“Based on the review of Crossfire Hurricane and related intelligence activities, we conclude that the Department and the FBI failed to uphold their important mission of strict fidelity to the law in connection with certain events and activities described in this report,” the document states.

The impact of Durham’s report, though harshly critical of the FBI, is likely blunted by Durham’s spotty prosecution record and by the fact that many of the seven-year-old episodes it cites were already examined in depth by the Justice Department’s inspector general. The FBI has also long since announced dozens of corrective actions. The bureau outlined those changes in a letter to Durham on Monday, including steps meant to ensure the accuracy of secretive surveillance applications to eavesdrop on suspected terrorists and spies.

“Had those reforms been in place in 2016, the missteps identified in the report could have been prevented. This report reinforces the importance of ensuring the FBI continues to do its work with the rigor, objectivity, and professionalism the American people deserve and rightly expect,” the FBI said in a statement. It also stressed that the report focused on the FBI’s prior leadership, before current Director Christopher Wray took the job in 2017.

Still, Durham’s findings are likely to amplify scrutiny of the FBI at a time when Trump is again seeking the White House as well as offer fresh fodder for congressional Republicans who have launched their own investigation into the purported “weaponization” of the FBI and Justice Department. After the report was released, Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan said he had invited Durham to testify next week.

Trump, on his Truth Social platform, claimed the report showed the American public had been “scammed.”

Durham, the former U.S. Attorney in Connecticut, was appointed in 2019 by Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, soon after special counsel Robert Mueller had completed his investigation into whether the 2016 Trump campaign had colluded with Russia to move the outcome of the election in his favor.

The Mueller investigation resulted in roughly three dozen criminal charges, including convictions of a half-dozen Trump associates, and concluded that Russia intervened on the Trump campaign’s behalf and that the campaign welcomed the help. But Mueller’s team did not find that they actually conspired to sway the election, creating an opening for critics of the probe — including Barr himself — to assert that it had been launched without a proper basis.

The original Russia investigation was opened in July 2016 after the FBI learned from an Australian diplomat that a Trump campaign associate named George Papadopoulos had claimed to know of “dirt” that the Russians had on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of hacked emails.

But revelations over the following months laid bare flaws with the investigation, including errors and omissions in Justice Department applications to eavesdrop on a former Trump campaign aide, Carter Page, as well as the reliance by the FBI on a dossier of uncorroborated or discredited information compiled by an British ex-spy, Christopher Steele.

Durham’s team delved deep into those mistakes, finding that investigators opened the investigation hastily, without doing key interviews or a significant review of intelligence databases. The report says the FBI, at the time the investigation was opened, had no information that any Trump campaign officials had been in touch with any Russian intelligence officials.

It said the FBI did not corroborate a “single substantive allegation” in the so-called Steele dossier and ignored or rationalized what it asserts was exculpatory information that Trump associates had provided to FBI confidential informants. That includes, the report said, minimizing the importance of a conversation in which Papadopoulos strenuously denied to the FBI informant that he had any knowledge of ties between the campaign and Russia.

“An objective and honest assessment of these strands of information should have caused the FBI to question not only the predication for Crossfire Hurricane, but also to reflect on whether the FBI was being manipulated for political or other purposes,” the report said. “Unfortunately, it did not. ”

Durham’s mandate was to scrutinize government decisions, and identify possible misconduct, in the early days of the Trump-Russia probe. His appointment was cheered by Trump, who in a 2019 interview with Fox News said Durham was “supposed to be the smartest and the best.” He and his supporters hoped it would expose a “deep state” conspiracy within the top echelons of the FBI and other agencies to derail Trump’s presidency and candidacy.

Durham and his team cast a broad net, interviewing top officials at the FBI, Justice Department and CIA. In his first year on the job, he traveled with Barr to Italy to meet with government officials as Trump himself asked the Australian prime minister and other leaders to help with the probe. Weeks before his December 2020 resignation as attorney general, Barr appointed Durham as a Justice Department special counsel to ensure that he would continue his work in a Democratic administration.

The slow pace of the probe irked Trump, who berated Barr before he left office about the whereabouts of a report that would not be released for several more years. By the end of the Trump administration, only one criminal case had been brought, while the abrupt departure of Durham’s top deputy in the final months of Trump’s tenure raised questions about whether the team was in sync.

Despite expectations that Durham might charge senior government officials, his team produced only three prosecutions.

A former FBI lawyer pleaded guilty to altering an email the FBI relied on in applying to eavesdrop on an ex-Trump campaign aide.

Two other defendants — a lawyer for the Clinton campaign and a Russian-American think tank analyst — were both acquitted on charges of lying to the FBI.

Lifesteps VIP Battle of the Banks returns

The battle for the prestigious Piggy Bank Trophy is on.

Lifesteps VIP Serve: Battle of the Banks returns to H.B Culpeppers on Thursday, from 5 to 7 p.m. The annual event features representatives from three area banks volunteering as waitstaff and guest bartenders competing to see who can garner the most tips in two hours. Tips raised and donations benefit the Lifesteps Family Caring Fund.

First Commonwealth Bank returns to defend their trophy. Looking to take them down will once again be employees from S&T Bank and Marion Center Bank. The most sought-after “Piggy Bank Trophy” in Indiana County will once again be at stake.

The Piggy Bank Trophy was established in 2006 and has been awarded each year. The winning team gets to proudly display the stunning white-porcelain trophy in their offices or branches for an entire year.

The community is invited to witness and participate through “tipping” their favorite bank in this fun but intense battle — all while supporting Lifesteps’ important mission throughout Indiana County.

Tips raised from Battle of the Banks will benefit Lifesteps Family Caring Fund, supporting programs and services in Indiana County. Programs include Child Check, which is a free developmental screening to help children reach their milestones at an early age, as well as the Family Care Mobile Resource Center, providing local residents with the specialized resources they need to face the challenges in their lives.

H.B. Culpeppers is located at 653 Philadelphia St. in downtown Indiana. Known for their great food and atmosphere, the bar will have several specials as well as buy-one, get-one wing night during the competition.

For nearly 100 years, Lifesteps has helped individuals and families along life’s journey by providing programs that will help to improve their quality of life. A non-profit serving western Pennsylvania, Lifesteps believes people of every ability have the right to live to their fullest potential. Services for children, families, adults with disabilities, and seniors are designed to encourage growth, independence, confidence and dignity. Programs span the age spectrum, ranging from free developmental screenings for infants and toddlers to programs that allow adults with intellectual disabilities to live an “Everyday Life,” encouraged to be as independent as possible.

To learn more, visit life

International service organization to celebrate 100 years in PA at Kovalchick center

The local Pennsylvania Lions district is preparing for its upcoming 100-year celebration that will be staged at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.

From Thursday through Sunday, Lions clubs from across Pennsylvania will come together for the service organization’s 100th anniversary by attending its 100th convention at the KCAC.

Every year, a different Lions district is chosen to plan and host the annual statewide convention and this year, the 14-J district, which consists of Cambria, Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Indiana and Jefferson counties, was given the job.

Planning for the convention began in 2019, giving the district enough time to raise funds and negotiate prices for the food and the venue.

“We want to make it a good one,” PDG Richard Hautz, convention chairman, said. “That’s what it’s turning out to be.”

Hautz, a member of the Adams Township Area Lions Club and former district governor, was responsible for working with his team to plan the convention.

One of the highlights include a service project in which Lions will pack 500 buckets full of cleaning supplies to be used in case of a disaster.

“When the disaster hit in Kentucky last year,” Susan Houston, another Lion with the Adams Township Area Lions club, said, “PA Lions sent a truck with volunteers to help clean up. We’re usually there before the Red Cross when a disaster hits.”

In addition to the bucket-packing, attendees can look forward to a banquet with keynote address by international Lions president Brian Sheehan on Saturday, fireworks on Saturday night, a wine-tasting event, a painting party, musical acts and more.

The convention is open to anyone looking to learn more about the Lions Club, but requires a $15 registration fee to participate.

Alan Serena remembered for his passion about radio

Broadcasters in Pittsburgh, Indiana and elsewhere in western Pennsylvania are paying their respects to Alan C. Serena. 70, who died Friday after a four-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

“The world lost a giant,” his son Michael posted Saturday afternoon. “(He) stood 6 feet, 5 inches tall, but (was) larger than life to family and friends.”

Serena was vice president for operations at Renda Broadcasting, which includes WSHH-99.7 in Pittsburgh, WHJB-107.1 in Greensburg, a cluster of stations in the Punxsutawney area, and two AM and four FM stations (if you count the FM translators for the two AMs) in Indiana, Homer City and Blairsville.

“Alan became passionate about radio at a young age when he saw live broadcasts being conducted in the late 1950s on Fifth Avenue in McKeesport,” Michael Serena posted. “His interest in radio was further amplified by his mother, who was a secretary at McKeesport’s WEDO AM 810.”

When Anthony Renda was inducted into the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame in 2019, he told those gathered for the ceremony, “I am so lucky to have surrounded myself with people who are better than me.”

Specifically, Renda was referring to Mark Bertig, general manager of his Indiana County cluster, and Serena, who spent most of his broadcast career with Renda.

“I am a background guy,” Serena once was quoted by Saxonburg broadcaster Ken Hawk. “I never aspired to be the front man.”

Serena was a front man for a decade, after Renda purchased WJAS-1320 and WSHH and had to spin off WIXZ-1360 (now WGBN) in Serena’s native suburban McKeesport, to meet what then were Federal Communications Commission ownership requirements.

After FCC rules changed, Serena sold WIXZ back to Renda.

“Since 1997, Alan worked as a vice president for his dear friend and mentor Anthony Renda, right where he started with Renda Broadcasting,” Michael Serena posted.

Still, as Hawk posted on the PBRTV Pittsburgh broadcast blog, “Serena, who was known for his fandom of the Rolling Stones, preferred the back of the stage as opposed to the footlights.”

As Hawk quoted Serena, “I didn’t want to be Mick Jagger. I am more like Charlie Watts, staying in the background and keeping the beat.”

He also was a fan of the schools that were his alma maters, South Allegheny High School in Allegheny County, and West Virginia University.

Alan Serena shared the fortunes of those working for him in Indiana County.

“It’s an honor to be recognized and we applaud our award winners while also acknowledging all of our team members for their contributions,” Serena said as he announced three awards given to the Indiana County cluster by the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters in 2021.

“These awards recognize our company’s commitment to news, innovative digital content, community involvement and local sports.’’

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, the former Susan Valosen of Perryopolis, Fayette County, as well as two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.

Jefferson Memorial Funeral Home in Pleasant Hills, Allegheny County, is handling arrangements. A Celebration of Life will be held there Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.


“Reading a book should not be a passive exercise, but rather a raucous conversation.” Studs Terkel, American writer (born on this date 1912-2008)

AP featured
Biden endorses Democrat in special election with Pennsylvania House control at stake
A Democrat running for a vacant seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is getting President Joe Biden’s endorsement

HARRISBURG — A Democrat running for a vacant seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives received President Joe Biden’s endorsement Monday in a race likely to determine control of the legislative chamber, with implications for abortion rights, the 2024 presidential contest and Gov. Josh Shapiro’s agenda.

Biden cited the majority House stakes and referred to abortion rights in backing Heather Boyd in a special election against Republican Katie Ford in suburban Philadelphia’s Delaware County.

Biden’s statement said the outcome of today’s vote will “determine the future of so many fundamental freedoms that Pennsylvanians hold dear” and called Boyd “an experienced public servant who will protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, stand up for common sense gun safety laws and expand access to voting rights.”

Boyd and Ford are seeking to replace Rep. Mike Zabel, a Democrat who resigned in March after a labor lobbyist accused him sexually harassing her. Ford is a military veteran, school volunteer and behavioral therapist; Boyd is a former congressional and state legislative aide.

Ford campaign chair Jamie Santora, a Republican who held the House seat until 2018, said Monday that the Biden endorsement indicates Democrats are worried the contest is close.

A campaign statement provided by Santora said Biden “just endorsed a person who covered up a sexual harassment scandal for four years. This is just another one of his failures that is destroying this country.”

After 12 years with majority Republican control of the House, Democrats flipped a net of 12 seats in November, then held the one-vote majority by sweeping three special elections in February. There is a second vacancy being filled in today’s voting, a Republican-majority district in central Pennsylvania that is not expected to change hands.

Not counting the two open seats, Democrats have a 101-100 House majority, so a Ford victory would likely give Republicans enough votes to restore one of their own to the speakership and control the House voting calendar and agenda. The state Senate has a Republican majority.

Pennsylvania is a swing state, but the great majority of House Republicans hold conservative positions on social issues, election law and government spending. Democrats losing the chamber would make it more difficult for Shapiro, a Democrat in his first year, to pursue his agenda just as intensive negotiations get underway ahead of the June 30 state budget deadline.

Boyd has focused much of her campaign on her support for abortion rights, a critical issue in the House, as Republicans are one House floor vote away from putting before voters a referendum that would say the Pennsylvania Constitution does not guarantee any rights relating to abortion or public funding of abortions. Proposed constitutional amendments do not require a governor’s signature and cannot be vetoed.

Ford has said she is personally against abortion but does not want to change state law and would vote against advancing the referendum.

She has criticized Boyd for not doing more after learning of the sexual harassment allegations against Zabel. Boyd has said she honored the lobbyist’s request for confidentiality and has been endorsed by her.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee said Biden makes most of his endorsements in statewide and federal elections but does sometimes endorse legislative candidates. Biden’s most recent endorsement in a Pennsylvania special election for the Legislature was Democrat Marty Flynn in his successful state Senate race two years ago.


Obituaries on Page A-4

GAMBLE, Lexi Lynn, 26, Shelocta

HILDEBRAND, E. Louise, 92, Bluff City, Tenn.

KNOPICK, William Michael, 85, Indiana

PARCHINSKY, Dorothy Margaret (Knopick), 89, Fairborn, Ohio

SLEZICKEY, Wilda Jean (Bleakney), 97

SUMAN, Patricia A., 82, Blairsville

Late deaths

ANDRASCIK, Stephen, 73, Indiana

WILLIS, Charles O., 58, Blairsville