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Mentors: Fall-Winter 2018

Arthur Benjamin and his “Mathemagics” show

A mathematics professor and magician, Arthur Benjamin brought his “Mathemagics” show to IUP in October. Over two days of demonstrations, he explained his secrets for performing rapid mental calculations, as well as the math behind Bingo and card tricks. The Smallwood Family Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College in California, Benjamin was the inaugural lecturer in a biennial series sponsored by Terry Serafini ’61 and presented by the IUP Mathematical and Computer Sciences Department. Photo: Keith Boyer

‘A Woman’s Ben-Hur

English professor Tom Slater is recognized as an expert on pioneering screenwriter and Hollywood executive June Mathis. In September, he presented “A Woman’s Ben-Hur: June Mathis’s Work on the Project, 1922–24” at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Wallace wrote the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, which has been adapted for film and television many times. Initially in charge of the first major cinematic production of Wallace’s work, Mathis produced a script that was ultimately rejected when MGM took over the project in 1924. In his talk, available on YouTube, Slater discussed the themes of multicultural unity and Christian spirituality that had been important to Wallace and that were present throughout Mathis’s work. Slater has been a member of the IUP faculty for 28 years.

Healthy Nurses

An associate professor in the Department of Nursing and Allied Health Professions, Lora Stewart Hromadik ’81 wrote in the September edition of Journal of Radiology Nursing that American nurses tend to place patient health and safety before their own, which could have a negative effect on patient care. She said most nurses report working more than 10 hours a day, and more than half say they come in early, stay late, or work through breaks. Hromadik pointed to research that shows better self-care fosters more productive workers. She praised the American Nurses Association’s Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation initiative, aimed at improving nurses’ health. “A healthier nurse means a potentially safer nurse who can perform to the best of their ability,” she wrote. Hromadik is in her eighth year on the Nursing faculty.

Reducing Bias

Psychology faculty members Anthony Perillo and Jennifer Perillo recently received a National Science Foundation grant to study bias in the testimony of forensic psychology experts. Jennifer Perillo said her research inspiration came from reading about circumstances that influence attorneys’ plea-bargaining decisions. During their study, the Perillos will provide forensic psychology experts with case files and look for factors that influence opinions. The researchers hope to suggest better ways of conducting forensic evaluations. “We can’t eliminate biases, but we can reduce them,” Jennifer Perillo said. “The more we reduce biases, the fairer our justice system can be.” The Perillos joined IUP’s Psychology faculty in 2016.


The Empty House, a horror film written and directed by Communications Media faculty member Jeremy Waltman, premiered in October at the Morbido Film Fest in Mexico. Shot in the summer of 2017 in Indiana, the film gave Waltman’s students a chance to work alongside industry professionals. Now in his third year on the IUP faculty, Waltman has written and directed two feature films, It Plays like Love (2015) and Locomotion (2013).

Faculty Deaths

The following former faculty members died in recent months:

  • William Becker, a professor emeritus of music who retired in 1990 after nearly 30 years of service, died July 16, 2018.
  • Joan Elliott, a professor emerita who retired from the Professional Studies in Education Department in 2002 after 28 years of service, died August 2, 2018.
  • Gary Fitting, who taught in the IUP Academy of Culinary Arts for 18 years before he retired in 2014, died July 26, 2018.
  • Robert Hamilton ’54, M’64, a professor emeritus of art who retired in 1997 after 30 years of service, died July 13, 2018.
  • Allen Woods ’50, a professor emeritus who retired from the Food and Nutrition Department in 1982 after 14 years of service, died July 17, 2018.