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Posts tagged ‘Robert Morris University’

RMU is Right at Home in Downtown Pittsburgh

Is there a better place to be right now than Pittsburgh? (Tropical islands not included in this discussion.)

Seriously though…what an exciting time to be in the Burgh!

As recent news shows that more and more young people are coming to and staying in Pittsburgh, today marks the first day of the One Young World Summit, where delegates from more than 180 countries will gather downtown to discuss global issues, ideas, and solutions.

RMU is a corporate sponsor of the summit and is also sponsoring three delegates, Sara Meier, a 2011 graduate and current student in the university’s MBA program; 2012 graduate Besart Stavileci, a native of Kosovo who works as an assistant actuarial analyst at Sun Life Financial in Boston; and Sean Callahan M’10, a counselor in RMU’s Center For Student Success. Another alumna, Katie Kirkpatrick ’08, who will represent Bayer Corp. as a One Young World ambassador, attended the One Young World Summit last year as a delegate in Switzerland.

And how about National Geographic Traveler magazine naming Pittsburgh as one of its “Best of the World 2012” global destinations, right up there with places like New Zealand, Greece, Croatia, and Thailand!

Just more reasons why we were so proud to have opened our brand new RMU Downtown location earlier this year in the Heinz 57 Center on Sixth Avenue.

Way to go Pittsburgh!

Changing Lives Update – Lee Folk ’10

(click image for a video update on Lee)

Back in September of 2010, Robert Morris University unveiled its “Change A Life” ad campaign. Through six TV commercials, 24 radio spots, and 38 billboards across the Pittsburgh region, the campaign featured stories of how RMU changes our students’ lives, and how they change the lives of others.

One of those stories was that of David Lee Folk ’10.

Lee studied nursing at RMU, graduating with honors in 2010. That year he also received the Presidential Transformational Award, the university’s highest undergraduate honor, given annually to a graduating student who has been transformed by his or her experience at Robert Morris and has also contributed to the transformation of the university in a meaningful way. He was also the inaugural winner of RMU’s Rising Star Award, given to a graduating senior who demonstrates academic success, individuality, determination, passion and potential in his or her field of study.

In the summer of 2009, Lee traveled to Nicaragua as part of a collaboration between RMU and the Polytechnic University of Nicaragua (UPOLI), led by University Professor Carl Ross, Ph.D., wherein students and faculty provide basic medical care to residents in the barrios of Managua.

“The people of Nicaragua touched my heart in ways I couldn’t have imagined,” he said. “To be honest, it’s still hard to look through the pictures without getting teary-eyed.” An avid and talented writer and photographer, Lee documented his experiences in a series of blog posts that portray, in searing detail, the deprivation of the Nicaraguans as well as the emotional toll that working with them sometimes exacts on the students and faculty.

One of these stories, “David and His Trumpet“, documented a Nicaraguan boy’s beloved trumpet, how it was stolen, how it was replaced thanks to Lee, and what it meant in the boy’s life.

Lee says being featured in RMU’s Change A Life campaign was a high point in his life, both personally and academically.

“It was humbling to be a visual part of such a large movement by the university to implement community service into student life,” he says. “I really enjoyed the whole process of creating the campaign, and it’s been such a thrill to see the ripple effects that it has had throughout the community.”

Following graduation, Lee spent a year at WVU’s Ruby Memorial Hospital, before joining the nursing team at St. Clair Hospital in Pittsburgh’s South Hills. He also started back to school at RMU this past fall, where he’s pursuing his Doctorate of Nursing Practice to become a family nurse practitioner.

Lee believes the “Changing Lives” theme connected with so many people, particularly with the Pittsburgh public, because of the kind of people who populate this area.

“We take community very seriously, and it made people proud to see a local university cultivating that spirit of goodwill in its students. That translates to strong character in the future workforce as well as stronger communities. All in all, it gives everyone a great feeling about working together for the greater good, and a campaign that can translate that message is bound to be successful.”


Written by Valentine J. Brkich

Watch this behind the scenes video for more on Lee and what he’s up to today.

Robert Morris launched the Change A Life advertising campaign in September 2010. The Change A Life TV commercials won a Gold ADDY Award from the Pittsburgh Advertising Federation, which gave a Silver ADDY to the Change A Life web site. The campaign won a silver medal for advertising campaigns in the national Circle of Excellence Awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. RMU also won a Silver Medal for video PSAs and commercial spots for the Change A Life ads. The web site also won a Silver CUPPIE in the category of electronic media/web site from the College and University Public Relations Association of Pennsylvania (CUPRAP) and a Golden Quill Award from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania for creative use of technology in storytelling.

Opening Eyes Through Her Stories – Getrude Matshe

Photo by Richard Brown (Wellington, NZ)

When Getrude Matshe was a young girl in the village of Wedza, Zimbabwe, she and her sister had an important early-morning job. After gathering as many rocks as they could, they would stand on a wooden platform at the edge of the field and throw the rocks at incoming baboons to keep them from decimating the vital crop.

“When they came, we were ready,” she says in her book Born on the Continent – Ubuntu, a compelling narrative about her life.

Later in the day, she and her sister would go off and catch grasshoppers, locusts, and sometimes field mice, which they would then roast over a fire for lunch. 

It was a humble beginning for Matshe, whose life has been one marked by providence, opportunity, and compassion.

“Your starting point doesn’t dictate where you end up,” says Matshe, who is on campus through mid-December as Robert Morris University’s Fall 2012 Rooney International Visiting Scholar. It’s a unique opportunity for RMU’s students to learn from someone who Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of the Chicken Soup of the Soul series, has called “an amazing woman”, “a light bulb for good in the world”, and “a woman of deep profound spiritual essence.”

Matshe is the founder and CEO of three successful organizations in New Zealand, where she lives with her husband and three children. She also travels the world as an inspirational speaker, storyteller, poet, artist, and published author. She ended up at RMU thanks to Shellie Hipsky, Ed.D., associate professor of education.

“RMU is so fortunate to have this leader, entrepreneur and humanitarian on campus bonding with students, storytelling, and teaching,” says Hipsky, author of Ordinary People Extraordinary Planet. “I have been blessed by her friendship and moved by co-teaching with her, as I see first-hand the gifts she is imparting on our students.”

In the short time she’s been here, Matshe has already made a lasting impact on students across campus. She has given lectures subjects such as HIV and AIDS, her career in information technology, poetry and creative writing, positive deviance, effective listening, differentiated learning, oral history, and sustainable technology, to name a few. Most important, she says she is giving RMU students the “gift of contrast” by showing them what life is like for the rest of the world.

“I hope that, through my stories, I’m opening their eyes.”

Back in 2004 you might say that Matshe’s own eyes were opened when Oprah Winfrey visited South Africa. Standing on a soccer field alongside 50,000 AIDS orphans, Winfrey said on her television program, “This is the lost generation of Africa.” It was a breakthrough moment for Matshe. “I knew right then that it was my life’s purpose to help the children in my country, Zimbabwe.”

Matshe went on to found the Africa Alive Education Foundation, which works to provide safe homes and education for AIDS orphans. Across Africa there are over 17 million AIDS orphans; Matshe’s own brother died of the disease in 2009.

Through a grassroots training program that empowers the community with critical life skills, Africa Alive participants learn things like basic farming techniques and how to sew school uniforms and clothing for the children. They also help them build their own houses. Funded by $50 micro-loans, participants purchase bags of cement to make 1000 bricks, which the foundation then buys back for $250. The villagers then have $200 to invest back into the community. It’s a king’s ransom in a place where the average person lives on $0.20 a month.

Matshe personally supports 360 children in her husband’s home village of Mazivisa in Shurugwi (Zimbabwe), raising money for their education, food, medication, and clothes.

“By giving these children a safe home and providing them with food, water, and education, we are giving them something they didn’t have before—a chance,” she says. “It is my hope that we are raising the future Nelson Mandela or maybe even the future scientist who will find the cure for AIDS.”

Currently Matshe is writing a screenplay about the AIDS story in Zimbabwe, which she is certain will become a blockbuster. “I have made a conscious decision to be the first African person to write, direct, and produce her own Oscar-winning movie.” She’s so confident, in fact, that she’s even written her acceptance speech and committed it to memory.

In September, RMU students along with Hipsky (center), Matshe and her oldest son, Simba, joined Elliven Spa and Treasure House Fashions at Adagio Health Start House in Duquesne, a local shelter for homeless mothers, to perform makeovers and paint a jungle mural for the children.                                                                       (Photo credit: Gail Lace)

In addition to her writing, she is also painting a series of portraits of the people who have inspired her throughout her life; people like Mandela, Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, to name a few. She plans to auction off the paintings and give a large sum of the proceeds to RMU. The remaining funds will go to establish a medical center in Mazivisa to provide HIV medication and education.

She’s also started a Facebook group called the “International Student Army“, through which she hopes to inspire ideas among young people and spread the philosophy of Ubuntu (“I am because you are.”), i.e., the connectedness of all humanity.

“Kids don’t see limitations,”she says. “I want to start a global tribe where we all can depend on one another. We live in an abundant universe. We’ve forgotten that. There’s enough in this universe to go around.”


Written by Valentine J. Brkich

Matshe will give a presentation titled “Zimbabwe: The Crucible that Forged Me”, from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 17, in the International Suite of the Sewall Center. She will present “Born on the Continent: Ubuntu”, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 6, in the Rogal Family Chapel. RSVP to Rick Moslen at 412.397.2151 or 

On Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m., Matshe will share her amazing life story on Hipsky’s talk show, “Inspiring Lives with Dr. Shellie”. 

For more about Getrude Matshe and the Africa Alive Education Foundation, visit

Changing Lives Update – Kristen Graziano ’11

(click image for a video update on Kristen)

Back in September of 2010, Robert Morris University unveiled its “Change A Life” ad campaign. Through six TV commercials, 24 radio spots, and 38 billboards across the Pittsburgh region, the campaign featured stories of how RMU changes our students’ lives, and how they change the lives of others.

One of those stories was that of Kristen Graziano ‘11.

Kristen, who at the time was studying for her bachelor of science in nursing, spent two weeks in Washington, D.C., with several other RMU students helping the homeless. One day she was standing on a street corner trying to sell copies of “Street Sense“, a bi-weekly newspaper largely written by the homeless.

“I’m standing there on the corner,” said Kristen, “and some lady comes up to me, says, ‘Get a job.’ And for the first time in my life, I knew what it was like to actually be homeless.”

It was an eye-opening experience for her, and it helped her decide on a capstone project topic for her doctoral work at RMU, where she’s working toward her Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) degree in the Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track. Doing most of her research at Light of Life Ministries in Pittsburgh, Kristen is conducting a qualitative study looking at the cultural meaning of mental well-being among homeless men. She also teaches part-time as a clinical instructor and a graduate assistant for the School of Nursing.

“I really enjoy it. Teaching is a huge passion of mine. I am also the TA for the undergraduate students, which also involves a lot of teaching. So it is a lot of fun.”

Most recently she was chosen for the Jonas Salk Fellowship, an educational program of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation that brings together graduate students from multiple health care disciplines for discussion and education.

When she’s not working toward her D.N.P., Kristen still works part-time at Allegheny General Hospital in the Neuro ICU, where she serves as the TA for the undergraduate professors. “It is an amazing experience. I will also be a clinical instructor for one of the undergraduate courses at AGH in the fall term.”

Kristen thinks RMU’s “Changing Lives” theme connects with so many people because it gives them the opportunity to stop and take a look at some of the things that go on in the world. “From the homeless issue to the multiple issues in Nicaragua, it makes people realize that you can do something so small and change someone’s life in a very big way.”

She says that being featured in the Change A Life campaign gave her the opportunity to share her story.

“When people inquired about the campaign,” she says, “I had the chance to tell them about my work with the homeless. On more than one occasion, this sparked a deeper conversation. Who knows—maybe I changed a few lives that way too?”

In the future she hopes to open a psychiatric clinic for people on the street.

“I am a busy girl, but I enjoy every bit of it!”

Written by Valentine J. Brkich

RMU Celebrates Two Major Accomplishments

On Thursday, September 20, Robert Morris University will be celebrating the realization of two major initiatives: the close of the Changing Lives, Building Futures capital campaign; and the completion of its newest academic building, which will serve as the home for the School of Communications and Information Sciences (SCIS).

The event, which is being called “Celebration2“, will take place from 6:30–8:30 p.m. at the new building, which is located on the former site of the Wayne Center on RMU’s main campus in Moon Township.

The new 50,000-square-foot facility will serve to further enhance RMU’s offerings in communication, computer and information systems, English studies and communication skills, organizational leadership, and media arts. Some of the building’s features include an art gallery, high-tech classrooms, PC and Mac labs, a tiered screening room, wood shop, metal shop, 3D-design room, print studio, drawing room, and a café.

“It’s really a wonderful addition to the RMU campus,” said Barbara J. Levine, Ph.D., SCIS dean and associate professor of communications.

The building is the latest project in an initiative to give each of the university’s five schools its own clearly identifiable home.

“Faculty and students alike are very excited that our department will be housed in new facilities on the main campus,” says Jon A. Radermacher, head of RMU’s Department of Media Arts, which was previously in downtown Pittsburgh at the university’s former building on 5th Avenue.

Celebration2 will also recognize the close of RMU’s Changing Lives, Building Futures capital campaign, which was the largest and most successful campaign in the university’s history, raising more than $40 million over the past five years.

“We’re so excited to celebrate this achievement,” said Kimberley A. Hammer, J.D., vice president for development. “So many people have worked so hard over the past five years to get to this point. It’s a great thing, not only for the university and the Greater Pittsburgh region, but especially for the students, who will benefit the most as we continue to provide the kind of life-changing education that Robert Morris has become known for.”

During the evening’s program, the annual David J. Malone Volunteer Service Award will be presented to Barbara McNees, president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and a member of the RMU Board of Trustees.

The Celebration2 event is open to all RMU students, faculty, staff, alumni, and donors. Attendees can RSVP online at or by calling 412-397-6407. Registration deadline is Sept. 10.

Artistic Expression Runs in the Family

RMU Prof. Michael DiLauro’s granddaughter, Amelia Lowe, thinks she can dance. And so far, America agrees.

Amelia is one of the top contenders on Fox’s hit show “So You Think You Can Dance?” And her grandfather could not be more proud.

“How can you not be proud?” says DiLauro, an award-winning filmmaker and director of RMU’s Academic Media Center. “I’m texting my votes in ’til I fall asleep on the couch, trying to help her win.”

Even if Amelia doesn’t win, she will still end up in the top eight, which means she will go on the show’s national tour. “Just the notoriety of everything…it’s a huge break for her,” adds DiLauro.

Amelia, who has been dancing since she was three years old, has been taking the entire experience in stride. According to DiLauro, her favorite part of the show is the fact that she gets to work with nationally known choreographers. In fact, after her audition in Las Vegas, renowned choreographer Nigel Lythgoe, one of the regular judges and the producer of the show, invited Amelia to a benefit honoring the Broadway performer Tommy Tune.

“She has a sense of maturity about it,” says DiLauro. “She isn’t star struck like most people would be. Amelia recognizes this as a huge opportunity to get her name and style out in front of a national audience. I’m just happy she has this opportunity.”

Written by Tras Watts, RMU senior, Communication major, and PR & Marketing assistant

Building Boom Continues at RMU

Construction is nearly complete on the newest addition to the Robert Morris University campus in Moon Township.

The brand-new home for the School of Communications and Information Systems (SCIS) is the latest project in an initiative to give each of the university’s five schools its own clearly identifiable home.

This three-story, 53,000-square-foot complex, on the site of the former Wayne Center, will feature classrooms, faculty offices, and studio and lab space for the departments of computer information systems, communication, English, organizational leadership, and media arts.

The new SCIS building will be a showpiece for RMU’s ever-growing campus. The architectural style mirrors that of other newer buildings, such as the School of Business building (completed in 2011), and features a steel roof and a loggia leading up to the main entrance. A large exterior video screen, visible to much of campus, will display student work and messages.

As you walk in through the main entrance, you’ll be greeted by a grand foyer with an ornamental stairway leading to the upper levels. To the left, a café will feature a fireplace and lounge seating. On your right you’ll find an expansive art gallery where students can display their work.

Throughout the main floor will be various media arts teaching environments, a homework lounge, screening/lecture room, general purpose classrooms, PC and Mac labs, photography dark rooms, a wood shop, and a metal shop (new to RMU!). The building will also house its own sophisticated printing facility. The second and third floor will house faculty offices.

“Faculty and students alike are very excited that our department will be housed in new facilities on the main campus,” says  Jon A. Radermacher, head of RMU’s Department of Media Arts, which was previously in downtown Pittsburgh at the university’s former building on 5th Avenue. “The new location has already given rise to the total number media arts students, which for the first time ever, has exceeded 200.”

“The new School of Communications and Information Systems provides a beautiful, bright, vibrant, and inviting atmosphere for teaching, learning, and engagement,” adds Barbara J. Levine, Ph.D., SCIS dean and associate professor of communications. “Students will take courses in well-equipped classrooms, computer labs, and studios; study and collaborate with others in homework spaces; relax with friends in indoor and outdoor conversational areas; attend media exhibitions in the gallery, and eat in the cafe. It will also be open to the entire university and members of the community for events like seminars, workshops, gallery exhibitions, screenings, and theatrical performances.

“It’s really a wonderful addition to the RMU campus.”

Getting a Head Start on His Future

Most kids come to college hoping to find a good job after graduation. Mike Boylan found one as a freshman.

As a participant in Robert Morris University’s Cooperative Education Program, Boylan, a senior computer and information systems major, serves on RMU’s IT staff as a member of the Enterprise Server Systems team. In this role, he manages most of the Macs on campus as well as the university’s phone system.

“I’ve always wanted to work at the crossroads of technology and education,” he says. “RMU has already put me well on my way to fulfilling this goal.”

Boylan, a Pittsburgh native, served as a Mac specialist for Fox Chapel Area High School’s IT department while he was still a student. In a chance meeting at an Apple-sponsored event, his high school boss had lunch with his current manager at RMU, who mentioned that the university was in need someone with a Mac background. Boylan applied for the job as a freshman, and has been working in the department ever since.

In this position, Boylan has performed many valuable services for the university, including setting up a secure web portal for the members of RMU’s Board of Trustees. He also helped President Gregory G. Dell’Omo switch from a PC to a Mac and aided in the university’s transition to Google Apps, providing training and professional development for faculty.

Boylan is an RMU Presidential Scholar and President of the Student Information Technology Advisory Council. He’s also participating in one of RMU’s integrated offerings and will be starting his master’s in competitive intelligence systems this fall.

Back in January he spoke at the international Macworld MacIT Conference in San Francisco on time-saving modular methods for imaging for Mac lab managers and Mac system administrators. In March, he spoke again on a roundtable at Penn State University’s MacAdmins Conference.

More recently, he was invited to write for, which for over 10 years now has been the leading site for authoritative knowledge on Macs in large-scale organizations.  (Read Boylan’s article, “Understanding InstallESD.dmg, Recovery HD, and Lion Internet Recovery)

“It’s a privilege to be considered an authoritative voice on a subject at such a young age,” he says. “I love speaking and sharing my knowledge with others whenever possible.”

Written by Valentine J. Brkich


Going the Distance

What’s the farthest you’ve ever walked in one stretch? Five miles? Maybe 10? How about 50? That’s just how far Jenn Schulze ’12 walked on one day as part of the 2012 Sneem JFK 50 Mile Challenge in Ireland.

Back in 1963, President Kennedy began the 50 Mile Challenge as a way to inspire the American military and the general public to put an emphasis on physical fitness. Since then, “50 Mile” events have popped up around the country, as well as around the world, as with the annual Sneem walk.

Beginning at 5 a.m. on May 27, Chistine Holtz, professor of media arts, and Dr. Andrea Frantz, head of the department of communications, joined the RMU students as part of a group of 162 people from all over the world that set out on an unforgettable journey, walking anywhere from five to 20 miles over the course of the day around the Ring of Kerry.

Schulze, however, went all the way, finishing the 50-mile walk in 17 hours and 40 minutes. In doing so, she joined over 100 other seasoned endurance walkers who had trained for months, and was the first American to ever finish the event.

Schulze, a graduate of Robert Morris University’s management program and a former member of the Colonials women’s lacrosse team, recently toured Ireland with Holtz and Frantz as part of a photography and journalism class. She and eight of her fellow classmates spent eight days in Sneem, getting acquainted with the people and the culture of the Emerald Isle. They wrapped up their trip with two days in Galway and two days in Dublin.

Schulze depended on her determination, spirit, and toughness, to finish the walk. She also benefitted from the support of three new lifelong friends she found along the route: Eddie, Aidan, and Jeremaih. Upon crossing the finish line with her newfound friends, Schulze, exhausted and famished, shed tears of elation.

“Crossing that finish line was one of the proudest moments of my life,” says Schulze. “I truly didn’t know if I would be able to make it the entire 50, and finishing hand-in-hand with the people who helped me most will always be one of my happiest memories.”

Schulze says she wants to keep doing physical endurance challenges, and one day she’d like to return to Sneem to take on the 50-mile challenge again. “This walk proved to me that if you believe in yourself you really can do anything.”

Written by Abbey Lape, a public relations major, who also took part in the challenge.

RMU Veterans Golf Academy

Jim Cichra, Dan Rota, and the Veterans Golf Academy participants at Quicksilver Golf Club in Robinson.

Robert Morris University has always gone above and beyond to help military veterans improve their lives through education. Now it’s helping them improve their golf swing, too.

The Veterans Golf Academy is an 8-week program where veterans get one-on-one instruction from RMU’s golf pros. Held at the RMU Island Sports Center Dome on Neville Island, the academy takes place on Wednesday nights and enables veterans to work on things like their swing, putting, and pitching. The goal of the academy is to provide a therapeutic medium for these individuals and help them on the road to full recovery.

James Cichra, golf director at the Island Sports Dome, has been a PGA member since 1983 and is in his 30th year of instruction. “As golfers, we know how great it is to be out there on the course. When these veterans get out and have fun with other golfers, it’s really therapeutic. Hopefully, they’ll get hooked and learn what a great game it really is.”

Cichra and the academy’s other instructors were all certified through the Adaptive Golf Professional Certification Training Academy, an educational partnership between the Salute Military Golf Association and Penn State’s Global Accessibility Initiative.

Veterans hone their skills at the RMU ISC Sports Dome on Neville Island

So far Cichra says the biggest challenge has been learning how to deal with the participants individually. “Some of them are living with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and other combat-related disabilities,” he says. “It’s our job to try to understand them better, how to communicate best to them, and how each one prefers to learn. It’s really not that much different than what we do with our regular students.”

“Many of our veterans of all ages and eras are combating both physical and emotional stress and pain,” says Dan Rota, Ph.D., RMU’s director of Veterans Education and Training Services. “In my opinion recreation is an important stress reliever and may not only help speed up the recovery processes but also may improve the quality of life for the veterans.”

As of now the Veterans Golf Academy has funding to continue for another year. Right now they are planning on holding some fundraisers and hope to do another 8-week program in the fall.

Written by Valentine J. Brkich