Is it a gob or a whoopee pie?

Is this a whoopie pie or a gob?

Photo courtesy of

Some of us were sitting in the Command Center of the Strategic Visioning Project recently and a discussion came up. I said I wanted the gob that I had in my bag and Em asked, with a puzzled look on her face, what a gob was. Long story short, gob or whoopee pie, it’s the same thing depending on where you live and apparently, the term “gob” is pretty exclusive to Western Pennsylvania.

According to the story, the coal miners of the area carried them in their lunch buckets to work and the tasty, cream-filled confection looked like lumps of coal on the piles at the mines, hence the name “gob.” Most people call these things Whoopee Pies, hence Emily’s confusion when I said it.

This little conversation led us to embark on an entire discussion about dialect, what words and pronunciations were used, and where in the country they were used. We found the locations of the pop/soda/coke debate and apparently “pop” is said in the northern half of the country, and here I thought it was a Western Pennsylvania thing only. I thought wrong.

I have to say that this is what will sometimes happen when a small group of journalism graduates, current students, and one food and nutrition major from the northeast, talk about when they’re thrown into a room together. We get on the subject of words and their meanings and origins. Trust me; this really does make for a lively conversation.

So you people out there in cyber-world may be wondering… what does this have to do with the Strategic Visioning Project? Well, we were learning a bit more about each other in terms of dialect and that leads us to this project.

The word “diversity” has come up so much in the focus groups and interviews about IUP and what makes it distinctive. My opinion is that when people were using this word, they were talking about the different ethnicities and demographic areas in which students were from. With a student population of roughly 15,000, this university has students from all over, from across the state, across the country, and even from around the world.

We have a melting pot of students that while it probably isn’t unique to just IUP, it gives us a chance to dive into other areas and/or cultures, and creates an interesting learning experience; even if it is just talking about words and meanings.

So what is it to you? A gob or a whoopee pie?

–Shawna McCutcheon


We Really Want Your Opinions…Really

As another way of trying to reach out to faculty members, we decided to break the university down into departments and email each professor individually. So, I whipped out a spreadsheet and began assigning names. Naive me thought that there couldn’t be that many faculty members in certain departments…I was wrong.

I looked at the departments I had assigned myself: nursing and allied health, economics, counseling, health and physical education and professional studies. I had 140+ professors to email. Individually.

About two days later when I had finally accomplished this, I was optimistic. I’d already received a few responses and it was looking like it was going to be a good turnout. Not so much.

Of the 140+ faculty members I reached out to, only about 10 got back to me. That’s not a very good rate of return. If I was looking at this from a numbers standpoint, I’d probably fire myself.

So what do we do to get people interested? We can’t pay people, we can’t threaten them and we can’t force them to share their opinions.

We tell people over and over how important this project is and how their opinions matter, but not everyone listens. So we’ll keep persevering and keep hounding people to share their opinions with us. When you open your email and have 47 messages from me, at least I know I tried.

So if you have even a sliver of interest in IUP, your opinions count and we want to hear them. Sign up to be interviewed, follow us on Twitter and let us know what you think makes IUP distinctive!


Who said Stephen King doesn’t have some wisdom?

Playing off one of the previous blog posts about the sidewalk, I thought I would add my own perspective.

An old footpath

An old footpath

We were talking about the history of IUP and the muddy path that used to be under the new sidewalk when Michele mentioned there was a quote by someone famous about not pouring a sidewalk until you find out where people were walking, and then create the sidewalk.

So, on to Google I went, in search of the person who said this so long ago. It was thought that Andrew Carnegie was the one who said it but the only reference I found was something by Eisenhower, so that didn’t give me concrete evidence on which one said it. However, in the process of looking at quotes, I found something from my favorite author, Stephen King:

“You could start at a path leading nowhere more fantastic than from your own front steps to the sidewalk, and from there you could go… well, anywhere at all.” ― Stephen KingIt

Apparently, this came from his novel, It, which still freaks people out to this day. I guess he does his job well. But that isn’t the reason behind this blog post, even though I can sit and talk about his books for hours, if not days.

Stephen King's "It"

Stephen King’s “It”

So, let’s break King’s quote down and apply it to our Strategic Visioning Project because I think it really fits. In all reality, though, this quote can be used by anyone.

We are working toward something huge on this strategic visioning project, and I can say that this quote fits. In other words, we’re running focus groups, holding private interviews, collecting and analyzing the data that we are gathering, and it is very much a journey. That journey really does start at a front door: IUP’s front door.

I, for one, really love this campus and I love the education I have received here. I loved my bachelor’s program so much that I’m continuing on to get my masters… and that has been my journey which started on my sidewalk and led me here.

For me, the history of IUP is intriguing. Starting out as a teaching college for women and growing into the multi-college university that it is today, speaks of how the sidewalk here has evolved and grown. I bet the people who started this place when the only building was Sutton Hall never envisioned something like this, and I truly hope that if they are up there somewhere looking down on us, they are grinning from ear to ear.

Sutton Hall

Sutton Hall



The sidewalks of this campus have really changed from those old mud paths the students used to trek upon, and in full-length dresses to boot. This project will hopefully expand on the sidewalks of today and move them into a place that, in another 150 years, we who live in this era, will look down with face-splitting grins ourselves.

We hope with this project, the sidewalk to progress will make a huge difference in charting the school’s future and make it something future generations can be proud of.

I personally want to see the “party school” stigma to change. I was at a wedding reception recently and someone actually said the words I can’t stand in reference to this university, and those words were: IUP = I Usually Party. I wish that people who think that will come to realize that IUP is a great place to get an education. It’s a place where faculty and staff create a nurturing environment which enables students to learn and grow, practice their craft and truly be proud of their accomplishments.

The university acts as a front door for recent graduates to follow a new sidewalk out into a fantastic world where you can do anything. I can also mention the many sidewalks, both literally and figuratively, in which students have had to walk while receiving their education here.

Those of us working on this project want to take this amazing opportunity to help IUP create that new vision for this university. We want to create a written foundation in which to build upon and truly make IUP a place that makes a statement but also stands behind the statement it makes.

So Stephen King’s quote really is true as to the path from here leads… anywhere at all.

~ Shawna McCutcheon

A Trenney Tradition

Let me take you back…

May 6, 1992.  8:27 p.m.  Indiana hospital. I, Katie Lee Trenney, entered the world.  I was given the Trenney family middle name (Lee), had brown hair and brown eyes — growing up I was always told that I looked exactly like my dad and his sister, my Aunt Gina.  On May 6, 1992, I was born into the Trenney family.


All of the Trenney’s in Hawaii

BUT.  I was also born into the IUP family.  I was raised with a love for the university.  When I was little, my dad was the athletic trainer for IUP Football.   I remember playing on the sidelines while he worked at practices, and running through the halls of the Memorial Field House.  I attended my first IUP Football game when I was just five months old.

IUP has always been a Trenney Tradition.  My parents, my sister, my sister’s long-term boyfriend, and six of my aunts and uncles attended and graduated from IUP.  Currently, my dad is an IUP professor and my Uncle Frank is the athletic trainer for IUP Football and Women’s Basketball.

My family was able to use the education they earned at IUP to become successful in their careers.  My mom and Aunt Gina are teachers in Derry Area School District, my sister is a third-grade teacher at a private school in Atlanta, my Uncle Don owns a restaurant, Trenney’s Grille, in Hopewell, Pa., my Aunt Karen is a nurse at Allegheny Regional Hospital, my Aunt Lynn is a nutritionist in Pittsburgh, and my sister’s boyfriend, Ray, just completed his master’s degree in economics at the University of Georgia.

Emily Trenney ('11), Amy Trenney ('83 and '84), Ray Edwards ('11), Karen Trenney ('81), Ron Trenney ('83), Gina (Trenney) Yanoff ('94), Don Trenney ('80), Lynn (Cappellino) Trenney ('80), and Frank Trenney ('92)

IUP Alumni:  Emily Trenney (’11), Amy Trenney (’83 and ’84), Ray Edwards (’11), Karen Trenney (’81), Ron Trenney (’83), Gina (Trenney) Yanoff (’94), Don Trenney (’80), Lynn (Cappellino) Trenney (’80), and Frank Trenney (’92)

A couple weeks ago, my family traveled to Hawaii.  I figured it was the perfect opportunity to talk to them about IUP SVP.  My Uncle Don couldn’t figure out why it was taking us so long to do this project, he thought he had much more efficient ideas to create a strategic visioning project.  Well, Uncle Don, feel free to take over!

My mom shared that she hates mission statements.  She thinks that they are simply words on paper and never really reflect the institution.  I loved this comment because that is exactly what we are trying to avoid! It made me feel like all of our work will pay off, and all of our interviewing will help us create a mission statement that WILL reflect the values and goals of our university.

Once my family understood what we were actually doing, they were excited about it and seemed impressed that I was working on such an important project!

Looking towards my senior year, I am thrilled to be the next Trenney to graduate from IUP and I hope to share the tradition with my own family in the future.


Lemon doughnut

I bit into a lemon doughnut the other day. If you’ve never done that, let me explain what it’s like.doritos-cool-ranch

It’s like finding a hundred dollar bill on the ground, only to go to a convenient store to buy Doritos and have the manager tell you the bill is counterfeit. It’s also like buying a bag of Doritos, only to discover the bag is completely empty (not just half empty like it normally would be).

It’s like working with NVivo.

NVivo is a computer software that, at its basic level, categorizes your notes and finds common themes in them. We at the IUP SVP have begun to use it to help us organize the notes we’ve taken during our group discussions.

But it’s not as easy as we thought. It’s not a wizard with magical categorizing powers. On the surface, it’s a doughnut, but it’s filled with lemon-flavored gelatin.

Without getting into specifics, we’re finding that it requires much more manual work than we first thought. Not as pleasant as we judged it to be. I guess I’m a product of my generation — I assume computers can do everything for me. And that’s dangerous. I need to work smarter, not harder, and not let computers take over my job.

And avoid lemon doughnuts.

–Caleb Murphy