Irwin Mallin: Embracing the Joy of Teaching

Irwin Mallin is truly an unforgettable man. Throughout his time on campus, whether it was known as Indiana-Purdue University Fort Wayne, he has always had everyone call him Irwin. No matter what relationship he had to the person, he was always just Irwin. It would feel wrong to call him anything other than that. Being on a first name basis with everyone speaks to his character and overall personality very well. In spite of his doctorate in communication and law degrees, Irwin never felt that he was above anyone else and made sure that everyone felt like they belonged when they were around him or his beloved department of communication.

Now, 20 years after he first arrived, Irwin is set to leave the university. Irwin has been battling cancer for nearly two years now. His diagnosis is terminal and as of this writing, he has transitioned to hospice care.

Irwin was born June 20, 1962 in Syracuse, New York. According to Irwin, Syracuse was a good place to be a kid, but not so much fun as an adult. His father and uncle taught him his sarcastic and unapologetic sense of humor, and he described himself as a very ordinary high school student who enjoyed watching sports and goofing off.

Growing up in Syracuse was something special for Irwin. “Syracuse was designed as a place to be a kid.”

 

Irwin’s senior photo from Nottingham High School in 1980.

After high school, Irwin went to Syracuse University where he studied communication. He found communication to be very interesting. “Communication allows you to be a part of people’s lives in ways that you otherwise wouldn’t,” Irwin said. After graduating with a degree in communication, Irwin went back to Syracuse University to get a law degree.

Irwin has always loved being able to help people through difficult times. After getting his law degree, Irwin spent five years as a bankruptcy lawyer. During that time, he estimated that he assisted around 70 people. He enjoyed his time as a lawyer because he was able to spend some time helping people. Helping people was always Irwin’s strong suit.

In 1999, Irwin continued to find ways to help people during challenging and transitional periods – this time as a college professor and head advisor at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. He no longer found joy from his career as a lawyer and wanted to do something more fun.

“I wanted to teach because it was easy and seemed fun,” Irwin said. For Irwin, the excitement and passion for teaching never faded.

For the better part of 20 years, Irwin has devoted himself to his students and his work. His level of expertise and ability to connect with anyone he met set him apart from every other professor on the Purdue Fort Wayne campus. He genuinely cared about each and every student he interacted with on campus and would do anything to make sure they would succeed.

Dr. Marcia Dixson, Professor of Communication and Associate Vice Chancellor for Teaching and Learning at PFW, was the chair of the Communication Department for nine years from 2006-2015. As Irwin’s former department head, Dixson experienced many years of Irwin’s sometimes-awkward social abilities, sarcastic humor and commitment to student success.

“For the most part [being Irwin’s boss] was easy. Unless he was really fired up, he just works hard and does what’s best for the students and the department. He was always doing what’s best for the students and he was always willing to put the effort in,” Dixson said. For Irwin it was never hard to go above and beyond at his job, because it was fun for him.

One of Dixson’s most unforgettable Irwin moments was back in the early 2000s, when checks were still printed and picked up in an office. Dixson recalled Irwin walking down the hallway holding his check high while loudly saying, “Can you believe we get paid for this?” This statement really showed Irwin’s character. His sarcasm, humor and genuine personality have always made him someone that was easy to connect with on campus, no matter who you were.

Irwin receives his Featured Faculty for Service Excellence award from Carl Drummond, Vice Chancellor of Purdue Fort Wayne.

 

In February, Irwin was recognized for his commitment to the campus and his service to its students with the Featured Faculty for Service Excellence award for the 2018-2019 school year. The award recognizes those who “demonstrate extraordinary and sustained dedication to engagement with the community,” according to the nomination form.

“He fought to have advising recognized as a part of student success. He changed the culture of the campus in terms of how much we value advising and its recognition of his importance to student success,” Dixson said.

Irwin addresses the audience at the 2014 Communication Symposium.

“This institution became part of his soul – the students, faculty and place. It’s what he wanted to do with his life and he did it,” said Dr. Michelle Kelsey Kearl, Chair of the Communication department.  “I admire that Irwin made this place part of who he is, and his commitment didn’t waver. He is enduringly optimistic. He has faith in this institution and people that is profoundly unique.”

“Irwin will be remembered on campus as a person with a strong commitment to students and advising with an odd sense of humor. He was passionate about his students and about teaching,” said Dixson. “Whatever he did, it was always going to be good for students. He does things that he thinks matter and matter to other people and he loves that.”

Irwin would update his office hours each week, sometimes daily, on his website so that students knew when he was around. He always welcomed students and would do anything he could to make their experiences better. At the beginning of a class, he asked his students how they felt and a student answered “hungry.” Irwin immediately left the room without saying a word and came back shortly after with a Snickers bar. Irwin did whatever he could to make his students enjoy their time, even if it was just a silly gag.

Whether it was in the classroom or in his office with a student, Irwin was extremely passionate about his job and made sure other people felt the magic that he did. He walked into every class with an excited “Stars!” and the class would chime back “Hi, Gene!” as a homage to an old cheesy game show. Each and every class felt special with Irwin. He made you feel like you were supposed to be there, no matter your age or how much expertise you had on the subject. As you walked out of the classroom or his office, he would simply say “peace.” Irwin said he appropriated this saying from a Lutheran girl he dated 30 years ago. He always made students and colleagues feel welcome.

“Here in this department, my experience of him is he wanted everyone here to feel like they belonged. Every time a student would become a communication student, he would introduce them to everyone in the office and would root for them down the hallway ‘you’re one of us,’” Kelsey Kearl said. “It gave the students a sense of belonging. It did good work for the students and was great morale for the faculty. His rooting made it clear what our value was to the students.”

For many current students, alumni and faculty, Irwin has made an extremely lasting legacy.

“He has been a champion of teaching. There is no way to articulate it in a quantitative way. His award for outstanding advising is a career’s worth of effort into changing the entire culture of this campus,” Kelsey Kearl said.

“This campus will lose his passion for advising and his high valuing of advising. We have to hope that the culture has changed and that he has made a lasting legacy,” Dixson said.

Described as a “gem of a professor,” by his students, a photoshopped image of Irwin greets visitors to a student-created Facebook fan page.

The communication department and PFW in general will lose a phenomenal faculty member and stellar advisor upon Irwin’s departure. Everyone that encountered Irwin learned something – even if they didn’t know it at the time. He is genuinely a wise and down to earth man that never stopped sharing his knowledge with students and colleagues.

“You can’t have a conversation with Irwin and not take something out of it that is helpful or purposeful. He was so focused on students, making their experience here productive and a meaningful part of their lives,” Kelsey Kearl said. “He always seemed persistently invested in helping people do better. You would have to try hard not to learn something from him or find some productive tool that he knew about.”

As Irwin’s time at PFW draws to a close, he will greatly miss the university and its students. Irwin’s wish for the university is that it will continue to thrive and take care of students. He left a lasting legacy on this campus and on anyone that has ever encountered him; one that will hopefully continue to impact PFW for many years to come.

When asked what advice he has for students he simply said, “Do well.” As an educator and as a person, Irwin’s lasting impact has set the example for what it truly means to “do well.”

Editor’s note: This article was submitted for publication several days prior to Irwin Mallin’s passing on May 6, 2019.

TinCaps Set for Season Opener Thursday

Opening Day for the Fort Wayne TinCaps has arrived, as they will begin their 2019 season at Parkview Field Thursday, April 4, at 7:05 p.m. The TinCaps will be playing the Lansing Lugnuts, the minor league affiliate team for the Toronto Blue Jays.

The TinCaps had a winning season at home last year, advancing to the Midwest League playoffs. Hoping to continue last season’s success, the TinCaps recently announced they would be returning their entire coaching staff from last season.

“It’s great for us to know that not only will we have a group capable of developing future major league players, but also one that appreciates Fort Wayne and is committed to giving back to the fans in our community,” said TinCaps team president Mike Nutter.

To celebrate the beginning of their 2019 season, the TinCaps will have postgame fireworks and offer $1 beers as part of their season-long “Thirsty Thursdays” promotion.

The Fort Wayne TinCaps are the minor league team for the San Diego Padres. The TinCaps have called Parkview Field their home field since 2009. In that time over 4 million fans have come to the ballpark to enjoy a game of TinCaps baseball.

To purchase tickets for a game this season you can go to tincaps.com or call the Parkview Field Ticket Office at 260-482-6400.

What To Expect In Purdue Fort Wayne’s Honors Program

Purdue Fort Wayne’s Honors Program assists qualified students in maximizing their college education. The program helps students expand their academic horizons.

“We are here to support those students that want to get extra out of their education that they’re doing here,” Assistant Director Michele Shawver said.

Any courses that students are taking in a semester can be elevated to Honors classes. There are no restrictions on the members’ classes that can be boosted.

While their approach is different in terms of who they accept into the program, Farah Combs, Honors director, says that a high GPA is a must have to qualify. 

“They need to maintain a minimum of a 3.3 GPA in order for them to be eligible,” Combs said.

Once eligible students become members of the program, their membership becomes tentative on a semester-by-semester basis. Their membership length depends on their ability to consistently satisfy the program’s requirements.

Combs said that maintaining their required GPA each semester keeps members eligible. However, they must also successfully complete a 300 level or higher class towards their major.

For any semester, students who are not able to meet those requirements become temporarily ineligible.

Combs said these unqualified members are put on Honors probation. While on probation, students cannot continue to take Honors classes.

Members who meet these requirements for the initial semester can start applying for Honors scholarships. Multiple scholarships of up to $1,000 are available for Honors members to apply, including study abroad and internship scholarships. 

Members can only apply for one scholarship per semester.

Members will get certificates and medals with their names on them once they graduate. Both will be given out if they have met all the qualifications throughout their membership.

“They have to complete 18 hours of honors credits by the time they graduate,” Combs said.

The number of program members in a semester varies. Its size is dependent on members’ eligibility status. Combs said there are approximately 300 members in the program each semester. 

Program members meet daily in the Honors Center, located on the second floor of Helmke Library. 

How Career Services Helps Students Go Above And Beyond

Career Services is an organization at Purdue University Fort Wayne that supports students and alumni to reach their career goals by providing opportunities to connect with employers through their high-quality programs and events.

“The vision statement for career services is to be recognized nationally for its service throughout the Midwest,” Courtney Sullivan, a counselor at Career Services, said. “We will be an innovative leader in educating, developing and connecting our university and the communities we serve.”  

Career Services’s most important event happens once a semester, the Mastodon Job and Internship Fair, where students get the opportunity to build a network and market themselves in the workforce.

This year the fair will take place March 14 at the Lutheran Fieldhouse on Purdue Fort Wayne’s campus.

Career Services also administers Handshake, a platform that Sullivan said is very useful for students who are looking for job opportunities.

“We can see our students make appointments,” Sullivan said. “We have jobs posted every week, so every Tuesday we send out emails to students through handshake about different jobs in their career field.”

Sullivan talked about other events that happen more often like the Lunch & Learn’s and the Immersion Excursion.

“Immersion excursion is where you actually go to the employer. They will sometimes do a tour where you get to ask them questions. The Lunch and Learn’s are when the employer comes to campus,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan described the Career Services website as very informative for students. It has many templates for important documents that a student might need when looking for a job.

“Our website has a sample resume, how to write a cover letter, and interviewing strategies,” Sullivan said.  “Also, you can look at ‘What can I do with my major?’” 

Career Services has an Endorsed Program, which Sullivan said was not as rushed as other services they offer.

“Based on the test that you complete, you get points, and after you get so many points you’ve completed the program,” Sullivan said.“You get a certificate and then you get a recommendation from our office on LinkedIn.”

For more information about Career Services, call  260-481-0689 or visit their website at pfw.edu/career.

 

Purdue Fort Wayne Begins Planning for Annual Student-led Service Day

Purdue University Fort Wayne is set to hold their eighth annual The BIG Event on April 13. The day-long event is intended for students and faculty to show their appreciation to the community by volunteering a few hours of their day to partake in community work.

According to Purdue University Fort Wayne, The BIG Event is the largest student-led, one-day service project in the nation. The university has set their own goal for the year of getting 1,000 volunteers signed up to participate in this year’s The BIG Event.

The university began The BIG Event in March 2012. According to Purdue University Fort Wayne, the primary focus has been to thank the over 50 local not-for-profit agencies.

You don’t have to be a current student to get signed up. Kasey Price, assistant vice chancellor for Student Life and Leadership, said as long as the appropriate paperwork is filled out in time, anyone in the community is welcome to participate.

“Over the years we have had staff committees and groups of students organize the event,” Price said. “As part of the plan for The BIG Event, we are working more and more each year to have students be responsible for the planning and organization of the event. This year we have volunteers, interns, student workers, alumni and staff who are all part of the planning process.”

Planning consists of finding locations for improvements and getting all the volunteers free shirts. In order to afford this kind of improvement, there are sponsors from within the community that donate money to help with expenses. Volunteers have a variety of tasks that include painting, planting plants and cleaning assigned areas.

The event not only helps show appreciation to the community. Naomi Zipay, Purdue Fort Wayne senior, said it helped her meet new people during her freshman year. Zipay has volunteered for three years since then.

“It’s extremely rewarding to just give back to the community and to do it in a way that is so direct with hands on work,” Zipay said.

“It’s so fun,” Julie Miller, organizer and active volunteer, said. “It can get messy, but it’s a good way to get outside of your head for a few hours and do some good.”

The BIG Event first began in 1982 at Texas A&M University. Joe Nussbaum, vice president of the university’s Student Government Association, created the event as a way for students to thank the surrounding community for their support.

Since the first The BIG Event in 1982, the student-led community workday has expanded to over 100 universities nationwide and according to the Student Government Resource Center, each year there still is significant growth following the event. Universities in Italy, Spain, Germany and Pakistan have even adopted the tradition.

“Signing up on the website is easy,” Price said. “Student Leader applications are available now and volunteer sign-up will be available in a few weeks. You can sign up as a group or individually.”

Application sign ups are available on www.pfw.edu/big-event and must be submitted by March 1.

What Is 4K All About?

You may have seen or heard about 4K by visiting stores or websites that sell TVs and other digital display products. You may have wondered how this technology improves on what exists already or if it’s even a necessary investment. Professionals and consumers have their own thoughts about this 4K trend and the implications it has on the market.

4K is shorthand for the ultrahigh definition video format, which typically displays at a pixel resolution of either 3840 x 2160 pixels or 4096 x 2160 pixels. Since 2010, usage of the 4K video format has seen a steady rise in popularity, with the first 4K disc media and disc players appearing in stores in early 2016. While there is excitement around the potential of the 4K video format, questions of whether it was released at the right time or whether investing in the format is practical, remain unanswered.

Some consumers are very enthusiastic about 4K and what it offers as a new media format. Chris Rearick, a gamer and computer enthusiast, had optimistic remarks about 4K.

“I’d say it adds to the experience. Good 4K has higher depth of colors and PPI (Pixels Per Inch). HDR (High-Dynamic Range) is part of the range of colors. HDR is pertinent if you get a 4K anything.”

Rearick is confident that 4K is the future of gaming.

“I think it’s becoming the standard. 4K is super affordable and I would say at this point you aren’t early adopting; you are just buying the new standard.”

Tihomir Lazarov, a commercial portrait photographer and filmmaker, believes that the release of 4K hardware may have been premature since the average consumer can’t justify the five-figure purchase of high-end cameras.

“In my opinion, the jump to 4K was a bit too early for most low-budget video devices,” Lazarov said. “It seems the winners of that transition are mostly the hardware manufacturers. With benefits come higher requirements for storage and hardware performance. These can only make the camera and computer hardware manufacturers happy, but not your wallet. According to the prophets of higher-resolution videos, 4K must become a standard and that will make videos future-proof with the ever-growing display resolutions.”

However, Lazarov is not entirely against the industry adoption of 4K because there are benefits that a higher resolution such as 4K affords.

“More resolution gives you the freedom to crop in post and deliver in 2K without losing significant quality.”

Some industry professionals have a very different take on 4K. John Brune, video production industry veteran with over 30 years of experience and three regional Emmy awards, provided an interesting counterpoint about the 4K trend.

“To fully appreciate the maximum resolution of a 4K image you need a screen at least 30 feet wide. With monitors as they are today if you sit six to eight feet away you won’t be able to distinguish the difference between 4K and an HD image. Anything larger than 4K is likely to be used for wall-panel screens since typically anything at or greater than an Ultra HD image is beyond human eyesight capacity.”

As a small business owner, Brune doesn’t see 4K as being a practical investment since there is virtually no demand for it in his line of work.

“I don’t have clients asking for 4K. The only people that really care about it are TV and camera manufacturers. I would have to spend twice as much on storage, a new computer, new gear, etc. if I wanted to adopt 4K.”

There are certainly compelling arguments both for and against the tech industry adopting 4K. While the push for 4K products may have been premature, it does have certain advantages and offers flexibility for consumers and professionals alike. 4K is becoming more affordable as time goes on, but that doesn’t make it a sensible investment for everyone in the industry. It’s one thing to buy a 4K TV, but it’s another thing to purchase or finance a new set of equipment for a business. For professionals that don’t have the spending power of a large corporation, investment in a new format isn’t always sensible, despite the advantages it may bring.

Will 4K receive widespread adoption like high definition, or will it merely become a stepping stone to yet another emerging format? Ultimately, it will be up to the average consumer to decide.

Disclaimer: John Brune is the father of the reporter. To avoid conflicts of interest, the reporter is not involved in his father’s business and this article has been through a rigorous editorial process.

 

Staying Secure Online

Before she stopped going out alone, before she changed her phone number and before she began looking over her shoulder everywhere she went, Jessica Hostetler used Facebook like everyone else.

She thought it was just spam when the first account appeared. It used one of her photos and began sending her friends friend requests on Facebook. She reported it. It was removed. She moved on.

But then the phone calls started. They came from a blocked number and were filled with heavy breathing on the other end. She began to worry.

“I thought it was stupid a prank at first, but then it kept happening,” Hostetler said. “For the longest time, just hearing the phone ring made me nervous.”

Then, just as more fake accounts began appearing, she found herself locked out of her Facebook profile. This was when she realized she had been hacked. Hostetler has since turned to Facebook and law enforcement in the hopes of finding a way to end the harassment.

Today, cases like Hostetler’s are common. According to the 2017 Internet Crime Reportcompiled by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, over 60,000 complaints about personal data hacks and stalkings were received throughout the year.

In order to stay safe online, here are some helpful ways in which you can protect your accounts, your privacy and yourself while living in this digital age.

Two-Factor Authentication

Mandi Witkovsky, manager of security and identity at Purdue University Fort Wayne’s Information Technology Services, said a popular way to secure accounts today is by using two-factor authentication.

Once activated, users’ accounts will require an additional step before they can successfully log on. Typically, this confirmation step is in the form of a four-digit pin code, sent via email or text message, which users will have to enter before being granted access.

“It is a little bit of a pain, especially if you get a new phone, but it’s the cost of being safer,” Witkovsky said.

Spotting Phishing Emails

One way hackers will try to access students’ accounts is through phishing attacks. These are emails sent to people under a variety of false pretenses to trick them into giving up passwords, credit card numbers and other important personal information.

Dennis Ratliff, a staff member at Purdue Fort Wayne Information Technology Services, said students are often targeted by hackers trying to access their bursar accounts to steal financial information and redirect refunds.

According to the Better Business Bureau, people ages 18-24 are most likely to be scammed online, with 34 percent of those targeted losing money to scammers and hackers.

In August, Purdue Fort Wayne students were sent a phishing email from nonexistent employee “Tracy McDonald,” who worked at the incorrectly named “IT Department.” The somewhat clever email told students about a fake previous phishing email and urged them to change their passwords by clicking a link which brought them to a replica My.PFW.edu login page, designed to capture their credentials when students attempted to login.

This phishing email was sent to Purdue University Fort Wayne students in early August.

“It’s not so much with phishing that people are dumb,” Witkovsky said. “It’s about getting so many dang emails in a day, and being in a hurry.”

According to Witkovsky, you can easily spot most phishing emails by looking for these qualities:

  • Many grammar and spelling mistakes.
  • A generic greeting, such as: “Dear student.”
  • A demand for immediate action, like urgent notice of your account being deleted.
  • Suspicious links or URLs.

Privacy Settings

“While I love the concept of social media, I hate it because it promotes oversharing,” Witkovsky said.

Witkovsky recommends people check that their privacy settings on Facebook and other social media are set to “friends only.” Additionally, while it might be fun to share information about yourself, your family or your pets on social media, it’s important to make sure that the information you’re sharing doesn’t correspond to your security questions. Making this information publicly accessible can make it easier for hackers to guess the answers to your security questions and gain access your account.

Know Your Vulnerabilities

Even though you may have taken precautions when online, your data could still have been exposed in a third party leak or hack, similar to the leak at the credit agency Equifax, which exposed the data of 14.5 million customers.

To check if your data may have been leaked or stolen, Witkovsky recommends HaveIBeenPwned.com. There, users can enter their email addresses and search the internet for any associated usernames and passwords that may have been leaked.

But whether or not you have enabled two-factor authentication or limited all of your privacy settings in order to keep your data and information safe, Witkovsky urges caution at all times online.

“The internet is like an amusement park. We want it to be fun and have a good time,” Witkovsky said. “But not all the rides are safe and it’s hard to tell what rides are safe; so you have to treat it like none of the rides are safe.”

Controversy Over CBD Oil Being Widely Sold in Indiana

Since the legalization of Cannabidiol (CBD) oil on July 1, 2018, the cannabis derived products have been popping up on the shelves of gas stations, grocery stores and tobacco shops.

These products span a variety of categories, including vape juice, moisturizers, soda and even animal products. According to Organicfacts.net, CBD oil has been shown to offer various health benefits including the reduction or elimination of cancer cells, pain relief, metabolism balance, mood stability and skin healing.

CBD oil has been a major phenomenon in Indiana since it hit shelves, but there still has been some controversy over the hemp product. CBD oil is one of many compounds found in the cannabis plant which has caused many to question the quality of the products. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is found in marijuana, is what causes a high but is not typically found in CBD oil unless otherwise specified. CBD without THC does not cause a high and in Indiana only .3 percent of THC is allowed in the oil.

In a statement to the Associated Press, IU Health Pain Center Doctor Gary Gettelfinger said there are hundreds of companies that are selling CBD oil, but many could be scammers.

Others don’t see it that way. Rob Coulter, manager at Copper Canyon Tobacco, says, “CBD is not regulated by the FDA. Anybody can sell it, but Indiana has certain revisions. All the CBD products sold in Indiana have to be traceable with QR codes that can be scanned and will show everything that is in the product.”

Coulter believes that those opposed to the usage of CBD oil are just not properly educated on the topic and that the commotion is all derived from ignorance.

“We get a lot of referrals from doctors actually. It’s a hot topic from both sides of the coin. We have some doctors that will completely turn away patients from it and we have some that are big champions of it.”

Coulter said that whatever view you have the on the products, you can’t deny the success stories.

“One of our workers has a niece that has had seizures all of her life and she’s been on CBD now for about 10 weeks and has had no seizures since. So from a 6-year-old child to the average clientele in their 50s and 60s, CBD oil is making an impact on lives.”

Coulter says young adults seem to be the most open to using CBD oil as a remedy, but they don’t purchase the product as often as other age groups. He finds them to be more interested in other vape products. Consumers in their twenties can have different perspectives on using the cannabidiol.

23-year-old Indiana Tech student Grace Moore is optimistic yet apprehensive about using the product.

“CBD oil shows promising results from testing so far, but hasn’t really been subjected to thorough testing that modern medications should undergo and I think without it, I don’t feel comfortable normalizing its use.”

Matt Connett, a 22-year-old active user of CBD oil and an advocate for its use, said he believes that the oil can not only help with anxiety and other health issues, but he thinks that if something can cause such tremendously beneficial outcomes immediately after its use then the long-term effects will be even better. He doesn’t understand the negative connotation to the products.

“Hemp and marijuana are plants that should be readily available to anyone who wants to consume them. The CBD derives from hemp so it isn’t psychoactive in the same way THC from marijuana is, so I don’t see why people are worried about its safeness.”

CBD oil is currently only illegal in four states, but in 16 states where the product is legal there are currently restrictions and revisions that must be met. Nearly all of this progress towards available access to CBD has occurred within the last year and changes are still being made that would allow for easier access to these products specifically in regards to medical conditions.