Charles Kupchella, IUP alumni honoree

PROFILECharles Kupchella

June 8 2000

Charles Kupchella, PhD, a 1960 graduate of Nanty Glo-Vintondale High School and now the president of the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, N.D, was recently honored with Indiana University of Pennsylvania's 2000 Distinguished Alumni Award. IUP's highest alumni honor is awarded to alumni who have achieved distinction in their chosen fields or have demonstrated loyal and active service to their alma mater. Only 190 of IUP's 80,000 alumni have received this award. 

“The university is extremely proud of its reputation of providing high-quality education, and the image of the university is greatly enhanced by its distinguished alumni,” said IUP President Dr. Lawrence K. Pettit in announcing the honors in March. Kupchella was honored for his distinguished career and professional accomplishments in the field of biology education. He received his bachelor's in education from IUP in 1964 and continued his education by obtaining his doctorate of philosophy with a minor in microbiology from St. Bonaventure University in New York. Postdoctoral research, in June through August 1969, was conducted at the University of Illinois. 

In 1968, Kupchella began his academic career as assistant professor of biology in the Department of Biology in Bellarmine College in Kentucky. In 1972 he was sent to the Division of Natural Sciences. Between 1973 and 1979 Kupchella worked as the associate director for administration and planning at the Cancer Center of the University of Louisville, as well as an associate in physiology and biophysics at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and as assistant professor of oncology. He achieved status as associate professor of oncology with tenure there in 1978.

Kupchella next became professor and chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences at Murray State University between 1979 and 1985. In 1985 he became a biology professor and the dean of the Ogden College of Science, Technology and Health at Western Kentucky University. In 1993 Kupchella took a position as biology professor and provost at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardo. 

In 1999 he was appointed the tenth president of the University of North Dakota, where he also holds the rank of professor of biology. In his research, Kupchella was one of the first to show that cold-blooded animals anticipate dormancy. Kupchella, who also holds the rank of Professor of Biology at UND, studied the effect of aspirin on the gastrointestinal tract and the properties of the extracellular matrix associated with the spread of cancer. 

Kupchella holds membership in the American Association of Cancer Education (which he is serving as president this year), the Kentucky Academy of Science, the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education, the Renaissance Group Executive Committee, and the Missouri Chief Academic Officers, among other organizations. 

He has also been a reviewer for several journals, including Histochemistry and Cytochemistry, The Journal of Cancer Education and Transactions of the Kentucky Academy of Science. Kupchella has also been featured in a number of books, including American Men of Science, Who's Who in the World, and Who's Who in American Education. He has been involved in national review panels for the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the American Cancer Society. 

Kupchella also has international experience including lecturing throughout China as a member of a Fulbright-Hays-sponsored delegation, hosting a 10-member delegation from China at Western Kentucky University and participating in international conferences in Greece and the former Soviet Union.

Kupchella has received grants for both research and other projects, and has been published numerous times in such journals as the Journal of Environmental Education, the Environmental Education Report, Detection and Prevention of Cancer, The American Journal of Medicine and the Environmental Protection Agency Technical Report. Books under his name include Dimensions of Cancer and Sights and Sounds: The Very Special Senses. His list of publications include an additional 55 titles. 

In 1985, Kupchella received the Omicron Delta Kappa "Outstanding Teacher" Award, and he has advanced through many aspects of higher education, including instructor, professor, chairman, dean, provost, and president. He has sponsored 45 undergraduate and graduate students for research work. 

To contribute to his alma mater and to honor his parents, he established the Charles and Margaret Kupchella Scholarship at IUP. In a 1999 letter to the Home Page, he reported, “all five of my brothers live in and around Nanty Glo; Mom still lives on Caroline Street.” 

Kupchella has been highly involved in each community he has lived in. He was on the Mayor's Advisory Committee on the Mass Transit Referendum in Louisville in 1975, and on the Ad Hoc State Committee on Environmental Education in Kentucky in 1976. He was also a member of Kentucky's Task Force on Environmental Literacy, 1989, and member of the Chambers of Commerce in Bowling Green, Ky., Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Grand Forks, N.D. Kupchella was also president and cofounder of the Downtown Neighborhood Association and the Cape Girardeau Community Pride Coalition in Missouri. 

Kupchella's biography on the web site of the University of North Dakota reports that he spent one summer in his youth working in the coal mines and describes him as an avid outdoorsman who enjoys fishing and black-powder hunting. He also dabbles in art, enjoys singing folk songs, and has even recorded a song. He and his wife, the former Adele Kiel of Portage, have three children: Richard, 36; Michelle, 35; and Jason, 31. The Kupchellas also have four grandchildren.

Click here for a more detailed resume and curriculum vitae.