When I left IUP in 1989, little did I realize that I would be returning fifteen years later to lead the university’s Institutional Advancement Division (for those of you in the nonacademic world, that’s fundraising, alumni relations, and marketing/communications).
To my fellow classmates and other alumni, I am happy to report that IUP has grown stronger in many ways since we last walked through the Oak Grove. Here are some examples:
IUP was recognized last year as one of the “Top 25 Most Connected Campuses” in the country by the Princeton Review.
Both the Princeton Review and U.S. News and World Report chose us as one of the three hundred best colleges in the nation (context: there are more than three thousand colleges and universities in the country).
The Robert E. Cook Honors College was featured in a recent book entitled Cool Colleges for the Hyper-Intelligent, Self-Directed, Late Blooming and Just Plain Different. The Honors College each year competes for the best students in the country to attend IUP.
IUP annually produces athletic teams and individuals that compete for championships on the conference, regional, and national levels. The 2003-04 school year saw four teams qualify for NCAA postseason play and numerous individuals qualify for honors.
Our athletes have excelled in their sports and in the classroom. In the last academic year, more than a third of our intercollegiate athletes were named PSAC Scholar-Athletes because of their grade-point average.
IUP has become student friendly:
- You can register for classes on line.
- Clark Hall has been converted to a “one-stop” site for all other student services such as financial aid.
- The recreation center in an expanded Hadley Union Building (student center) rivals any athletic club.
- The annoying charges we remember as nickel-and-dime stuff, such as a graduation fees, have been eliminated and worked into the overall cost of attending IUP.
I am proud to be a graduate of IUP, and I hope you are, too. We are 85,000 alumni strong, with graduates in all fifty states and many foreign countries. While our strengths are many, there are a few glaring weaknesses that are hurting our ability to compete for students.
As you can see from the president’s comments in this issue, we are rededicating the entire university to investing in the Student Experience. We need faculty, staff, the community, and alumni to turn that experience from a good one to a great one.
When I meet with alumni in person, they often ask me what they can do. As I start to smile, everyone knows what’s coming: “You can support IUP financially. Invest in the Student Experience.” Start today if you are not currently giving to IUP, and I don’t mean thousands of dollars. If you have been out fewer than five years, consider giving $106. If you have been out five years or more, consider giving $212.
Nationally, IUP competes against other public, doctoral-granting universities in rural settings. The average alumni gift of the eight schools that most resemble IUP—our peer institutions, against which we benchmark—is $212. Our average alumni gift is $140.
In real terms, this means less money for student scholarships and less money to support students. The amount you give to IUP is less important than being a consistent donor.
Again, I ask each of you to start today and to give each year. Your small gift to IUP, when combined with the gifts of others, will provide a large amount of money cumulatively that we can use to provide students with financial aid and to enhance student life on a daily basis.
You can also get involved with IUP. Help with the organization of an alumni chapter or event; serve on an advisory board for your college; help the admissions office recruit new students; volunteer to be an advocate for support for IUP; or assist the Career Services office to find an IUP graduate a job.
Great universities have active and involved alumni. Donate your time as well as your financial resources. For some, this will be an hour or two annually; others can give an hour or two per month. As with giving, the amount is not important; the commitment to get involved today is.
Finally, be IUP Proud. Be successful in business and successful in life. All of us took away great memories from here, friendships to last a lifetime. For some it was a spouse or business partner. For others it’s simply someone to call and share a memory of your days on campus.
Inform others about what makes IUP special. Tell them about why they might like to send a child to school here. Let them know why IUP is someplace special.
And when you have time, come back and join us for Homecoming or another event. Many great changes have taken place to our alma mater, but you’ll find that there are still many reminders here that will take you back to your days at IUP.