A Front-Row Seat for Students
The February 19 regional celebration of the land acquisition for the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Center was a historic day for IUP and the Indiana community. I had been proud of IUP and this community on many occasions during my first twenty-four months as IUP’s twenty-fourth president, but this event was perhaps one of IUP’s “finest hours.” The occasion capped a seven-year odyssey full of twists and turns and an unwavering resolve to succeed.
I was honored to join other community leaders in Folger Hall to address the standing-room-only crowd of more than four hundred from the university, the region, and throughout the state. During my remarks, I stressed that the center will be the key to this community’s transformation to a knowledge-based economy and will serve as a regional economic driver for decades to come. A 2005 marketing study projected that during its first twenty years, the facility will add more than $60 million to the local economy. The convocation center also will provide a much-needed venue for major conferences, sports events, and other entertainment activities in the region.
IUP is committed to advancing significant community partnerships, and this facility will most certainly meet that objective. But as I have said many times, IUP’s primary goal is promoting student success and opportunity.
So, one might ask, “How will students benefit from the KCAC?”
First, this facility will offer a beautiful and unique venue for our fine arts and cultural programming. By its very size—150 ,000 square feet—it will expand exponentially the options for entertainment and educational programming right here on campus, something our students tell us they want and need as part of their university experience. These new programming opportunities will offer significant advantages and a competitive edge in terms of recruiting and retaining excellent students, further advancing the academic climate of this university.
Our existing networking and internship programs are strong. However, as a modern conference and technology and training facility, the KCAC offers students new and extraordinary opportunities for exposure to all types of businesses and services right here on campus in a variety of fields. A facility of this type necessarily requires experts in construction, management, marketing, celebrity management, technology, events planning, security, and hospitality fields. Students will be exposed to all of these fields, all while enjoying a front-row seat for world-class entertainment and educational events, trade shows, conferences, and national—perhaps international—business meetings and conferences.
As the community prospers and grows—thanks to the KCAC—there will be greater numbers of internship, work-study, and employment opportunities with a more diverse group of successful businesses right here in the region. This is very important to students who are often tied to family and other obligations locally, or who simply wish to stay in this fine community.
Finally, our students will be the beneficiaries of another “value added” component to the IUP degree. The enhanced value of an IUP degree will become even more evident to students as they graduate and begin their own odyssey. I hope their futures will be as exciting, challenging, and rewarding as the KCAC journey has been for this university and community.