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President Op-Ed: Answering the Call for Affordable Higher Education

Tony Atwater, IUP president, wrote the following piece in support of the Tuition Relief Act. The piece was distributed to regional media in April 2009.

The alumni of Indiana University of Pennsylvania have provided it with many success stories. One of the most inspiring relates to alumnus Dick Macedonia, former CEO of Sodexho Incorporated, the largest food service provider in the world. When Mr. Macedonia arrived at IUP to pursue his studies, he came with only two paper bags containing clothing and a few other essentials. He was a young man of modest means and did not know if he would be able to make it at IUP, financially or academically. Fortunately, for him, he had generous mentors and supporters at IUP who provided the material and academic support that translated later into his amazing professional success.

Many IUP students, like Dick Macedonia, come to our campus as first-generation college students from low- and middle-income households. The escalating cost of higher education represents an ever-increasing burden in both pursuing a college degree and in paying off the related financial debt after graduation. Simply put, the increased cost of higher education has become prohibitive for many families and prospective students, particularly those from low-income families and rural areas of western Pennsylvania.

Governor Ed Rendell has developed an innovative and critical solution to the challenges faced by first-generation college students and by students from low-income families who aspire to attain college degrees. The solution is the governor’s Tuition Relief Act. And, it is essential that Pennsylvanians express their strong support for this legislative proposal to insure public higher education affordability in the commonwealth.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania is an institution that takes great pride in its mission of providing access to first-generation college students and of offering them opportunities for success.

We take this charge very seriously. These young men and women are our future citizens and leaders. IUP is committed to providing the means to assist them. We will not permit economic circumstances to eliminate their opportunities for higher education.

The Tuition Relief Act, in tandem with our commitment to providing access to qualified students, is our opportunity to foster success for first-generation college students.

Governor Rendell’s proposal represents a timely and innovative solution to the ongoing concerns of access and affordability as they relate to higher education in the commonwealth.

The consequences of failing to support the Tuition Relief Act would be devastating. We need it to provide access and opportunity for people like IUP alumnus Dick Macedonia, who arrived at IUP with only two bags of clothing and became CEO of the world’s largest food service provider. Our nation and our world benefit when we make public higher education accessible and affordable to all citizens of the commonwealth, regardless of their financial status.

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