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Imagining Unlimited Possibilities

Surprise Gifts Herald a Brighter Future

Joining in the April announcement of IUP’s comprehensive fundraising campaign were, from left, Khatmeh Osseiran-Hanna, IUP’s vice president for University Advancement; Michael Driscoll, IUP president; and campaign leadership team members Bill and Audrey Madia, Char and John Kopchick, and Debra and Tim Cejka.

It was an evening of surprises. And, it was historic.

Alumni, donors, board members, and students who attended the annual Celebration of Philanthropy in April learned that IUP had been conducting the silent phase of a comprehensive fundraising campaign. Called Imagine Unlimited, the campaign began several years ago with a $40-million goal. On this evening when it became public, the campaign received a huge boost, and its goal was nearly doubled to $75 million.

But before that announcement, the audience heard from 1973 graduates Tim Cejka and Debra Phillips Cejka, who revealed they were adding $2 million to their existing commitment of $5 million toward mathematics and science initiatives. Their latest gift enables IUP to proceed with construction of a new building for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, to be completed by 2022.

“Our nation has fallen behind other countries in math and science aptitude. We are concerned about the future,” Tim Cejka said. “Yet, we are so impressed with all the work we’ve seen at IUP in the last several years. We believe in the university’s vision. We believe in the vision of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. We have confidence in the dean and the faculty.”

The audience responded with its first standing ovation.

President Michael Driscoll then invited John Kopchick ’72, M’75 and Char Labay Kopchick ’73 to the podium for another announcement. The Kopchicks revealed a $23-million commitment, also in support of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Their gift is the largest in IUP’s history (see “Shoulders for Others”).

Audience members leaped once more to their feet.

An Investment in People

Although the Imagine Unlimited campaign only became public in April, volunteers—including the Cejkas, the Kopchicks, and Bill Madia ’69, M’71 and Audrey DeLaquil Madia ’70—had been executing the campaign’s quiet phase since 2014, the same year the Cejkas made their initial gift. According to Khatmeh Osseiran-Hanna, vice president for University Advancement, that gift was catalytic. 

Scholarship recipients Jaclyn McDermott and Walt Pegues used confetti wands to celebrate the announcement of IUP’s campaign total and new fundraising goal during the university’s Celebration of Philanthropy in April. Both students graduated in May. Photograph by Keith Boyer

Scholarship recipients Jaclyn McDermott and Walt Pegues used confetti wands to celebrate the announcement of IUP’s campaign total and new fundraising goal during the university’s Celebration of Philanthropy in April. Both students graduated in May. Photograph by Keith Boyer

Osseiran-Hanna said transformative gifts have since come from a number of donors: the Madias ($1 million in support of science and mathematics initiatives), Bill Scheeren ’68 and Judy Scheeren ($1.4 million in support of education initiatives), and Terry Serafini ’61 ($1 million in support of business and mathematics initiatives and a campus beautification project). At the same time, thousands of other alumni and corporate friends have expressed gratitude for or a deep commitment to the IUP experience with philanthropic gifts. She said the aim is to achieve the full $75-million goal in three to four years.  

“Our campaign theme is Imagine Unlimited,” Bill Madia, who cochairs the campaign with his wife, Audrey, said the evening of the announcement. “I want you to think about that. IUP is poised for greatness. Our potential has no limits. This university can be whatever we envision it to be. We’ll enable our students to pursue their passions, enabling them to reach their full potential. This campaign is, indeed, about preparing our students to be great thinkers, great decision makers, and great people.”

Building on Growing Momentum

Driscoll views the campaign’s public announcement as a rallying cry that has sparked inspiration for the university community—on campus and around the world—to come together to build on a growing momentum.

“We definitely are seeing that,” he said. “Just take a look at our University Family Drive for an example.”

Over the past five years, the percentage of employees who give to IUP has risen dramatically, from 15 percent to 59 percent. Sixty-five faculty and staff members have volunteered to serve as peer-to-peer solicitors.

“Consider that employees have the closest view of both the students and the daily operations,” Driscoll said. “They’re passionate about their work and about this university’s potential, and their giving signifies that.”

Driscoll noted that student giving also has significantly increased, reflecting students’ belief in how the university serves them.    

Now that funding for the new science and mathematics building has been secured, the $75-million campaign’s focus has widened to include initiatives that will help ensure academic excellence and student success in a diverse environment. While transformative gifts have made that possible, Driscoll said no one should underestimate the power of smaller gifts.

“The Imagine Unlimited campaign is certainly about getting big things done. Every gift counts,” he said. “A hundred-dollar gift can signify confidence in the same way a million-dollar gift can, and it also helps to drive IUP’s transformation. We’re a community of students and their parents, faculty and staff members, alumni, and community friends, all of whom share a great cause.”

A Spectrum of Needs

The campaign will target many other projects, as well:

  • An expanded Academy of Culinary Arts facility in Punxsutawney
  • A simulation and a simulated patient theater for nursing and other applied fields of study
  • Program enhancements in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • The new interdisciplinary program in public health
  • The Student Managed Investment Portfolio project
  • Programming in the Multicultural Student Leadership and Engagement Center, as well as diversity and inclusion and other initiatives
  • Enhanced programming and advising for students who have not decided on a major
  • Scholarships and enhancement funds for Athletics
  • International education programs and activities
  • Scholarships for new students

Leading the Charge

Driscoll expressed gratitude for the core group of volunteers who serve as the campaign’s leadership team:

  • Bill Madia ’69, M’71 and Audrey DeLaquil Madia ’70, campaign cochairs
  • Tim Cejka ’73 and Debra Phillips Cejka ’73, chairs of the campaign’s Natural Sciences and Mathematics component
  • Bonnie Harbison Anderson ’80
  • Richard Caruso ’83
  • Terry Dunlap ’81
  • John Kopchick ’72, M’75 and Char Labay Kopchick ’73
  • Bill Scheeren ’68 and Judy Scheeren
  • Tracy Settle ’80
  • Regina Dressel Stover ’75 and Dennis Stover ’76