By the time readers open this issue of IUP Magazine, there may well be a new, “permanent” president of the university. If that is the case, this will be my valediction. I have greatly enjoyed my year or so as IUP’s interim president, but I am also happy to be able to resume my retirement.
The past year has been a critical time in the university’s history. Many important initiatives were under development when my predecessor resigned. I realized that the university could not afford to stand still during the interim period; we had to keep moving forward. And that is what we have done.
Much of my work on a daily basis has been in the company of administrators whose commitment to the university is extraordinary. For me, though, the greatest joy of working in a university setting has always been the opportunity to work with students and faculty members. The faculty members provide the best possible environment for learning. The students bring energy, excitement, and enthusiasm.
Unfortunately, many of today’s students do not live—or want to live—like I did when I was in college. They think it’s peculiar to share bathrooms with dozens of strangers and often can’t believe they’re also expected to share bedrooms. In order to provide a living-learning environment that will maximize student success, we need to build more attractive and varied residence facilities.
IUP hopes over the next decade or so to renovate or replace many of its fifteen residence halls. In contrast to the practice at many other schools, IUP’s brand-new accommodations will be built in the very heart of the campus. Helping to draft this housing master plan and to arrange for its funding have been among the most exciting and satisfying aspects of my work at IUP.
Other brick-and-mortar initiatives that are moving forward include the Cogswell Hall renovation; new buildings and new focuses at the Punxsutawney and Armstrong campuses; and continued planning for the Regional Development Center, which is perhaps the most exciting partnership I’ve seen in my years in higher education. Cooperation on this level, involving local government agencies, the state government, and a university, is rare. Less tangible but no less important are the efforts IUP is making in enrollment management, philanthropy, and activities surrounding the Middle States reaccreditation process.
Nearly all the initiatives on which we have focused in the last twelve months have required support and cooperation from some very important individuals not on the university’s payroll. The Council of Trustees, the Board of Directors of the Foundation for IUP, and the Executive Board of the IUP Alumni Association have all provided examples of the kind of leadership that will be crucial to the university’s progress in the next few years.
I’ll be watching from the sidelines as IUP brings to fruition the initiatives it has undertaken. And I’ll be rooting for success every step of the way.