They may be living in the “heart of Texas,” but Indiana University of Pennsylvania is in the heart of these Texas alumni.

Six alumni, all living in or around the Houston area and members of IUP’s Houston Advancement Council (a group of IUP alumni volunteers), have established the Texas Alumni Scholarship for undergraduate students at IUP.

Alumni establishing the scholarship include Don Baronitis, a 1976 management graduate originally from Baden, Beaver County; Dale Hosack, a 1981 business administration graduate originally from Greenville, Mercer County; “Crimson Couple” who met at IUP Jeff Swift, a 1975 business administration graduate originally from Pittsburgh and Jill Trainor Swift, a 1975 consumer services graduate originally from Penn Hills; Greg Schockling, a 1981 accounting graduate originally from Beaver Falls; and Elizabeth Travis, a 1965 biology graduate, originally from Wilmerding.

“We all got an excellent education at IUP,” Jeff Swift said. “Unfortunately, our businesses took us far away from Pennsylvania, and didn’t allow us to be as involved with IUP as we would have liked to be,” he said.

“This scholarship gives us the opportunity to give back, to make a real impact,” he said. “Cost of attendance is an issue for students. Most of us received financial help when we were at IUP, and we want to give back, to help students so that they can be successful,” Swift said.

“We’re very grateful to (development officer) John Buckshaw from IUP who gave us the idea, and we’re very happy to get together to create this scholarship—in addition to supporting students, we hope that will serve as a model for other alumni groups, and that it can enrich and strengthen our Texas alumni group,” Hosack said. “Not everyone has the individual means to create an endowed scholarship, but this is a great example of a group of dedicated alumni coming together to accomplish a goal to benefit students at IUP,” he said.

“We want to invite any IUP alumni in Texas to join us in supporting this scholarship,” Swift said. “Working together, we can really make a powerful impact.”

All of the alumni spoke highly of their IUP classes, faculty, and experiences, including developing leadership skills as members of the fraternity system. Baronitis was a member of Gamma Rho Tau fraternity; Swift was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity; and Schockling was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity.

Baronitis lives in Bellaire and is retired from his work at Waste Management; Hosack lives in Houston and works at Western Container Corp.; the Swifts live in the Woodlands and Jeff Swift retired from his work with HMT Inc.; Schockling lives in Sugar Land and retired from his work with Sequent Energy Management; Travis, a 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, lives in Houston and works at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“Our alumni are passionate about the university and very grateful for their experiences at IUP, and they want to help today’s students—and students in the future—to have the opportunities that IUP provided to them and continues to offer,” Assistant Vice President for Alumni and Constituent Engagement Jennifer Dunsmore said. “We are very grateful for their generosity. Not only will this scholarship address the financial needs of many students, but it’s a model for how a group of alumni, working together, can make a real difference for our students,” she said.

Guidelines for scholarship eligibility for the Texas Alumni Scholarship include being at the sophomore, junior, or senior level, having a 2.5 grade point average, and experiencing financial need, with preference given for students who volunteer and participate in extracurricular activities.

IUP’s Council of Trustees approved reducing the annual tuition cost by approximately 20 percent for full-time, in-state undergraduate students for fall 2022 and for full-time, out-of-state undergraduate students, and international undergraduate students for fall 2023 as part of the Tuition Affordability Plan

“This scholarship will help to extend the impact of the Tuition Affordability Plan,” Vice President of Student Affairs Tom Segar said. “IUP alumni care deeply about our students and about the university, and this scholarship will benefit countless students as they pursue their education at IUP,” he said.

IUP concluded its Imagine Unlimited Campaign in February 2021, shattering the $75-million goal by raising more than $81.4 million six months early. IUP continues to see incredible generosity and unwavering support for the university’s student-centered success initiatives—including increasing IUP’s affordability and value—and the university’s commitment to making a significant, positive impact on health and wellness, especially in Pennsylvania’s rural communities.