Indiana University of Pennsylvania will receive $17.6 million in funding for two projects—the Academy of Culinary Arts long-range facilities plan and the health sciences cluster and proposed college of osteopathic medicine—as part of the 2023–24 State System of Higher Education capital allocations budget.

The capital fund allocation budget was approved by the State System of Higher Education Board of Governors at its meeting on February 8.

The allocation includes $17.1 million for the IUP Academy of Culinary Arts academic building replacement project and $500,000 for a facilities feasibility study for academic facilities for IUP’s health sciences cluster and proposed college of osteopathic medicine.

“I’m very pleased with the Board of Governors’ approval for these capital funds for IUP,” IUP Council of Trustees Chair and Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors Vice Chair Sam Smith said.

“The Academy of Culinary Arts is an amazing program, with extremely talented and dedicated faculty and staff, and they have been the glue keeping the program moving forward, despite a facility that is well past its prime,” Trustee Smith said. “The students, staff, and faculty need and deserve a facility that reflects the excellence of the program and its promising future,” he said.

Academy students currently have classes at the 37-year-old facility on Gilpin Street in Punxsutawney and at the Fairman Centre (the former J.B. Eberhart building) in downtown Punxsutawney.

The $17.1 million will continue progress on the Academy of Culinary Arts long-range facilities plan, approved in March 2022 by the IUP Council of Trustees. The academy’s long-range plan is focused on providing state-of-the-art facilities and providing new opportunities for increased enrollment by relocating all the educational facilities for the academy to new or renovated buildings in downtown Punxsutawney adjacent to the academy’s Fairman Centre along West Mahoning Street.

Specifically, this funding will be used for construction of a new, 45,000-square-foot educational and multipurpose commercial facility. Design is underway for this Department of General Services project, which includes demolition of properties gifted to IUP that are adjacent to the Fairman Centre. Demolition of those vacant buildings is projected to begin in the fall.

The buildings set for demolition are at 105, 115, 117, and 119 West Mahoning Street (these buildings were gifted to IUP from the Foundation for IUP in 2018); and buildings at 131 and 133 West Mahoning Street, the Dorothy Miller property, which were acquired and gifted in part by building owners Jesse J. Miller and Duane A. Miller in 2021. All of these buildings are adjacent to the Fairman Centre. The master plan also includes recommendations for enhanced use and increased impact of the Fairman Centre, more efficient planned space use within the culinary building (dual-use kitchens), and improved delivery vehicle access and vehicular traffic flow.

The facilities feasibility study will result in a program plan for the health sciences cluster and proposed college of osteopathic medicine facilities. The proposed health sciences cluster is part of the Indiana Campus Long-Range Facilities Master plan updates approved in January by the IUP Council of Trustees.

The updated long-range plan recommendation designates Johnson Hall, Uhler Hall, and Stright Hall for the health sciences cluster, with a renovated and expanded Johnson Hall as the primary location for the proposed college of osteopathic medicine.

This proposed health sciences cluster would be designed to provide a transformational modern medical education facility, supporting and housing the proposed college of osteopathic medicine and related IUP health sciences programs, including the Department of Nursing and Allied Health Professions. It would include state-of-the-art classroom and laboratory spaces, as well as office and other support spaces.

In December 2022, the IUP Council of Trustees endorsed the exploration of developing a college of osteopathic medicine at IUP. The university chose to explore a prospective college of osteopathic medicine based on several factors, including the critical need for rural healthcare. There are not enough trained physicians to provide care to Pennsylvania’s citizens; the ratio of patients to available primary care physicians is 1,367 to 1, according to the United Health Foundation.

There are only three colleges of osteopathic medicine in Pennsylvania, all at private universities. IUP’s proposed college of osteopathic medicine would be the only college of osteopathic medicine at a public university in Pennsylvania.

“The Board of Governors action today continues the momentum for both of these critically important projects,” IUP President Michael Driscoll said.

“IUP appreciates the support from the Board of Governors, including Trustee Smith’s advocacy for both the Academy of Culinary Arts project and IUP’s proposed college of osteopathic medicine. Both initiatives offer solutions to meeting the commonwealth’s workforce needs. Our academy graduates continue to be in high demand from employers, and the new facilities for the Academy of Culinary Arts offer great potential for enrollment growth.

“Experts continue to sound the alarm about the shortage of healthcare providers, especially in Pennsylvania’s rural communities, and IUP is proud to step up to meet that challenge. A college of osteopathic medicine at a public university has the potential for being a true change agent for the way that we provide physician education as well as for addressing the shortage of healthcare providers in our commonwealth.”

National studies show that osteopathic medicine graduates are more likely to pursue primary care in rural and underserved areas. Fifty-seven percent of all doctors of osteopathic medicine practice as general practitioners, and more than 20 percent of DO graduates practice in rural areas. Demand is high for osteopathic medicine training: in 2021, 22,708 applicants competed for 8,280 seats at schools of osteopathic medicine.

On January 31, Senator Joe Pittman announced that, as part of the 2023–24 state budget that was just completed in December, $2 million was set aside for IUP’s proposed college of osteopathic medicine. These new dollars are an investment above and beyond what IUP receives in the budget, Senator Pittman said. This funding would be used largely to support the operations at the start of the medical school.

Senator Pittman’s announcement followed the news of a $500,000 donation from the IUP Alumni Association Board of Directors to IUP’s proposed college of osteopathic medicine project. The IUP Alumni Association is an independent, nonprofit corporation governed by an elected board of directors.

In May, IUP received a $1-million pledge for the proposed college of osteopathic medicine from IUP graduate and 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Rich Caruso. In July 2023, IUP received a $40,000 gift for the proposed college from IUP graduates Nick Jacobs and Mary Ann Hoysan Jacobs. Nick Jacobs is a 2005 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient who has a 1969 bachelor’s degree in education and a 1972 master’s degree in music education; Mary Ann Jacobs has a 1968 bachelor’s degree in music education and a 1993 master’s degree in adult and community education.

In November 2023, IUP welcomed Miko Rose as the founding dean of the proposed college of osteopathic medicine.

“The support for the college of osteopathic medicine and enthusiasm and confidence in the leadership role that IUP will play in meeting the critical need for primary health care in Pennsylvania, especially in the commonwealth’s rural community, has been extraordinary,” Rose said.

“While there is a great deal of work ahead of us, the interest and outreach we have received from institutions and individuals, including our legislators and governing bodies, continues to assure me that IUP is the right place, and this is the right time for this important initiative,” she said.

Rose’s appointment was announced during the second annual Pennsylvania Mountains Rural Health Conference on November 17, 2023. The conference was cosponsored by IUP and Indiana Regional Medical Center and hosted by IUP to mark National Rural Health Day.

Rose comes to IUP from Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine, where she was associate professor and chief of the Division of Psychiatry in the Department of Clinical Medicine and assistant dean for clinical education.

She founded and started the Joy Initiative at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and College of Osteopathic Medicine schools. She completed her medical training at Michigan State.

The hiring of a founding dean for IUP’s proposed college of osteopathic medicine is one of the first steps in establishing the college. With this selection complete, IUP will start the process of seeking accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation, a three- to five-year process that includes submission of self-studies and a feasibility study, along with site visits.