President Driscoll’s Remarks on Punxsutawney Regional Campus

Posted on 3/29/2017 3:48:46 PM

The following are excerpts from remarks by IUP President Michael Driscoll at the public meeting of the Council of Trustees on March 23, 2017, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

A few months ago, I called together a small group of alumni and met with them in New York—a convenient location for many of them—to discuss IUP’s future. I asked them for their advice on a number of issues on how to move forward on our strategic plan.

I prefaced our discussion with a set of bold moves—let’s call them Transformational Moments—that changed the course of IUP’s history. Among them were claiming university status, becoming a doctoral research university, and, most recently, vowing to reach our shared destiny through our strategic plan.

I tell you this today, because I want to emphasize how seriously I take our strategic plan.

I note that the strategic plan specifies one particular item that I want to reference today—especially today, especially here. This is the second time the Council of Trustees has met in Punxsutawney since I arrived at IUP about five years ago.

The strategic plan’s fourth goal is this: strengthen IUP’s value to local, state, and global partners.

Make no mistake: Punxsutawney and Jefferson County are IUP’s partners. And IUP and I personally are committed to increasing IUP’s value to this community. I personally am committed to increasing IUP’s value to this community.

Punxsutawney has meant many things to IUP over the years, and it has served as a valuable component to our educational offerings. And in fact, many students have been well served by this campus’s role as a springboard to the Indiana campus.

But when we stepped back and evaluated how it evolved and what we were accomplishing, we realized that changing conditions and analysis of our future needs—and when I say our, I mean our future needs, not just IUP—all of these things demanded a change.

We have been using this campus as a proving ground for transferring students to the Indiana campus. A few of those students have been from this region, but most are not from this region. We had lost sight of what this campus was originally intended to do, which was to serve the needs of the citizens of this region.

And, it’s for that reason we are redesigning what our Punxsutawney Regional Campus does and who it serves. Some of you will say, and perhaps it’s true, that we are coming full circle.

Perhaps Rich Muth, the campus’s director, said it best: we are making a clean break from the recent past and patiently refocusing on the future. We will begin implementing changes this fall, and while it will take a little time, we will begin to see real change and good results as soon as the spring of 2018.

I don’t think I need to dive into the details of how this campus will be transformed in the coming months and years. The details are out there, thanks in large part to the Punxsutawney Spirit’s interview with Rich Muth and Tom Frantz.

But, I do want to say that I am excited to have a rejuvenated commitment to the Punxsutawney campus’s original intent; that I believe we will have a productive partnership with area stakeholders as we move forward; and, most important, that I believe we will do a valuable service by meeting the region’s workforce needs.

What’s more, I can say all of that with confidence.

On Monday, three days ago, the president’s cabinet unanimously endorsed a proposal from Rich Muth and Interim Vice President Patti McCarthy to provide additional one-time seed funding to support students who will study at Punxsutawney in the next academic year.

I gladly agree with their endorsement. The exact details of the program are still being finalized, but today I can tell you up to $200,000 will be available to support Punxsutawney campus students this fall and the following spring across this transition and focus and target for Punxsutawney.

I want to thank Rich Muth and his team for their hard work; Tom Frantz and the Punxsutawney Trust; trustees Dave Osikowicz, Joyce Fairman, and Sam Smith; and the entire community for your support and reciprocating commitment to IUP. Personally, I have been incredibly impressed with how you stepped forward in this partnership, in this imagining of the new future for this campus and for IUP’s contribution to this region. Together, there is no doubt in my mind that we will have a strong, strong future.