IUP president opens academic year

President Driscoll and a panel of IUP community members opened the academic year (Sarah Bader/The Penn)

President Michael Driscoll and a panel of Indiana University of Pennsylvania community members opened the 2014-2015 academic year at 9 a.m. Aug. 22 at Fisher Auditorium.

Joining Driscoll on stage were Provost Timothy Moerland, Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties president Mark Staszkiewicz, University Senate chairman David LaPorte, State College and University Professional Association president Jessica Halchak and student member of the IUP Council of Trustees Aaron Douthit (senior, nursing).

Driscoll began by celebrating the successes of the university during the 2013-2014 academic year.

“Together, we solidified our shared vision, set into motion the strategic planning process and began the Middle States self-studies that will reaffirm our accreditation,” Driscoll said.

While focusing on the good is preferred, it isn’t realistic.

“We had a super year, but it wasn’t perfect,” Driscoll said. “In March, we found ourselves garnering unwanted media attention because of excessive celebrations that were, let’s just say, not sanctioned by the university.

“You probably read news reports about our pulling together representatives from the community, law enforcement and government officials, landlords, liquor control board representatives and our own staff members to work with experts from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency in analyzing how to better anticipate and deal with future such situations.”

According to its website, PEMA’s goal is to “prevent, protect, prepare, respond and recover from any man-made or natural disaster.”

“We’ve learned a lot from this exercise, and the most important point that we acknowledge is we all must work together to combat a nationwide issue on our own local level. PEMA recommends what they refer to as a whole-community approach,” Driscoll said. “The fact is, though, that even this situation, while not pleasant, illustrates our deep commitment to the health and well-being of our students and our community.

“I am proud of how the entire Indiana community has come together to advance communication, coordination and planning, to increase enforcement, safety and consequences and to improve education alternatives and prevention. We still have a lot of work to do, and we will do that work together.”

Another issue that seemed to cloud IUP’s successes from the previous year, the financial state of the university, was addressed.

Improvement was found, according to Driscoll, by making “modest cuts” and increasing recruitment efforts as well as retaining current students to achieve the goal for university enrollment.

With admissions still taking place, Driscoll said IUP has enrolled “more than 14,300.”

Driscoll added that IUP has recently paid off the debt from the construction of the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.

Long-term financial stability and success is to be achieved by working with the university’s budget advisory committee and the utilization of a “three-pronged approach,” according to Driscoll.

The three sects of the plan consist of “adjusting allocations to reflect actual expenditures, setting college-level expectations and incentives for achieving institutional goals and generating revenue and, if necessary, increasing the student services fee.”

Driscoll concluded his speech with his hopes for this year and reiterated the university’s internal cooperation and progression.

“Let’s weigh anchor and together set sail toward our future,” Driscoll said.

President of the ASCUF, Mark Staszkiewicz shared Driscoll’s appreciation of the teamwork within the IUP community.

“For the first time in a while, we find ourselves moving in the same direction,” Staszkiewicz said.