Those were among the developments reported to the Student Affairs Committee of the IUP Council of Trustees at its Thursday meeting.
Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Thomas Segar provided “Reflections and Plans” for the coming school year that includes changes in the student affairs leadership team, a change of title for “community assistant” back to the old “resident assistant,” and other reforms.
Segar provided a “Vision for Student Affairs” that includes creating environments and experiences that promote student success and transforms students’ lives; facilitating strong connections between IUP and each student; and establishing the university “as a national example of highly engaged students.”
Some of those students may be among the volunteers at the new IUP Food Pantry and Help Center, which had a soft opening on Friday in Room G-12, Suites on Pratt.
It will have a formal opening Sept. 23 from 1 to 5 p.m.
“I don’t know if I was ever excited to see ‘Oodles of Noodles,’” Special Assistant to the Vice President Malaika Turner told the trustees. But that’s changed, she said, along with the stocked shelves of the new center.
Turner read a letter she had written, recounting her past experiences with food insecurity and insufficiency.
“A few years after I started IUP, my economic situation changed drastically,” she recalled. “You see, my grandparents retired from their jobs (at) General Electric and Bell Telephone. These were good jobs at the time, considering they did not have formal education.”
That in turn had an impact on Turner at IUP.
“There were times when I wasn’t sure how I was going to eat,” Turner recalled. “I would sell books and jewelry, just so I could purchase a small package of chicken and mixed vegetables, and make it last for days.”
She also had help from her boyfriend and received food stamps, which she called a humbling experience.
Still, she went on, “while on food stamps, I was blessed to have staff members who acted as mentors. They helped guide me, and educate me in ways that I would not stay on food stamps.”
She said the food pantry would be a blessing to those students who need the help until they can find a job.
It was a point echoed some hours later when university President Dr. Michael A. Driscoll gave his report at the voting meeting of the Council of Trustees.
“As you know, even the least expensive dining and housing options at IUP exceed the cost of tuition,” Driscoll said. “We need to find ways to lessen the financial burden.”
Regarding on-campus housing, Driscoll said the university continues to work with Foundation for IUP to reduce the cost of on-campus housing.
The new food pantry and help center has its roots in Each One Reach One, a program under the Frederick Douglass Institute for Intercultural Research, last year offered three pop-up pantry events in the Great Room of Elkin Hall, serving more than 200 students.
The new center seeks help with non-perishable food items, umbrellas, school supplies and other donations, as well as volunteers. For more information on how one can help, call Turner at (724) 357-2220.
Cost-cutting as reported by university officials, who slashed $20.8 million in anticipated expenses from IUP’s 2019-20 budget, includes changes to Folger Hall.
“As part of the cost reduction,” Driscoll said, “and in response to a demonstrated need for a place for students to gather to collaborate on projects for class or for club activities, and to study, Folger Hall is being repurposed.”
As detailed in her report on the committee meeting, Trustee Laurie Kuzneski said there would be space for individual and group study, social gatherings, and leadership development seminars.