Indiana, PA - Indiana County

At IUP inaugural, Driscoll envisions a 'new beginning'

by on April 27, 2013 10:00 AM

With a focus on a new beginning, both for himself and for the university, Dr. Michael Driscoll was inaugurated as the 26th president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania in a ceremony Friday.

Held in the Fisher Auditorium of IUP’s Performing Arts Center, members of the IUP faculty as well as students and members of the community joined together in celebrating and welcoming Driscoll to the IUP family.

The event was marked by several speakers from across the state and nation, gifts to Driscoll, music and several standing ovations.

“My focus, our focus, should be on the new beginning for this great institution that has served so many since 1875,” Driscoll said during his inaugural address.

During the address, he noted the importance a physical campus and tangible classes has on the educational process.

“We must continue to provide for the things that ensure productive learning by acknowledging our students, many the first in their families to seek higher education, are most successful because we are committed to face-to-face education,” he said. “There’s a place for online courses and degree programs, and we will expand our use of instructional technology to enhance learning and provide opportunity. But the best way to deliver a rigorous and truly complete education is through a residential experience on a traditional campus, with resources like libraries, advisers and mentors and extracurricular activities.”

“And,” he added, “camaraderie among students.”

Driscoll emphasized the need to pass on a love for lifelong learning. IUP also is charged with the responsibility of providing hands-on experience that will enhance its surrounding community.

Community played a large part in his address, as Driscoll has worked diligently to make himself visible on campus as well as in the surrounding community.

“IUP is not only about the enterprise of education and the people that come here from other places,” he said. “It’s also about this place we share and the relationships we have with our host communities. We influence what happens just outside our campus borders and beyond.

“The external community plays such a grand part in our campus culture. In the numerous visits I’ve had with alumni over the last nine months, I’ve heard time and again that the town plays a meaningful part in their memories at IUP.

“We, the university community, and we, the greater community, must continue to work together for the social and economic good of both.”

Driscoll also touched on the often controversial subject of natural resources, a point of deep discussion as IUP has opened itself up to the energy industry within the last school year.

“Situated on top of what might be part of the second largest natural gas deposit,” he said, “how can IUP not only participate, but lead?”

Driscoll explained IUP is in the position to better the community and the world through its energy research. He explained that interdisciplinary teams at IUP are studying all kinds of energy issues, from natural gas to coal, wind and solar power. As a community partner, IUP is responding to a growing demand for energy development and guidance on how to use it properly and safely.

“I invite all of us at IUP, in Indiana Borough and White Township, and everyone across western Pennsylvania, to come together in vision, and then to build the strong and vibrant future for our children,” he concluded.

Driscoll was joined by several members of academia from across the region, including former IUP presidents John Welty and David Werner.

Remarks were made by Driscoll’s former colleague Daniel Bernstine, president of the Law School Admission Council. Driscoll worked as vice provost at Portland State University during Bernstine’s time as president of the university.

Bernstine jokingly remarked on how Driscoll has been sitting as president of IUP since July 1, 2012, yet his inauguration was finally occurring that day.

“Is it like test-driving a car before buying it?” Bernstine asked. “Is it because those in academe must ponder a decision a long period of time before acting? Does it mean that Mike Driscoll really hasn’t been president until today?

“Of course I suspect the real reason for the delay is that it gives the new president time to become immersed in the university and its leading constituencies, to get a handle on the issues affecting the institution and to envision the best direction in which to lead it.

“If, as Peter Drucker says, ‘Leadership is defined by results, not attributes,’ this campus already has tangible proof that Mike is the right leader for IUP.”

Remarks were also added by several of those in attendance.

“For this inauguration, I’m pleased to tell you that you have in Dr. Driscoll an outstanding educator, administrator and academic leader,” said Karen Whitney, president of Clarion University of Pennsylvania.

“On paper … Dr. Michael Driscoll, the presidential candidate, had all the requisite education, degrees, academic achievements, experience and overall r←sum← necessary to easily qualify him as presidential material,” said Jonathan Mack, member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. “Because of those credentials, and an equally impressive track record, Dr. Driscoll truly earned the right to be named IUP’s president. In that regard, there is no doubt we got all we bargained for and expected.”

Driscoll was presented constituent gifts by Timothy Moerland, provost and vice president of academic affairs; Abbas Ali, IUP professor; Melodee Medsger Gett, prevention education specialist for the Alice Paul House; Michael Staub, president of the IUP Alumni Association Board of Directors; and Taylor Billman, president of the Student Government Association.

The oath of office was conducted by Peter Garland, acting PASSHE chancellor, and Guido Pichini, chairman of the PASSHE Board of Governors.

A musical timeline percussion collage was presented featuring performances of “Chief’s Honoring Song” in the original Ojibway language by Quentin Bear Fuller, Native American Artist; “Downfall of Paris” by Shane Velsor, Civil War-era drummer; and “The Sharpened Stick” by Brett Dietz performed by the IUP Percussion Ensemble.

Jeremy Hartley is a staff writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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