We are one of the county’s economic foundations; it’s part of our job, and we take it very seriously.”
So said Dr. Michael A. Driscoll, IUP President, and it’s a statement backed up in a myriad of ways. IUP is the largest employer in Indiana County, with more than 1,400 full-time professors, instructors, staff and administration employees. The university serves nearly 13,000 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral candidate students each year, which fuels the regional economic engine.
IUP attracts more than $7.6 million in revenue to campus through its various centers and institutes scattered across its seven colleges, to conduct research into specialized areas of study and practical application.
“We want to always be as supportive as possible to our students, the undergraduates especially,” he said. “We’re fortunate to be located in western Pennsylvania, where there is such a great work ethic, and we see that with our students. About 80 percent of all IUP alumni remain in Pennsylvania, mostly in the Pittsburgh region, working in every field you can imagine.”
“The university continues to position itself for further growth,” said Driscoll, following some definitive strategic steps. “One major initiative pertains to developing new major programs to reflect a changing economy and the emerging requirements it represents. IUP recently launched new programs in engineering, environmental engineering and public health.”
“We’ve been able to build on existing strengths to do this,” the president added. “We need to do more to create opportunities for working adults through courses to develop them professionally. It’s the role of a leading university to raise the bar for everyone.”
Another continually evolving initiative pertains to the effective use of technology in the modern classroom. All students today, regardless of age or background, have become familiar with electronics and online devices, so online education has become a part of the standard curriculum at IUP.
“Discussions can happen 24/7, and often do,” said Driscoll. “Through these technologies, professors can focus in the actual physical classroom on parts of their lessons that require more human, one-to-one interaction to achieve understanding. Professors can provide a greater amount of information to students, who then need to arrive in class prepared for further explanation in person.”
A vibrant university behaves as its own living, growing, changing organism – but one that also extends that vibrancy into the lives of people in surrounding communities. Under Driscoll’s leadership, IUP – driven by its long-standing legacy of alumni presence and its deeply held ties to Pittsburgh businesses and institutions – lives by that mission.
“Prior to coming to IUP, I lived in Alaska and got to know the cyclical nature of the energy industry,” Driscoll noted. “You need a steady source of economic activity to help level that out for a region, which can be said for this part of the world, as well. We bring a lot of that kind of activity to Indiana County, employing people, acting as consumers of goods and services produced locally, and providing students as both customers and employees to the greater community.
“If I had to describe IUP in one sentence, it would be that this place is about great people coming together to learn and grow with the purpose of changing the world.”