April 21, 2017
Celebration Is Marked by Food Drive That Yields 3,000 Pounds of Food to Aid Hunger Relief in Chester County
Christopher M. Fiorentino was formally installed as West Chester University's 15th president during a formal investiture ceremony held on its campus in Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall on Friday, April 21. Frank T. Brogan, chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, and Cynthia D. Shapira, chair of the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, presided and administered the oath of office during the ceremony. Fiorentino now leads the largest state-owned university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Nearly 1,000 faculty, students, staff, trustees, alumni, and friends filled the hall to witness the inauguration. Among those who gave greetings were Senator Andrew Dinniman, State Representative Carolyn Comitta, Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline, and West Chester Borough Council President Diane C. LeBold.
Fiorentino accepted his leadership charge in a ceremony made distinctive by the impressive procession of members of the Board of Governors and University Council of Trustees, faculty and delegates from 39 colleges and universities in the greater Pennsylvania area. "I have dedicated my career to this institution and to higher education, and I truly see it as the culmination of my career to serve as president," said Fiorentino, who has been a faculty member and administrator at West Chester University for more than 30 years. "Know that I take my responsibility to the University and to its students with the utmost seriousness and will do everything in my power to advance this distinguished institution to even greater heights."
Fiorentino's dedication to the University was evident throughout the ceremony. "Dr. Fiorentino brings to the presidency a deep love for West Chester University and a clear vision for its future," said Shapira. "He joins an outstanding cadre of leaders at our universities, and I am confident he will continue to provide strong leadership to the university and will work tirelessly on behalf of students."
Fiorentino used the occasion to urge all those in attendance to recommit to public higher education, accept the challenges ahead proactively, and to be committed to student success first and foremost. "Let us not lose sight of the value of our work as demonstrated by the success stories of generation after generation of our students," he said. "It is incumbent upon us to meet these challenges in order to secure the value of public higher education for future generations. Some of the obstacles are clearly beyond our control, but the mission to prepare our graduates to be productive members of society in both the workforce and their communities is absolutely our responsibility. I accepted this position with full knowledge of the difficulties we face, but I believe we are eminently capable of overcoming them and advancing our mission of student success."
The sentiments were shared. "West Chester is an exciting university, and Dr. Fiorentino is taking over as president at an important time for the university and the State System," said Brogan. "I look forward to continuing to work with him as he engages with the other university presidents on behalf of not just West Chester, but all of the universities in the State System."
Fiorentino's dedication to preparing students to think, thrive, and work in today's world is matched by his commitment to prepare students to contribute to society as civil human beings. He is the first president in the University's history to incorporate hunger relief as part of an inaugural celebration. The effort is timely as the University enrolls nearly 30 students who are homeless and 10% of Chester County residents wrestle with food insecurity.
A three-week canned food drive to benefit the University's new Resource Pantry for students in financial need and the Chester County Food Bank kicked off on March 28 as a pre-inaugural volunteer service effort. Sixteen food bins were stationed across campus for daily drop-offs and scheduled collections by student teams. An additional bin was located at the district office of State Representative Carolyn Comitta, where local community members generously dropped off food donations during weekdays. Members of the greater Chester County community also showed their support for the campus-wide food drive by donating more than 1,000 pounds of food at ShopRite on April 2 during a hunger-relief project led by WCU students and the Fiorentino family. The WCU Presidential Inauguration Campus Food Drive was co-chaired by West Chester University alumna Diana Fiorentino, retail dietitian at ShopRite of Washington Township and daughter of President and Mrs. Fiorentino.
Recognizing the University's "strong culture of service," Fiorentino proudly announced that, "Together, we collected 3,000 pounds of food! Along with our students and the local community, our faculty and staff put forth tremendous effort to achieve this goal. And this is but one example of how this University embraces service." Last year, WCU students participated in nearly 800,000 hours of public service through coursework and co-curricular programs.
Christopher Fiorentino was selected as president of the University on January 5, 2017, by the State System's Board of Governors. Prior to being named president, Fiorentino held the position of interim president at the University since April of 2016, following the retirement of former president Greg R. Weisenstein. Before assuming the role of interim president, Fiorentino served as vice president for external operations since 2013. He previously spent nearly 20 years as dean of WCU's College of Business and Public Affairs, having arrived at the University in 1983 as an assistant professor of economics. His tenure within the Department of Economics included four years as chair. Fiorentino earned his baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral degrees in economics from Temple University.
Enrolling more than 17,000 students, West Chester University is a member of the 14-institution Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Founded in 1871, the University is a comprehensive public institution, offering 118 undergraduate programs, 103 master's degree and 4 doctoral programs in more than 50 fields of study. In addition to the main campus in West Chester, the University offers programs through its graduate center, the Philadelphia campus, and online. Five colleges and the graduate school comprise the University: Colleges of Arts and Humanities, Business and Public Management, Education and Social Work, Health Sciences, and the Sciences and Mathematics, and School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies. The University has consistently been rated a Kiplinger "best buy" in public higher education based on its outstanding education and economic value.