July 24, 2023

West Chester University President Christopher M. Fiorentino Announces Retirement Plans for June 2024

West Chester University President Christopher FiorentinoWest Chester University President Christopher M. Fiorentino, Ph.D., who leads the largest university within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, announced to the West Chester University community today that he will retire in the summer of 2024. Having led the institution as its 15th president for more than six years and having served the University now for a total of 40 years, President Fiorentino said, “It has truly been the greatest honor and privilege of my professional life to have served you — our students, faculty, staff, alumni, neighbors and partners, Council of Trustees, and all those citizens within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Working together with all of you on our shared vision of student success, we have made a significant difference in the lives of many and have opened doors to generations of new student populations. For that, all of us can be proud.”

President Fiorentino, who most recently opened a 175,000-square-foot Sciences & Engineering Center and The Commons (SECC) as the largest building project on the University’s campus, stated in a campus-wide email that he is announcing his intention one year in advance to enable “the University to continue its upward momentum, while meeting its fundraising goals for our current comprehensive campaign, 150Forward, which benefits deserving students.”

Committed to propelling the University’s mission forward, President Fiorentino shared in his email, “Over the next 12 months, I will remain focused on our core mission to provide affordable access to a quality higher education to all deserving students and to stimulate these students’ thirst for knowledge in rigorous ways.”

He also reinforced and outlined the critical work that will fuel the busy 2023-2024 academic year ahead —  finalizing a comprehensive strategic plan; completing a facilities master plan, which will include plans to identify and build additional University-owned housing; advancing a national student-success mission to help underserved student populations in the Southeastern PA region graduate from college; identifying increased academic pathways for transfer students and adult learners in the workforce; and raising the remaining $6 million needed to complete a $65-million 150Forward fundraising campaign for student scholarships, student research, student technological needs, and student travel abroad.

“President Fiorentino is an outstanding leader who is admired at West Chester University and across the State System,” said Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Greenstein. “As a relentless champion of student success, he has energized West Chester’s campus and has dedicated his entire career to promoting the value of a high-quality and affordable public higher education. Chris is a trusted thought-partner for so many of us, and has been integral to the success of our system redesign efforts, which will have a lasting, positive impact long after he retires next year.”

Known as a transformational leader who embraces challenges, President Fiorentino led the University successfully throughout the pandemic and amidst a nationwide shift in high-school demographics, particularly in Pennsylvania. West Chester University’s enrollment remains strong, exceeding 16,500+ total students and having welcomed its largest incoming first-year class in 2022 (3,025 students up from 2,628 in fall of 2021). It is preparing for another large first-year class this fall.

The academic profile of the University’s incoming first-year class has remained consistent over the last decade, as well. The academic profile of the 2014 incoming class was a 3.5 GPA, 1074 SAT, and a 24 ACT. Last year’s incoming first-year class, which was 28% larger, had an academic profile of a 3.5 GPA, 1145 SAT, and a 25 ACT.

Thanks to the work of President Fiorentino and his team, West Chester University also has the most diverse population of students in its history. As of fall 2022, 25.4% of the University’s student body are students of color, with an even larger percentage of students of color in the incoming class. This suggests that a trend toward greater diversity in the University’s student body is continuing. The University has received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT into Diversity magazine for three years in a row.

Under President Fiorentino’s leadership, the University continues to be recognized for its quality academic programs, accessibility, and affordability. WCU’s distinctions are many, including a recent change in its Carnegie Classification, moving the University from an M1 (a master's college and university) to one of only 133 R2 (doctoral university high research activity) institutions in the United States. Today, the new classification more accurately reflects the level of ongoing research across campus, while maintaining teaching as the number one priority for faculty. The University’s R2 status changed its categorization in U.S. News & World Report, moving WCU from a regional university to a national university and positioning it among the nation's most prominent academic institutions; the University is currently ranked #250 overall and #124 in top public schools nationally. 

Throughout his leadership, President Fiorentino has instilled a spirit of innovation and ownership that has empowered students, faculty and staff. The following are among the numerous initiatives that have resulted due to his resounding support:

  • New programming for first-generation college students
  • Placement of student success coordinators in each of the University’s six colleges and two schools
  • The implementation of a mandatory, four-credit First-Year Experience course for all first-year students to make self-discoveries and expand perspectives
  • Engagement in a national student-success mission designed to help underserved populations of students in the Southeastern PA region graduate from college
  • The founding of a Resource Pantry to assist students who have significant need
  • The founding of the D-CAP Program, which provides supports to degree-seeking West Chester University students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including the first-of-its-kind on-campus convenience store to provide workplace training for students with ASD to practice/master social and professional skills

Chancellor Greenstein indicates that he will work with the University’s Council of Trustees regarding next steps to secure the 16th president of West Chester University.


More About West Chester University

West Chester University is the largest member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, which is comprised of 10 state-owned universities within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Founded in 1871, West Chester University is a comprehensive public institution offering a diverse range of more than 180 academic opportunities in 40 fields of study across undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels. In addition to West Chester, the University offers programs through its graduate center, Philadelphia, and online. Six colleges and two schools comprise the University: University College, Colleges of Arts and Humanities, Business and Public Management, Education and Social Work, Health Sciences, and the Sciences and Mathematics, as well as the Wells School of Music, and the Graduate School.

The popular University maintains a consistent presence on both Money magazine's The Best Colleges in America list and America's Top Colleges list by Forbes. The University is also a Military Friendly Schools gold status member and has received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine for three years in a row.


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