On Thursday, March 31, President Greg Weisenstein will end his tenure at West Chester University. After seven years, Weisenstein will be pursuing other opportunities along with his wife, Sandra, their three children and 13 grandchildren.
Weisenstein, whose retirement will come in the middle of the semester, believes that the timing is right and that, as president, he has accomplished everything he set out to accomplish.
“We have accomplished, the campus community and I, have accomplished what we set out to accomplish when I became president over seven years ago,” said Weisenstein.
While Weisenstein has accomplished much as president, he never had intentions of becoming a president. Initially, he aspired to be a professor or a dean. Most of his life was spent focusing on that.
“I was ready to look at what was next,” said Weisenstein. “In that case, that was a provost position.”
After he had some experience as provost, he thought about becoming president.
Madeline Adler, the previous dean, had persuaded him to come to WCU, where he applied for his presidency.
Weisenstein says that he wouldn’t have been able to accomplish nearly as much as he did without support.
“I am very proud of my leadership team,” says Weisenstein. “I am very proud of everyone on campus for being able to accomplish what we’ve been able to do over the last seven plus years.”
While he was president, WCU became one of the most competitive public schools in the 14-school state system, beating out Penn State and University of Pittsburgh. With 16,600 students, it is also the largest.
This fall, more than 14,000 students applied for a freshman class of 2,395, the university said, and incoming freshmen had an average GPA of 3.6.
The school has also added doctoral degrees, started offering programs in Center City Philadelphia, increased full-time tenured faculty by 23 percent and reached two-thirds of its $50 million fundraising goal.
The university has constantly been adding residence buildings and renovating academic buildings. WCU is currently in the process of building a new business building and plans for a renovation of Sykes and a new dining hall are in the works.
While Weisenstein is responsible for all of the positive changes seen in the past seven years, he says that his greatest accomplishment can be seen in the students and their performance.
“I am very proud of our students,” says Weisenstein. “I am very proud of our alumni. They do great things. Our students have volunteered around 900,000 hours to their community.”
Weisenstein specifically refers to students who go on to become politicians or work in the medical field and who go on to influence the lives of many people.
“I’m most proud of… the people who I’ve had the pleasure of working with, from students to members of the community,” said Weisenstein.
He goes on to say that one of the most important aspects of being president was the relationship he had with his students, and that watching them move forward from WCU and pursue different careers, while impacting the lives of the people around them is very important to him.
Weisenstein said his more important goal, as a dean, provost, and president, was “enhancing the life chances of our students through education.”
He believes that the school’s future will be defined by WCU alumni.
“WCU’s legacy is defined by those who cross the stage at commencement,” said Weisenstein.
Weisenstein offered a message of advice to students.
“Bring value to others through your own life,” said Weisenstein. “Live your life in such a way, and that includes bringing the skills and talent you’ve acquired here…together to help other people and to improve the quality of life.”
Weisenstein said that one of his biggest focuses during his time as president was on how his presidency will have an impact on future students.
“There is a great deal of gratification in knowing that your university is… preparing the next generation of students to do better than we did,” said Weisenstein.
Weisenstein believes that students should be educating themselves to prepare future generations. Many of the decisions he has made as president have been with the intention of securing a financially affordable, well-rounded education for future WCU students, so that they can go one and improve the lives of the people around them. He focused on our impact on their environment.
“We are the first generation to understand our impact on the environment, and the last generation to escape its consequences,” said Weisenstein.
Weisenstein also focused on state school funding. He said that the school has been funded 18 percent less than when he initially became president, and students are impacted because the lack of funding leads to an increase in tuition costs.
Despite this, Weisenstein has kept tuition relatively low.
“We’ve got some work to do, at the state system,” said Weisenstein.
The most significant issue to Weisenstein, in terms of looking to the future, is maintaining financial stability and keeping tuition as low as possible.
According to Weisenstein, he will miss the people of WCU the most.
“My wife and I have made a lot of friends here,” said Weisenstein. “It’s easier to leave a place than it is to leave your friends.”
Kinjal Shah is a second-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at KS826308@wcupa.edu.