The morning of Friday, April 21, the Emilie K. Asplundh building was home to the inauguration of the 15th president of West Chester University. Dr. Christopher M. Fiorentino, after a 33-year career at West Chester, took the title of university president. Fiorentino served as the interim president since April 2016 and celebrated his official inauguration a year later.
The event opened up with Dr. Fiorentino being introduced by a group of esteemed members of the community, including recently elected state representative and former West Chester mayor, Carolyn Comitta, who stated, “[Fiorentino] will help to put the needs and resources of our community together to make everyone stronger and better.”
Also among those greeting the new president was Student Government Association President Montana Leaks. Leaks addressed the character of the new president as one that “stood out as exceptionally supportive and appreciative of student input,” going on to refer to Fiorentino as “a man of action and commitment.”
During Fiorentino’s inaugural address, he outlined key elements that he hopes to focus and expand on during his presidency.
Fiorentino started his address by noting the newest expansion in the university, represented by the opening of the new business and public Management building. He took the time to point out that the building was LEED Gold certified, meaning that it is the most energy efficient and sustainable building on campus.
After speaking with Fiorentino shortly after the event, he expanded upon his hopes to further the energy efficiency and sustainability of other buildings affiliated with the university. He noted that Anderson Hall is the next to be renovated and pointed out that Hollinger Field House was recently outfitted with all new LED lighting.
Further in our interview with Fiorentino, we asked him to address his stance on making West Chester more accessible to more prospective students. He responded by expressing that his agenda has always been to further student access and future prospects.
“For an accounting student, a single textbook could cost $250. When I was in college, you could pay $250 for all of your textbooks. We are looking to mitigate some of those expenses for students.”
These solutions are in response to his inability to directly alter the cost of tuition, stating that tuition is in the hands of Harrisburg. Fiorentino is looking to make costs more manageable for students wherever he possibly can.
The president also stressed the importance of student involvement in the local community. He hopes to mandate that there be at least one mandatory service-learning based course. He stated that he wants to nurture our generation’s natural desire to serve through classes and service opportunities. His parting message pertaining to student community outreach was, “The critical thing for us is to provide opportunities [for students].”
The head of the political science department, Dr. Frauke Schnell, expressed her belief that service-learning based courses would be a valuable addition to the school’s curriculum. She reinforced her perspective by mentioning that this has been a trend seen in other universities across the country as well.
As far as student opinion goes, student Gabby Longenbach stated, “I’m really looking forward to him. I’ve noticed his involvement with the students and his dedication to the university.”
This perspective was echoed by other students present at the event. Overall, the acceptance of Fiorentino’s inauguration as the 15th president of WCU seems to be positive. The surrounding community is looking forward to expanding university efforts and building a stronger relationship with West Chester under his direction.
Julien Sherwood is a third-year student majoring in political science with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at JS829466@wcupa.edu.