WEST CHESTER — With the university’s largest incoming class ever and the number of students wanting to live on campus at an all-time high, West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino had an upbeat message to students, faculty and staff at last week at the annual State University Address.

The president spoke about the anti-college narrative, which, in his opinion, is dangerous. He said WCU students receive an education of exceptional value that is both accessible and affordable.

“We are changing lives, and we need to remember that every day we come to work, every morning we walk into the classroom, and every moment we interact with students,” Fiorentino said. “No matter what the anti-college narrative says, we’re in the business of changing lives, and that’s a good thing.”


The President noted the success in creating a new science and engineering center.

“The entire SECC was designed with a focus on the student experience both inside and outside the classroom,” he said. “To me, buildings only matter when they are directly related to student success.

“And when it comes to student success, physical space can be very important.”

Fiorentino noted that the Fund to Finish initiative aims to help students who are nearing the “finish line” of college and help them cross that line. A refugee from Myanmar, Hup Taithul, just didn’t run out of money and financial aid in his attempt to finish his education. Thanks to the foundation, he will finish his studies.

The university also received an R2 designation. R2 institutions are academic institutions with a strong research mission.

“We put strong teachers in the classroom who are also strong researchers, and that’s a great combination to ensure student success,” he said.

The president also congratulated Provost Lori Bernotsky, who worked on the budget to strengthen the university’s financial health.

“Her work was key to creating a new formula—a much fairer formula—a formula focused less on protecting universities and more on student learning—a formula that added $19 million to our base allocation in West Chester.”

Bernotsky also spoke.

“To be true to our core identity as a regional comprehensive university, we must always be affordable and accessible to students in our region,” she said. “There are many universities that try to make themselves as exclusive and inaccessible as possible.

“It can’t be West Chester. We have to serve the diverse students in our region, and that means being accessible and accessible.”


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