Editor, The HawkEye:
Here is a copy of my letter to IUP President Tony Atwater in response to his June 9 resignation announcement (Editor’s note: see copy of Dr. Atwater’s email, below):
Once again, your flowery letter about yourself and your exploits reflects your total and likely deliberate lack of engagement with the university as a whole, from students to staff to faculty. But your “accomplishments” are seen in the IUP community as the reckless indulgences of a man ripe with greed and ambition and devoid of logic and restraint.
Your personal expenses, are excessive and unnecessary. Your lack of concern for the students and faculty who compose the backbone of an educational community is evident in reductions of tenured faculty positions coupled with increases in high-level administrator salaries, including your own salary.
This is not the first time I’ve written to you concerning your unprofessional and, in some cases, simply degrading behavior. I wrote to you several months ago about the form letter you like to distribute when students die. I received no response then and expect none now.
I sincerely hope that it will be the last letter I write to you. On behalf of the IUP community I would like to thank you for leaving us with the staggering number of unnecessary debt-inducing expenses you’ve created for us in the pursuit of your own glorification. I wish you well as you flee yet another cesspool of debt and functional disarray of your own creation, and hope sincerely that other institutions will have the prudence to investigate your background and (un)professional history before opening their doors to you so that you may selfishly ravage yet another institution from deep within.
Florida Atlantic University’s decision to reject your application for their presidency despite your glowing resumé suggests that perhaps other institutions will do their due diligence to avoid appointing a man so reckless, brazen and selfish.
It is my hope that you have thoroughly enjoyed your 52 stays at the Harrisburg Hilton, your Chrysler 300, your Lincoln MKZ and your extensive personal house service staff, all supplied at taxpayer expense. It would be deeply regrettable to me if I were to learn that such amenities had gone unappreciated when I, myself, have contributed so much to them financially. I expect most of the student body shares these sentiments.
I realize that your time as president has kept you occupied to the point of precluding any involvement with student groups, and certainly any involvement with specific students (except, of course, those who were prepared to spend their time and scarce money celebrating your presence with lavish banquets). This makes it regrettably possible for you to have ignored the deep lack of confidence that the faculty and student community feel toward you and your presence here at IUP.
As you depart IUP, I am certain you will look back on your accomplishments with great pride:
Record student enrollment (never mind the insufficient housing, students can stay at the Holiday Inn again)a massive housing overhaul (which has nearly doubled the mandatory cost of on-campus housing for IUP freshmen, who attend public school largely out of financial necessity, while still providing insufficient space for incoming classes) the Kovalchik Convention and Athletic Complex (which we will be paying for over the next several decades before a dime of positive revenue is seen, if we manage not to default on the state-funded bond needed to continue working on this project).
This is the kind of leadership that ensures for future generations of the IUP community that successful members of the current generation do the responsible thing and take their money elsewhere.
Enjoy yourself, Tony. Free rides don’t come along every day. But when it comes to identifying, seizing and abusing them, your professionalism is matched only by your unique ability to escape accountability for the unavoidable wreckage such abuses leave behind as you flit from one “job” to the next.
I wish to thank you, Tony, for leaving this place. While I realize that your recent receipt of an 83 percent no-confidence vote among other criticisms of your behavior make it unlikely that this decision is yours, and I fear for the integrity of any institution which may consider you for employment, I am sincerely thankful that wherever you are about to go, it will not be IUP.
Very, very sincerely,
Graduate student, public affairs
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Sidebar: President Atwater’s June 9 resignation email
From: “Tony Atwater” <email@example.com>
Sender: “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>
Subject: President Atwater Accepts Leadership Appointment with AASCU
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2010 10:32:06 -0400
Dear Faculty Members:
I wish to inform you that I will resign as President of Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) to assume a national leadership role with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the premiere national professional association for public universities in the United States. Consequently, I will be leaving the Office of IUP President on June 30, 2010.
I have enjoyed working with students, faculty members, staff members and administrators over the last five years to advance IUP in demonstrably significant and positive ways. As I survey my tenure as president, I take particular pride in leading several monumental and transformational achievements. These include guiding, with the support of the Foundation for IUP, the completion of IUP’s four-phase, $270 million student housing replacement project, the largest capital project of this kind in America. I also take pride in leading the planning, development and construction of the $54.3 million Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex (KCAC) which will serve the educational and economic development needs of IUP and the Indiana region for decades to come.
Also, I am proud to have initiated numerous academic enrichment programs that promote student success. These programs have included the Common Freshman Reader Program, the University Undergraduate Scholars Forum, the First Commonwealth Endowed Lecture Series, the Center for Civic Engagement and Student Leadership, and the Center for Student Success.
I also am pleased to have led a renaissance in the fine and performing arts with the $12 million renovation of Cogswell Hall (IUP’s music building), the $38 million renovation and construction of the University’s Performing Arts Center and achieving for IUP the international distinction of becoming an All-Steinway School.
Under my leadership, IUP set a new record for student enrollment (14,638 students) in the Fall of 2009. And, the university is poised to set a new student enrollment record in the Fall of 2010. The University’s financial condition is sound, and under my leadership, IUP has achieved clean financial audits over the course of my administration. Also, I take pride in facilitating the institution of numerous undergraduate and graduate programs including new doctoral programs in Nursing and Communications Media. Annual giving to IUP has doubled during my administration. And, I was pleased to have led the successful completion of the $20 million Gateway to Opportunity Campaign.
As I assume my new leadership role with AASCU, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity of serving the students, the faculty, staff members and administrators at IUP. I also am pleased to have advanced partnerships that have benefited the Indiana County community. I wish to thank Chancellor John Cavanaugh and former Chancellor Judy Hample for their kind support during my tenure as President of IUP.
Tony Atwater, Ph.D.