By Andrew Shearer
February 23, 2017
As a 1985 graduate of Lock Haven University and a product of both the exceptional journalism program and running programs at LHU, I am more than concerned at the ‘at best’ disingenuous way in which the current fiscal issues with the University are being portrayed by the President and Vice President and how these issues could impact the men’s track & field and women’s swimming programs.
My experiences with LHU have never given me any reason to ever view the institution in a negative light. My education prepared me well and my cross country and track experiences brought not only the joy of competition, but also lifelong friendships and lessons that are essential in today’s world. To lose either of these programs would be a testament to poor leadership and a failure at the highest level of those we’ve entrusted to keep LHU as a leading institution in the state.
Why would cuts be necessary if enrollment was where it should be? Why would cuts be necessary if ‘other areas’ of growth aren’t being pursued? The Vice President, Rodney Jenkins, recently stated in The Express, “We have cut everything possible from athletics I can cut, other than people and programs.” I learned a long time ago, while attending LHU, that you don’t save your way to prosperity. GROWTH is necessary.
And where is the growth? Who is currently responsible for admissions? Who’s responsible for enrollment management? If enrollment is down, when do these ‘leaders’ become accountable? Before cutting a single student or student-athlete opportunity, shouldn’t ‘leadership’ be held accountable, right up to and including President Fiorentino?
It’s also disingenuous to say there has been no backlash from the student athletes. These current athletes are not permitted to speak to the media as a part of their agreement as athletes. President Fiorentino wants us to believe there’s no push-back but the truth is they aren’t permitted to speak. But the alumni base and the larger University community HAS pushed back. Without these programs, the student experience at LHU will diminish greatly, with the loss of all-American and all-academic students. And the black eye will most certainly be placed on the University from a poorly made decision by weak-at-best ‘leadership.’
Since I’ve graduated, I have always spoken highly of my experiences, my education and the way LHU continued to be a model University. I continue to be proud of the current student-athletes with the way they have positively conducted themselves and with the alumni who have spoken up against the potential loss of these programs. I am not alone in asking that both students and alumni be allowed to continue that pride in Lock Haven University.