News Stories

Selected News Stories

...Lawrence K. Pettit, former president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, recently completed a report on the shootings for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities that summarizes the panel findings. He is advising university presidents to work with state attorneys general to better understand the intersection of federal educational and medical privacy laws, as well as state restrictions...
Dr. Pettit quoted in "Guides on Sharing Information Released" 
by Maria Glod, Washington Post, Oct 31, 2007

IUP ex-president cites politics in departure

By Jennifer Reeger
Friday, March 4, 2011

When Indiana University of Pennsylvania's faculty voted it had no confidence in President Lawrence J. Pettit in November 2001, the public reason was that he had ordered the closing of a cherished laboratory school for children run by the university... 

Quoted in Associated Press, MSNBC, 
Yahoo news & CBS News:

Tea Party Vision for Montana Raising Concerns

Feb 24, 2011

Tea party vision for Mont. raising concerns

Feb 24, 2011

Democrats are resigned to losing many of the votes and in some cases have urged Republicans to trot the ideas out for floor debates for the public to see. And surprised residents are taking notice, especially of the nullification push.

"It would be hard for anyone to top what is going on here in terms of the insanity of it all," said Lawrence Pettit, a retired university president and author living in Helena. "One could be amused by it, except it is too dangerous."

Pettit Momoir Recounts Final Days at IUP
Sam Kusic, Indiana Gazette
June 27, 2010

Looking back on red-hot political battles

By TOM KOTYNSKI For the Tribune
Great Falls, April 18, 2010

CHUCK JOHNSON COLUMN: Politics, education converge in Pettit memoir
The Missoulian, April 17, 2010

Guides on Sharing Information Released

By Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 31, 2007; B03

U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings yesterday released what she called "user-friendly" guidelines to help educators and parents interpret federal privacy laws in an initiative prompted by the mass shooting at Virginia Tech...

...Lawrence K. Pettit, former president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, recently completed a report on the shootings for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities that summarizes the panel findings. He is advising university presidents to work with state attorneys general to better understand the intersection of federal educational and medical privacy laws, as well as state restrictions.

"It's become pretty complicated, and I think it's incredibly important that we come to some understanding on how to interpret these laws, and how student affairs officials and faculty and others can proceed when they suspect there's a problem," Pettit said. "What we are trying to do is get all the value we can out of hindsight."

Click here for complete story

IUP president reflects on tenure
By Joyce Shannon
Sunday, August 17, 2003

He's packed. He's moved out of his university residence. But he'll be staying in Indiana.

Former Indiana University of Pennsylvania President Lawrence K. Pettit relinquished his post to Derek J. Hodgson Friday, letting go of a job that he held since 1992.

And it may be the last job of the 66-year-old Pettit's academic career.

"I'm saying no" to positions he's been offered at other universities. "Right now I want some time to regenerate," Pettit said.

After working in higher education for 36 years, a busy occupation, even now he has to remind himself that "I've got time," he said.

While he's in Indiana, he plans to continue to contribute to the university. The board of The National Environmental Education and Training Center, a partnership between IUP, West Virginia University, and other organizations, has asked him to stay on the board.

He also believes he may continue to assist in fund-raising measures and help the progression of the Regional Development Center, IUP's golden child.

"I'll stay here as long as I'm productive," Pettit said.

New leader

Pettit said he is very pleased with his replacement. Though IUP has changed a lot, there is still a way to go, he said.

"I think he's a perfect choice, by background, education and temperament," Pettit said.

Hodgson arrived a week before Pettit handed him the reins.

"I'm going to keep him here as long as I can and he's going to try and get out of here as quickly as he can," Hodgson said, joking before turning serious. "He'll be a very valuable resource; I'm sure I'll be seeking his input."

Hodgson and Pettit are both supporters of IUP, but their backgrounds are very different. Pettit began his career in politics out of college before going academic, and Hodgson spent many years as a chemistry professor.

Hodgson wants to focus on enhancing "measurable academic success" at IUP and improve retention and graduation rates.

"All of us who work here need to come to the agreement that rates are everybody's business," Hodgson said, to "make sure the students don't fall through the cracks" during their first years at IUP.

Though the administration during the Pettit years improved minority enrollment rates and retention rates, Pettit also focused on programs that distinguished IUP from other State System of Higher Education universities.

Pettit admits that pushing the SSHE to accept and award those programs -- such as the Robert E. Cook Honors College, the improvements in the doctoral program and research areas -- has been his biggest challenge at IUP.

The former president believes that the SSHE would rather see the graduation rate go up 1 percent at IUP than fund research projects that may have a negative impact in economics and efficiency.

The fact that IUP is sometimes so distinctive from other system schools makes it difficult for the university to keep standing out. He feels the SSHE sometimes regards the improvements made as "insignificant add-ons."

"It's hard for IUP. The differences aren't always appreciated," Pettit said.

At the same time, Pettit is vehement in keeping higher education available and affordable to the public.

"It's something that I really believe in," Pettit said. "I think it's the salvation of any society."


Though Pettit feels he has had "enormous support" from the community and IUP during his tenure, his time at the university hasn't always been roses.

One of his worst memories was of the apartment in John Sutton Hall when he first began. The presidential residence at IUP had bats, no air conditioning, no garage and was down the hall from the campus police, which led to some uncomfortable nights.

Though Pettit said he got over the state of the residence, his wife never did.

"It took its toll on her and consequently on our marriage," Pettit said. The couple divorced in 2000.

After the state system allocated money to the university to build a new residence, there was some controversy over the new home.

Pettit said some didn't realize the money to build the house came from a system fund specifically for presidential residences. The money never came from student tuition, he said.

He also said most would comment negatively about the home's construction when they ran out of arguments against the president. It became a "trash issue," he said.

Complaints surrounding Pettit came to a head in the fall of 2001, when the university faculty approved a vote of no confidence against him. But Pettit shook it off and ignored it, he said, labeling the vote an "anomaly."

"I just had to keep going. I didn't want to get dragged into assessing the motives" behind it, Pettit said. Mostly, he felt it was just a way for critics to complain.

He highly enjoys working with the faculty, in particular the IUP chapter president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, John Steelman.

He said IUP was moving forward at a rapid rate, so rapid that perhaps not everyone's input was received.

"When you're moving that fast, maybe you don't consult with everyone as much as you could. There's just so much going on," Pettit said.

But the positives have outweighed the negatives during his time in Indiana. Perhaps that's why he's chosen to stay for a while.

IUP's first football game this season will be against the university where Hodgson was vice chancellor for academic affairs: The University of Nebraska at Omaha. Hodgson has vowed to his friends in Omaha that IUP will win.

"We always have a winning team," said Pettit.

Most of all, Pettit enjoys seeing new students come to the campus to get their first taste of higher education.

"I can't think of any other part of life that has that renewal," he said.

The changes

Many things at Indiana University of Pennsylvania have changed during the tenure of former President Lawrence K. Pettit. Here are a few differences made in those years, from 1992 to 2003, according to information from the university.

After establishing a capital campaign early in Pettit's tenure, IUP received its first seven-figure gift that established the Robert E. Cook Honors College in the refurbished Whitmyre Hall.
Students in the college's history have received awards, scholarships and fellowships such as the Phi Kappa Phi Graduate Fellowship, Fulbright Scholarships, the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, the National Science Foundation Fellowship, and the Freeman-Asia Scholarship. Honors College students have been finalists for both the Marshall and Truman scholarships and have studied at Oxford and Cambridge.

The university has enhanced the academic experience for students. During Pettit's tenure, 13 academic and service-learning special interest floors were established in the undergraduate dorms. A December graduation ceremony was also offered.
Students also achieved numerous academic, cultural and athletic accomplishments. IUP doctoral students in English won an award two years in a row for best dissertation, in 2001 and 2002.

The administration has attempted to increase student recruiting efforts and retention rates. Numerous programs helped IUP improve the persistence-to-second-year retention rate by 5 percent over the past three years and increased minority student enrollment.

The university continued to improve the doctoral program. Pettit recognized that the program must permeate and enrich all levels of the university, and the administration implemented programs to do so. Pettit also persuaded the SSHE to alter the funding formula to reflect the full costs of the doctoral program and bring its funding closer to national standards.
The doctoral push has also led to IUP becoming a national leader in several federal areas, particularly homeland security. The creation of IUP's Weapons of Mass Destruction program, the National Emergency and Disaster Information Center, The National Institute for Corrections Education, the IUP Research Institute and The John P. Murtha Institute for Homeland Security are a few examples.

IUP has also changed from a "technologically backward" institution to one at the forefront. The administration accomplished this by making improvements in connectivity, network services, computer organization, and academic and administrative computing.

Numerous improvements to the campus have been the most noticeable of the changes during the Pettit years. The acquisition of 137 acres, creating the South Campus, gave a home to new athletic fields, a presidential residence, and proposed graduate housing. The administration also resolved problems with the cogeneration plant and began a campus beautification program, which created a living museum and restored native flora to the campus.
Several buildings on campus were constructed and renovated during the Pettit years. The Eberly College of Business, the campus parking garage, new athletic fields and three welcoming archways were built; and renovations and/or refurbishings included McElhaney, Uhler, Whitmyre, Clark and Sutton halls. The Hadley Union Building also got an addition and renovation, and Miller Stadium received astroturf and lighting.

Several changes within the administration were also made. Pettit encouraged the capital campaigns to be bigger and encouraged better planning measures. Pettit has also helped improve relations with the community, particularly by helping land a property deal with a local landowner for placement of the Regional Development Center.

Joyce Shannon can be reached at or (724) 463-8742. 

Agony on Campus: What is Rape? - A Special Report,;Students Trying to Draw Line Between Sex and Assault

By William Celis
The New York Times
January 2, 1991

Ms. Brownmiller agreed, saying women needed to react more quickly "and not expect the law to come fighting for them after the fact."

"When things start moving quickly," she said, "that's the time to get out, move fast, kick up a fuss."

Kim Wible, the chief of San Francisco State University's police department and a member of the university task force on rape, went a step further. "Women need to take the responsibility in educating themselves," she said. "They are calling it a man's problem, but I think it's all of our problem." Men When Does 'No' Mean 'No'?

..."College-age kids nowadays have a different attitude toward sex," said Lawrence K. Pettit, chancellor of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. "They regard it almost as an entitlement, certainly as an expectation."

Click here for complete story

A Week in the Life of a University President

By Lawrence K. Pettit
IUP Magazine
Summer 2002

It occurs to me that one way to project what IUP is all about, what it stands for, is to examine some highlights from one week of the president’s calendar and to see what the events signify about the university. I chose the week just ended as I began to write this—the week of April 1, 2002...

Click here for complete story

IUP Institute for Homeland Security
named in honor of Congressman Murtha

May 2003
Volume X, Issue 11

IUP dedicated its Institute for Homeland
Security in honor of U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha on
April 24.The Institute was named in honor of the
Congressman in recognition of his foresight and
commitment to homeland security initiatives and his
confidence in IUP’s homeland security initiatives,
according to IUP President Dr. Lawrence K. Pettit...

Click here for complete story

State pledges $5 million to help buy Kovalchick property

By Randy Wells
Indiana Gazette
May 17, 2003

Sen. Don White said it will "literally change the face of Indiana County for years to come." Indiana University of Pennsylvania President Dr. Lawrence Pettit called it "the biggest thing to happen in the county in many years." County Commissioner Bernie Smith said it was a "re-defining moment in the future of Indiana County." And Gov. Ed Rendell termed it a "symbol of a new Indiana County." All four men Friday afternoon were describing a commitment of $5 million from the state to help purchase the Kovalchick Salvage Co. property along Wayne Avenue...

Click here for complete story

IUP has Eye on Kovalchick Site
If deal reached, salvage yard could be site for new complex

By Chauncey Ross
Indiana Gazette
March 15, 2003

Quietly and resolutely, Indiana University of Pennsylvania has been negotiating to purchase property from the Kovalchick Salvage Co. in White Township for the site of a regional development complex, university President Dr. Lawrence Pettit said Friday.
The 30-acre-plus salvage yard located along Wayne Avenue is regarded as an alternative location for the planned $40 million center...

Click here for complete story

Pettit Proud of Tenure
IUP President Turns Over Reins Aug. 15

By Randy Wells
Indiana Gazette
July 31, 2003

One of Dr. Lawrence Pettit's earliest memories of Indiana University of Pennsylvania was of one of his interviews for the job of university president. He was seated on a stage in Gorell Auditorium during the questioning. "I had a favorable impression because of the courtesies that were extended," Pettit recalled this week. "It was a well-conducted search," and he sensed from the interview that IUP was "a pretty solid place."

Click here for complete story

Retiring IUP President Dr. Lawrence Pettit considers these to be the university's major accomplishments during his administration.

By Randy Wells
Indiana Gazette
July 31, 2003

1. Establishment of the Robert E. Cook Honors College, attraction of the national honor societies Phi Kappa Phi and Mortar Board chapters to IUP, a 400 percent increase in scholarship funds, inclusion in Princeton Review's "The 345 Best Colleges and Universities," and a marked increase in student academic achievements, including five Fulbright awards...

Click here for complete story

In 11 years, Dr. Lawrence Pettit's presidency has touched many people in many constituencies, on and off campus.

By Randy Wells
Indiana Gazette
July 31, 2003

Dr. Mark Staszkiewicz, IUP's provost, considers Pettit's development of a campus physical plant plan to be an important accomplishment of his tenure. "It gave the campus a sense of where it needed to be physically," Staszkiewicz said. The plan included proposals for the expansion of IUP onto the South Campus, creation of the arboretum and a beautification plan with new arches at the entrances to the university. And, Staszkiewicz said, Pettit coined a mantra on campus: "Achievement over entitlement."

Click here for complete story