West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino has been named to The Philadelphia Business Journal’sPower 100 list for 2021.
Determined by the publication’s editorial team, the annual list is known to be comprised of the 100 most inspiring people in the Philadelphia region.
“The 2021 group of leaders spans a variety of industries — from healthcare and higher education to tourism and hospitality — who are playing vital roles in helping to push the region forward,” said Ryan Sharrow, Editor of The Philadelphia Business Journal.
The publication recognized Fiorentino for the bold decision made in early March 2020 to halt the return of students from spring break in an effort to protect the greater community from the initial spread of COVID-19 and to give faculty time to prepare to move all in-person classes to virtual modes. At the time, WCU was the first university in the region to make such a decision. Two weeks following the announcement, WCU faculty transformed their entire curriculum-delivery to help more than 17,700 students excel remotely through a range of virtual course instruction.
“I am most proud of the collaborative way that our faculty, staff, and students have rallied together to tackle our nation’s pandemic and to help those in our surrounding communities,” said Fiorentino, who stuck to the decision for the fall and spring semesters when coronavirus outbreaks were forecast to spike nationwide. “I am humbled by this recognition, which truly represents the unyielding work of our entire educational community and salutes efforts to continue to come together in creative ways that benefit all of our students.”
Known as a transformational leader who embraces challenges, Fiorentino oversees the largest of the 14 universities within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. WCU has seen tremendous and consistent undergraduate and graduate enrollment growth under his leadership.
Committed to cultivating a culture that is dedicated to student success at every level of the institution, Fiorentino has instilled a spirit of innovation and ownership that is empowering faculty, staff, and students. His support has led to:
- new programming for first-generation college students
- the placement of student success coordinators in each of the university’s six colleges and two schools
- a mandatory First-Year Experience course for all first-year students to make self-discoveries and expand perspectives
- the development of co-curricular transcripts to go hand-in-hand with students’ academic transcripts
- the strengthening of diversity core course requirements for all students to graduate
- the creation of a pilot program to support Black male students in an effort to address the nation’s equity gap in colleges
- the founding of a Resource Pantry to assist students who have significant need
- the founding of a first-of-its-kind, on-campus convenience store to provide workplace training for students on the autism spectrum to practice/master social and professional skills
As WCU prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2021, Fiorentino is building the institution’s infrastructure for the next generation of students. Currently, he is overseeing the construction of the largest building within the 14-institution Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education: the 175,000-square-foot Sciences & Engineering Center and the Commons (SECC). Prior to the SECC, he oversaw the construction of the 96,090-square-foot College of Business & Public Management. Over the past decade, WCU has invested more than $250 million in new facilities, including academic buildings, residence halls, recreational facilities, and a nationally recognized geothermal heating and cooling system.
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