Driscoll begins his new position as president of IUP
Published: Monday, August 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 09:08
Dr. Michael Driscoll leans casually in the corner of his secretary’s office talking comfortably to the people seated in what appears to be a break room. Noticing company, he turns and introduces himself as “Mike,” speaking as he would to a friend. Driscoll, the casual speaker, is the new president of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania following a unanimous decision by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors on Jan. 19.
The decision went into effect July 1, after interim president Dr. David Werner stepped down. Prior to arriving at IUP, Driscoll was the provost and vice executive chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage, where he was the longest-standing provost ever. Driscoll, a Michigan native, received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering from Michigan State University. While attending school in Michigan, he met Becky, his wife, through his friends who were her cousins.
“[Becky] is part of the key as to why I went anywhere,” Driscoll said.
Driscoll got married before finishing his doctorate and, upon its completion, began to look for work in two places – the first, in the Midwest near his family and the second, in the West near his in-laws, who live near the Oregon border in Northern California.
Eventually, he found an opening at Portland State University.
“I was very excited about this young, growing institution and they made me a good offer,” Driscoll said. “There’s a common thread here, I think.”
Although Driscoll loved the classroom, he felt compelled to do more than simply teach. Beginning with the volunteer role of associate chair and head of student recruiting for the electrical engineering department, Driscoll continued to advance and became associate dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science.
Driscoll enjoyed the experience of leadership and decided to proceed further up the administrative ladder, eventually becoming the executive dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Portland State University.
“I liked engineers a lot, but I also liked working across all of the areas of a university, so I specifically decided to go for this central position as vice provost when it became available,” Driscoll said. “At some point, it’s all bets are off. You’re going to be an administrator and an academic leader and stay as connected with the faculty background as much as you can.”
As vice provost for academic personnel and budget, Driscoll dealt with negotiating with faculty, union contracts and budget cuts.
“We still did good things with what we had,” Driscoll said.
The Driscoll family planned to stay in Oregon for the rest of their lives, until their lives experienced an unanticipated change. His mother-in-law, who had been living with Driscoll and his family for three years, passed away. One month later, a recruiter from the University of Alaska Anchorage called to inform him that he had been nominated for their provost position.
“I had never been to Alaska. I had never even thought of going to Alaska,” he said.
The call, however, could not have come at a better time.
“There was a major event in our lives with Grammy passing away. We said ‘Well, what the heck, let’s look at Alaska.’”
Driscoll eventually fell in love with the school that was five degrees below Fahrenheit and went on to become provost. However, there was more in store for the eventual IUP president.
“At some point along the way, we decided that being a president was the right choice for me,” he said. “There were a lot of parts of the job that I would enjoy.”