Community formally welcomes new IUP-Punxsy dean

PUNXSUTAWNEY — During a welcoming reception in his honor Wednesday night at the Punxsutawney Country Club, Terry Appolonia, the new dean at IUP-Punxsutawney, used a much loved past-time — football — to describe the challenges and goals for himself and his staff at the West End campus.

He read an Aug. 1, 1944, letter from E.L. “Curley” Lambeau, coach of the Green Bay Packers, to Ed McGroaraty, which also contained a one-page contract for him to play for the team.

“We will start you at $150 per game, pay your transportation to Green Bay and $35 per week living expenses until the first game,” Lambeau wrote. “We will gladly increase the amount of this contract as soon as you are playing the kind of ball deserving more money.”

Appolonia said after he read the letter, he saw how things change with time. Adjusting that figure of $150 per game to 2011 dollars, it equals $1,900 per game, which is a drop in the bucket compared to what the average starting NFL player makes today, which is $3.5 million per year, or $219,000 per game.

That thinking shows, he said, “Time does change, but change occurs because of people. And the best changes that occur are very intentional.”

Appolonia, who succeeds Dr. Valarie Trimarchi and interim dean Dr. Raymond Beisel, began at IUP-Punxsy July 25 after holding various positions at the main campus since 1986. More recently, he served as the dean of students and associate vice-president for student development at the university’s main campus.

He joked that the human resources department at IUP approached him about the dean’s post at the Punxsy campus by saying it was a wonderful opportunity.

When he asked if there were any alternatives to the post, he was told that his current position was being eliminated.

“I said, ‘I accept,’” Appolonia said.

Aside from other perks — such as not having to receive late-night phone calls and tending to fights among fraternity members, he said — “It has been everything that was promised and much more.”

Appolonia said he felt like Lt. John Dunbar, the main character from the film “Dances with Wolves,” “away from the war and living alone on the prairie, and I’m very happy with that.”

He applauded the teamwork of the staff and faculty at IUP-Punxsy to help students succeed not only at the campus, but also as they move on to main campus in Indiana. He also cited Beisel for being instrumental in helping making the smooth transition from student affairs to academic affairs.

Appolonia also praised the students, who are both inspirational and motivational, due to their own challenges of transitioning to get to where they are today.

“We are at our best when face with difficult challenges,” he said.

As the 50th anniversary of the IUP-Punxsy campus approaches — with a scheduled kick-off next fall — Appolonia said it is inspiring when thinking about what the campus was, is and what it can be.

“We have great gains to make,” he said.

Also speaking at the reception was David Osikowicz, chairman of the IUP Council of Trustees, who said the Punxsy campus has been blessed by the leadership of Trimarchi and Beisel, and looks toward more fine leadership with Appolonia.

Also, Dr. J. Thomas Frantz, president of the Punxsutawney Area College Trust, said the upcoming 50th anniversary of the campus is significant because it has evolved from “a little school” to the modern facility it is today.

“The trust is behind the campus 100 percent,” he said.

The trust first reached out to IUP to bring a college campus to Punxsy, he said, and thus, the trust is very much a part of the program.

“Because we are it, we support it, and we look forward to the next decades of this campus and its continued success.”

In his remarks, interim IUP President Dr. David Werner said, “We know you have great new leadership in Terry, and we’re really pleased to have him in this role.”

Also speaking Wednesday were Dr. John N. Kilmarx, associate vice-president for academic administration, and Dr. Gerald Intemann, provost and vice-president for academic affairs.