'If You Live By The Sword': Politics in the Making and Unmaking of a University President

Former IUP president Lawrence K. Pettit's story is compelling and mostly reads like one of those tragicomic novels of academic by Richard Russo.

These days, self-publishing has been getting a lot of attention—some of it positive, most of it skeptical. There's a certain disreputable stigma attached to these books that's born from what is seen as a lack of professional editorial input.

lawrence pettitLawrence Pettit's new memoir certainly suffers from the online publishing house treatment: It's not an attractive book, the printing itself is too large, the font's poorly chosen and the paper feels cheap. This is unfortunate because Pettit's story is a compelling one. If You Live By the Sword: The Politics in the Making and Unmaking of a University President mostly reads like one of those tragicomic novels of academia by Richard Russo.

Pettit landed in the president's chair at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1992 (his term ended in 2003) after a varied career as a senate staffer, campaign manager for the former Montana governor and commissioner of higher education in that same state. Pettit exists at the crossroads of politics and education, and while this may not be the most exciting subject matter for a memoir, considering the floundering of the education system in this country, this is important stuff. And Pettit is a pretty good guide to the ins and outs of the politics and decision making that impact our schools.

If that sounds like a dry read, don't worry: Pettit's career and personal life have been dogged by controversy from the start. Most notably, the disintegration and acrimonious divorce that ended Pettit's second marriage while at IUP. An accusation of an affair with one of his male students and a conspiracy to have him removed as president provide enough intrigue to keep the pages turning.  


If You Live By the Sword: Politics in the Making and Unmaking of a University President by Lawrence K. Pettit; iUniverise; $27.95.

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Welcome to the New Pittsburgh: A City Transformed

Welcome to the New Pittsburgh: A City Transformed

A new economy is being built by a younger, highly educated generation that appreciates the city’s past while embracing its future.
Pittsburgh's Hill District, Reimagined

Pittsburgh's Hill District, Reimagined

Thanks to grassroots community efforts and investments by nonprofits, foundations and developers, the neighborhood is on the cusp of a long-awaited renaissance.
PittGirl: Time to Let Go of the Past

PittGirl: Time to Let Go of the Past

She says we 'Burghers must recognize our resistance to change and realize that we need to give it a chance.
Review: Willow

Review: Willow

Following a menu and interior overhaul in late 2014, Willow returns as a revitalized dining option in the North Hills.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Another Movie Shot & Set in Pittsburgh Headed to Theaters

Another Movie Shot & Set in Pittsburgh Headed to Theaters

"Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" received rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival.
New Comedy Shooting in Pittsburgh Features A-List Celebs

New Comedy Shooting in Pittsburgh Features A-List Celebs

The cast includes three Academy Award-Winners
Mush! Man Tours Pittsburgh on Dog Sled

Mush! Man Tours Pittsburgh on Dog Sled

We bet you didn't get to work this way.
12 Images That Perfectly Capture the 'Burgh's Snowy Beauty

12 Images That Perfectly Capture the 'Burgh's Snowy Beauty

The storm has passed, the streets are clear, time to appreciate how good Pittsburgh can look in the snow.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Welcome to the New Pittsburgh: A City Transformed

Welcome to the New Pittsburgh: A City Transformed

A new economy is being built by a younger, highly educated generation that appreciates the city’s past while embracing its future.
Pittsburgh's Hill District, Reimagined

Pittsburgh's Hill District, Reimagined

Thanks to grassroots community efforts and investments by nonprofits, foundations and developers, the neighborhood is on the cusp of a long-awaited renaissance.
PittGirl: Time to Let Go of the Past

PittGirl: Time to Let Go of the Past

She says we 'Burghers must recognize our resistance to change and realize that we need to give it a chance.
Review: Willow

Review: Willow

Following a menu and interior overhaul in late 2014, Willow returns as a revitalized dining option in the North Hills.
A Growing Rivalry on Ice: Robert Morris vs. Penn State

A Growing Rivalry on Ice: Robert Morris vs. Penn State

Two teams that clearly don't like each other are vying for bragging rights for the state.
Review: Salt of the Earth

Review: Salt of the Earth

Brandon Fisher is the latest chef behind Salt of the Earth’s modern-American dishes.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags