Author Archive

BOT Election Ballot Released

Thirty-two alumni are vying for the three open alumni seats on the Board of Trustees this year, showing that interest in the election, which skyrocketed after the Sandusky scandal, remains high. The number of candidates is a slight decrease from 2013, when there were 39, and that in turn was a large decrease from 2012, when there were 86.

The 32 candidates for 2014 include two of the three incumbents, four people who are running for the third consecutive time, and four others who are running for the second time since 2012.

You can see the entire list by clicking here. The list shows the order candidates will appear on the ballot, which was determined Friday afternoon in a blind drawing at the Nittany Lion Inn.

Incumbents Jesse Arnelle ’55, ’62g, who has served on the board since 1969, and Joel Myers ’61, ’63g, ’71g, who was first elected in 1981, are running again; Marianne Ellis Alexander ’62, who has served two terms starting in 2005, is not.

Running for the third time are Ryan Bagwell ’02; Robert Bowsher ’86; Rudy Glocker ’91, ’93g; and Amy Williams ’80. Two-time candidates are Joshua Fulmer ’01; Robert Hooper ’79; Robert Jubelier ’59, ’62g; and Ted Sebastianelli ’69.

For the third consecutive year, the Alumni Association and The Penn Stater magazine will be organizing a voters’ guide for the election, our “Three Questions for the Candidates” project. We’ll be asking questions of candidates in March—the emails will go out March 7—and the website will go live on or before Thursday, April 3. Voting begins a week later, on Thursday, April 10, and continues through May 8. If you’d like to see what we’ve done in the past, click here for the 2012 responses and here for the 2013 responses.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

February 28, 2014 at 5:34 pm 1 comment

The Penn Stater Daily — Feb. 26, 2014

National publicity for THON: If you somehow missed it, THON was featured on the ABC Evening News on Tuesday night as part of as segment called “America Strong.” You can watch the clip here and get the backstory in this Collegian story about the water polo team and Brittany Wagner, who’s been the team’s THON child since 2012.

Bars closing again: In the continuing effort to squelch State Patty’s Day, the “student-created holiday” that taxes local police and emergency services and basically is a headache for much of the State College community, more than 30 downtown businesses that serve alcohol will close or not serve it this weekend. According to this Centre Daily Times story, Penn State has spent at least $343,000 over the past two years to compensate bars for not serving alcohol.

Coach Hand, fighting child sex abuse: Offensive coach Herb Hand has gotten a lot of attention on campus for his frequent, personality-filled Twitter feed, but Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports takes a look at Hand’s more serious side. While at Vanderbilt, Hand volunteered with an organization called Our Kids, which advocates for and helps children who have experienced sexual abuse or neglect. So getting the chance to help a community heal from a child-sex abuse scandal was something Hand thought about. “I don’t believe in coincidence,” Hand told Feldman. “I’m certainly not a saint. But I have strong faith and I do believe God has a plan for everybody and they are supposed to be where they’re supposed to be.”

Lori Shontz, senior editor

February 26, 2014 at 11:36 am Leave a comment

A Fitting Rec Hall Finale for Taylor and Ruth

David Taylor/Ed Ruth

Much to his surprise, David Taylor began to cry. He was standing behind the bleachers at Rec Hall with his family Sunday afternoon, watching his teammate, fellow fifth-year senior Ed Ruth, walk out to be honored before their last wrestling match in Rec Hall, and suddenly it hit him. All the hours of work. All the Nittany Lions have accomplished in their four years on the mat. All the people who had supported and sacrificed for him.

Taylor has wrestled a lot of big matches, and he’s got two huge tournaments remaining in his college career—Big Tens and nationals. But he found himself getting keyed up for his final match as he walked onto the mat to be honored by the crowd. He still had tears in his eyes. Said Taylor, “I haven’t been that excited to wrestle in a long time, to be honest with you.”

By the time Taylor actually wrestled, about an hour later, he was so keyed up that he started before the whistle. The referee issued a caution, and Taylor waited a fraction of a second before he went back to work. He pinned Clarion 165-pounder Michael Pavasko in only 11 seconds, the second-fastest pin in Penn State history.

“Sometimes when you’re wrestling, you don’t even know what’s going on until the match is over,” Taylor said. “That 11-second flurry … before I knew it, the match was over.”

As he has for four years, Ruth matched Taylor—both in result and in excitement. Ruth needed a little longer to get his cradle locked up, and Clarion 184-pounder Dustin Conti managed to wriggle out of Ruth’s grasp just a little, but not enough. Ruth won by fall, too. By comparison, his match took forever—1 minute, 5 seconds.

It was a fitting Rec Hall finale for the duo. Each is already a three-time All-American. Ruth has two NCAA titles; Taylor, a three-time finalist, has one. Taylor has 49 career falls, second on Penn State’s all-time list. Ruth is a notch behind Taylor in third place all-time, with 45 falls. Neither ever lost a dual-meet match, either.

Even their coach, who knows a thing or two both about what it takes to excel and how to entertain wrestling fans, took the time afterward to marvel—just a bit—at their overlapping careers.

“I’m just like the people in the stands—I just enjoy watching them wrestle,” Cael Sanderson said. “There’s a lot of great wrestlers, but not a lot of great wrestlers as fun to watch as those two. Just like anybody else, I appreciate the way they compete. Both of them have been very consistent, using every second of the match to score points with very rare, few exceptions to that throughout their career.

“That’s what makes them great. That’s why people will be talking about these two forever.”

They’ll be talking about Sanderson, too, who has turned Penn State from a traditionally strong program into a powerhouse, winning the past three NCAA titles. He couldn’t have done it without Taylor, who had committed to Iowa State when Sanderson coached there but got a release to follow Sanderson to Penn State, or without Ruth, who had been recruited by former coach Troy Sunderland and who swears he didn’t even know who Sanderson was (“the guy whose name is on my shoes …”) but decided, of course, to stay.

One of the great parts of their final Rec Hall post-match media appearance was how each stayed in character.

Taylor, an earnest perfectionist who’s always made an effort to get the crowd into matches, got emotional again as he recounted his day and stressed how many people he need to thank. Ruth, a free spirit who weathered a suspension earlier this season for DUI, declined to expound on his emotions—“I can’t say it any better than he just did,” he said, looking toward Taylor—but later thanked the media for having “welcoming eyes.”

And Sanderson? He appreciated what had happened, but he wanted more. He thought Taylor’s pin took only five or six seconds; the call was a little late because the official had to get the right angle. He thought the four pins in a row—Taylor, 174-pounder Matt Brown, Ruth, and 197-pounder Morgan MacIntosh—was fine, but noted that the Nittany Lions need four pins in a row at Big Tens and NCAAs, too. And he pointed out that Taylor and Ruth still have room for improvement.

“They both need to continue to make progress if they’re going to win Olympic gold medals,” he said. “That never ends. And they both have that mentality.”

After what Penn State wrestling fans have seen for the past four years, who could doubt that?

(Photo gallery below by Tina Hay.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

February 23, 2014 at 8:04 pm 1 comment

The Penn Stater Daily — Feb. 19, 2014

A moraler for life: If you’re a Penn Stater, you know THON. And if you know THON, you know that among the key figures on the BJC floor for 46 hours are the moralers, who help dancers stay at least functional, if not perky, through the ordeal. Onward State asks the key question: What if we had moralers for our real lives? The result: This series of videos starring “Max the Life Moraler,” which made associate editor Mary Murphy and me laugh pretty hard Tuesday afternoon in the office. Bet the clips make you laugh, too.

Ty Burrell Media Tour: Ty Burrell ’97g is making the interview rounds promoting his upcoming movie Mr. Peabody and Sherman, a remake of a 1960s cartoon about a genius dog, Mr. Peabody, and a little boy he raises. I’m not sure how I missed that back in the day, but somehow I did. Anyhow, even playing a genius dog can’t make anyone forget Burrell’s breakout role, Phil Dunphy on Modern Family, and in this clip, he discusses his favorite Phil Dunphy scene. It involves an airplane. And he adds, “It’s just so fun playing this big little boy. I’m very lucky.”

State Patty’s Day Prevention: Yet again this year, Penn State will pay downtown bars to not open on State Patty’s Day, the student-created faux-holiday that has become the worst day of the year for area police and EMTs. As explained in this Collegian story, The amount of money will depend on how many the bar serves: It ranges from $7,500 to those with a 350-person occupancy to $2,500 for those with less than 100. For the record, State Patty’s Day this year is Saturday, March 1.

ICYMI Eric Barron interviews: Video of the president elect’s introductory news conference and his interview with WPSU’s Patty Satalia are available online: click here to watch the news conference, and click here to watch the WPSU interview. In other Eric Barron coverage, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette weighs in with an editorial that praised the choice but not the secrecy surrounding the search.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

February 19, 2014 at 10:10 am 1 comment

Eric Barron: In His Own Words

DSC_4680_Eric_BarronPresident-elect Eric Barron seems to like automotive analogies. He rattled off two when he spoke to the Board of Trustees on Monday afternoon, immediately after being named Penn State’s 18th president:

Auto Analogy No. 1: When Barron was learning to drive, his father told him to lift up his head and look not at the hood ornament, but down the road: “You will discover it is much easier to get where you are trying to go.” Barron found that the tip resulted in “a much better driving experience” and also turned out to be a good life philosophy. “Our job, all of our job, is to see down the road, sense the future, and ensure that this great institution is at the forefront of success and achievement.” (more…)

February 17, 2014 at 9:06 pm Leave a comment

President-Elect Eric Barron: ‘I Have a Lot to Learn’

President-elect Eric Barron and his wife, Molly, are introduced at Monday's special Board of Trustees meeting.

President-elect Eric Barron and his wife, Molly, are introduced at Monday’s special Board of Trustees meeting.

Eric Barron spent 20 years at Penn State, a larger chunk of his professional career than he’s spent anywhere else, by a lot. He called Penn State’s current president, Rod Erickson, formerly his boss in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, “much more than that—he was my mentor.” He said at every job he’s held since leaving Penn State, including his current position as Florida State president, he has taken two lessons he learned here, the “push for excellence and the power of community.”

“In so many ways,” Barron said Monday afternoon, just after being appointed Penn State’s 18th president, “I never left Penn State.”

Which doesn’t mean, Barron stressed, that he knows everything there is to know about this place. He left University Park in 2006 (click here to learn about what he did during the past eight years), and he knows the campus and the entire Penn State system have changed a lot since then.

“I have a lot to learn,” he said. “I want to make sure that I take the time to learn everything that I can. I think it’s a mistake to think that just because I was here eight years ago and for a while, or that because I’m paying attention to what’s going on in the world, that I know everything and can make decisions.”

Barron gave that answer in responding to a question about how he would bridge the divide in Penn State’s community that is one of the lasting effects of the Sandusky scandal, but his need to learn was a theme he sounded throughout his brief media tour Monday afternoon, even when asked about his goals for Penn State.

“The first thing I’d like to do,” he said, “is tap each dean on the shoulder and say, ‘I’d like to spend half a day with you. Show me your physical plant. Tell me those things you brag about. Those things you struggle with.’ Because I do think it’s a mistake to sit here and say, ‘I’ve been a university president for four years and directed a national lab, I know what to do.’ It doesn’t usually work that way. (more…)

February 17, 2014 at 8:02 pm 2 comments

Reading List: Eric Barron, Penn State’s New President

Eric Barron_FSUWe are hours away from being introduced to Penn State’s 18th president: Eric J. Barron, the president of Florida State University and a climatologist who spent 20 years in Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, including four as its dean.

Onward State broke the story Friday afternoon, a few hours after Penn State announced that the Board of Trustees had scheduled a special meeting for today. The board’s compensation committee is meeting in executive session at 9 Monday morning, to be followed by an executive session of the full board. The public board meeting starts at noon at The Penn Stater conference center; it’s expected that the board’s vote on Barron will be followed by a news conference. We’ll have full coverage Monday afternoon.

Barron’s recent mentions in the media have centered around the investigation into Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, who was accused of rape; you can check out his official responses to the news of the accusation and to the decision by Tallahassee officials to not charge Winston here and here.

But a deeper foray into the archives and Google provides a track record that gives insight into how Barron approaches funding issues and controversies, and it illuminates his academic specialty, climatology, as well. No less a respected figure than Richard Alley, Evan Pugh professor of geosciences and a member of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that won a Nobel Prize, told the Centre Daily Times that Barron is “one of the real pioneering names in adding climate history to our understanding of climate future.”

This is far from a complete list, but here are some pieces I found interesting:

On state funding and tuition: Like many university presidents, Barron spent a significant amount of his time at Florida State dealing with dwindling state appropriations. (In 2012, Florida State’s appropriation had declined by 25 percent in four years, dating back to before Barron’s tenure.) His circumstance was slightly different, however, in that public universities in Florida can’t set their own tuition rates. When Penn State officials lobby for better funding from the state legislature, they argue that a larger state appropriation will allow them to minimize tuition rates. Barron was lobbying both for more money from the state and for the ability to raise tuition beyond what the Florida government would approve.

In April 2013, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the Career and Professional Education Act, which did increase funding for universities with “pre-eminent” academic programs. As of now, that’s just Florida State and the University of Florida, which will each receive an extra $15 million from the state. (Other universities can get more funding when they meet certain benchmarks.) Barron wrote this op-ed piece that appeared in several Florida newspapers in April. Among the highlights is this paragraph:

Quite simply, we have demonstrated that we know how to invest a  dollar in quality. Florida State is currently ranked No. 212 in financial resources among all the 270 ranked national universities. Since 1999, Florida State has dropped 46 places in financial resources compared to its peers, while at the same time achieving its highest quality ratings in 15 years.

Here's a photo of Barron, then dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, hanging out with the Nittany Lion.

Here’s a photo of Barron, then dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, hanging out with the Nittany Lion.

On fundraising: When Barron was hired as Florida State’s president in 2010, the initial news story from the St. Petersburg Times made clear that fundraising was one of his charges. (I can’t link to it, sorry; it’s no longer online.) According to the story, trustees had spoken of Barron raising $1 billion for the university’s endowment, which was then $446.8 million. Barron compared Florida State’s development staff to those at the two previous universities at which he’d worked—Texas and Penn State. Texas, he said, had one employee “on the road” raising money for every 3,800 alumni. Penn State, he said, had one employee for every 5,200 alumni. At Florida State, the ratio was one for every 14,000 alumni. Barron told the paper, “We’re not even saying hello.”

Barron did initiate a $1 billion capital campaign, which is about half over.

On changing conferences: At the height of rumors in 2012 that Florida State was considering a move from the ACC to the Big 12, several news outlets obtained an email written by Barron that listed the pros and cons of switching conferences. The list of pros was four short items and focused on improved competition in football and higher revenue. The seven cons fleshed out the fine print of the financial situation, including that Florida State didn’t necessarily have the money it would need to pay to leave the ACC, and included a caution that a switch would not serve the university’s academic mission:

The faculty are adamantly opposed to joining a league that is academically weaker—and in fact, many of them resent the fact that a 2% ($2.4M) deficit in the athletics budget receives so much attention from concerned Seminoles, but the loss of 25% of the academic budget ($105M) gets none when it is the most critical concern of this University in terms of its successful future.

On Bobby Bowden: Given the continuing sentiment that Penn State should honor Joe Paterno in some fashion, I found this piece in the Palm Beach Post particularly interesting: Three years after Bobby Bowden coached his last game, when Barron’s predecessor, T.K. Wetherell, had refused to renew his contract, Barron invited Bowden back to campus to be honored. Bowden’s departure had been contentious—he was so hurt he hadn’t set foot on the campus where he coached for 34 years—but Barron asked him to return to campus for a Bobby Bowden weekend. The culmination: Bowden planted the spear in the field before kickoff. From the story:

“It was important to me all along to make that call,” Barron said. “I knew there needed to be a little bit of space for a lot of different reasons.”

Barron also knew the tribute was necessary because “(so) much of the psyche of the university is tied to this great coach who put football on the map and helped made FSU a household name.”

On academic freedom: Before Barron arrived at Florida State, the economics department received a $1.5 million grant from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation to hire professors. The arrangement became controversial when it was revealed that contract allowed representatives of the foundation, bankrolled by a billionaire libertarian activist, to screen and approve hires. Barron eventually asked the faculty senate to review the contract; a committee found that the arrangement was improper, and the university changed guidelines to prevent future such incidents.

The Tampa Bay Times editorialized:

FSU leaders—including Barron, who joined the university after the contract was signed—did not initially acknowledge that the university had all but sold influence in the economics department’s operation for a paltry sum. But as more details became public in May, Barron requested the faculty review, and on Friday he ordered various campus leaders to take its recommendations to heart. It’s the right direction, even if it took two months to get there.

On a personal note: In 2011, Tallahassee Magazine did a joint profile of Barron and his wife, Molly, that painted a picture of Barron as a undergrad with long hair who favored “cutoff shorts and sandals” and included this fabulous story of how they met:

The Barrons say the tone for their relationship was set on their very first date. Eric had asked Molly to go on a hike in the mountains—but they had to start early so he could be back in town for a seminar.

“We get in my pickup truck and we’re driving up the mountain and it’s like 6:30 and I yawned,” he recalled. “She said, ‘Am I boring you already?’”

Molly continued the story: “But then he promised me I’d never be bored—and I never have been.”

“That was part of my marriage proposal,” said Eric Barron. “I said, ‘There’s no telling where we’ll be, what we’ll be doing, but I promise you, you won’t be bored.’”

I think I’ll stop there. I didn’t find any anecdotes about Barron that topped that.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

February 16, 2014 at 10:57 pm 7 comments

The Penn Stater Daily—Feb. 12, 2014

Calling all veterans: The College of Communications is looking for military veterans of any war to participate in an oral history project, a joint venture between the college and Penn State Libraries for the Veterans History Project. Senior lecturer Maria Cabrera-Baukus has collected more than 100 interviews already, and she and the students in her television studio production class are looking for more. They’ll be doing interviews in person in late April, and they would love if veterans would share memorabilia. Read all of the background here, and if you’re interested, contact Cabrera-Baukus by email at, by mail at 103 Innovation Blvd., Suite 205, University Park, PA 16802, or leave a message at 814-865-3068.

Who’s our biggest rival: My affinity for the absurd Land Grant Trophy is well-documented, but even I have to admit that Michigan State isn’t a school I can work up a lot of antipathy toward. Four Onward State writers debate the identity of Penn State’s biggest rival. Pitt? Michigan? Ohio State? Um, Temple? Personally, as a Pittsburgh girl whose family is evenly split between Pitt and Penn State alumni, I’d really like to see that rivalry heat back up again.

Also in the news: Chi Omega sorority’s Penn State chapter is closing its doors 14 months after a racially insensitive photo of a sorority event surfaced. … The University Park Undergraduate Association is going to walk—in shifts—from State College to Harrisburg to bring attention to the Alumni Association’s Capital Day event and the university’s funding needs. … An event that looks pretty cool, State of State, a TED-talk like event on March 30 that will focus on Penn State issues, announced the first of its speakers, and it’s quite a lineup: sociology instructor Sam Richards, English prof Michael Bérubé, former Nittany Lion mascot Rob Nellis ’13, former Penn State quarterback Shane McGregor ’13, former trustee Mimi Barash Coppersmith ’54, and Ruth Mendum, director of the Undergraduate Fellowship Office. I just registered; you can, too, by clicking here.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

February 12, 2014 at 12:19 pm Leave a comment

Remembering Mary Jo Haverbeck, ‘Catalyst’ for Women’s Sports

9590029I’ll never forget how I felt when I showed up to cover the first really big event of my journalism career, the 1995 Women’s Final Four. I was a nervous wreck, and I was trying my hardest to hide it. I was pretty sure I was failing.

Then I ran into Mary Jo Haverbeck.

I’d barely arrived in the media room, so this was (A) a wild coincidence, or (B) the direct result of Mary Jo watching out for me. (Spoiler: The answer is B.) She was an associate sports information director for Penn State and part of the committee that planned the Final Four, and she must have had official duties to perform. But she smiled, asked about my flight, and said, “You need to meet some people.” And we were off.

Within a half hour, she’d introduced me to everyone on the NCAA committee, the sports information directors for three of the four teams, and Debbie White, who moderated the news conferences. By the time the official events started, I was at ease. I raised my hand, Debbie called on me, UConn coach Geno Auriemma answered my question.

I belonged. Thanks to Mary Jo.

That was the kind of thing Mary Jo ’76g did all the time. She forged connections, made people comfortable, and—this is not incidental—did both in a way that helped to bring the attention to women’s sports that she believed, passionately, they deserved.

When she died last month, at age 74, all of the obituaries called her a pioneer, and no wonder. This is quite a career:

First Penn State employee to promote the women’s sports program. Co-inventor of a box score for field hockey. Creator of the first newsletter—with computerized statistics—covering women’s basketball. Integral part of the first national women’s basketball poll, conducted by The Associated Press. Developer of Penn State’s first athletic department website. First woman inducted into the Hall of Fame of CoSIDA, the national organization for collegiate sports information directors.

Those aren’t the kind of achievements that normally bring headlines—that don’t show up in the box score, to use a phrase I bet Mary Jo would have appreciated—but without the work of her and other women like her behind the scenes, the headlines female athletes get today aren’t possible. Says Rosa Gatti, a retired ESPN executive who got her start as an SID at Brown University in the 1970s: “Her impact is indelible. … She was a driving force, a catalyst.”

Women’s sports needed one. More than one, actually, and Mary Jo helped to take care of that, too.

When she started writing about and publicizing women’s sports in the mid-1970s, press passes routinely included this condition: “No women or children in the press box.” At the annual CoSIDA convention, the handful of women attending didn’t get nametags, because those were designed to fit only into a man’s suit coat. Getting coverage of a female athlete in the local newspaper often meant writing the story yourself.

Mary Jo’s master’s thesis summed up the problem with a typical turn of phrase. The only women in the sports pages most days, she wrote, were female horses.

None of that stopped Mary Jo. “She had wisdom in how she engaged people who had different mindsets,” Gatti says. “She was able in a non-threatening way to engage those guys, and they had respect for her. She had a sense of humor.”

Joyce Aschenbrenner, who was the SID at Pitt during Mary Jo’s early years, admired how Mary Jo’s innate kindness sustained her even in the face of rampant sexism. “She was so accepted by everyone, she would appear not to be a threat. But she worked quietly behind the scenes to make sure there was equality and things were right, to make sure that people got a fair shake.”

1101780626_400Mary Jo was also savvy. When the Penn State women’s lacrosse team was in the market for new uniforms, she suggested putting the name of the school on the front. When Time did a cover story on women’s sports in 1978, the magazine used a photo of a Penn State lacrosse player. Instant national publicity. Combined with Mary Jo’s efforts to beef up the statistics and rankings for women’s sports, the coup, says Wisconsin’s athletics website director, Tam Flarup, made her “a rock star.”

“She could see down the horizon line that this would bring credibility to women’s sports, that the polls were something that everybody could understand,” Flarup says. “She was advocating for others to get on board. She was an original.”

Women’s sports had a long way to go to get media attention. In 1980, when Rene Portland took over as Lady Lion basketball coach, the team had just stopped playing games in White Building. Portland’s first preseason media day was held at mid-court in Rec Hall’s South Gym with four people in attendance—Portland, Mary Jo, a Collegian reporter and John Dixon, who covered the team for the Centre Daily Times. Practice continued around them. “No radio,” Dixon wrote in an email. “No TV. Just MJ and two writers. Welcome to Big Time Basketball!”

The CDT gave the team coverage, but didn’t pay Dixon’s mileage when the Lady Lions were on the road. He drove anyway—with Mary Jo in tow. “MJ was patient enough,” Dixon wrote, “to not put any pressure to write the story on me so that we could get on the road.”

Slowly, that’s how women’s basketball found an audience.

“I knocked on doors to sell advertising for women’s programs, and walked the streets talking to people, trying to get their support. I visited newspapers, TV, and radio stations. I wrote releases and made phone calls,” Mary Jo told Cathy Bongiovi ’87 for a story about her receiving the CoSIDA Trailblazer award. “When they told me, ‘We don’t have time or space to cover women’s athletics,’ I just kept pitching good story ideas to them. I think people want to read interesting stories about athletes, whether it’s a man playing basketball or a woman playing tennis.”

If there were a Mentoring Hall of Fame, Mary Jo would be in that, too. I’m a twig on Mary Jo’s proverbial coaching tree, which would look like one of those giant Redwoods. Gatti says, “Mary Jo must have set the record for people mentored.”

Mary Jo’s gift for making meaningful connections helped. But I bet her background did, too. Most of the women who entered the sports information profession in the 1970s did so immediately after graduating from college. Mary Jo, who graduated from the University of Delaware in 1961, had already taught sixth grade, done publicity for a bank and her alma mater, reported for radio stations in Wilmington and Philadelphia, then moved to England and produced and hosted a weekly BBC radio show, “An American in Merseyside.” (Wish I could find a clip!) Says Aschenbrenner, “She was older than the rest of us, a little more mature, had a few more life lessons.”

Bongiovi, now associate director of athletic communications at Temple, had never heard of sports information as a profession until she took a class—designed and taught by Mary Jo—as a Penn State senior. “The word trailblazer,” Bongiovi wrote in her CoSIDA piece, “isn’t a strong enough word to describe the words, the actions, the career of Mary Jo Haverbeck.”

Sue Edson met Mary Jo at an Association for Women in Sports Media convention after she graduated from Syracuse in 1990, and Mary Jo helped her get her first sports information job—at her alma mater. In 1997, when Edson, now assistant athletic director for communications, was promoted to sports information director, she called Mary Jo immediately after hanging up with her husband. “I couldn’t wait to share this news with her,” Edson says. “That’s how much she means to me.”

Mary Jo was also instrumental in forming a group, FAME, that provided more formal support for women in athletic communications and athletic administration. Spurred on by a NCAA News report that the number of women in the field were dropping, she brainstormed with Ann King, now director of athletic communications at The Sage Colleges, and other colleagues on an evening out at the CoSIDA convention—and then, laughing, took the piano player’s tip jar and walked around the restaurant/bar, saying, “We need funds to start a women’s mentoring group.”

It’s because of Mary Jo and women like her that by the time I tried out for the Collegian in 1988, it was unremarkable (although still unusual) that I chose the sports staff. Yet Mary Jo shunned the spotlight. When  King was president of CoSIDA, she always got calls or emails from Mary Jo, who was nominating people—often women—for various awards. “She was always looking to honor other people,” Gatti says. “Not herself.”

Mary Jo’s influence spans generations. She retired from Penn State in 1999, but until just weeks before she died, she was still covering the Lady Lions for Blue White Illustrated. (My husband, BWI editor Matt Herb ’87, had worked with Mary Jo since his Collegian days and wrote this tribute.) Of course, she went out of her way to introduce herself to Katie McKenna, who’s covering the team for the Collegian. Katie learned so much that she walked into a meeting of our AWSM student chapter in December and said, “We have to invite Mary Jo to speak at a meeting. She’s amazing. She knows everything.”

That she did.  Better yet, everything Mary Jo knew, she shared.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

February 11, 2014 at 10:52 am 6 comments

The Penn Stater Daily — Feb. 5, 2014

We’re running a little late today because of the two-hour delay, thanks to the snow/ice storm that arrived overnight. Onward State notes this is the third time in two years that Penn State has had a weather-related cancellation/delay. But there’s still plenty going on:

National Signing Day festivities: It wasn’t that long ago, really, that reporters had to scrounge around for information about Penn State football’s latest recruits. No more. As a warm-up to this evening’s Signature Event, which will (virtually) introduce Penn State’s recruiting class, media were invited to hang out this morning at Lasch Building as the newest Nittany Lions faxed in their letters of intent and were added to the big board. The event featured Blue Band trumpets, balloons (no word on who blew them up), and an omelet station manned, at least temporarily, by offensive line coach and social media sensation Herb Hand. (I’m pretty sure that when I committed to the College of the Liberal Arts in 1987, there was a similar celebration in Burrowes Building.) How will tonight’s event top that? Well, James Franklin tweeted that he’d be wearing a “classic all-white leisure suit,” adding the hashtag #swaggedout. Mark Wogenrich ’90 further reported on Twitter that Franklin called the suit “uncomfortably tight.”

Teaching “Failure 101:” Jack Matson, professor emeritus of engineering, has a nifty cameo in this New York Times piece about how colleges are working to teach—not just celebrate—creativity. Matson, who was the lead instructor for one of Penn State’s first MOOCs, Creativity, Innovation, and Change, also teaches a freshman seminar that he calls “Failure 101.” Among the activities: “constructing a resume based on things that didn’t work out” and “finding some cultural norms to break.” An example of the latter: cartwheeling into the library. This is a fascinating read, and now I’m wondering if it’s too late to add Matson’s class.

Flat funding: Gov. Tom Corbett released his proposed budget for the fiscal year 2014-2015, and it includes $229.7 million for Penn State, the same amount the university received last year. Penn State had asked for an additional $14.7 million. The budget gets debated by the state legislature for a couple of months, so this isn’t yet official. The Centre Daily Times has the most Penn State-centered coverage, but you’ll probably need a subscription to read it.

Women’s volleyball honored. Again: This time, praise came from the floor of the U.S. Senate, in the form of a resolution from both Pennsylvania senators, Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, that recounted how the Nittany Lions won their sixth NCAA women’s volleyball title and how two players, Ariel Scott and Maggie Harding, received academic honors, too. Read the full text of the resolution—which uses one of my favorite old-timey words, “whereas,” five times—in this Penn State news release.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

February 5, 2014 at 3:42 pm 1 comment

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