Posts filed under ‘Alumni Association’
The immediate result of Friday’s meeting of the Board of Trustees’ governance and long-range planning committee is easy to sum up: Needing more time to discuss the issues in board reform, the committee decided to use its regular September meeting to decide on a proposal to send to the full board, and a special October meeting will be called for the full board to vote on the proposal.
Explaining the rest of the meeting, however, isn’t so simple.
The committee finally delved into the details of governance reform. For more than a year now, we’ve heard about the general issues the board intended to consider; on Friday, for the first time, the committee engaged in a substantial discussion of the issues.
That took a while: nearly four and a half hours.
It also took the existence of three proposals, which moved the discussion from hypotheticals and abstractions to concrete suggestions:
Proposal A, conceived by board chair Keith Masser ’73 and Richard Dandrea ’77, would shrink the board by three voting members—the three voting members of the governor’s cabinet, the secretaries of agriculture, education, and conservation and natural resources—for a total of 27 voting members. The three secretaries, the governor, and the university president would remain as non-voting members. This proposal also eliminates three alumni-elected trustees and replaces them with a trustee from the Penn State Alumni Association, a student trustee, and an academic (i.e. faculty) trustee.
Proposal B, conceived by Anthony Lubrano ’82, also eliminates the three cabinet secretaries for a total of 27 voting members. This plan has only one ex-officio non-voting member: the university president. Neither the governor nor members of his cabinet have any role. Lubrano said he intends for the plan to be a compromise. This proposal requires that one of the governor’s appointments be a student and changes the way agricultural trustees are elected (by alumni of the College of Agricultural Sciences).
Proposal C, conceived by Barbara Doran ’75, makes the biggest changes. It cuts the board to 18 voting members by eliminating as voting members the three cabinet secretaries, four gubernatorial trustees, all six business and industry trustees, all six agriculture trustees, and two alumni-elected trustees. It adds one student trustee, elected by the board, and eight at-large trustees appointed by the board. The university president and the state secretary of education remain as non-voting ex-officio members.
Those are the highlights—you can click here to see the 10-page matrix with all three proposals that the committee used as its basis for discussion, which was the most detailed the members have had about possible changes.
Everyone knows the big issues—the size of the board, the composition of the board, the way board members are chosen. Committee chair Keith Eckel used those issues as the framework for the meeting. What those discussions revealed were the more specific questions that must be resolved to come to a consensus on those bigger issues. I’m going to focus on some of those questions:
Why so many agricultural trustees, and how would shrinking the number reflect on the university’s land-grant mission?
Penn State has more agricultural trustees than any university in the country: Cornell, a private land-grant university, has two of 64, and Purdue has one, elected by alumni of the agricultural college. Penn State’s six ag trustees reflect the university’s roots as the Farmers’ High School and the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania (it became the Pennsylvania State College in 1874), and its land-grant mission. Doran pointed out, however, that only 3.6 of the student body is in the College of Agricultural Sciences.
“My real question,” she said, “is why we have so many given the small percentage on campus. We are trustees of the university, not trustees of the state.”
That’s why Doran’s plan eliminates ag trustees—and also business and industry trustees. She says the board needs to be able to address its needs and would be better able to do so by making at-large selections.
The governance committee includes four ag trustees—board chair Masser, committee chair Eckel, Carl Shaffer, and Betsy Huber. Shaffer pointed out that agriculture is Pennsylvania’s No. 1 industry; Eckel called this issue “one that the chair is prejudiced on.” Roger Egolf, a non-voting faculty member of the committee, noted Penn State’s agricultural extension program, which has representatives in all 67 counties. The committee also noted the high proportion of research dollars pulled in by the college.
Lubrano said he saw a role for ag trustees but wondered how they fit proportionally into a reconstituted board. His proposal calls for ag trustees to be elected by alumni of the College of Agricultural Sciences, but Masser pointed out that he himself is an ag trustee who graduated from the College of Engineering. Egolf added that Lubrano’s proposal would “cut out people employed in the ag industry but not from the ag college” and that “also, ag grads go on to other careers,” so someone elected by college alumni may not be working in the field.
What’s the real issue about the alumni trustees—their large number, or the fact that the most recently elected alumni trustees have been vocal in criticizing the board’s previous decisions?
Dandrea started this discussion with a look at the benchmarking—of the 36 peer institutions the board identified, 33 have zero alumni-elected trustees. He noted the “highly unique situation we have at Penn State, where we have had this huge cadre of alumni trustee elected by alumni in contrast to all the other schools basically we decided were appropriate to consider.”
Dandrea further noted that a small percentage of alumni vote in the election—between 2.5 percent and 5 percent, he said, with the higher percentage coming in the three years since the Sandusky scandal. But even those numbers have fallen in the past three years. The combination, he said, means that the board is unbalanced if it has nine alumni-elected trustees.
He called accusations that his position is an assault on alumni-elected trustees a “mischaracterization,” explaining, “Nobody is proposing that we take the alumni-elected trustees from nine to zero, nine to one, or nine to two. It’s taking the alumni-elected trustees from nine to the same number as the other major mechanisms for appointment or election to the board. That’s fair. It’s not draconian.”
He pointed out that while Proposal A, which he helped to develop, cuts the number of alumni-elected trustees to six, same as the number of business and industry, gubernatorial, and agricultural trustees, it also requires that half of those three groups be composed of Penn State alumni. The proposal also allocates a seat to the Alumni Association.
That prompted a spirited dissent from Lubrano, who referred to a previous conversation between himself and Dandrea.
“I told you that having three children, I’ve done a fair amount of studying in the area of psychology. And one of the points driven home is that fair does not mean equal. So the notion that it’s fair to me is preposterous. The largest group representing this university is alumni—over 600,000. … I must confess that when I saw this proposal, it struck me that the hue and cry against the alumni election the last few years is in part against PS4RS, that folks at least quietly within the board are talking about how the process had been co-opted, that we can’t afford to have the kind of elections we’ve had the past three years. So this is really a control issue. If the alumni have nine, they can gain control of the board, and we’re going to harm the university. I find that insulting, frankly. … My only interest is to leave this school better than I found it.”
Lubrano, who had previously called the influence of Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship “the elephant in the room,” then returned to a recurring theme—that the alumni election is the most transparent part of the board selection process.
Dandrea responded: “It is that. It is a good process. That’s why, even though only 2.5 to 5 percent or more than alumni participate in it, it’s out of respect for the bona fides of the process that we say, that I say, we should nevertheless still have six alumni trustees. Because if you look at the data and consider the micro-minority of the alumni who take the time to vote—and no criticism; there were many years after I graduated when I didn’t vote. Lots of people just don’t vote; that’s just a fact. When you take into account the micro-minority of alumni who vote, this proposal is reasonable.”
Dandrea added that a seat for the Alumni Association would give alumni representatives seven seats on the board, more than any other group, but Lubrano and Doran spoke against that addition.
Doran said that when she mentioned benchmarking with respect to the ag trustees, other committee members mentioned the importance of agriculture beyond those numbers; she said that position was “very eloquently explained.” And she said she was skeptical of benchmarking as a the motivation to reduce the number of alumni-elected trustees.
She described the perception as this: “Alumni trustees have marginalized themselves by violations of board confidentiality, violations of the standing orders, with being at odds with the majority. That’s an absolutely false narrative.”
A related discussion about the seat requested by the Alumni Association largely repeated the points from the discussion at the July meeting—that there is a conflict of interest because of the Alumni Association’s relationship with the university.
Can the process for choosing business and industry trustees be made more public?
The business and industry trustees are chosen by the board itself, a process that some reformers have decried, but that the Faculty Senate report noted was a typical means of board selection. Dandrea suggested that the process works—he noted that the two newest business and industry trustees, Daniel Mead ’75, ’77g and Walter Rakowich ’79, were unanimously approved by the selection committee, which included both a governor-appointed trustee and an alumni-elected trustee.
The committee discussed the procedure and logistics of the search with Eckel wondering whether the committee members could be made public and how important confidentiality was to those who may be nominated. (Mead, who’s on the governance committee, said it was very important.) There seemed to be some confusion over whether the names of the committee were known to the rest of the board. The members are chosen by the chair.
“What we’re saying is that I need to trust my colleagues on the board,” Lubrano said. “That’s what we’re all striving to do, develop a level of trust. It would go a long way if we had some level of information.”
And, finally, here are quick hits on the other discussion points:
—On board size, the committee discussed again having a small enough board to have all members be engaged, yet a large enough board to have members on all of the seven standing committees, which some consider an important part of the reforms that have already been implemented.
—There was widespread agreement that a board seat should be designated for a student, and that students should have input via a student selection committee.
—Dandrea said that he has “come full circle” on the idea of having a voting faculty member on the board and that any financial conflict can be managed by not having the faculty member vote, say, on the budget. Lubrano said he was still against this but noted that he was continuing to speak with “Professor Nichols”—that’s professor emeritus John Nichols, who chaired the Faculty Senate’s special committee on governance (which recommended two faculty trustees) and has extensively researched the role of governing boards.
—The need to find the right balance for emeritus trustees—taking advantage of their expertise, honoring them for their services, and making sure they don’t have undue influence after their terms expire—was discussed again. Specifically, the committee discussed the usefulness of having emeritus trustees on committees as non-voting members.
—Doran’s proposal got deeper into the details than the other two—on the matrix comparing the three proposals, three pages were devoted solely to items raised in her Proposal C. Among the ones that received the most attention: term limits, conflict of interest language, and delivering executive committee notes to the rest of the board within three days of a such a meeting. The last point generated significant discussion: Penn State lawyers said that many gatherings of the committee, such as a traditional Wednesday night dinner before Board of Trustees meeting, are simply informational and not technically meetings.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Some of what happened at Thursday’s meeting of the Penn State trustees’ governance and long-range planning committee—which began to get into the nitty-gritty of additional reforms—was predictable:
Veteran members of the board spoke in favor of keeping it the same size; newer members, elected by the alumni in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, insisted that a smaller board would be “more nimble” and “more engaged.” Agricultural trustees didn’t think cutting back the number of ag trustees was a good idea. Students said they need a permanent seat on the board, with the trustee being chosen by the students themselves, not the governor or the board itself.
But for the first time in public, the trustees went beyond the basics. Representatives from the Alumni Association, the faculty, and the students made their cases for permanent seats on the board. And among the issues the trustees considered Thursday were these:
How do the trustees define whether board members are “engaged”? Would having a faculty member—a university employee—on the board present an insurmountable conflict of interest? And how many board members should be alumni—not just trustees elected by the alumni, but alumni?
Additionally, Eric Barron, who is attending his first board meeting after taking over as Penn State’s president on May 12, weighed in.
He was careful to say that he wasn’t making recommendations and didn’t want to choose who his boss would be (the Board of Trustees is responsible for selecting the president). Barron said only that he wanted to let the committee know of his experience, and that he was familiar, as Florida State’s president, with having student and faculty representation on the board. He repeatedly used the word “voice” to describe what those trustees provided.
“If I got nervous about anything in this conversation, it wasn’t the notion of numbers and placement,” he said in the meeting. “It’s the notion of representing someone. My view is that this has to be a group of people that are here for one purpose: to ensure the success of the institution, not representation.”
As he spoke, governance consultant Holly Gregory and her assistant, Paige Montgomery, nodded their heads vigorously. Gregory had opened the discussion by saying, “Reaching agreement on these issues is difficult because it’s not quite as clear [as other reforms the board has already enacted]. There are issues of both power and trust. The trust among members of this board is already under some degree of tension. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about it. I know some are frustrated that we haven’t moved faster.”
Barron elaborated on his experience with student and faculty trustees, saying that in addition to the voice they provide, he found that the chance for additional back-and-forth about the issues was important. “Lo and behold,” he said, “a student will vote for a tuition increase because they participated in an in-depth discussion about the budget and understand what the university is up against, and they don’t want to give up quality any more than anyone else. A faculty member will vote on benefit changes because they realize that between health insurance and benefits, it’s going up at a clip of $25 million a year and that’s unsustainable. So the voice is not just that, but an opportunity to give input and have it go in reverse.”
As usual, there’s no easy way to sum up what happened during the meeting, which lasted for 90 minutes and moved briskly. Even at that pace, the committee didn’t discuss all of the reform items it had previously discussed in small groups that were closed to the public in May. Here are some highlights from today’s meeting:
Alumni trustees: Alumni Association president Kay Salvino ’69, in making the case for an Alumni Association seat on the board, highlighted the association’s “mission of service” to its 174,379 members and 631,000 living alumni. “We have responsibility for serving the largest constituency of the university—substantially larger than students, faculty, and staff combined, and growing larger every year.” She noted, as well, that Alumni Council, the association’s governing board, includes alumni society presidents from each college and campus.
[In the interest of full disclosure: The Penn Stater magazine and this website are both published by the Alumni Association.]
In addition, Salvino said, the Alumni Association is “one of the largest cumulative donors” to Penn State with more than $15 million in gifts for scholarships, fellowships, programs, and facilities since 1988. And in the just-concluded capital campaign, Alumni Association members donated nearly $800 million, meaning “90 cents on the dollar of all alumni giving came from members of the Alumni Association.”
She finished by showing the scope of the Alumni Association’s programs, which involve students, showcase the university’s academic prowess, and communicate with alums: “We touch and serve Penn State and our alumni in a way that no other organization can do, and we do it every day, in countless ways.”
Trustee emeritus David Jones ’54, for one, was skeptical. He said he had “great respect and admiration” for the Alumni Association, but pointed out that alumni already elect nine trustees and noted that “historically, in recent years, at least two-thirds of our trustees have been alumni.” He called that proportion of trustees who are alumni “really full, if not too full.”
He added: “I sometimes think we would benefit by having more outside voices on the board.”
Alumni trustees Anthony Lubrano ’82 and Barbara Doran ’75 spoke up for the current system of elected alumni trustees; Doran called the alumni election “one of the most robust, transparent processes you can run.”
Business and industry trustee Richard Dandrea ’77 floated the idea of reducing the number of alumni-elected trustees, saying that election turnout is low and that so many of the other trustees are alumni that perhaps alumni are overrepresented on the board. Lubrano disagreed repeatedly, saying “no one” is more invested in the success of the university than alumni, but board chair Keith Masser ’73, an ag trustee, agreed with Dandrea, saying that the business and industry trustees may be misnamed. He said he isn’t aware that a non-alum has ever been named a business and industry trustee.
Faculty: John Nichols, professor emeritus of communications and chair of the Faculty Senate’s special committee on university governance, which issued this report in 2013, made the case for a faculty representative on the board. He stressed two things: first, that his committee’s report had been unanimously approved by the Faculty Senate, which is a particularly rare feat; and second, that he was proposing not a faculty trustee, but an “internal academic trustee.” The distinction, he said, is “very important.”
A “highly specialized institution like a university,” Nichols said, needs trustees who have a “deep understanding” of its mission. Penn State’s board has two members with a background in higher education: elected alumni trustee Alice Pope ’79, ’83g, ’86g, a psychology professor at St. John’s University, and Bill Oldsey ’76, who has worked in academic publishing.
Additionally, he said, a university is “essentially a professional association, and professional institutions are best governed with considerable governance by the internal professionals that deliver the goods. … Not to have that happen is a serious disconnection between the core mission of the university and the governance of the university.”
Jones said he had reservations about having employees on the board; ag trustee Betsy Huber noted that Pennsylvania law prohibits schoolteachers from serving on the school board in their own districts for just that reason. But Dandrea (who was chairing the meeting in Keith Eckel’s absence) said having one faculty trustee out of 30 meant that any conflict of image could be managed.
Students: University Park Undergraduate Association president Anand Ganjam and vice president Emily MacDonald spoke on behalf of students, and they made largely the point that their predecessors have made in previous meetings: that students don’t want to rely on the whim of the governor to have representation on the board and should have a representative who is chosen by students themselves. (For years, the governor has used one of his appointments to include a student on the board, but there’s nothing saying he has to.) They also detailed the procedure by which they assure student input.
Lubrano said he was in favor of the governor continuing to appoint a student trustee, but Masser said Gov. Tom Corbett had agreed to give up one of his appointments and allow the board to choose a student.
The tension surrounding reform was evident earlier in the day at the outreach committee meeting, when alumni trustee Ted Brown ’68 questioned Mike DiRaimo, the university’s governmental affairs representative, about a letter DiRaimo had written to the Senate’s state government committee asking that a bill sponsored by state Sen. John Yudichak, which would cut the board to 23 members, be tabled. Brown said he was upset that the letter indicated that the Board of Trustees did not support the bill because that is not, in fact, the case.
DiRaimo explained that he objected to the committee taking action on the bill for two reasons: because the bill would apply only to Penn State, and the university had been assured that would not be the case, and that the bill stipulates that only the General Assembly can make changes in the board’s size and composition in the future. He said, “That I know to be against the interest, against the position, against the actions of the trustees.” (The Senate committee did vote, unanimously, to approve the bill, which still needs to be considered by the full Senate.)
Brown wasn’t satisfied: “You said the Board of Trustees is opposed to this bill. I don’t remember any discussion to that, ever.”
New alumni trustee Robert Jubelirer ’59, ’62g chimed in, suggesting that DiRaimo could have phrased his objections better—and more accurately. He said that Yudichak ’93, ’04g and co-sponsor Jake Corman ’93 had previously agreed to hold the bill through May 2014 to see what progress the board made itself on reform and that the bill had been amended so to extend the time period to two years to allow the board to pursue reform itself.
“I think that’s significant,” Jubelirer said. “There’s plenty of time if this board is intent on reforming.”
He added that not only did the full board not discuss or vote on its position on the bill, but that he would not have opposed it had the board done so. Therefore, he said, the letter to the legislature was inaccurate. DiRaimo did not respond.
Here’s what comes next in the process:
Dandrea said that any committee members interested in working on a formal proposal to vote on at the next committee meeting would work with university attorney Frank Guadagnino ’78, who will “labor over” the draft. The committee will schedule an additional meeting within the next month to vote on recommendations to bring to the board. The idea is to have the board in position to vote on a proposal at its next meeting, Sept. 19 at University Park.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
The men’s volleyball team’s season ended last Thursday with a five-set loss to top-seeded (and eventual champ) Loyola Chicago in the national semifinals. It was the 16th straight Final Four trip for the Nittany Lions, who fell two wins short of the program’s third NCAA championship. For junior outside hitter Aaron Russell, it marked the end of one of the finest individual seasons in Penn State history.
Russell is the featured athlete in our May/June issue, which most Alumni Association members should have received in the past few days. We chose Russell because, even before he earned first-team All-America honors this spring, it was clear he was the guy who made the Nittany Lions go. He was named EIVA Player of the Year as a sophomore (an honor he repeated this season), thanks to team highs of 366 kills and 40 service aces. As a junior this spring, he eclipsed both of those totals, leading the Lions with 421 kills and 69 aces.
Having arrived on campus as a middle blocker—at 6-foot-9, that seems at a glance his most logical position—Russell succeeded not in spite of the switch to outside hitter, but largely because of it. Longtime Penn State coach Mark Pavlik deserves some credit for that. “I was a middle blocker ever since I started playing, but Pav told me that even when he recruited me, he saw me as an outside hitter because of my athletic ability and how I can move,” Russell says. “Switching to another position, I kind of had to learn the game all over again. It kept it interesting for me, kind of helped me from getting burned out.”
Burn out might’ve been a real issue for a kid who’s been playing virtually his whole life. Volleyball very much runs in the Russell family genes: Aaron’s father, Stewart Russell ’86, played for the Lions, and Aaron’s brother Peter, a 6-foot-5 senior outside hitter, just wrapped up his Penn State career. Stew got both boys playing the sport at an early age, and once Peter signed with the Lions out of high school, it figured Aaron would follow suit. But after growing up in Maryland and always following the family path, Aaron thought hard about trying something new. “I kind of wanted to do my own thing,” he says. He boiled his college choices down to Penn State and UC-Irvine, another national power, but an official visit to Happy Valley sealed the decision: “I loved it here.”
He’ll be back for one final season next year, without his brother but with international experience (he played with the U.S. junior national team in Turkey last summer) and the lessons learned by almost reaching his ultimate goal this spring. The 2015 national championship will be played at Stanford, meaning the guy who almost played his college ball in California will get one last chance to show those guys on the West Coast what they’re missing.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
It felt a lot like the past two years: Loyal Penn State fans turning out for an offseason football fix and a chance to meet the new coach.
It also felt very different. Different venue. Different coach. The start, once again, of a different era.
James Franklin took center stage Thursday night at Pegula Arena, where the third Penn State Coaches Caravan kicked off within sight of Beaver Stadium. More than 400 fans turned out, and it appeared all who wanted to had the chance to take a quick picture with Franklin at the photo station on the upper concourse. Other coaches—Patrick Chambers, Bob Warming, Russ Rose, and a few members of Franklin’s new staff—mingled with the crowd over appetizers, before fans settled into their seats to see Franklin, Rose, and Warming speak from a chilly stage on the ice.
There are plenty of photos and video from the main event over at GoPSUSports, but we also kept an eye out for things fans might have missed. A few tidbits of note:
* The new coach and new president had what we believe was their first meeting Thursday at the pre-event reception. Eric Barron and his wife, Molly, popped in briefly and spent some time talking with Franklin (below), then made their way out—mostly unnoticed—before the coaches took the stage. Barron, the subject of the cover story in our May/June issue, officially takes over as Penn State president on May 12.
* As you’ve no doubt noticed, in nearly every posed photo since he arrived on campus (including the one at the top of this post), Franklin is holding up his index finger in a “No. 1″ pose. Hoping to ask him how and why that became the thing he does when the Caravan hits the road next week.
* Roger Williams ’73, ’75g, ’88g, our executive director, presented Franklin with a life membership Thursday night—meaning he’ll now be getting The Penn Stater at home. We expect an occasional letter, Coach.
The Caravan hits the road for real next Tuesday, and I’m excited to be back on the bus for a third year. I plan to have a bunch of updates over the next two weeks, both here and at The Football Letter Blog. If the past two years are any indication, I should come out of it with some great stories. Hope to see you on the road.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Saturday night’s alright: It’s the second-to-last weekend before finals, and there’s plenty to distract University Park students before the time comes to cram for exams. The annual Movin’ On outdoor concert kicks off Saturday at 2:30 with a lineup of six acts; Onward State offers a beginner’s guide to the performers, who range from “indie folk” to hip-hop, while the Collegian has the details on the late switch of headliners from New York rapper A$AP Rocky to Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa. Movin’ On is free as always.
And on Saturday night, the annual Blue and White Film Festival at the State Theatre will showcase the work of student filmmakers. Admission is free for students and $6 for non-students, and the curtain opens at 7 p.m.
Designing playwright: Some cool news on Carrie Fishbein Robbins ’64, who graced the cover of our March/April 2013 issue: The award-winning Broadway costume designer is set to debut two new plays she wrote. Sawbones and The Diamond Eater, one-acts plays Robbins penned, will have their world premieres next month at the off-Broadway HERE Arts Center in New York City. Also in May, Robbins is the main draw at the Alumni Association’s City Lights event, “Behind the Seams on Broadway,” also in NYC.
Out of this world: Onward State gets to know Eric Ford, the astrophysicist who was part of the team whose recent discovery of an Earth-like planet is getting lots of buzz. It’s good stuff, but I’m not gonna pretend I’m not disappointed that they didn’t ask him what kind of dinosaur he’d be.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
What is “Should I watch Jeopardy tonight?” This answer is “yes,” if you want to see a fellow Penn Stater compete for top honors on the classic TV quiz show. Michelle Leppert ’92 of Danvers, Mass., will begin what we hope is a long run of success when Jeopardy starts a new week of shows Monday night.
A big night in the Big House: Michigan announced Monday that the Nittany Lions’ visit to Michigan Stadium on Oct. 11 will be a 7 p.m. kickoff, making it the first Big Ten night home game in Wolverine history. Of course, Penn State and Michigan have some history playing under the lights, including memorable home wins at Beaver Stadium in 2010 and 2013. As for the Big House, there were temporary lights up for the 3:30 kickoff back in 1994. Hopefully you remember how that one ended.
Joining the dance: THON’s spread isn’t just limited to the mini-THONs held at a growing number of middle and high schools. The Alumni Association’s Washington-Greene Counties Chapter recently held its “We, too, Can Dance” charity social. Inspired by Dance Marathon, the event raised $4,750 for the Four Diamonds Fund.
An honor for Mary Jo: The United States Basketball Writers Association announced over the weekend a new award will be named for Mary Jo Haverbeck ’76g, the women’s sports media pioneer who died in January. The Mary Jo Haverbeck Award will honor those who provide special service to writers covering women’s basketball.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
James Franklin, Coming Soon to a Town Near You: The Coaches Caravan returns in May, headlined by James Franklin, who will visit 17 area locales—13 in Pennsylvania, plus forays into Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New Jersey, and New York City. Among the in-state stops on the tour, which is jointly sponsored by the Alumni Association and the Nittany Lion Club: four Penn State campuses and one event at Franklin’s alma mater, East Stroudsburg. More details on tickets will be coming later this month, but you can click here for the dates and clear your schedule now.
Running strong: Fresh off winning the Big Ten indoor track championship over the weekend, sophomore Kiah Seymour has been named the conference’s Track Athlete of the Championships, and coach Beth Alford-Sullivan earned the conference’s Coach of the Year award for the indoor season. Seymour won the 400 meters and anchored the winning 4×400-meter relay, and she finished second in the 200 meters. Get the full scoop here.
ICYMI on Mike McQueary: ESPN The Magazine on Tuesday published “The Whistleblower’s Last Stand,” a story about Mike McQueary ’97, who will be a central figure in the upcoming trial of Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz ’71, ’75g, and Tim Curley ’76, ’78g. If you’ve not yet read it, it’s certainly worth the time.
RIP, EP: Ellen Perry, another of the women who spearheaded the development of Penn State women’s athletics, died Tuesday. She spent 36 years at Penn State, arriving in 1966 as the first coach of the women’s swimming team and retiring in 2002 as associate athletic director and senior woman administrator. Known by everyone as “EP,” Perry was one of those people who had boatloads of knowledge and expertise, but imparted it with a light touch. This Centre Daily Times story quotes Perry from a story about her retirement, and I particularly loved how she basically summed up her life philosophy: “Believe in the goal you’re trying to make and complete and go at it with a well-intended heart. A happy heart works much better than an angry heart.”
Get better soon, Sue: Thinking this morning of Sue Paterno ’62, who was injured in a fall Thursday. A family spokesman says she’s been hospitalized for observation and that her “attitude and resolve are great.” Here’s to SuePa being back on her feet soon.
That time of year again: Saturday is State Patty’s Day, and there’s been plenty of talk and activity leading up to the infamous annual event. The facts: many local landlords are banning parties on their properties, State College police are proactively discouraging large gatherings, and 34 of 35 downtown establishments that serve alcohol have agreed to stay dry for the day, with those businesses compensated by the university.
As for opinions, well, there is no shortage of those, including many who feel town and campus authorities are overreacting. More compelling, I’d argue, are these takes from Dennis Shea, associate dean in Health & Human Development, and an EMS worker who has worked the holiday as part of local ambulance crews. Both lay out just how ugly and dangerous State Patty’s Day has been at its worst. Here’s wishing everyone in town and on campus a fun, and safe, weekend.
Winning words: Congrats to Anna Orso on winning the 2014 Hearst Foundation sports writing award. A Penn State senior and Daily Collegian alumna currently writing for PennLive.com, Orso won for a story on college football recruiting published in the College of Communications’ in-house publication. It’s her second win in the national college journalism competition.
The stages are set: If you’re near Philly or Pittsburgh next weekend, Penn State musical theatre students are headed your way. The Alumni Association is sponsoring a traveling showcase of current Penn State theatre standouts in King of Prussia on Friday, March 7, and in Pittsburgh on Saturday, March 8. Tickets are just $10 for Alumni Association members. Should be a fun night out.
Hot hoops: The Nittany Lions swept their season series with No. 22 Ohio State on Thursday, posting a 65-63 win over the visiting Buckeyes. It was a great atmosphere for Senior Night at the BJC. And speaking of great seniors, Lady Lion star Maggie Lucas has been named a semifinalist for the Naismith National Player of the Year award.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Maggie McCormick tallied an assist last week in a 14-7 loss to No. 2 Maryland, and there probably wasn’t a Penn State player more disappointed in the outcome. It was a stiff early test for a Nittany Lion lacrosse team with national championship aspirations; for McCormick, it was also a reminder of what could have been.
Just don’t think she has any regrets.
A junior attack and returning All-American, McCormick is a Maryland native who ultimately chose Penn State over the in-state powerhouse Terps, winners of 10 national championships in women’s lax. As you might guess, her college choice wasn’t an easy one. “You grow up in Maryland as a lacrosse player, watching them, and they’ve been elite for so many years, it would’ve been the easy choice,” McCormick told us in the preseason. “The decision was, I can go to Maryland, or I can take a risk, go to what in my opinion is a much better school, and try to make a difference in the program. It’s definitely worked out.”
McCormick is the student-athlete profile in our March/April issue, which Alumni Association members should start getting this week. As a sophomore last season, she totaled a team-high 87 points (50 goals, 37 assists), the most by a Nittany Lion in 25 years. Thanks to that offensive output, McCormick earned second-team All-America honors and led Penn State to the NCAA quarterfinals. With most of the team back this spring, hopes are high for an even deeper NCAA tournament run.
In choosing Penn State, McCormick wasn’t taking that much of a leap—the Lions are traditionally one of the sport’s elite programs, with a pair of NCAA titles and three USWLA championships from the pre-NCAA era. But the most recent of those came in 1989, while the likes of Maryland, Northwestern, Princeton, and Virginia have dominated the college game since. McCormick came to Happy Valley to help Penn State reclaim its place among the national elite. She didn’t have to wait long for her chance.
As a freshman in 2012, McCormick found herself playing a huge role for second-year coach Missy Doherty, starting every game and posting a team-high 59 points. “It’s not something I expected,” McCormick says of her trial by fire. “Playing as a freshman, you realize you have a lot to learn, but Coach took a chance on me when I’m not sure many coaches would have. She put me in a position to make an immediate impact.”
That risk was rewarded, and with five goals and three assists in her first three games this season, McCormick continues to make her coach look prescient. Her own potential already realized, McCormick now is focused on making sure her team reaches its ceiling. “The Final Four—that’s the next progression for this team,” she says. “We need to make it to championship weekend, and I think we’ve all bought into that idea.”
Fresh off an 11-7 victory Tuesday over Duquesne—click here to watch the highlights, including McCormick’s three goals—the No. 8 Nittany Lions take their next step in the road to the Final Four this Saturday with a tough road game at UVA.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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