Posts filed under ‘Alumni Association’
For years and years, the election for the alumni seats on Penn State’s Board of Trustees ran smoothly and under the radar. Then the Sandusky scandal happened, and among the many changes around Penn State came an exponential increase in interest in the election—more candidates, and more alumni interested in voting.
The election process has been confusing and sometimes frustrating for alumni, and the Board of Trustees office was at times overwhelmed with requests for ballots. Which is why vice president for administration Tom Poole, whose office handles the administration of the Board of Trustees, presented suggestions at Thursday’s governance and long-range planning committee to streamline the process and make it less confusing. The goal: To increase alumni participation in the election.
The committee discussion ranged beyond Poole’s suggestions (below) to a broader discussion of who should automatically receive ballots. Currently, ballots are automatically emailed to alumni who have been an Alumni Association member in the previous two years or who have donated to the university within the previous two years. Other alumni don’t receive a ballot automatically, but can get one by making a written request to the Board of Trustees office.
The committee discussed the feasibility of amending the board’s charter so that ballots would be automatically sent to any alumnus with an email address on file with the university. Committee chair Keith Eckel summed up the discussion: “I’m hearing a desire expressed by the committee to expand this as broadly as we can.”
Poole made three suggestions to improve the alumni trustee election:
—Automatically distribute ballots to anyone who requested a ballot the previous year. This would make the process easier not only for alumni, but also for the board office, which fielded 11,000 requests for ballots in each of the past two years.
—Better publicize and explain the election and nomination processes.
—Allow candidates to include their websites and social media links on their official profiles on the Board of Trustees website, something that hadn’t previously been permitted.
The committee didn’t need to vote on the changes, but everyone appeared to be in agreement that those improvements should go forward. The biggest discussion concerned broadening the ballot distribution to alumni who are not members of the Alumni Association, which is the group currently defined by the charter.
Frank Guadagnino ’78, an outside attorney hired by the university to consult on governance issues, said the original language in the charter likely appeared because the Alumni Association maintains the database of alumni. He said the charter could be changed, but that under the Pennsylvania Non-Profit Corporation Law, the board would need to have 10 days’ notice before a vote. While that 10-day notice is possible before the board’s next meeting in January, the nomination period for the 2014 election will have already started by then.
This prompted trustee Carl Shaffer to say, “If we can’t change the charter this year, according to all of the discussion here, then I do think we should have more discussion before we attempt to change the charter.”
Barbara Doran ’75 noted that although the nomination process starts in January, the ballots for the election aren’t distributed until April; she asked if the issue of who automatically gets ballots could be decided after the nomination process has started. Guadagnino said he believes that is possible.
One other alumni election issue came up as well: the nomination process. Doran said she has heard from alumni that needing only 50 signatures to become a candidate is too few. “Because there have been so many candidates the past two years,” she said, “it’s really hard if you want to do your due diligence to get through the candidates.”
Poole said this is another area that may need attention, but he added that changing it for 2014, when anyone planning to run for the board would have spent the past year assuming he or she needed only 50 signatures, would not be fair.
This was a particularly busy governance committee meeting—it approved a recommendation to hire Holly Gregory as a governance consultant, and there was a spirited discussion about the presidential search process. I’ll have more updates later.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
This time, it hit me while I was standing on the Sunken Road. At least, that was what the old farm road, which wound through the fields near Antietam Creek, in rural Maryland, was called before Sept. 17, 1862.
That day was the bloodiest in American history. The Battle of Antietam resulted in 23,000 casualties—Americans all, from the Union and the Confederacy. Many occurred on the Sunken Road. Union soldiers advanced four times from the top of the rise, and the Confederate soldiers held them off. But the Confederate soldiers were greatly outnumbered, and as their line broke open, the Union soldiers advanced and took control. The fighting, by all accounts, was savage.
Parker Hills, one of the faculty leaders on the Alumni Association’s Civil War Study Tour, noted a fact that gave me chills: Many of the dead had been shot in the head.
The road, these days, is known as Bloody Lane.
“You can’t stand here,” said Hills, a retired brigadier general, “and not feel the horror of war.”
I felt it. I’d felt something similar last year, when I tagged along on the study tour to Gettysburg and stood at The Angle, imagining what it felt like to be a Union soldier watching the Confederates advance—or to be a Confederate soldier making that long, lonely—and doomed—advance, known as Pickett’s Charge.
That’s the amazing part of these tours, which are among the most popular trips sponsored by the Alumni Association. History comes alive.
I’d known before the tour started that more Americans died at Antietam than on any day in American history. I learned before I set foot on the battlefield, thanks to a morning lecture by the other faculty leader, Terry Winschel ’77, the actual number of Americans who were killed, wounded, mortally wounded, or captured that day.
But standing on the battlefield made those numbers feel different. More visceral. Thanks to Hills and Winschel, I better understood how those soldiers had come to be in this position; the tour encompassed Robert E. Lee’s Maryland campaign, and it had made previous stops at South Mountain and Harper’s Ferry. I got the context.
And Hills and Winschel excel at telling the stories of the men who fought there and finding the details that make listeners feel. It was chilly Saturday, chillier than the forecast had predicted, and many of us had left our heavy coats back in the hotel. But these men, the night before the battle, were shabbily clothed and unable to warm themselves with even a few swallows of hot coffee—fires were forbidden, as they would give away the troops’ position.
And rations were few. Soldiers on both sides, the faculty leaders told us, were subsisting on little more than green corn.
Additionally, neither Hills nor Winschel ever miss a chance to relate history to our current day. “In our own time period—Vietnam, there were 50,000 some killed,” Winschel said. “How many in Iraq? How many in Afghanistan? Can you imagine what we the American people would say if it was reported that on one day in Afghanistan, 23,000 Americans had fallen? We wouldn’t stand for it, would we?”
It makes you think.
This was my second time on the tour. A year ago, I attended the trip to Gettysburg as a reporter. I went through the tour just as the travelers did, and I wrote about the battle and did a magazine feature about the hold that Gettysburg has on Americans, 150 years later. This time, I tagged along to help the Alumni Association’s crack travel and education staff … and I found myself part of what is essentially an extended family.
Many of the regulars on the study tour have been coming for more than a decade. They showed up the first time because they were Civil War … well, I hate to use the word enthusiasts. They’re learning about and debating a war, one that Winschel constantly reminds us affected every family in the entire country, North and South. No one ever forgets that, even as they debate strategy and laugh over funny stories about the generals and take in the scenery. (It’s one of the things that strikes me about the battlefields: These places that saw so much death and pain are truly beautiful. It’s a little hard to reconcile.)
And they come back, yes, to keep learning about the war, to walk the battlefields and figure out what happened here. But they also come back to visit with friends, with people who have the same interest. In some ways, it’s like a big ol’ family reunion.
And now I’m part of it.
I got home late Sunday afternoon. At dinner Sunday night, I regaled my husband with tales from the battlefield, working in Hills’ and Winschel’s best lines as often as I could. (I did give credit. Promise.) I went into so much detail about the flaws in Union Gen. George McClelland’s battle plan (or lack thereof) and McClelland’s “lack of boldness,” as Hills put it, that prevented him from pressing a giant numerical advantage, that my husband stared at me across the table and said, grinning, “You’re a buff.”
I’m not sure I exactly qualify for “Civil War Buff” status. But I did bring home more Civil War books to read, and I am hoping to tag along again on next year’s tour, when home base will be Williamsburg, Va., and Winschel and Hills will lead the group through the Peninsula Campaign. That was a seven-day campaign. The study tour will do it in four. And have a great time, I know. And learn a ton.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
From news to features, your daily dose of everything Penn State.
Winning weekend: Another football bye week put the focus on the rest of Penn State’s fall teams, and they sure seemed to enjoy the attention. Where to start? The fourth-ranked women’s volleyball team posted weekend road wins at Illinois and Northwestern, the second of which gave coach Russ Rose his 1,107th career victory. That total is second-best all-time in college women’s volleyball, second only to current Hawaii coach Dave Shoji.
The field hockey team went the dramatic route for its weekend win. Trailing Michigan State 3-1 in the second half on Saturday, the Lions rallied to force overtime and then pull out a 4-3 victory over the Spartans. It was the 10th straight win for Penn State, which improved to a flawless 4-0 in Big Ten play. Oh, and the drama we mentioned:
That was senior defender Brittany Grzywacz with the game-saving dive. Grzywacz is the defending Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, and she’s won the league’s weekly defensive award three times this season. At this point, they should probably just name those awards after her and be done with it.
The men’s soccer team chose a similar script—late drama against Michigan State with its Big Ten lead on the line—in its 2-1 OT win Sunday in East Lansing. Junior forward Jordan Tyler scored the game-winner and junior goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton made a career-high nine saves for the Lions, who improved to 4-0 in the league and need just a draw in one of their final two games to clinch at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season title.
For the women’s soccer team, the weekend theme was dominance, not drama. It started with a 4-2 win Thursday over Ohio State and ended Sunday, on senior day, with a 5-0 thumping of Illinois. After the team’s final home game of the season, Coach Erica Walsh called her graduating class, which played a huge role in getting Penn State to the national title game last fall, “program changing.”
Larry Foster remembered: The Star-Ledger of New Jersey has an obituary of Garden State native Larry Foster ’48, the former Penn State trustee, Alumni Association president, and public relations industry giant who died last week. (more…)
From news to features, your daily dose of everything Penn State.
A “legend” passes: Larry Foster ’48, a giant of the public relations industry and one of Penn State’s most prominent and dedicated alumni, died Thursday. He was 88. Foster’s great impact on the PR world came in the early 1980s, when he guided Johnson & Johnson’s response to the infamous and still-unsolved Tylenol poisoning of 1982. It remains a case study in the right way to handle a corporate PR crisis. His impact on his alma mater has been similarly profound. Along with his wife, Ellen Miller ’49, Foster was a generous and far-sighted donor to Penn State, and particularly to the College of Communications, where they endowed faculty positions and scholarships and supported renovations to the Carnegie Building. A three-term member of the Board of Trustees, Foster also served as president of the Alumni Association, and was instrumental in creating the Alumni Fellows program.
Courting success: The men’s basketball team held its preseason media day Thursday, and while third-year coach Patrick Chambers wouldn’t be specific about how many wins he’s aiming for, or whether this squad has NCAA tournament potential, he made one thing clear: He likes this team. (more…)
Nifty gift: Penn State York received the largest gift in its history earlier this week thanks to Donald C. Graham, founder of The Graham Group. With the gift, Penn State York will establish the Graham Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies, which helps students secure internships at top companies in the York area. Said Chancellor David W. Chown: “Don’s philanthropy will have a transformative impact and establish a magnificent legacy for him at our campus.”
A “very good guy”: We were all saddened last May to learn about the death of Kyle Chase Johnson ’12, the former Lion Ambassador who passed away at the Pittsburgh Marathon (his story is on p. 61 of our Sept./Oct. issue). According to yesterday’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Nittany Lion offensive guard Miles Diffenbach and his family were friends to Johnson, his mom, Mary Beth Deal ’87, and stepdad, Bryan Deal. After Johnson’s passing, Diffenbach reached out to the family, attending the funeral and, more recently, offering them tickets and field passes to last month’s game vs. Central Florida. He also presented the family with a jersey, featuring Johnson’s name and high-school football number, signed by the team. Coach Bill O’Brien wasn’t surprised by Diffenbach’s gesture; he told the Tribune-Review: “He’s a good player, he’s a good student, and he’s a very, very good guy.”
Zip it good: OK, so we’ve established that State College is one of the most walkable cities in America. But sometimes you just need a car. Onward State reports that, starting today, Zipcar car-sharing service is now available in State College, offering sweet rides —like a sporty Ford Focus, Toyota Prius, and more—for low hourly rates ($7.50/hour), and helping the car-less among us avoid grocery shopping trips that end like this.
Ring pops: I’m beginning to think there’s something in the air at Alumni Association events. Back in August, there was this elaborate proposal from the Syracuse pep rally in NYC (look for more on that in our Nov./Dec. issue), and last week, the Alumni Courtyard dedication ceremony inspired this rainy yet romantic moment just outside my office in Hintz. So, for those of you planning to pop the question, here’s the list of upcoming PSAA events. And don’t forget to invite me to the wedding.
Cute x2: Not awwwing yet? Well, check out this quick GoPSUTV clip of Lady Lion Maggie Lucas’ adorable pups, Gypsy and Gus. Because we all can spare 20 seconds for puppies.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Yeah, it’s raining. The Campus Weather Service just tweeted about a new record for daily rainfall. But it’s still a pleasant day around here—it’s the start of Homecoming weekend. There are already students staking out their positions on College Avenue for the Homecoming parade, and there was a Berkey Creamery truck parked here at the Hintz Family Alumni Center when I walked in this morning, so it looks like we’ll be well-stocked for this afternoon’s ice cream social. Stop by!
And in the meantime, check out these stories to get you in a Penn State mood:
It’s a wedding night—er, hockey night—in State College: My favorite one-liner in the buildup to the opening of the Pegula Ice Arena comes from Terry Pegula himself, who apparently hasn’t been inside the arena. Joe Battista ’83, the director of hockey operations, says Pegula ’73 explains it like this: “Why spoil it? I’ll wait for the wedding night.” All the pieces are in place, with Army getting the all-clear to travel despite the government shutdown for tonight’s sold-out opener. If Pegula—or anyone reading—needs a little help getting his bearing on the first trip to the building, this infographic from the Centre Daily Times is terrific.
A silent leader, and a must-read: You’ve got to check out this profile of defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, which is one of the nicest pieces I’ve read about a Penn State football player in a while. The author: Collegian writer Anna Orso, who got Jones to open up about how he took care of his siblings while their mother was in jail and about an unusual path to Penn State—and becoming a leader for the Lions, who of course play Michigan at 5 p.m. Saturday in what is shaping up as the season’s first sellout.
Flipping out: How does Blue Band drum major Chris Siergiej practice the flip? Only after 800 milligrams of ibuprofen, and only early in the week. You don’t want to pound your legs too much before the big game. Learn more about this and other tidbits about life as the drum major in this Q&A with Schreyer Honors College intern Julia Kern.
Virtual Homecoming: If you’re not coming to town, you can still experience the Homecoming parade. For the ninth consecutive year, students from the College of Communications are producing a live webcast. Tune in here at 6 p.m. And click here to read about the students in COMM 383A, Webcast Production, and the faculty member, Maria Cabrera-Baukus.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
We do it every Homecoming weekend—we call it the Alumni Zone, and we invite all interested alumni. I’ll be there, and so will a lot of other Alumni Association staff, as well as several hundred Penn State alumni and their families who have already RSVPed to say they plan to attend.
I went to the A-Zone last year for the first time, and had a blast. There’s lots of food, lots of stuff for the kids to do, and lots of music—including the Alumni Blue Band. The Lion mascot is there, roaming around, happily posing for photos. There are celebrity guests too; this year they include former Penn State quarterback Michael Robinson ’04, ’06, Homecoming grand marshal John Amaechi ’94, former Lady Lion basketball standout Kelly Mazzante ’04, and coaches Patrick Chambers, Guy Gadowsky, Charlene Morett ’79, Mark Pavlik ’82, and Russ Rose.
You can get a feel for the fun by looking at some of the photos from last year, and you can check out the menu, the celebrities list, and the activities offered by going here. The event runs from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Multi Sport Facility, below the stadium. Alumni Association members pay a discounted admission charge, but all alumni and friends are welcome. Hope to see you on Saturday.
Tina Hay, editor
Chicken wire, wood, and tissue paper.
Sounds like a strange combination, right? Not during Homecoming week.
Those three items—along with some glue, nails, and hard work—create a float for the Homecoming parade, which will wind from Beaver Stadium to College Avenue in about 2.5 hours starting at 6 Friday evening. It’s all in the art of “pomping.”
Here’s what you need:
Pomping guidelines are very specific and can be found on the Homecoming website in the Homecoming Rulebook. According to the website, pomps are 5 1/2” x 5 1/2” sheets of colored tissue paper and must be ordered through Penn State Homecoming. Organizations purchase a variety of colors based on what your theme is. Veterans to Homecoming know to order more than what you need because you can only order through Penn State Homecoming—if you run out, you can’t just make a trip to Walmart.
Nittany Co-Op supplies the pomps, which cost $2.05 per pack. Homecoming suggests ordering pomps in 12s or 24s because the pomps are prepackaged this way. You may need as many as 30 boxes of pomps to cover the entire float.
The float cannot exceed 8 feet wide x 20 feet long x 15 feet high. The float has guidelines in the Homecoming Rulebook, as well. At check-in, each float must have safety chains, quick links, a triangle reflector, and a 10 pound fire extinguisher. The rulebook also suggests that someone guards your float at all times.
3. Chicken wire
Chicken wire hangs all around the constructed float to structure it. The wire is also ordered through Penn State Homecoming, where a 50-foot roll costs $16.90. One piece of tissue paper goes through each hole in the wire. Before pushing the paper through, you paint the wire with glue—$11 per gallon—to ensure the pomp sticks.
You can imagine, the cost to build a float is quite expensive.
“Generations Evolve, Tradition Remains” is Homecoming’s overall theme, and each organization interprets that in its own way, pending Homecoming’s approval.
Building the actual float is the real task. It generally takes a few hours to construct the structure of the float. It’s simply wood and nails, but easier said than done. The chicken wire hangs around it, giving it a shape. Then using tape, sketch the design you want. The tape separates what color pomps will go through the chicken wire, which is pomping—filling chicken wire with rolled-up tissue paper.
Pomping is not difficult, nor does it take skill. It’s actually rather mind-numbing. Deciding on a theme, building and placing colors take some creativity, but anyone can pomp. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it.
Pomping does, however, require a lot of time, dedication, and people to complete. With my co-ed fraternity, which has about 50 members, we are required to pomp for a minimum of five hours each. It takes a lot of man-power to get through the week successfully.
But you can take a boring situation and make it fun with music and friends, and seeing your final product is a good feeling.
Organizations with floats are allowed five people on a float with two people walking in front of the float with a banner. I, personally, will not be in the Homecoming Parade, but I will be there watching. I will comfortably find my spot on Shortlidge with the brothers from my co-ed fraternity. I’m not supposed to say what my fraternity’s theme is, but let’s just say our float is “electrifying.”
Sarah Olah, intern
From news to features, your daily dose of everything Penn State.
Big Maple: Redshirt freshman tailback Akeel “Big Maple” Lynch has the best nickname on the football team, as far as I’m concerned (Bill O’Brien bestowed it, a nod to Lynch’s Canadian citizenship), and so far he’s been a go-to performer in the media room after games, smiley and chatty. But he’s not had an easy road to Penn State, a tale told nicely by John Stuetz of The Daily Collegian.
For The Kids: Are you ready for THON? Sure, it’s five months away, but after watching this five-minute promotional video posted Wednesday night, it’ll seem a lot closer. The interview with a THON child and her mom, sitting together, is particularly moving.
Harry, Hufflepuffs, and the Honey Badger: (more…)
On the night before classes started for the Fall Semester, thousands of new Penn State students streamed into Rec Hall for a giant pep rally to kick off the year.
The Lion Ambassadors—one of the Alumni Association’s two student groups—organizes “Be a Part From the Start” every year, to make the new students feel welcome and teach them how to be a properly enthusiastic Penn Stater. And do they ever do a good job of it: Rec Hall last night was packed and loud, and all the stars came out, from the Blue Band to the cheerleaders to Bill O’Brien to the men’s hockey team to Mike the Mailman.
There were shakers and fight songs and “We Are” chants. There was The Wave, including the speeded-up and slow-motion versions. The Glee Club taught the students the fight songs, and the organizers even gave away an iPad or two. And it seemed like about every 10 minutes, someone was launching T-shirts into the crowd.
After men’s basketball coach Patrick Chambers and football coach Bill O’Brien did their part to fire up the students, and a video showed the 25 things you have to do while you’re at Penn State (“Visit Mike the Mailman” drew a big cheer), the men’s hockey team showed up, complete with jerseys and sticks. Coach Guy Gadowsky talked about packing the new Pegula Ice Arena for home games: “That arena was built for you,” he told the students. “The student section is right over top of the opposing team’s goaltender.
“So you be sure to make him feel real welcome, OK?”
After that, the hockey players used their sticks to flick even more bundled-up T-shirts into the crowd. Even the event organizers weren’t expecting that—it was a great touch and and a great way to get students pumped about Penn State’s newest varsity sport.
Here’s a slide show of some photos from last night’s event.
Tina Hay, editor