Posts filed under ‘Campus issues’
Three years ago, when the Sandusky scandal prompted unprecedented interest in the election for alumni seats on the Board of Trustees, we at the alumni magazine weren’t sure how we’d ever choose among so many candidates.
Our solution: The Three Questions project, in which we asked candidates to answer questions about major issues and challenges that Penn State is facing. By having everyone answer the same questions, we figured, we’d have an easier time comparing their positions and opinions—and choosing for whom to vote.
The number of candidates has shrunk, but the need for information and consistent points of comparison haven’t changed. We’re happy to introduce our third Three Questions for the Candidates project, and we’re even happier that for the first time, we have 100 percent participation. All 31 candidates responded.
Voting starts on Thursday, April 10, and continues through 9 a.m. EDT Thursday, May 8. We hope you’ll take the time to become informed before you cast your ballot.
We’ve given each candidate a page that includes an official bio and position statement (from the Board of Trustees’ website) and links to social media sites (be aware that you may need to be logged into Facebook or LinkedIn to get the full effect). You can browse the responses either by candidate (you’ll need to scroll down) or by question.
We have presented the responses just as the candidates wrote them—our only stipulation was that they stay under 250 words for each answer. A few people went over, and we did some light editing to make them fit. If we didn’t understand something, we contacted the author to clarify. But otherwise, as has been the case for the past two years, their responses are unvarnished and unedited.
Please let us know what you think, either in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
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
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
President-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…)
Making room next to his Nobel: Richard Alley, the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences and member of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has been honored with the 2014 Arthur L. Day Prize and Lectureship by the National Academy of Sciences. The prize, given annually by the NAS to “a scientist making lasting contributions to the study of the physics of the earth,” stipulates that the recipient “should also be a good speaker.” On that front, we think Alley (who was elected into the NAS in 2008) more than qualifies:
His ability to teach geology through Johnny Cash covers notwithstanding, Alley has for years been on the forefront of climate science. It’s not just that he can be found hiking glaciers in Greenland or Antarctica, but how he finds ways to make his research—and its massive implications for all of us—accessible. It’s an honor to be on the same campus as this guy.
Latest from the BOT: My colleague Lori Shontz ’91, ’13g is all over this week’s Board of Trustees meetings. In case you missed it, she filed this last night on efforts to boost alumni participation in board elections, and posted this earlier today on the outside consultant brought in to help facilitate discussion on governance reform. She’ll have more later from Friday’s sessions.
A campus menace no more: Onward State takes a celebratory tone in its coverage of the removal of the “colored tiles of death” from in front of the Palmer Museum of Art. If you’re not familiar, the multicolored, geometric patterns that covered the sidewalks in front of the museum had a tendency to get very slippery when wet. They will not be missed.
Keeping Kidd: The University Libraries just made a very cool acquisition, securing the archives of famed graphic designer Chip Kidd ’86. The man responsible for some of the most iconic book covers of the past 20 years is handing over a treasure trove of design artifacts and inspiration, including design work going back to his undergraduate days, correspondence with authors like David Sedaris, John Updike, and Cormac McCarthy, and hundreds of pop-culture collectibles that have inspired his work over the years. Excited for this stuff to go on public display.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Column: A plea for respect and understanding among all who call themselves Penn Staters, and a reminder of our shared fate.
Sitting in my office on another perfect September day, I can look at the most recent issue of our magazine, and at the stories we’re writing and editing for the next one, and find constant reminders of the things that make this place great.
Working at The Penn Stater, we’re fortunate to meet and interact with a lot of the individuals whose intelligence, ingenuity, and hard work make that greatness possible. Just in the past few months, I’ve had the chance to interview faculty members whose research explains everything from the genetic influence on our voting habits to the science of zombified ants. I’ve met students who have established themselves as leaders on campus, in town, and beyond—smart, insightful young adults who are already doing important work. And of course, there are our fellow alumni. Literally every day, we hear about another alum—an artist, an educator, a public servant, or an entrepreneur—who is doing something important, unusual, or just plain cool. As writers and editors, we’re lucky to have such a rich vein of people, and stories, from which to choose.
It is this collective—of faculty and staff, of current students, and of more than half a million living alumni—who combine to make Penn State great. More than an institution, Penn State is a community, and like any community, every demographic contributes to the whole. We are greater than the sum of our parts, and we are weaker when those parts don’t function in unison. Right now, in too many ways, unity among Penn Staters seems increasingly hard to find.
There is room for constructive disagreement within a community—such critical discourse is vital. The problem is the increasingly combative, often disrespectful, and occasionally hateful tone of “debate” among various members of our community. It seems to have come to a head over the past week. (more…)
From news to features, your daily dose of everything Penn State.
All sorts of science: Penn State researchers are making news in disparate and fascinating ways. Postdoctoral fellow Angela Brant is credited with the hunch that has led to new findings about the brain’s ability to learn new skills well into adolescence; Nobel Prize-winning glaciologist Richard Alley has co-authored a study confirming the discovery of an estuary—the first of its kind—under the Antarctic ice sheet; and Ph.D. candidate Joshua Stevens has come up with a pretty cool map showing nearly a century of Bigfoot sightings across North America.
From news to features, your daily dose of everything Penn State.
A healthy decision: Penn State has reversed course on its plans to fine faculty and staff who don’t provide personal health information and submit to screenings as part of the university’s new wellness plan. The story had become national news in recent weeks as faculty members and outside health care experts weighed in; the university’s decision to suspend a $100 monthly fine for noncompliance with the plan made the front page of the Business section of Thursday’s New York Times.
Toward the end of Friday’s Alumni Council meeting, members heard an update from Nan Crouter, chair of the Presidential Search and Screen Committee, which has begun identifying potential candidates to be Penn State’s next president.
This is not an opportunity that’s going to come along very often.
Searches for college presidents are extremely secretive. That’s because the candidates for these positions are generally in other high-profile positions, and they don’t want to be identified. Explained Crouter, who’s also dean of the College of Health and Human Development, “They get very skittish if there’s any whiff they might be interested.”
But the search is in an early phase, and with the university and the executive search firm it hired, Isaacson Miller, soliciting input from faculty, staff, students, and alumni, Crouter explained the procedure to council members and asked what they were looking for in the university’s next president. (Among the answers from council members: someone who can unite the Penn State community, someone who shares Penn State’s values, someone who can make the commonwealth campuses feel more a part of the entire university.)
The process involves two committees. Crouter leads the Search and Screen Committee, which includes administrators, faculty, students, and alumni, and which is charged with identifying a short list of candidates. That list then goes to the Board of Trustees’ Presidential Selection Council, which is chaired by Karen Bretherick Peetz ’77 and includes 12 trustees and Peter Tombros ’64, ’68g, chair of the current capital campaign. The latter committee will choose the president.
“We want to make sure,” Crouter said, “that no one gets on that short list that we don’t feel really good about.”
Crouter was asked about the two-committee system; the questioner was concerned about the possibility for confusion or conflict. She explained that the system had been used in previous presidential searches, and she added that the two committees have already met together. She said that four trustees will attend meetings of the search and screen committee, and that four members of the search and screen committee will attend meetings of the trustees committee.
She was one of three officials to speak with Alumni Council on Friday; president Rod Erickson and Board of Trustees chair Keith Masser ’73 also addressed the group. Each person spoke for about 10 minutes and took questions for another 10.
Other notes from the session:
—Masser updated Alumni Council on governance reforms that were presented by Jim Broadhurst ’65, chair of the governance and long-range planning committee, at the March trustees meeting and will be voted on at the May 3 meeting at University Park. (For background on the reforms, click here for a previous blog post.)
Among the items: removing the governor and president as voting members, increasing the quorum to a simple majority, term limits for trustees, a longer waiting period before trustees can become university employees and vice versa, and provisions for removing a trustee because of a conflict of interest or other conduct.
The last point prompted a question from council member Liz Bligan ’91, ’98g, who asked Masser about the perception that the final two proposed changes were designed to prevent specific people from joining the board or from staying on the board. She didn’t use their names, but she was referring to Jay Paterno ’91 and current trustee Anthony Lubrano ’82.
Masser answered that the reforms were consistent with best practices as defined by the Association of Governing Boards, one of the higher education groups with which the trustees had consulted. He added that at the May meeting, “a solid debate will come up.” Masser also said that this might not be the end of changes in how the university is governed. “Our self examination is far from complete,” he said. “To be clear, our entire board recognizes the need for continuous improvement.”
—President Erickson thanked the Alumni Association’s Grassroots Network for helping to mitigate potential cuts in Penn State’s state appropriation. Two years ago, Gov. Tom Corbett’s initial proposal was a 50 percent cut in state funding. Last year, it was 30 percent. (Neither proposal was adopted.) But this year, Corbett’s initial proposal was flat funding. “I never thought that would be my wildest good dream,” Erickson said, “but that’s been the case.”
Erickson did agree to a minimal tuition increase. That amount won’t be settled upon until the July Board of Trustees meeting.
—Erickson said his biggest concern is the prospect of budget cuts mandated by the federal sequestration. The full effects aren’t yet being seen, but Erickson said the best guess is that the university will lose between $40 and $50 million in federal research funding. Additional effects: lower Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements at Hershey Medical Center and cuts in student aid, particularly work-study programs.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
About nine months ago, I received an email from Sheila Squillante ’02g, a senior lecturer in Penn State’s English department, and Dave Housley, who works in Penn State’s Outreach department and is an editor at Barrelhouse magazine. They were collecting pieces that had been written about the Sandusky scandal for an anthology, and they had a specific mission. They wanted pieces written by people who are connected to Penn State. And they wanted not straight news accounts or opinion pieces about who’s at fault, but pieces that dug into the emotions of the situation. They eventually came up with a title: Notes from Inside a Burst Bubble: Penn Staters on the Penn State Scandal.
I was honored to contribute a piece I wrote for this blog, about how sociology lecturers Sam Richards and Laurie Mulvey ’94g addressed the issues in SOC 119. I’ve been eagerly waiting to see what other pieces would turn up in the anthology, and the time is drawing near.
Squillante and Housely couldn’t find a traditional publisher for the book, so they’re raising funds to publish it themselves. They’ve set up this page on indiegogo to solicit donations because they want to donate any profit to RAINN, and that wasn’t possible on some other platforms. You can go there to donate; every little bit helps. They need to raise $2,000 to cover expenses, and as of Monday morning they’re at the $1,200 mark.
The Daily Collegian did a nice piece on why the book matters; Squillante called it a “document for people to make sense of what happened.” Among the contributors are Squillante, her English 15 class, Housely, and Michael Weinreb ’94, who often writes for us and who wrote insightfully and movingly about the scandal for Grantland.
If you’re interested in contributing, I know that the editors—and the writers, including me—would be grateful. None of us are making a dime. But it’s important for the voices of Penn Staters to be heard, and of course RAINN is doing valuable, vital work. Here’s a way to support both.
Lori Shontz, senior editor