Posts filed under ‘Penn State faculty’
Support a local business. Share an inspiring quote. Tell someone a joke to brighten his/her day. Penn State students performed these small, yet meaningful, random acts of kindness Wednesday on what would have been John William McKenzie Brady’s ninth birthday. John, more commonly known as Mack, was Schreyer Honors College Dean Christian Brady’s son, who died on New Year’s Eve from a rare blood infection.
Brady released a statement on New Year’s to inform others of the tragic event: “Words cannot begin to express the deep, wrenching sorrow that our family feels at the sudden and unexpected death of our boy. He contracted a blood infection on Sunday and by last night had returned to God. He was a special treasure, a true blessing sent from God.”
Following the release of the statement, the Schreyer Honors College Student Council organized “Mack’s Day of Kindness” for his birthday. “We had a lot of students come forward saying they wanted to do something and help,” said Erin Platz, president of the student council. “Even though the students did not know Mack at all—I did not know him either—we are very close to Dean Brady. He really makes an effort to get to know all of the students in the Honors College.”
Random acts of kindness were written on slips of paper and tacked on boards in Atherton and Simmons halls. Students were encouraged to pass by either hall and take a slip of paper to complete throughout the day. (Click on the photos for a closer look.)
At 5:30, students and faculty were invited back to the Atherton Hall lobby to write a message for the Brady family on luminaria bags, which were lit up by fake candles and placed in the Atherton courtyard. The Schreyer Honors College Student Council hopes to make “Mack’s Day of Kindness” an annual event to help the Brady family through what will be a difficult day.
The Schreyer Honors College Student Council created a Facebook event and the hashtag #MacksDayofKindness, which was used on Twitter throughout the day. One example from Twitter user Anthony Shelton: “Just thanked anonymously a great member of our @penn_state faculty for all that she’s done for our community. #WeAre #MacksDayofKindness.”
Mack was a huge soccer fan, which led the Brady family to establish a scholarship in Mack’s honor. The scholarship will benefit a member of the Penn State men’s soccer team.
Brady, his wife, Elizabeth, and their daughter, Isabel, stopped by Atherton Hall during the event. They were grateful to all of the students in remembering their son and were touched by what the students made possible.
Kimberly Valarezo, intern
Summing up a Board of Trustees meeting is never easy. I’ve covered them on and off since college, and they’re always a mix of mind-numbing reports and vital, critical information and decisions—often in the same agenda item. Since the Sandusky scandal, the meetings have been even more challenging, with more to consider and digest.
Take Friday’s meeting, for instance, which was moved from the traditional spot, the boardroom at the Nittany Lion Inn, to a larger conference room at The Penn Stater Conference Center, the better to accommodate the greater interest in such meetings since the Sandusky scandal. It had a little bit of everything. And I do mean everything.
Part of the meeting was celebratory—president Rod Erickson’s report, largely a list of achievements by Penn State students and faculty. Among them: the Dairy Judging team taking “top honors” at the Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest, the university being recognized as one of the top 10 producers of U.S. Fulbright Scholars, and the dedication of the new Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, which has nifty features such as beds for parents to sleep in when they’re staying with their sick children.
Part of the meeting did, truly, look forward. Erickson announced that the Middle States Commission on Higher Education had reaffirmed Penn State’s accreditation, and the trustees approved the members of the Trustee Presidential Selection Council, which will oversee the search for Erickson’s replacement. (Keep reading for more details, and we’ll have a full report on the presidential search in our January/February issue.)
Part of the meeting hinted at the division within the university community. The trustees approved a code of conduct for intercollegiate athletics, something required by the Athletics Integrity Agreement that’s part of the NCAA sanctions, but not without discussion. Joel Myers ’61, ’63g, ’71g, who said he was in favor of the code, nonetheless wanted to “assert that nobody takes this as us approving the NCAA consent decree.” He and Anthony Lubrano ’82 wanted to add that language to the resolution, but Penn State’s vice president and general counsel, Stephen Dunham, recommended against it to eliminate any confusion and because the code itself doesn’t mention the AIA or consent decree.
“This is a Penn State document,” Dunham said. “It’s based on Penn State principles. It’s based on Penn State core values. It’s based on the Penn State mission. It is 100 percent consistent with existing Penn State intercollegiate athletics policies.”
Note, by the way, that the document must be signed by student-athletes, coaches, athletics staff, and trustees.
And part of the meeting was just flat-out angry. Eight people who registered in advance were permitted to address the board for three minutes each. Six showed up to speak, and their anger was palpable, particularly Gene Lizardi—who called himself “most ashamed of the board members who went to the university” and suggested that auditor general Jack Wagner’s report on governance reform be sent to NCAA president Mark Emmert, so “maybe he can vacate some of your seats”—and Philip Schultes ’90g, who said he was visiting guidance counselors at high schools across Pennsylvania to ask them to discourage students from applying to Penn State.
Others asked why David Joyner ’72, ’76g, ’81g is still the acting athletic director (Board chair Karen Bretherick Peetz ’77 said in a post-meeting news conference that he will remain in the position for the duration of Tim Curley’s contract) and to see the documentation involved in hiring Louis Freeh. Said Peetz: “There were many pointed questions—I think they are important questions—and we’re going to have to go back and do the due diligence of what paperwork was done …. So that’s a fair question.”
Important issues, all. But I’m going to spend the rest of the post on the presidential search because, as numerous people have said, choosing the next president is among the most important—if not the most important—decision the trustees will make.
The process involves three committees, two of which are directly involved and one that has a more peripheral, big-picture role.
The Blue and White Vision Council will be led by former University of Illinois president Stan Ikenberry, and it includes trustees, faculty, and alumni. (Click here for the 27-person list.) The members are looking strategically at some of the issues Penn State needs to deal with—the example everyone mentions is the role of technology in higher education, particularly online education. They’re not directly involved in the presidential search process, but they will share their findings with the two committees that are.
The University Presidential Search and Screen Committee, which has yet to be named, will start the process in the spring. This committee will consist of eight faculty members (including the chair, chair-elect, and immediate past chair of the Faculty Senate), two deans or chancellors, one member of the president’s executive staff, three students (two undergrads, one grad), the president of the Alumni Association (that’s Katie Smarilli ’71 Lib), and one university staff member. It will work to identify 10 to 15 candidates.
That list of candidates will go to the Trustee Presidential Selection Council, which was authorized Friday by the board. This is the group that will conduct interviews.
The committee is comprised of 12 trustees—Marianne Ellis Alexander ’62, James Broadhurst ’65, Mark Dambly ’80, Keith Eckel, Kenneth Frazier ’75, Edward Hintz ’59, Peter Khoury (the student trustee), Ira Lubert ’73, Keith Masser ’73, Peetz, Paul Silvis ’06g, and Linda Brodsky Strumpf ’69. The 13th member is Peter Tombros ’64, ’68g, chair of the current capital campaign.
This process is similar to the process that Penn State used in 1994-95, when it hired Graham Spanier.
There will also likely be an executive search firm involved to help identify candidates. Peetz said Thursday during a work session of the university governance and long-range planning committee that she has already made contact with some firms. The trustees’ committee will decide whether to hire a firm—which is common when hiring a university president—and whether to engage a firm that specializes in higher education or one that has also does corporate hiring.
The timetable is based on Erickson’s desire to retire in June 2014; the idea is to have a candidate ready about six months ahead of time, giving that person time to transition. The search is expected to take about six months.
“I don’t think we’re going to have any trouble at all with fantastic candidates for the presidency of Penn State,” Peetz said. “I mean, it is one of the best institutions in the world; we’re always in the top hundred internationally, top 50 domestically. It’s a job that most anybody in academia would want.” She added that she doesn’t think the Sandusky scandal or aftermath will be a sticking point, “particularly since we’ve taken them so aggressively in terms of what the remediation is … by the time someone gets here in 2014, this will be just a distant memory.”
Lori Shontz, senior editor
I loved the Olympics well before I showed up at Penn State and wandered into a minor in sport history. But I didn’t fully appreciate the power of the Games until I met John Lucas.
Lucas ’70g, a professor in what was way-back-when called “exercise and sport science,” spent decades at Penn State combining his two loves—scholarship and the Olympics. He also told terrific stories, and he reeled off hilarious one-liners, made all the more funny because he was so serious as he uttered them.
Few things made him madder than the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Olympics; Lucas truly believed that Olympism is a force for good, and he didn’t think politicians and heads of state should interfere with it. He was proud to have been one of a handful of Americans in Moscow that year. “Mr. Jimmy Carter,” he intoned one day in class, “he did not tell me that I could not go to Moscow.” He paused, injecting a little drama. Lucas loved a little extra drama. “So I went to Moscow.” Another pause. “Mr. Jimmy Carter, he could not stop me.”
Somehow, in his formal lecture voice, he made it sound like he and Mr. Jimmy Carter had settled the matter in a physical confrontation. I had no doubt that had it come to blows, Lucas would have prevailed. So what if he had the slight frame of a distance runner? I couldn’t imagine what (more…)
“Probably,” he smiled. “I think they’re probably superfluous, but it’s better to be safe.”
I’ve gone to probably a dozen Penn State Forum lunches in the past five years, and Thursday’s event at the Penn Stater Hotel was the first in which I’d seen a police presence. Three armed campus police officers—one from a K-9 unit—stood outside the packed conference room in which Mann spoke. I imagine they were there to stem any potential unrest after ads appeared on local radio this week urging people to boycott or protest Mann’s speech; I imagine those officers were aware as well that Mann has received death threats because of his work.
Mann, of course, is a climatologist, Penn State professor of meteorology and geosciences, and director of the University’s Earth Systems Science Center. If you know his name, it’s probably less because of his work—including his role in developing the iconic “hockey stick” model for measuring long-term global warming—than the reaction to it. U.S. Senators, state attorneys general, and TV pundits (among many others) have all gone after Mann in an attempt to discredit findings that show the reality and alarming rate of man-made global warming. If he’s not the favorite target of climate change deniers, he’s near the top of the list.
Mann’s speech Thursday was titled (more…)
Update: It looks like the Daily Mail has removed the story about Ty Burrell already. I can’t even find a cached version to show you. It’s too bad, because the story and photos were pretty sweet. If anyone knows a way to view the article online, please let us know in the Comments section. —Tina
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I hit a wall where I don’t think my brain can process one more piece of ugly or sad news coming out of the Sandusky scandal. In case you happen to be feeling that way today, we offer you a few bits of more upbeat news.
—Chicago Bears placekicker Robbie Gould ’03 is having an excellent year. This story from the Bears’ website was written a couple of weeks ago, just after he had kicked field goals of 50 and 53 yards in the same game, a loss to the Raiders … and then this past Sunday, in an overtime loss to the Broncos, he kicked one of 57 yards—a team record.
Better yet, this past Monday—the day after the Denver game—he took a bunch of needy kids shopping. Gould, through his Goulden Touch Foundation, gave a $120 shopping spree at Target to each of 99 kids from Mooseheart Child City and School, a place for children and teens who don’t have a stable home life. Gould was there for the shopping, and the article about the event has a small gallery of photos from the event that should make you smile.
—Then we have Modern Family star Ty Burrell ’97g and his cute little adopted daughter. It seems little Frances
A history professor, Sally McMurry, was going through old tax rolls in the basement of the Centre County Historical Museum in Bellefonte, and she needed a break. (Understandably.) She happened to notice a hunk of what appeared to be deteriorating leather on one of the shelves, and when she opened it, she discovered it was records from the Civil War, a list of deserters from Pennsylvania.
So she alerted her colleague, William Blair, head of Penn State’s George and Ann Richards Civil War Center, who was amazed. “I’d never seen anything like this in my life,” he said. “That’s not easy to do these days.”
Thus began some detective work for Blair, whose current research focuses on northern homefronts during the Civil War. This was a detour, but (more…)
When someone starts off by saying that the story idea involves their son or daughter, I tend to be, shall we say, a little skeptical. But the proud mom who called me this morning, Marie Leath, was right: Her son is newsworthy.
It turns out that on Tuesday, Steven Leath ’79 was named president of Iowa State University.
Leath was a plant-science major at Penn State, went on to get his master’s and doctorate, and spent some time working in plant pathology for the U.S. Department of Agriculture before joining the faculty of the University of North Carolina in 2001. Since 2007 he’s been that school’s VP for research and sponsored programs—and on Feb. 1 he’ll become a college president.
You can read the Des Moines Register’s article about his appointment here.
Ironically, the man he’ll replace at Iowa State also has Penn State ties. Gregory Geoffrey has been ISU president since 2001; before that, he was dean of the Eberly College of Science at Penn State, and before that, he was head of the chemistry department here.
Tina Hay, editor
Cambridge University Press has just published the first volume of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, 1907–1922, edited by Penn State English department faculty member Sandra Spanier ’76g, ’81g.
Our upcoming Nov-Dec issue includes a feature-length interview with Spanier on what it’s been like to track down Hemingway’s unpublished correspondence—thousands of letters, telegrams, postcards, short handwritten notes—and what those writings tell us about a very complicated man. That next issue won’t be out until the end of October, but in the meantime you can also hear Spanier talk about the letters in this four-minute video, which also includes a conversation with Hemingway’s son Patrick.
The freshmen in Professor James Kalsbeek’s introductory architecture class probably didn’t expect to build anything during the first week of the semester—let alone the first 10 minutes.
The class of 13 first-year architecture majors, most of whom have little to no architectural experience, received their first assignment in ARCH 131 (Basic Design Studio) almost immediately: Work as a team to build a tower using only corrugated cardboard and twine. The tower must be as tall as possible, and sturdy enough to survive a lengthy parade around the Stuckeman Family Building, through the Palmer Museum plaza, and on to the Nittany Lion Shrine, all while hoisted on the students’ shoulders.
Inspired by the Giglio, or “dancing tower,” parades that Kalsbeek saw in Nola, Italy—where towers more than 80 feet high are carried by hundreds of men in elaborate street festivals—Professor Kalsbeek devised the project last year as a way to (more…)
If you’ve got 13 and a half minutes to spare, you might want to sit back and watch this video that my colleague Dan Leri ’79 recently commissioned.
Dan is director of Penn State’s Innovation Park, which—among other roles—serves as home to a number of startup companies linked to faculty research. He recently had some talented friends produce the video for him on the subject of “journeys.” It may seem like a soft and squishy concept for a research park, but it’s very apt. As Dan put it in the email he sent to Innovation Park tenants, prospective tenants, and other corporate types:
We believe all the individuals at The Park are on a personal journey. And since you have picked a path, we want to support your journey. So, we gathered a few of the folks we’ve met over the years and asked them, “Have you learned anything about life?”
I suspect you’ll recognize some of the people who agreed to sit in front of the camera and reflect: They include fly fisherman Joe Humphreys ’57, retired art professor Stuart Frost ’49, former ice hockey coach Joe Battista ’83, and many others. And I also suspect you’ll enjoy their thoughtful insights—on subjects like failure, trust, lessons learned from loss, and creating change in your life.
You can see the video here.
Tina Hay, editor