The Penn Stater Daily — April 14, 2014

DSC_9230_med_Tombros_deLorean

Why yes, that is campaign chair Peter Tombros in a DeLorean… Photo by Tina Hay

The future is now: Seven years, 600,000 donors, nearly $2.2 billion raised, and an immeasurable impact on the university. Those are the (almost) final numbers from For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, which was celebrated this weekend at University Park. The fundraising total for the campaign, which officially wraps June 30, stands at $2.158 billion, making Penn State one of just 12 public U.S. universities to exceed a $2 billion goal. As you can see from that shot of campaign chair Peter Tombros ’64, ’68g, the “future” theme allowed for some fun during Saturday’s unveiling of the campaign total. Our Tina Hay ’83 was there and will post some photos from the weekend celebration later today.

A beauty for Blue-White: The Happy Valley weather was glorious this weekend, which was good timing both for the campaign celebration, but also for the return of Penn State football. More than 70,000 fans made their way into Beaver Stadium Saturday afternoon for the Blue-White Game. The game coincided with at least one national recruiting service elevating the Nittany Lions to the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation based on oral commitments for 2015, and with the announcement that John Urschel ’12, ’13g has been named the 2014 winner of the Sullivan Award as the nation’s top amateur athlete. All in all, not a bad weekend for our football program.

Feeling a draft: Maggie Lucas and Ariel Edwards, two standouts from the Lady Lions’ terrific senior class, will be hoping to hear their names called Monday night at the 2014 WNBA Draft. Draft coverage kicks off at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.

Triple-threat Lionettes: The Penn State Lionettes dance team returned from Daytona Beach over the weekend with its third straight national championship. The Lionettes edged Louisville and Virginia Tech to earn the Division I-A title at the NDA Collegiate Dance Championships for the third consecutive year.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

April 14, 2014 at 9:38 am Leave a comment

President Erickson Speaks to Alumni Council One Last Time

This photo of the Erickson banner hanging on Old Main comes from @OnwardState.

This photo of the Erickson banner hanging on Old Main comes from @OnwardState.

As she introduced president Rod Erickson, who was speaking to Alumni Council one last time before his retirement, Alumni Association president Kay Salvino noted that there’s something unusual about Old Main today. Generally, banners aren’t permitted there. But now there’s one hanging above the iconic columns that thanks Erickson for 37 years of service to the university, and it will hang there for a week. Salvino ’69 noted that it was paid for by Penn State students.

Erickson noted, with a laugh, that he hadn’t been asked permission—and that he wouldn’t have given it. Then he got serious and said the tribute means a lot because it came from the students. In his retirement, he said, he hopes to keep helping with the Presidential Leadership Academy, where he’s gotten to know a number of undergraduates, and possibly take on some kind of a mentoring role.

Not during the winter, though. That’s when he’ll be fishing off the coast of Florida.

A few other noteworthy items from Erickson’s talk:

Capital campaign: It sounds as though Penn State will hit its goal for For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. That’s a whopping $2 billion, which would make the university one of only 12 institutions to raise so much money. Erickson said he doesn’t know the total—that will be announced Saturday night at the celebration for the end of the public part of the campaign. (And the campaign does continue through June 30; Erickson joked that he’ll have pockets full of envelopes this weekend, so anyone who wants to donate a little more can certainly do so.)

The anticipated success is especially sweet, Erickson said, because “two and a half years ago, a lot of people were telling us that we should drop the campaign, lower the goal” when the Sandusky scandal broke. “We said, ‘When the chips are down, the Penn State family will come through,’” Erickson said. “Indeed they did.”

Future challenges: Asked what he saw as the biggest challenge incoming president Eric Barron will face, Erickson returned to a theme he has sounded repeatedly: the affordability of a college education. He noted again that Penn State takes its status as a land-grant university seriously and it is proud that so many of its students are the first in their families to attend college.

Looking back: Asked if there’s anything he would have done differently, Erickson said the university was “not very well equipped” to communicate during the Sandusky scandal because the university’s communications had been set up to communicate with external constituencies, via news releases and the like. “We over-emphasized marketing,” he said, “and underemphasized internal communications.” He said Fred Volkmann, who has been serving as Penn State’s interim vice president of strategic communications since October, had emphasized the need to communicate with students, faculty and staff, and alumni. Erickson said he believes that Barron—who moved into Schreyer House today and will begin transitioning into the job Monday—will be looking carefully at the communications position; Erickson added that he hadn’t made a permanent hire because he thought the next president needed to put together his own team.

Out-of-state students: Erickson said Penn State now gets more applications from out-of-state than from Pennsylvania residents, and he added a fascinating tidbit. Pennsylvania is still the top overall state. But the next seven are New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Virginia, California, Texas, and Florida.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

 

 

 

 

April 11, 2014 at 7:40 pm 5 comments

The Penn Stater Daily — April 11, 2014

A generous parting gift: President Rod Erickson and his wife Shari on Thursday announced a $1 million gift to the university. The donation, which coincides with this weekend’s celebration of the closing of the “For The Future” capital campaign, will benefit the Arboretum, the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, and the Smeal College of Business. Erickson is set to retire from the university next month.

Klosterman on ethics: I wandered over to the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on Thursday to hear Chuck Klosterman speak at the “Religion, Ethics, and Choice” symposium hosted by Penn State’s Center for Ethics & Religious Affairs. I met Chuck a decade or so ago through our mutual friend (and occasional Penn Stater contributor) Michael Weinreb ’94; if you know Chuck’s name, it’s probably from his books, his writing for the likes of Esquire and Grantland, or more recently, his role as the Ethicist for the New York Times Magazine. Based in Brooklyn, he generally makes a handful of college speaking engagements each year, but this was the first time he’d been invited somewhere specifically based on the Ethicist gig.

Speaking to a small room—a mix of students, faculty, and campus and community religious leaders—Chuck was, like his writing, often funny and always thought provoking. He read from his latest non-fiction book, I Wear the Black Hat, in which he uses real and fictional villains to grapple with the idea of good v. evil. But for this crowd, the insights into his Ethicist gig were especially interesting:

* He opened by saying he’s not remotely qualified for the job, then added that, in his opinion, “no one is.” (The Times‘ first Ethicist, he noted, was Randy Cohen, a former writer for David Letterman.)

* He was only half joking when he said that, due both to the nature of the job and the reactive tone of so much of modern culture, he’s certain “I’m going to get fired at some point.”

* He said he receives about 100 submissions each week, and that the correspondents are most likely to be “lawyers, new mothers, and academics. Also, a lot of atheists.”

* In helping people solve their ethical quandaries, Chuck says he aims to be “hyper-rational … almost Spock-like” in his responses: “I’ve advised people to do things I’m not sure I would do in my own life.” As for his process: Once he and his editor have chosen which letters to run, Chuck said he thinks about the dilemma, composes a response, and then “I spend two days thinking about all the ways I’d disagree with that response.” He then edits it accordingly. It’s a unique gig, and qualified or not, I think he’s as right as anyone for the job.

Football is back: The forecast calls for temperatures in the high 60s and blue (and white) skies—a perfect day, in other words, for the Blue-White Game. There’s all sorts of fun stuff scheduled in and around Beaver Stadium Saturday. Kickoff is at 1:30. Hope to see you there…

Ryan Jones, senior editor

 

April 11, 2014 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

The Penn Stater Daily — April 10, 2014

Good instincts: We were all shocked and saddened yesterday morning to hear about the tragic stabbings at a high school in Murraysville, Pa., in which 24 people were injured. The few bright spots in the tragedy are the stories of students and faculty members who reacted quickly and bravely to help one another and subdue the attacker. One of those heroes is high-school senior—and future Penn Stater—Ian Griffith, who is enrolled for the the fall semester. Griffith helped Assistant Principal Sam King hold down the armed student. Griffith downplayed his hero status in an interview with The Pittsburgh Tribune: “I just acted on instinct,” he said.

Sole men: Yes, more than 100 guys walking through campus in high heels might look a little funny, but “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” is raising awareness for a very serious issue. It’s Sexual Assault Awareness month, and the student-run group Men Against Violence wants male students to show support for women on campus by donning high heels (they’re provided) and making the trek down Pollock Road today at 1 pm. Says MAV’s adviser Dylan Howser: “Sexual assault is framed as a women’s issue, and if we continue to frame it that way, men won’t see it as important.”

1915studybreakPipe dreams: Here’s a fun Throwback Thursday photo, tweeted by Penn State Engineering (@PSUEngineering) this morning — a group of undergrads taking a study break, 1915-style. Who needs an iPhone when you have fancy pipes, jars of peanut butter and, um, a bunch of random pots and pans?

Mary Murphy, associate editor

 

April 10, 2014 at 11:12 am Leave a comment

The Penn Stater Daily—April 9, 2014

Consent decree challenged: Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court may have opened the door to a challenge of the consent decree, the basis for the NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State, in a ruling today in the NCAA’s challenge to a bill written by state Sen. Jake Corman that would require the $60 million fine to be spent entirely on child-abuse programs in Pennsylvania. This Patriot-News story will give you the basics, and you can click here to read the decision yourself.

BOT election starts tomorrow: The election for three alumni seats on the Board of Trustees begins tomorrow, Thursday, April 10, and runs through 9 a.m. Thursday, May 8. Before you cast your ballot, learn about the 31 candidates with our Three Questions project.

A creative thank-you: Men’s hockey coach Guy Gadowsky released this video to thank the team’s alumni for their support. And,  yeah, that’s a cool gesture. But what will really keep you watching is Gadowsky showing off his juggling prowess. I couldn’t look away. I’m off to work on my hand-eye coordination.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

 

 

April 9, 2014 at 1:54 pm Leave a comment

The Penn Stater Daily — April 8, 2014

Relief on wheels: I got home Sunday from a few days in New Orleans, one of my favorite places on the planet and the site of this year’s CASE Editor’s Forum, the annual convention for us university magazine types. So it was cool timing today to see this story from The Times-Picayune on Aaron Wertman, a Penn State undergrad trying to help revitalization efforts in the city’s storm-ravaged Lower Ninth Ward. His idea—a specially equipped trailer that would serve as a mobile design studio and tool trailer—has the support of a local non-profit, and he’s currently raising funds for the project on indiegogo. It’s an intriguing concept, and a very worthy cause.

Listen up: The list of spring commencement speakers is out, and it includes a couple of names that might be familiar to Penn Stater readers, including Beverly McIver ’92g, the fascinating painter and educator we profiled in our Nov/Dec 2011 issue. McIver will speak to Arts & Architecture grads. You can find the complete list of speakers, including those at campuses and at each of the colleges at University Park, here. Commencement ceremonies are scheduled the weekend of May 9-11.

From THON to Quidditch, leaders in their field: Our student media outlets have served up a couple of cool profiles to start the week. The Collegian features the story of Megan Renaut, a junior who was inspired to get involved in THON after a childhood friend was diagnosed with cancer. She was recently named executive director of THON 2015. And over at Onward State, there’s an in-depth profile of Matt Axel, the starting “beater” for Penn State’s club Quidditch team. The piece is loaded with information on the sport itself, which gets more popular by the year on college campuses, and also gives some insight into what makes Matt one of the best beaters in the country.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

April 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

The Penn Stater Daily — April 7, 2014

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

 

April 7, 2014 at 2:59 pm Leave a comment

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