President Erickson Speaks to Alumni Council One Last Time

April 11, 2014 at 7:40 pm 5 comments

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





Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

The Penn Stater Daily — April 11, 2014 The Penn Stater Daily — April 14, 2014

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. sjfotos  |  April 11, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    There may be many who will forget that Mr. Erickson held the entire Penn State community accountable for the actions of one man. I, however, will not be among them. They can put up all the banners they want. His legacy will always be tarnished.

  • 2. Dean Delach  |  April 12, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Mr. Erickson may have served the university well for most of his career. But when PSU needed strong leadership and someone who would stand up and defend the university he failed miserably.

  • 3. Mike Jones  |  April 15, 2014 at 12:06 am

    Good riddance you coward. Your tenure as president serves to show that it really does matter who is second in command. When the top dog falls due to death or scandal, we must live with their anointed replacement however painful that may be. In this case, the pain of Erickson’s failed leadership in our University’s darkest hour will forever be his tarnished legacy.

  • 4. Linda Berkland  |  April 16, 2014 at 6:48 am

    So is Erickson taking credit for the $2B raised in the For the Future campaign too? Has somebody forgotten who initiated the campaign?

    April 23, 2010 University Park, Pa. – President Graham Spanier announced that Penn State will aim to secure $2 billion by 2014 to ensure that the University can continue to offer an outstanding education to students from every economic background while benefiting the public through research and service.

    Enough with this farce! We shouldn’t be honoring this man. We should be kicking him to the curb along with the trustees who sat idly by while the university was set on fire.

  • 5. DB Lection  |  April 16, 2014 at 11:54 am

    I agree with Linda Berkland!

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