Posts tagged ‘Joab Thomas’

Trustees Honor Erickson on his Retirement

DSC_4188_EricksonWhen Board of Trustees chair Keith Masser opened Friday’s meeting, he noted that Rod Erickson would be giving the president’s address for the last time before he retires. There was a round of applause, and Masser noted that there would be plenty of opportunities to honor Erickson throughout the meeting.

He wasn’t kidding.

Erickson, who is retiring after 37 years at Penn State, the last 31 months as president, was unanimously voted president emeritus and professor emeritus of geography and business administration. He received an additional $50,000 to a $100,000 bonus in his contract. He had the Food Services Building—home of the Berkey Creamery—named after him, also by unanimous vote. The resolution naming the building saluted Erickson’s tenure as executive vice president and provost.

It was announced that more than $500,000 had been raised in his honor to fund the Erickson Discovery Grants, which will allow undergraduate students to conduct individual research outside the classroom, attend professional conferences, or travel for additional study. The program, according to this news release, is designed to “address an unmet need of several students who cannot afford the associated costs, or the sacrifice of time that might otherwise be spent in paid work, to pursue such engaged scholarship opportunities.”

And Erickson also received the Penn State Medal, which the board adopted in 1957 to honor people who “made an outstanding contribution to higher education in Pennsylvania,” according to this news release, and then modified in 1987 to honor anyone whose accomplishments, in or out of higher education, inspire Penn State students. Since the change, it has been awarded to only two people—former presidents Bryce Jordan and Joab Thomas.

Erickson was also the subject of this tribute video, which includes good wishes from everyone from Essence of Joy director Anthony Leach to students at various Commonwealth campuses to Mike the Mailman. The best part, in my opinion, is an old family photo in which Erickson is supporting a trendy 1970s hairdo—i.e., long and a little wavy … and possibly with sideburns?

Erickson said repeatedly that he was honored and privileged to have served at Penn State and said that two Penn Staters expressed his feelings better than he could. He quoted the late William Schreyer, who said, “It feels good to be a Penn Stater. You feel like you belong to a great institution that is only getting better.”

He joked that the Food Services Building was a fitting tribute because of his love of agriculture (he and his wife, Shari—who was also honored—live on a 52-acre farm, and he told me in 2012 that he believes he’s the only university president who owns a bulldozer) and his love of ice cream. And when he received the Penn State medal, he said, “I accept this on behalf of the faculty, staff, student, and alumni who have made Penn State the great institution it is.”

Lori Shontz, senior editor

 

 

May 9, 2014 at 7:57 pm 2 comments

The May/June Issue: Headed Your Way

May June 2014Our new issue is making its way to mailboxes now. And yep, that’s incoming president Eric Barron on the cover. A feature story—for which senior editor Lori Shontz ’91, ’13g made an impromptu trip to sunny Tallahassee in March—offers a deeper look at Barron’s career, his family, his personality, and the leadership style he’ll bring to Penn State when he takes office on May 12.

Eric Barron is one of three important presidents featured in the issue: You’ll also find a Q&A with outgoing president Rodney Erickson and a tribute to former president Joab Thomas, who passed away in early March.

On the lighter side, there’s a fun collection of classroom memories submitted by readers — who surprised us with both heartwarming and hilarious tales (my personal favorite features a certain Modern Family star). And be sure to check out the quirky and colorful illustrations by talented artist Nigel Buchanan.

Another highlight: In “Paper Trail”, writer Brian Raftery ’99 (a contributing editor at Wired) explores the complicated love-hate relationship between The Daily Collegian and Onward State — and what happens when a snarky web startup threatens a 125-year-old Penn State institution. It’s a great read, for sure.

Let us know what you think of the May/June issue by commenting below or emailing us at heypennstater@psu.edu.

Mary Murphy, associate editor

 

 

April 30, 2014 at 3:59 pm 2 comments

The Penn Stater Daily — March 4, 2014

Penn State President Emeritus Joab Thomas

Penn State President Emeritus Joab Thomas

Remembering a leader: Joab Thomas, Penn State’s 15th president, passed away yesterday in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Today, Penn State News looks back on Thomas’ tenure in Happy Valley (1990-1995), and former colleagues remember the man President Rodney Erickson calls “a visionary leader and a true gentleman.” Said Erickson: “His commitment to students was legendary, and he played a critical role in building Penn State into an internationally ranked university.”

Thrice as nice: Three huge honors for the Lady Lions were announced yesterday. Senior guard Maggie Lucas nabbed the Big Ten Player of the Year award (her second); senior guard Dara Taylor was named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year; and for the third consecutive season, Coquese Washington was named Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Going down: More encouraging State Patty’s Day stats from last night’s State College Borough Council Meeting: This year, the total number of calls for service for both the State College and University Park police departments was down a whopping 72 percent. Total arrests were down 42 percent, to 102 from last year’s 244. Said Police Chief Tom King: “The numbers are back to the levels of the first State Patty’s Day in 2007.”

Upward bound: Upward State, a new group of Penn Staters, launches today with events at the Pennsylvania State Capitol and the Nittany Lion Inn. The group’s website features endorsements of three candidates for this spring’s Board of Trustees election. The organization is made up of alumni — including three past presidents of the Alumni Association, although the group has no official connection to the association — as well as students and parents. Its goal is to “put students first,” according to their website.  “Priority No. 1 is making a Penn State education more affordable and accessible.” For more info, check out Onward State‘s story here or the CDT‘s coverage here.

Mary Murphy, associate editor

March 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm 2 comments


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