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Penn State freshmen go higher
Last year's State of University Address
University ranked among most efficient
University speaks out on amusement tax
Computing lab includes Internet 2
News in Brief
Evan Pugh Professorship nominations
What was that row number?
Capturing natural beauty
Libraries to offer search courses
Eight join staff focus panel
LGB commission new members
|Penn State news bureau|
Freshman Kate Hagerty (hanging) is hauled up to higher ground
by Glenn Bryce
during a new outdoor orientation activity.
Photo: Greg Grieco
By Karen I. Wagner
Muscles tense, cables taut, timbers swaying, a steady forearm is extended to the trembling hand of a fellow freshmen.
"AHHH! I want to get down! I want to get down NOW!"
Her ground crew urges her on.
"We have you Kate. We have you like the Prudential!"
"I know my limits," exclaims Kate Hagerty of Broomall, Pa., as she clings to an oak timber that is swaying some 15 feet off the ground.
"You think you know your limits," corrects Amy Reinert, her orientation guide.
The ground crew checks the cable tension -- feet, firmly planted; grip, secure.
"I'll give you all of my M&Ms. I'll give you all my baby wipes -- Hey, you can have a shower!" tempts Kelly Hough, her ground belayer.
"O.K. I want to go up again -- one more. Then, I'm going down," replies Hagerty as Glenn "The Rock" Bryce, of Monrovia, Md., steadies himself above her.
Talking through their possible moves, grips and maneuvers, advice from the crowd below is welcome. With a combination of pulling, stretching and balancing, Hagerty succeeds in hoisting herself up on the third rung of the swinging tree ladder, next to her buddy Glenn.
Cheers from the crowd.
"You did it girlie! Incredible! Great climb Kate!"
She's now some 20 feet in the air. And higher than she thought she could go.
Hagerty sums it up.
"It's like I want to get down, but I don't want to get down," she says.
The experience is humbling and confidence-inspiring at the same time. The experience draws them together as part of a unique group: the first Penn State freshmen going through orientation in the great outdoors.
Sponsored by the Penn State Outing Club, Shaver's Creek Environmental Center and Continuing and Distance Education, the Orion program helps new students form friendships and develop survival skills that will help them make the transition to college life. Universities across the country, from Ivy League to small private colleges and a few state universities, are implementing freshmen wilderness trips modeled after programs like Outward Bound.
Dartmouth has one of the oldest programs, founded more than 60 years ago. It's also one of the largest, with almost 90 percent of its freshmen class participating. Professional medical schools like those at Harvard and Stanford and Stanford's Graduate School of Business are offering wilderness trips too. Destinations range from the Sierra Nevada, Yosemite and Big Sur on the West Coast to Shenandoah National Park, the Berkshires and the Adirondacks in the East.
At Penn State, all Orion trips begin and end at the University Park campus, located in the valley between Bald Eagle Mountain and Tussey Ridge in Pennsylvania's Appalachians. Campers spend five days and four nights on the trail. The grand finale is a day on the high-ropes course, built by the Penn State Outing Club near Shingletown Gap.
"They get to meet new people and challenge themselves physically and emotionally by stepping outside their comfort zone. But, we also want them to have fun," says Kurt Merrill, program supervisor for the Penn State Outing Club.
In addition to backpacking and high-ropes, their week includes team-building activities and ground school to teach them the basics of belaying. "Belay" is a French nautical term meaning to wrap and secure the rope. In climber's terms, it's a technique for keeping the climber safe by holding on to the other end of the rope.
The students keep journals and are required to write a reflective paper about their first weeks on campus, looking for parallels between the challenges of Orion and the challenges of college life.
The first two orientation trips ran this summer, Aug. 1015 and Aug. 1722. Freshmen who enrolled for either session received two credits toward their general education requirements.
Students paid tuition on the two credits, in addition to a $125 program fee for meals, equipment and the use of camping gear. Orientation leaders were hired and trained to supervise activities and expose incoming freshmen to the lush beauty of Pennsylvania forests and wilderness.
The program's namesake is the constellation Orion, which contains some of the brightest stars in a night sky. Similarly, organizers see the orientation program as a guide to Penn State freshmen: striking new beginnings, establishing new friendships and new directions in their academic and professional careers.
Response from the first group of Orion graduates confirms that planners hit their mark as campers hit the trails -- and the ropes.
From future engineers, to business majors, anthropologists and artists, Orion brings together groups of strangers, who share the experience of facing their fears and testing their limits.
"Don't look so worried Anita!" Hough called to her belayer, when it was her turn to start climbing. "I trust you completely."
And she did. Standing atop the highest rung, surveying the group 50 feet below.
In a word, it was "awesome."
"I loved the Orion orientation program," said Hough later. "It couldn't have been a better week. I feel like I'm way ahead of the game -- I got to meet new people and make friends. And now I know where to go hiking if I want to return on my own."
A reunion is already planned. On Oct. 4 they'll reassemble, figurative safety lines attached to one another. They'll talk about goals and compare their experiences transitioning from high school to college.
The Orion program is open to Penn State freshmen enrolling in summer session or fall semester at all campus locations. For more information, contact Suzanne St. Pierre, Conferences and Institutes, at (814) 863-5140. For information on the Penn State Outing Club, contact Kurt Merrill at (814) 865-2472, or visit their Web site at http://cac.psu.edu/~tsn3/psoc/.
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By Lisa M. Rosellini
Nearly a year after standing on the stage of Eisenhower Auditorium to tell members of the Penn State community about his vision and priorities for the University, President Graham B. Spanier is gearing up for yet another State of the University Address.
On Friday, Sept. 12, Spanier will again outline new initiatives for Penn State and reflect on the past year in his third annual address. Looking back at some of the promises he made during his 1996 speech, Spanier can point to several notable accomplishments -- despite having several of his initiatives thwarted by a lack of funding.
In last year's address, the president promised -- among other things-- to boost admissions standards, put the squeeze on alcohol abuse, lobby for additional dollars from the state, increase support for Intercollege Research Programs, continue to humanize the University and hire new faculty.
"His (Spanier's) initiative in hiring more faculty has taken Penn State a step forward, but he has a way to go to complete the goal and the final assessment of his performance is yet to come," said Louis Geschwindner, professor of architectural engineering and chair of the University Faculty Senate. "We are certainly hopeful that this initiative will have an impact, and we all believe it will, but we'll have to wait and see."
Geschwindner said that during the past year, Spanier and the Faculty Senate have been working on a number of priorities outlined in the president's last State of the University Address. One example was a change in admissions criteria that will require incoming students to have a at least two years of foreign language study under their belts.
"His interest in general education is longstanding and the interest of the Faculty Senate in this area is equally longstanding. The fact that we can come together and work on these initiatives for the good of the University is one of the really positive things about Penn State," Geschwindner said. "There have been a number of initiatives in terms of academics, assessing where we are and budget restrictions that have forced the various segments of the University to work together to make things happen. In fact, it would be my guess that in his next State of the University Address he will come up with some new things that the Faculty Senate will have to react to and there will probably be some things mentioned that we are already actively working on."
One such area where the Senate has been busy has been a yearlong process of taking a hard look at general education requirements, something that hasn't been seriously attempted for nearly 10 years, according to Robert Pangborn, associate dean for undergraduate studies in the College of Engineering.
Pangborn, chair of a special committee on general education which should have a report available by October, said the president has been extremely supportive of the idea to review and possibly revamp the general education requirements since the day Senate officers expressed a concern.
"A tremendous amount has been accomplished in the past year and I think the movement in certain areas has stimulated a lot of discussion in other areas too, discussion that otherwise would not have happened," Pangborn said.
Another area of movement for Spanier, which he highlighted as a priority during his 1996 State of the University Address, is the rapid progress made in creating the World Campus -- an ambitious distance education goal. Mentioned for only a few brief minutes during his 1996 address, the concept of a World Campus -- a "virtual university" with no walls, where learning is accomplished via the Internet or other new technologies -- seemed a distant reality. In fact, the idea of the World Campus cropped up only toward the end of Spanier's speech, with little detail to flesh out the proposal. But just one year later, information provided by a 40-plus-page report on the topic shows that Penn State has plans to deliver nearly 30 academic programs. By the year 2002, the University is expected to offer more than 300 courses online or via CD-ROM in combination with other more traditional methods. This initiative also has been buoyed by a $1.3 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
"The President's vision for this area created energy for a year of intensive planning, undertaken by the University-wide World Campus Study Team," said James Ryan, vice president for outreach and cooperative extension. "A plan to implement the World Campus is currently moving rapidly and the first courses will be available next spring. The requirements of such a complex project requires a team effort and everyone from across the University has been responsive in bringing this together."
Also in last year's address, the president discussed the need for more state funds and pledged to make a special appeal to legislators in Harrisburg for increased financial support. The University receives less funds per student than any state-owned or state-related school in Pennsylvania and the funding of the College of Medicine in Hershey ranks 75th for state aid among 75 public colleges of medicine in the United States.
In several trips to the state capital over the past year, Spanier made good on his promise to seek not only more overall funding, but special allocations for the Libraries, information technology initiatives, deferred maintenance projects and a proposal to hire 100 additional faculty members. In addition, the University asked the state to provide an extra $1 million for the first year of a five-year program in the College of Medicine that would enhance the quality of the medical education program.
According to Richard Di Eugenio, special assistant to the president for Governmental Affairs, Spanier's efforts "resulted in one of the largest increases in the state allocation for Penn State in a number of years." In addition to a 3 percent increase in the University's state allocation, Di Eugenio said, Penn State was able to garner a special $2 million incentive from the governor for a private/public research initiative. Penn State also received an extra $500,000 for agricultural research and an additional $500,000 for agricultural extension operations -- another priority mentioned in his 1996 address.
"President Spanier played a major leadership role in creating consensus among public higher education officials in Pennsylvania about the need to
increase funding in general for higher education," Di Eugenio said. "Under his leadership, the community colleges, the state-owned universities and the state-related universities went to the Capital as a united front and talked to the leadership in the state House and Senate about the need for higher education to be treated better."
The state did not, however, deliver on much of what Penn State requested last year, the president forged ahead with his highest priorities -- reallocating internal funds to provide the Libraries with a total of $2.1 million and earmarking $1 million for major maintenance of buildings on top of the $7.3 million annually budgeted for that line item. He also shifted $1.3 million in internal funds to cover his commitment to hiring new faculty in an effort to ease overcrowded classrooms.
In measuring President Spanier's success in meeting his stated goals, the University community should also take a look at other criteria, said Stuart Blither, professor of business administration and a consultant on issues of corporate strategy and development.
"Although looking at accomplishments is certainly one measure of success and the president has indeed met goals, most organizations have goals in three areas: A goal for helping employees reach their full potential, a goal for providing a good product to the marketplace and a goal for providing a return to the people who are willing to invest in you," Blither said. "Comparative measurements with other institutions in these areas will also tell you how well you're doing."
Outside sources have recently ranked Penn State high in various areas, such as the Aug. 25 U.S. News and World Report No. 4 ranking in the nation for operating efficiency and its No. 12 ranking overall among public universities (see story on page 3). In addition, Penn State received more SAT scores (53,238) from high school seniors in 1996 than any other U.S. college or university for the second year running, and it is ranked first in Pennsylvania and 10th in the nation in total science and engineering research and development expenditures ($330.8 million), according to the National Science Foundation.
"Our faculty and staff are among the highest caliber and our students excel in a multitude of areas," Spanier said. "In my upcoming State of the University Address I will again emphasize my vision to be the best University in America in the integration of teaching, research and service."
Other pledges from the president's 1996 talk that have been accomplished or are in the process of being fulfilled include:
* A change in the tuition structure
On July 11, the Board of Trustees okayed differential tuition rates at University Park and other campus locations for lower- and upper-division undergraduate students, graduate students and for resident and non-resident students. It also increased and expanded tuition surcharges for high-cost programs.
* Child care
The first of two new child care centers at University Park is up and running. Daybridge at Penn State, a child care and educational facility is operating at Penn State's Research Park and can accommodate approximately 200 infant to school-age children. Talks continue on finding a location for the second center somewhere in the core campus area.
* Broad plan to curb excessive consumption of alcohol by students
Spanier spoke out against binge drinking on numerous occasions, including public speeches dedicated to the topic and an appearance before the Pennsylvania Senate's Law and Justice Committee. He also has raised the issue in his work with the national Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities. Opened the Hetzel Union Building 24 hours a day in an effort to offer students an alternative to parties and drinking. Spanier continues to work with student government leaders and the Interfraternity Council to provide attractive and constructive options to social events centered on alcohol. Offices across University have increased programming and educational efforts, offered freshmen seminars and delivered anti-drinking messages via the scoreboard at Beaver Stadium and The Bryce Jordan Center. Recent surveys of students have shown an increased awareness of problems associated with drinking and a decrease in alcohol consumption.
* Research funding
Revised the current system of handling the distribution of research funding returned to the University for indirect costs and instituted a new incentive-based system. Changed University policy to provide for greater central allocation of funds to academic colleges and Intercollege Research Programs to better support units which are more heavily engaged in funded research.
* Increased support for Intercollege Research Programs
Several reorganization moves will be made to the Intercollege Research Programs, as spelled out in the strategic plan for the Office of the Vice President for Research, which will create clusters of research activity and form a more cohesive group that encourages communication and collaboration.
Spanier's 1997 address is scheduled for 4 p.m. and is open to the University community.
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Consistent with earlier rankings by other organizations, U.S. News & World Report in its Aug. 25 college guide cites Penn State as one of the most efficiently operated universities in the nation.
In its 11th annual America's Best Colleges issue, the magazine rates Penn State as the fourth most efficiently operated national university. The ranking "identifies schools that rate relatively high in educational quality...but spend relatively less money to achieve quality."
Penn State is the only Pennsylvania institution on the list of top 10 efficiently operated national universities for 1997. The university moved up five spots on this ranking, from its 1996 position of being 9th most efficient.
How does Penn State do it?
"We have an obligation to spend tax dollars and student tuition dollars wisely and Penn State has always taken that obligation seriously," according to President Graham Spanier.
"We receive far less money from the state than any of our Big Ten counterparts. And here in Pennsylvania, we receive far less state dollars per student than any of the other state-owned and state-related institutions," he said.
"We spend carefully, we plan for the future and we have dedicated faculty and staff," Spanier said. "It is nice to be recognized year in and year out for the value and efficiency with which we operate Penn State, but to be honest, we could do even more for the people of Pennsylvania if our funding level was closer to that of our peer institutions."
Although it educates more students than all but one other university in the Big Ten, Penn State receives an average $88 million less in state appropriation than the other schools receive from their states.
In recent years Penn State has also consistently been included in the guidebook 101 of the Best Values in America's Colleges and Universities, which cited the University Park campus for its "multitude of superior academic offerings."
And Money magazine in 1996 and again in 1997 included Penn State on its list of Best College Buys "when you consider the quality of education offered versus the tuition charged."
In the same issue of U.S. News & World Report Penn State is ranked 12th in the nation overall among public universities and is the only Pennsylvania institution listed among the top 25 public national universities.
Joe Paterno's Nittany Lion football team may be ranked No. 1 in preseason polls by the Associated Press and cited on the cover of the new issue of Sports Illustrated, but Penn State is also ranked No. 1 in many other ways.
The Associated Press poll consists of a vote taken of 70 sports reporters around the country and it is based entirely on their opinions and feelings. Many of the other No. 1 rankings for Penn State are based on factual data. Here are some of the things for which Penn State is ranked No. 1 -- outside of its considerable accomplishments in Beaver Stadium.
* Penn State ranked No. 1 among all public universities in fiscal year 1995 for the amount of industry sponsored research, with a total of more than $50 million in such research.
* The College Board reports that Penn State ranked first nationally in receiving unsolicited SAT scores from high school seniors in both of the past two years.
* Penn State ranks No. 1 for the largest alumni association in the world with more than 140,000 dues-paying members.
* Penn State is No. 1 in enrollment among more than 120 colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, with more than 77,000 students in the 1996-97 school year.
* Penn State is ranked No. 1 among all public universities in the nation for the amount of research it does for the Department of Defense. More than $57 million in defense research in fiscal year 1995.
* The University ranks No. 1 in the number of Ph.Ds in art education; the No. 1 Ph.D program in geography (according to the National Research Council); second to no one as a producer of meteorologists in the nation; the No. 1 program in adult education (according to Adult Education Quarterly); the No. 1 program in acoustics; the No. 1 public research university in the nation in graduating African-Americans who go on to earn doctoral degrees in the sciences; and the No. 1 program in higher education (according to U.S. News & World Report.)
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In a move to protect the University's historical and court-approved tax status, Penn State officials have reiterated their position on a possible amusement tax being mulled by the State College Area School Board.
In a letter to the board dated Aug. 20, Gary Schultz, senior vice president for finance and business/treasurer, expressed disappointment in the school board's recent discussions about imposing a 5-percent amusement tax in the school district. The tax could cover everything from video games to football tickets. A board committee is putting the finishing touches on the tax proposal that may be discussed as early as September.
"Penn State -- as an instrumentality of the Commonwealth -- is immune from all local taxation," Schultz said. "Imposing a tax of this nature jeopardizes the University's 1992 tax agreement among local governing bodies. This agreement was developed and approved by all parties."
Under the agreement Schultz was referring to, Penn State pays out about $1 million per year in cash and in-kind services to the school district and other local governments. University officials explain that The Bryce Jordan Center and Beaver Stadium, which would both fall under such a tax, already provide significant financial benefit to the region which far outweighs any financial impact on the governing bodies involved.
As part of the $1 million in payments made under the current arrangement, the school district receives an in-lieu of tax payment for University family-related housing, which is what a private, for-profit apartment owner would be paying in taxes for the same apartments.
"It is important to note that the other parties to the agreement determined the distribution of the $1 million -- not Penn State," Schultz said. "As we have in the past, we are willing to sit down with the school board to discuss the University's impact on the school district. Penn State brings many things to this community in terms of benefits. For one thing, it directly and indirectly helps the local school district by helping the local economy."
Schultz said Penn State has worked well over the years with the school district and is "profoundly disappointed with these efforts to impose a tax on a tax-exempt entity like Penn State."
University officials said Penn State would take "all necessary actions to protect" its tax status and under no circumstances would it consider paying or collecting an amusement tax.
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Workers trim the trees in front of the Agricultural Administration
Building on the University Park campus. The Office of Physical Plant and
other technical service groups are especially busy in the weeks before students
return to campus for fall semester. New students began arriving at University
Park on Aug. 23. Classes began Aug. 27, but will see a short recess for
Labor Day on Sept. 1. Classes resume Sept. 2.
Photo: Greg Grieco
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When students log on at one of the 217 computers at Penn State's newest computing lab, they'll have access to some of the hottest technology around. The new lab, in the Pollock Undergraduate Library, is Internet 2 capable and may well be the first such student lab in the country. President Graham B. Spanier will officially unveil the Pollock lab at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 2.
"Penn State students will be among the first users of Internet 2 technology as it evolves over the next several years," said Gary Augustson, executive director for computer and information systems.
The University is leading a group of more than 100 colleges and universities that are partnering with government and industry to overhaul the Internet to support a greater volume and variety of uses. Internet 2 is specifically targeted at supporting the emerging technology needs of students and faculty at leading research universities.
The new lab will include 69 Macintosh computers and 148 Windows NT computers. Four of the Macintosh units and four of the Windows units will be equipped for multimedia creations in two rooms designed for maximum student collaboration on class projects. Ethernet ports throughout the lab will enable students to bring their lap tops to Pollock and plug in to the University's backbone network and to the Internet.
"With the addition of Pollock lab, Penn State students will have access to more than 1,400 computers across campus. They'll have access at the speeds that will support more advanced applications such as video streaming, new forms of data visualization, multi-site computation, telemedicine and interactive collaborative research," Augustson said.
The lab will be staffed by computer consultants 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Student "rovers" also will check laboratory equipment on a regular basis. The cost of the computers will be covered by the student computer fee.
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Ralph Waterbury Condee, professor of English literature and humanities from 1958 until his retirement in 1980, died July 31 at the age of 81.
Condee earned his bachelor of arts degree in classics from the University of Illinois in 1937; his master's degree from the University of Chicago in 1939; and in 1949 earned his doctoral degree from the University of Illinois.
In 1949, he began working at Penn State in the Department of English Literature. In 1958, he was named a full professor of English literature and humanities. Condee, one of three initiators of the general education program in humanities, served on the committee that helped set up The School of Arts, which later became the College of Arts and Architecture. He served on the committee that established the University Artists Series and the committee that created the University Scholars program. He retired in 1981 with emeritus rank, but continued to teach Latin in the Department of Classics until 1991.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Ralph and Norma Condee Chamber Music Endowment, Center for the Performing Arts, The Pennsylvania State University, Eisenhower Auditorium, University Park, Pa. 16802; or to Foxdale Community Fund, Foxdale Village, 500 E. Marylyn Ave., State College, Pa. 16801.
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Brenda K. Anderson, staff assistant VI in Computer and Information Systems-Administrative Systems.
Richard J. Bartolomea, program coordinator IV in Continuing and Distance Education.
Patricia J. Bergey, staff assistant V in Continuing and Distance Education.
Eileen Bohrer, staff assistant V at Penn State Erie, Behrend College.
Connie Boob, staff assistant VIII in Eberly College of Science.
Donna M. Buchwalter, manager, food operations in Housing and Food Services.
James I. Burket, director of property operations, The Nittany Lion Inn.
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