January 29, 1998......Volume 27, Issue 18

News . . . . Arts . . . . Calendars . . . . Letters . . . . Links . . . . Deadlines . . . . Archive

Search the contents of the Intercom archives and
news releases issued by the Department of Public Information.

Donor gives $5 million
$250,000 for fellowship
Gifts of $1 million or more
New programs
Student-athletes post high GPAs
No time to waste
Report on college costs
Intercollegiate Athletics
Black History Month
Penn Staters
Faculty Senate
Administrative Fellows program
Ready to roll
HUB/Robeson project
Faculty/Staff Alerts
Leaves of Absence
Penn State news bureau

Anonymous gift

Charles Fiamella (left), Larry Lutz (middle), and Jacy Turner, students in the Department of Chemical Engineering, measure the amount of heat transferred in different materials in Fenske Laboratory. These students and many more in the future will benefit from a $5 million anonymous gift, which will fund a faculty chair, undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships.
Photo: Greg Grieco

Anonymous donor gives
$5 million to engineering

The College of Engineering has received $5 million from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. The gift will endow the Department of Chemical Engineering and significantly strengthen its interdisciplinary activities in the life sciences, particularly in the bioprocessing and biomedical areas.

Income from the endowment will fund a faculty chair for a senior professor to provide leadership in the new areas, for undergraduate scholarships and for fellowships for graduate students pursuing biological and biomedical research. The endowment will also support an annual lecture series featuring renowned experts in the chemical engineering/life sciences interface, and laboratories and equipment for new research and instructional activities.

"The discipline of chemical engineering is in transition today," said Larry Duda, head of chemical engineering. "Recently, tremendous strides have been made in understanding biological systems, and chemical engineers will play a dominant role in transferring these new biological discoveries to industry during the next century -- just as they did with the petroleum industry in the past. We're elated that the resources from this endowment will move our department into this area much more quickly than we had anticipated."

The gift will support the trend of science's greatest advances occurring at the borders between different disciplines, noted President Graham Spanier.

"As Penn State prepares for its forthcoming capital campaign, notable gifts such as this will inspire others to help us achieve our goal of significantly increasing the University's endowment, and we are extremely grateful for such generous support," Spanier said.

Engineering Dean David N. Wormley said the high quality of chemical engineering's faculty and programs was instrumental in the donor's decision to make the gift.

Back to top of page

Former president pledges
$250,000 toward fellowship

Former Penn State President Joab Thomas and his wife, Marly, have committed $250,000 to endow a new graduate fellowship for the University. When activated, the fellowship will annually provide financial assistance to an outstanding graduate student pursuing teaching and research in any one of Penn State's nearly 150 fields of master's and doctoral studies.

A native of Alabama, Joab Thomas served as Penn State's 15th president from 1990 until his retirement and return to Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 1995.

"I have great interest in both undergraduate and graduate education, and graduate students are in particular need of increased support at this time," Thomas said. "As a whole, graduate education at Penn State is growing in importance and needs attention. I wanted to give it a boost as a way to create additional momentum for the forthcoming capital campaign."

In designing their gift, the Thomases have given Penn State's Graduate School the flexibility to award the fellowship where the need is greatest, regardless of the academic field.

"It means a great deal to us to receive such a generous gift from two people who know and love Penn State so much, and who are so well regarded by the entire Penn State family," said President Graham Spanier. "Emphasizing teaching while strengthening the University's research leadership was a hallmark of Joab's tenure here, and this gift perfectly addresses these related needs."

Arriving in a time of tight budgets for higher education, Thomas established the Future Committee process. He also identified the need for classrooms, libraries, offices and research facilities as a challenge and moved quickly to put in place a five-year plan for new and improved facilities. What followed was a comprehensive building program of more than 100 new and remodeled building projects at Penn State campuses across the state.

"I am very fortunate to be a director with Mellon Bank, which establishes life insurance policies for its directors," Thomas said. "By naming Penn State as the beneficiary of that policy, as well as making contributions on my own, I have been afforded the opportunity to make a gift beyond my normal means."

Joab Thomas is also a director with Lukens Inc. and a former director with Blount Inc. He is active as a volunteer with several organizations in Tuscaloosa, including a hospice and the local University of Alabama campus's arboretum.

A biology graduate at the bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. level of Harvard University and a botanist by training, he taught at Harvard and the University of Alabama early in his professional life. He later served as chancellor at North Carolina State University, and as president of the University of Alabama's Tuscaloosa campus before joining Penn State.

Marly Thomas was born in Idaho. She earned her bachelor's degree in English literature from Radcliffe College and her master's degree in elementary education from Harvard University. At Penn State, she served on the Libraries Development Advisory Board and with the Friends of the Palmer Museum of Art. She is a former grade school teacher, and has been active with such organizations as the American Red Cross, United Way, the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.

The Thomases were named honorary alumni of Penn State in 1995. They have four children.

Back to top of page


Gifts of $1 million or more since July 1, 1996

* William and Joan Schreyer -- $30 million for the Schreyer Honors College

* Edward and Helen Hintz -- $5 million for the Alumni Center, graduate fellowships, international studies and other academic programs

* The Eberly Family Foundation -- $5 million for medical research and physician training

* Anonymous donor -- $5 million for a faculty chair, undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships in the Department of Chemical Engineering

* Penn State Alumni Association -- $5 million for scholarships, graduate fellowships, teaching awards, and physical plant upgrades

* William and Josephine Berry Weiss -- $4 million for student aid in the colleges of engineering and the liberal arts

* IBM Corp.-- $4 million in computer hardware and software grants, gifts-in-kind, and discounts

* Joe and Sue Paterno -- $3.5 million for professorships, graduate fellowships, scholarships, and the interfaith spiritual center

* William and Wyllis Leonhard -- $2.5 million to recruit outstanding undergraduates (The Leonhard Scholars) to the College of Engineering

* John and Ann Curley -- $2.35 million, directed primarily to the College of Communications

* Edward P. and Barbara Junker -- $2 million to endow the athletics program at Penn State Erie, the Behrend College

* William P. McDowell estate -- $1.5 million for student support at Penn State Shenango

* The Boscov, Lakin and Holzman families -- $1.5 million for the Information Commons at Penn State Berks

* Sloan Foundation -- $1.3 million for the World Campus

* Kay Logan -- $1.1 million to purchase, renovate and furnish Mack Estate (Logan House) at Behrend College

* Jim and Gerda Benson (through the Erie Community Foundation) -- $1 million to support partnerships between Behrend College and Erie-area manufacturers

* Lawrence and Ellen Foster -- $1 million for a communications professorship and a librarianship

* The Whitaker Foundation -- $1 million for graduates studies in biomedical engineering

Back to top of page

New programs to strengthen
leadership opportunities

The 1996 Faculty/Staff Survey indicated the importance of good leadership and effective management at the University. As a result of that survey, Penn State is now ready to act on the promise of developing ways to improve communication, respect and professional development at all levels across the University.

This spring, the University will launch Excellence in Leadership and Management, a multi-faceted curriculum that focuses on the goal of "creating our future through people and performance."

Two initial programs in the curriculum for University employees will address leadership and management issues -- The Penn State Leader and Mastering SuperVision. While the programs have the common goal of improving the working environment, the courses differ in some key areas.

The Penn State Leader is an eight-hour values-oriented program designed for all employees, regardless of position. The program will explore leadership values at Penn State and help participants identify and enhance their own leadership styles. It will feature guest speakers and open dialogue. Values emphasized in the program include commitment to diversity and respect for others; teamwork, collaboration and partnerships; personal and professional development; ethics and integrity; quality and quest for excellence; initiative and self-management; creativity and innovation; and critical thinking, judgment and problem solving.

Mastering SuperVision is a 56-hour certificate program that will equip supervisors with a comprehensive set of skills for enhancing individual and organizational performance. The program is delivered by a team of instructors who have demonstrated expertise in their respective content areas at Penn State. Participants will include supervisors, program coordinators, administrative assistants, foremen, assistant managers and others with supervisory responsibilities.

Billie S. Willits, assistant vice president for Human Resources, said the Excellence in Leadership and Management program is being guided by what staff and faculty had to say in the 1996 survey. Results from that survey indicated that it is increasingly important for leaders and managers to provide faculty and staff with the professional development opportunities, informal feedback and other tools they need to excel.

Excellence in Leadership and Management is being coordinated by the Office of Human Resources.

"This program emphasizes the importance of creating a climate in which everyone is respected, teamwork is encouraged, people have the opportunity to develop professionally and quality performance is recognized," said Lenny Pollack, manager of the Human Resource Development Center.

Initial offerings of both programs will be delivered to participants nominated by deans and administrators from across the University.

These new courses will be closely evaluated to make necessary improvements before full-scale implementation in the fall. Both programs will be offered for the next several years and plans are under way for other programs to be offered for managers, directors, deans and executives in the future.

"Because of the benefits of the initiative, the entire cost of the leadership program and 80 percent of the cost for the supervision program is being centrally supported," said Gary Schultz, senior vice president of finance and business/treasurer, who along with John Brighton, executive vice president and provost, commissioned a University-wide design team to provide overall direction and guidance for Excellence in Leadership and Management.

According to President Graham B. Spanier, Penn State's vision for leadership and management is driven by a genuine desire to help the people that we serve by delivering the highest quality programs and services possible.

"The University is committed to serving the best interests of our students, faculty and staff," Spanier said. "Penn State's commitment to Excellence in Leadership and Management will help all Penn Staters achieve their best in whatever they do -- as individuals, as a team, as an institution.

"Excellence in Leadership and Management also is intended to help make Penn State a more satisfying place to work. We all share the responsibility of learning how each of us can help make the University a more humane place to work."

In a survey conducted by the Conference Board, 90 percent of the respondents from companies in Business Week 1,000 identified leadership development as one of the three most important types of professional development programs today.

Alumnus Rick Wise, president of ValueNet International Inc., a financial management consulting firm, agrees that Penn State is moving in the right direction.

"Enabling employees to grasp leadership and management ideas is the key to a successful future in what's quickly becoming a whirlwind environment," he said. "Penn State is doing a good job in knowing how to look ahead and not look behind."

Excellence in Leadership & Management

Program offerings for Spring 1998:

Mastering SuperVision

* Audience: Supervisors

* When: Feb. 16-April 30

* Cost: $115

The Penn State Leader

* Audience: All faculty, staff and technical service

* When: March 24 & 31

* Cost: None

Back to top of page

Sports agent bill
passes Pennsylvania Senate

A bill requiring sports agents to register and be bonded with the State Athletic Commission was unanimously passed Jan. 21 by the state Senate.

The law would allow the commission to suspend or revoke licenses, impose fines and recover bond proceeds from agents who make an offer or enter into any agreements with student-athletes before college eligibility has expired. To receive a license, agents must not have been involved in conduct within the last 10 years that led to sanctions against an athlete or university. Movement on this legislation was stepped up recently after a Houston-based sports agent was charged with purchasing clothing for Penn State running back Curtis Enis. Enis was suspended from playing in the Jan. 1 Citrus Bowl and has since declared his eligibility for the National Football League draft in April.

Currently, 27 states have athlete agent laws on the books, but only 17 require agents to register. If Gov. Tom Ridge approves the bill, Pennsylvania will become the 18th.

Back to top of page

Student-athletes continue trend
of high academic performance

A summary of academic performance for the fall semester reveals that 113 student-athletes posted a grade point average of 3.5 or higher, athletic director Tim Curley said. The list included four athletic team members who had perfect 4.0 averages.

For the semester just concluded, Curley said that a total of 365 student-athletes had a GPA of 3.0 or above. There are approximately 800 young men and women who are participants in Penn State's 29 varsity sports.

"We are delighted with this academic performance by our athletes," Curley said. "It is a credit to the great work of the young people and to the encouragement they've received from our faculty, academic support personnel and coaches."

An NCAA survey released last June showed that Penn State had a significantly higher student-athlete graduation rate than the average NCAA institution nationally. Penn State student-athletes in the survey group (the entering class of 1990-91) had a graduation rate of 81 percent, compared to 58 percent for NCAA institutions across the country.

The survey also found that student-athletes on the University Park campus outperformed other Penn State undergraduates by three percentage points. According to the survey, 78 percent was the average six-year graduation rate for all Penn State students in the class of 1990-91.

Back to top of page

No time to waste

Kate Stone studies while she staffs her group's table at the Student Involvement Fair
on the University Park campus. Her group, the Environmental Resource Management Club,
was one of 180 student and departmental organizations represented at the event
that was held on Jan. 21 in the HUB.
Photo: Greg Grieco

Back to top of page

Report on college costs is released

The National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education, a group established last August to study the cost of attending college, has put together an ambitious action agenda with 42 recommendations for both policymakers and schools to follow.

The 53-page report, which can be found in full on the Web at http://www.acenet.edu/programs/DGR/costreport.HTML, was released Jan. 21 and takes a hard look at the complex issues surrounding higher education costs.

In the report, the 11-member commission acknowledges that concerns over the rising costs of college are real, but not always based on factual information. The report recommends that institutions provide comprehensive, easy-to-understand information of cost and price issues.

Among some of the recommendations included in the report are the idea that institutions should redouble efforts at cost control and focus resources on a few priority areas where excellence can be sustained. The report calls for increased accountability to the general public and greater affordability and accessibility. The report also calls for new partnerships among institutions and a "fresh approach" to academic regulation on the part of government at all levels. Streamlining of student aid by states and the federal government is also sought.

"This is a fair and balanced report," Stanley O. Ikenberry, president of the American Council on Education, said. "I have asked all colleges and universities to consider the recommendations with care and to place this issue high on the agenda."

There are about 3,700 not-for-profit colleges and universities in the United States.

Back to top of page

Back to Intercom home page

Digital Intercom is produced in the Office of University Relations at The Pennsylvania State University.
This page was created by Annemarie Mountz.
This page was updated by Chris Koleno.