New Administrative Fellow will bring ecological approach to her experience

Erica Smithwick examines saplings in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. The fieldwork supported her graduate student Jamie Peeler’s research on how landscape patterns can support postfire tree recovery. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. — Erica Smithwick, Penn State distinguished professor of geography and associate director of the Institutes of Energy and the Environment, was selected as an Administrative Fellow for the 2021–22 academic year.

The Administrative Fellows Program enables participants to strengthen their administrative talents and qualifications by working with a Penn State leader in a mentoring relationship. Fellows increase their understanding of the contexts within which decisions are made and of the work done in units across the University.

“I know this is a special honor and I look forward to committing 100% to the role,” said Smithwick, who also directs the Center for Landscape Dynamics in College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. “I’ve worn many hats during my 15 years at Penn State, but I feel clarity to know that the next year will be devoted to a singular mission: gaining leadership skills in higher education administration. It seems like a gift that came at just the right time in my life.”

Smithwick’s mentor will be Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research. Smithwick said she has a passion for interdisciplinary research and is excited to observe the “research ecosystem” in action, as well as to learn from Weiss.

“This is a unique mentoring and leadership opportunity, to shadow an upper-level administrator on a day-to-day basis,” Smithwick said. “Lora Weiss is an incredible leader and by overseeing and growing a $1 billion research portfolio has an incredible role to play in the institution.”

In addition to shadowing the activities within the OSVPR, fellows can take on special projects that support University activities.

“I hope to continue to advance the vision of a Penn State Climate Consortium which is well-aligned to the research, education and outreach mission of the University,” Smithwick said.

Smithwick said she will be stepping down as director of the Ecology Institute in order to devote more time to the position.

Last Updated October 20, 2021