It was the largest conference center at a public institution when it was built — able to host conferences of more than 1,000 people — and with room outside for attendees to set up large equipment such as the smokestacks that are a feature of the annual Visible Emissions Training Program, or “Smoke School.” “We were used as an example throughout the country on how to do conferencing,” said Ostroski.
Also appearing at the 2000 governor’s conference with Clinton were Alan Greenspan, Colin Powell and 40 of the nation’s governors. Ostroski remembered heavy extra security, including police on the roofs.
In June 1994, just a month after opening, the conference center hosted the first International Distance Education Conference.
“What happened at the conference provides a glimpse — a vision — of the future of higher education, and indeed, of education generally,” education professor emeritus Michael G. Moore, founder of the American Center for Study of Distance Education, wrote at the time. “We have stimulated the first thinking about what is, without doubt, to be a frontier of new development in the decade ahead.”
The Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists held its annual conference at The Penn Stater in May 2010 and will do so again this year. Discussions at that conference strengthened ties between Penn State’s Forensic Science program and the Pennsylvania State Police, leading in the past year to internships for Penn State students in state police labs, continuing education for state police scientists and law enforcement personnel, and collaborative research, according to Mitchell Holland, director of the Forensic Science program.
The National Autism Conference, now in its 18th year, draws thousands of educators, parents and students to Penn State each year. David L. Lee, associate professor of special education and director of Penn State’s Applied Behavior Analysis program, said the autism conference and other conferences are a great example of the University’s land grant mission.
“If the goal is to make things better for the commonwealth, this is a shining example,” he said. “That’s why we’re here.”