Board of Trustees meets; President Spanier's remarks

Remarks by President Graham Spanier
Sept. 17, 2010

Good morning. As you know we have a very tight schedule this today, so my oral report will be brief.

This has been a remarkable stretch for Penn State’s research enterprise, which is approaching $800 million a year in expenditures.

Highlighting the effort is a $129 million grant to make buildings more energy efficient. This is the largest grant in Penn State’s history and is believed to be the largest in the history of the Commonwealth. It will be used to create an Energy Innovation Hub at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. In addition to the $129 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and other federal sources, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania pledged an additional $30 million for the project.

Penn State Hershey has been in the headlines with their recent research on insomnia. The study indicates that men with insomnia have a higher risk of an early death. As a result of this report, my daughter helpfully suggested that I step up my evening speaking engagements – in an effort to cure the insomnia problem in my audiences.

Penn State’s College of Medicine has received one of the largest grants in its history, with a $54 million grant for asthma research. Penn State Hershey will partner with the National Institute of Health’s AsthmaNet to address the most important asthma management questions and develop new treatment approaches in pediatric and adult populations.

Penn State Hershey has also expanded their ability to serve the region with the recently opened Rehabilitation Hospital. This 64,000-square-foot, 54-bed hospital represents a major milestone in the growth of the Medical Center.

In addition, Penn State Hershey Medical Group has established a strong presence in State College with walk-in clinics at the Centre Medical Services Building and the Windmere Center at Rolling Ridge Drive.

Locally, State College has been ranked second in the U.S. in best college towns, according to the American Institute for Economic Research. State College was among the leaders in research capacity, entrepreneurial activity, creative class and cost of living. Incidentally State College is second to the windy, frozen tundra to the north, also known as Ithaca.

Fall is always a wonderful time to be on campus with our new and returning students. I’m enjoying my return to the classroom as I teach the second year class of the Presidential Leadership Academy. It is a privilege to spend time with our bright, ambitious students, and this fall we’ll be venturing to Pittsburgh for a field trip to be hosted by John Surma.

We will review final admissions and enrollment numbers at the November board meeting, but for now I have a brief summary of this year’s admissions cycle.

As expected we will end up at about 115,000 applications for admissions. This makes it another record setting year in nearly every category. Some of the biggest increases, compared to last year, were in graduate applications, which were up 11 percent; Dickinson School of Law applications were up 31 percent, and Medical School applications were up 7 percent.

Move-in weekend went without a hitch, and as I do each year I stayed in the residence halls for two nights. It was a fantastic experience, but I have moved out of supplemental housing back to Schreyer House, much to the disappointment of my wife.

We are now focusing on the 2011 admissions cycle, which is well under way. We have already received more than 3,000 applications for admission in only two weeks, and over the summer we had a steady stream of visits by prospective students. The response to our Spend a Summer Day and our tours is overwhelmingly positive.

For example, I recently received an email from an out-of-state father who wrote, “When we visited Penn State on July 28, I was totally blown away. We have been to several other campus tours and open houses, and yours was hands down the best.”

He went to describe the knowledge and friendliness of the volunteers, students, presenters, alumni and even the shuttle bus driver. And he emphasized the beauty and cleanliness of our campus. By the way, you know you're getting old when the FATHERS are using the expression "totally blown away."

I now want to present my 2010 State of the University address. This is the fifth year we’ve done it in video format, and each year I am always pleased with the interest of the tens of thousands of viewers via DVD, the Web, the Big Ten Network, WPSU-TV, cable TV, and Video on Demand across Pennsylvania. This audience is in sharp contrast to the more limited numbers of people who were able to attend my State of the University address in Eisenhower Auditorium, even with the promise of free Creamery Ice Cream afterward.

In addition to enabling us to better showcase our campuses and University community, it is clear that video is the preferred method for reaching a wide audience. More than 100 million people watch videos online each month, and Penn State is No. 1 among our peers for video searches on YouTube, Google and other popular video sites.

This year we are doing something different again, producing four separate, short videos focusing on Penn State's people -- students, faculty, staff and alumni. For you this morning we will show them in sequence with only one introduction.

Before we begin, I’d like to recognize a few members of the team behind the State of the University address. Penn State Public Broadcasting’s Topher Yorks served as senior producer and director, Chris Kugler as videographer, Cole Cullen as editor, Mickey Klein handled the audio, Mike Giannelli was the production intern and Karen Wing, from the President’s office, was associate producer.

And now I hope you enjoy my 2010 State of the University address. The video can be viewed at:

Graham Spanier Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated November 19, 2010