Penn State Board of Trustees meets; President Spanier's remarks

Remarks by President Graham Spanier
July 9, 2010

Good morning. I want to begin by thanking Chancellor Anita McDonald and her staff for hosting us this week. It’s always a pleasure to visit Penn State DuBois, and I’m delighted that the Board has an opportunity to be here as this campus celebrates 75 years of service to the region. I’ll keep my report brief, so Anita will have ample time for her presentation.

I’d like to begin by recognizing Helen Wise, who recently received the Mortar Board Lifetime Achievement Award. Helen was initiated into the Archousia Chapter of Mortar Board in 1948 as a result of these traits: leadership in campus activities, worthy character, personality, sportsmanship, and willingness to cooperate with others. Helen has continued to be one of Penn State’s most active leaders, helping to establish the Board of Trustees’ Renaissance Fund, serving as the first woman ever elected as a Trustee, and the list goes on and on. She has also been a valued part of the Pennsylvania education community and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Please join me in congratulating Helen on this latest recognition.

I also want to congratulate Jim Broadhurst on being named the 2010 National Phi Kappa Sigma Alumnus of the year. This is a well-deserved recognition for his many contributions to fraternities and Greek life throughout his career, especially his efforts to the recent re-colonization of the Psi Chapter of the fraternity at Penn State, and of course his enthusiasm for THON. Jim will be honored in a special ceremony later this month. Congratulations Jim.

Last month Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, dedicated the $4.7-million Robert and Sally Metzgar Admissions and Alumni Center. The two-story, 14,028-square-foot building serves as the “front door” of the college and houses the offices of five key departments for prospective students, current students and alumni — admissions, financial aid, alumni relations, bursar and registrar — in one central location. This magnificent building is a convenient and spectacular addition to the Erie campus, and a great way to recognize the Metzgars’ longstanding commitment to Penn State Behrend.

As you heard throughout the year, our application and enrollment numbers look very strong for this year’s class. It is clear that this is another record setting year in the number of admissions applications received by Penn State.

Graduate applications are ahead of last year by 10 percent, and we have received more undergraduate applications to date than in any prior year. Applications to Dickinson are up 31 percent and applications to Hershey are up 7 percent. Out-of-state minority applications are ahead by 7 percent and Pennsylvania minority applications are ahead 8 percent. Total applications, for all campuses, are ahead by 6 percent compared to 2009.

Acceptances have been on pace so we fully expect to achieve the target of 7,350 new students for University Park summer and fall, and Commonwealth campus acceptances are shaping up to be record highs.

Out-of-state acceptances overall are up 17 percent compared to last year for University Park. This means that out-of-state students will comprise one-third of the incoming class. Almost 10 percent of the entering class will be international students.

Out-of-state paid accepts at the campuses are up 8 percent, which includes an increase in the international cohort. Most campuses will continue to accept applications and make offers into the summer. We will keep you informed as the numbers progress.

Penn State’s contribution to business leadership was recently recognized by one of the nation’s leading sources of business and financial news. Bloomberg recently named Penn State among the top producers in the nation of current CEOs of Standard & Poor’s 500 companies. Penn State alumni lead seven S&P 500 companies, including Nike, Archer Daniels Midland and U.S. Steel, led by Trustee John Surma. This is testament to the ambition of our alumni and their leadership success.

Let me now highlight several initiatives where research meets education. Recently, a car designed by a Penn State student team won third place overall in the 2010 EcoCar competition sponsored by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy. The competition challenged University engineering students to re-engineer a GM-donated vehicle, with goals to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions while retaining the vehicle’s performance and consumer appeal.

Sixteen teams competed and Penn State’s EcoCar brought home 10 trophies including one for best social media, best AVL driver quality and best technical report.

Penn State has been recognized for nuclear energy research ever since becoming the first university licensed by the Atomic Energy Commission to operate a nuclear reactor as part of the “Atoms for Peace” program.

Recently we learned that Penn State will be awarded $3.2 million for nuclear energy research as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s initiative to promote research and development at universities. The funding will go toward research in three areas: fuel cycle research and development, the next generation of nuclear reactors, and research focused on creative, innovative areas.

We just received the news that the Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory has approved the Center for Sustainability to move forward on an $8.3-million project to establish an energy efficiency housing research team. The goal of this project will be to demonstrate the impacts of new methods for conducting home energy audits that weave new technologies with student engagement activities.

The project, titled the National Energy Leadership Corps, will include detailed energy measurements of homes in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and State College to access various impacts of energy efficiency and weatherization programs. The project will involve numerous industry partners and will be particularly important as a vehicle for student engagement. The director for the Center for Sustainability’s and the principal investigator of this project is David Riley, associate professor of architectural engineering.

Penn State also is working on a local level to enhance energy efficiency. Recently Penn State Fayette and Penn State Outreach partnered with Fayette County to write a grant that resulted in a $4.1 million federal award to create and expand local energy efficiency programs in the community. The grant is part of the $60 million in funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to implement programs to make American homes, vehicles and businesses more energy efficient. PennTAP led the application process, and Fayette County was one of 20 recipients across the country, and the only one in Pennsylvania. PennTAP hopes to use this collaboration with Fayette County as a model for future relationship with other communities across the state.

Last fall I introduced Beth Shapiro, assistant professor of biology, at a Board of Trustees meeting in recognition of her being named a 2009 MacArthur Fellow. This year she is among 14 trailblazers who were named Emerging Explorers by National Geographic. The Emerging Explorers Program recognizes and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring adventurers, scientists, photographers, and storytellers making a significant contribution to world knowledge through their work while still early in their careers.

Dr. Shapiro studies ancient DNA to give new insight into the fundamental processes of evolution.

The Eberly College of Science is collaborating with the College of Education on a new five-year Go Teach program, which is being developed with a new $1 million Science Education Grant by Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Students in the program will earn a bachelor’s degree in science and a master’s of education with the hopes of improving the quality of K-12 science teachers. Faculty in the two colleges will coordinate course schedules so that students can earn both degrees one year faster than previously was possible. This will benefit Penn State students and the K-12 students they will ultimately teach.

Now, I’d like to say a quick word about the expansion of the Big Ten. You couldn’t miss the news that Nebraska joined the Big Ten, but I also want to note that in addition to joining the conference, Nebraska accepted an invitation to join the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, which is the academic arm of the Big Ten. The CIC is the nation’s premier higher education consortium of top-tier research institutions, including the Big Ten Conference members and the University of Chicago. CIC schools have a combined annual research total of $6.4 billion.

Rod Erickson chairs the CIC. Nebraska has been a valued institutional partner in the Association of American Universities for decades, and we look forward to enhanced relationships this move will make possible.

In other sports news…

Penn State senior women’s volleyball player Megan Hodge was honored this year when she was named the co-winner of the 2010 Honda-Broderick Cup, given to the collegiate woman athlete of the year. Megan and basketball standout Maya Moore from the University of Connecticut tied for this top honor. This is only the second tie in the 34-year history of collegiate women sports awards. Megan is the first athlete from Penn State to be honored as Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. This award recognizes not only outstanding athletic achievement but also team contributions, scholastics and community involvement. We’re very proud of Megan and delighted that she was recognized with such a prestigious award.

Penn State senior Bridget Franek won the NCAA title in the 3,000-meter Steeplechase in Eugene, Oregon, during the track and field championships. Bridget is one of Penn State’s all-time premier runners and winning the national championship in the steeplechase was one of her top goals. Now she has her sights set on the 2012 Olympics, which Coach Alford-Sullivan feels is within her reach.

Bridget’s victory was the capstone of a number of exceptional performances during the National Championship. All told, the Nittany Lions claimed 12 All-America citations throughout the four-day competition.

With that I conclude my report. I’ll be happy to take your questions.

Graham Spanier Credit: Penn State Public Information / Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated November 19, 2010