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

Remarks by Penn State President Graham Spanier
January 22, 2010

As we enter 2010 and reflect on the decade that has just ended, I'm sure you agree that it was transformative in many ways. At Penn State it was a decade of growth and engagement.

Research expenditures nearly doubled to reach $765 million. Over 5 million square feet were added to our physical plant. Applications increased nearly 50 percent, making Penn State the most popular university in the nation. Enrollment is up 16 percent, and minority enrollment is up 62 percent.

Over the last decade our alumni association grew by 14 percent and is the largest alumni association in the world. We're now No. 1 in alumni donors. And despite the financial challenges of the last year, our endowment is up 62 percent for the decade.

We even had a visit from the Google "Trike," as it is known, which will provide a 360-degree visual experience of our campus. Through the Google Maps Street View, people will be able to ‘walk' through the tunnel on to the field at Beaver Stadium, get nose to nose with the Nittany Lion, and stand outside the Nittany Lion Inn. Clearly, this is not your father's campus tour! And it's a fitting symbol of this new decade and the way today's students seek information and experiences.

You have all played an important role in this growth, and I would like to begin this new decade by thanking everyone for their work on behalf of Penn State. I especially want to thank Jim Broadhurst, who has served the board for more than a decade as a business and industry trustee, vice chair from 2004 through 2006, and chair from 2007 until today. He has brought exceptional leadership, insight, dedication and enthusiasm to Penn State, and I deeply appreciate his hard work and friendship as we addressed challenges ranging from Y2K to 9/11 to H1N1 to other issues I won't spell out.

Later today we will elect the new officers of the Board of Trustees, and I look forward to working with all of you as we move ahead.

Now for a brief update on the state budget.

I am happy to report that on Dec. 17, 2009, Gov. Rendell released the funding for Penn State and the other state-related institutions. Penn State is expected to receive $334 million for 2009-10, which includes federal stimulus funds. In addition, we will be reimbursed with stimulus funds for some 2008-09 cuts. As you know, we will be able to avoid a mid-year tuition increase.

On the heels of the funding announcement, Penn State submitted our budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year. It requests an increase of 3.9 percent, which translates into a request of $360.9 million. This figure will allow Penn State to hold the tuition increases to between 2.9 and 4.9 percent. It would also allow Penn State to offset some health insurance costs and contributions to the state employee retirement system, as well as restore critical funding for agricultural research and cooperative extension. In addition, it would provide for merit-based raises for Penn State employees.

Gov. Rendell will release his budget recommendations for the next fiscal year on Feb. 9. We are hopeful that the governor will provide leadership for a timely budget this year.

On Feb. 23 I will travel to Harrisburg to make the case for Penn State when I appear before the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. On March 3, I will appear at the Senate Appropriations hearing.

The other numbers we're watching closely right now are applications. We are at the mid-point in the admissions cycle, and I'm happy to report that we are again seeing record numbers of applications. Total applications for all campuses as of Jan. 11, 2010, are ahead by 4 percent compared to 2009. Overall, undergraduate applications are up 2 percent for University Park, and 4 percent for the Commonwealth Campuses. Graduate applications are up 13 percent compared to last year. Out-of-state applications are trending higher this year, as are minority applications, which are up nearly 8 percent. Application counts will continue to change weekly, and we will provide periodic updates as the year progresses. Right now we are up 3,300 applications.

I want to allow time for questions after my report, but I do have a few accomplishments to share.

On Monday, Dec. 21, the master of finance students at Penn State Great Valley and I had the pleasure of ringing the NASDAQ opening bell. This visit was arranged by Walt Smith, a 1995 graduate who is currently a master of business administration student at Penn State Great Valley and vice president of NASDAQ. It was a great experience for the students, faculty and alumni who were in attendance, and our appearance garnered excellent coverage for Penn State Great Valley. The opening ceremony was shown on the Times Square Tower, and it appeared on CNBC, CNBC India,, Business News Network in Canada, Bloomberg and Bloomberg Brazil, among others.

As an aside, the NASDAQ ended that day on a 15-month high, so perhaps they'll invite us back in the future.

Closer to home, Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences made news last week at the Farm Show in Harrisburg. This is the largest indoor agricultural event in America, and Penn State always has a major presence.

In addition to exhibits that showcase the college's programs, many of the show's activities — from vegetable contests to competitive livestock events to news coverage — are only possible as a result of the efforts of Penn State faculty, staff and extension educators.

This year, seven Penn State students were awarded scholarships by the Pennsylvania Farm Show Scholarship Foundation. The scholarship is $3,500 and the college will add $2,000, which will provide a significant benefit to the selected students. Shown here are the students with state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Dean Bruce McPheron.

In the sciences, six Penn State faculty members were named new Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in honor of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science and its applications. This global organization is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. The Fellows are Sarah Assmann, Waller Professor of Plant Biology; Philip C. Bevilacqua, Professor of Chemistry; Bill Easterling, dean, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and professor of geography; Barbara J. Garrison, head of the Chemistry Department and Shapiro Professor of Chemistry; S. Blair Hedges, professor of biology, and Akhlesh Lakhtakia, the Charles Godfrey Binder Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics.

Moving on to athletics…

Perhaps the biggest sports story of the decade was the women's volleyball team and their unprecedented third consecutive NCAA national title. We will recognize the team and coach at lunch, but I want to briefly note their historic accomplishment.

In the press conference after the game, senior Alisha Glass summed up the experience this way, "It has been amazing for us to be a part of it. This was our goal. This was what we wanted from the beginning of the season. I think you saw that in the match."
We saw all that and more. It was an incredible achievement by any measure.

Football also provided us with a number of highlights including the Capital One Bowl victory in Florida. The team excelled in the classroom as well. Among all the schools in the final AP ranking by 2009 Football Federal Graduation Rates, Penn State ranked No. 1 with an 89 percent graduation rate.

The Penn State Football program also was at the head of the class in the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American selections.

Notably, during Joe Paterno's tenure, Penn State has had 45 Academic All-Americans with 34 earning first team honors. The Nittany Lions' all-time total of 47 Academic All-America football players leads all Big Ten schools.

This year's top academic stars are senior linebacker Josh Hull, senior kick snapper Andrew Pitz, and junior center Stefen Wisniewski, a Schreyer scholar who is currently student teaching at the State College Area High School. Stefen is a great role model for the high school students and the number one recruit for student flag football games.

Daryll Clark was honored as the Big Ten's MVP when he received the Chicago Tribune's Silver Football Award. Daryll is the first Penn State player to win the award since Michael Robinson won it in 2005.

In another recent ranking, Penn State also came out on top. According to, Penn State is the Big Ten's most valuable football team and ranks third in the nation. The Forbes' ranking formula "is based on what the football program contributes annually to their university, athletic department, conference and local communities." According to Forbes, Penn State's team value is $99 million, which is significantly higher than Ohio State and Michigan, and about double that of Michigan State and Wisconsin.

Now, I have excellent news from our Office of Development. In December Penn State's alumni and friends gave more than $58 million to surpass any other one-month total in the school's history. The December 2009 receipts total is more than $13 million beyond the previous Penn State record of $44 million, which was set in December 2005.

Although this total includes several gifts of $1 million or more, a significant amount of the support came from a broad base of donors giving at every level. Since Jan. 1, 2007, we have raised $890 million in total commitments to the campaign. This is wonderful news as we prepare for the formal launch of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students on April 23, 2010. On behalf of Penn State, I want to thank our campaign chair Peter Tombros along with Rod Kirsch and the development team for their extraordinary work. Peter and Rod, can you please stand to be recognized?

As I do each January, I want to remind you that the Dance Marathon will be taking place at the Bryce Jordan Center from Feb. 19-21. This weekend is always memorable and moving, and it has changed significantly from 1973 when a small group of dedicated Penn State students held our first Dance Marathon. That year, 34 dancers participated and raised $2,000.

Since then, THON's presence in the Penn State community has grown exponentially. THON now has 15,000 student volunteers, 700 dancers, and has raised more than $61 million to benefit The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Children's Hospital. I hope our Trustees will stop by and cheer on the dancers.

I want to end my remarks with a few words on the tragedy in Haiti. Last week's earthquake had a devastating effect on a country that was already struggling. I'm very proud of the Penn Staters who have responded to this crisis. Matt Marek, a '98 liberal arts graduate, is on the front lines of providing aid to residents. He is the director of programs for the American Red Cross in Haiti, and he has been seen worldwide in media interviews discussing the great need for humanitarian help.

In addition, several fundraising events have taken place at a number of Penn State campuses to help in the relief effort. For example, the Penn State Hershey Medical Center is mobilizing a medical-surgical team that will participate in the recovery phase of the operation in a couple of weeks. The Medical Center also is collecting medical supplies and funds to send to Haiti. In addition, emotional support is being made available to members of the Penn State community who have been affected by the earthquake. For more details on the Haiti relief effort at Penn State, please check Penn State Live.

This concludes my report. At this time, I would be happy to take questions.

Penn State President Graham B. Spanier Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated November 18, 2010