|News||. . . .||Calendars||. . . .||Links||. . . .||Deadlines||. . . .||Archive|
|Penn State news bureau|
The Living-Learning Center in Atherton Hall on the University
Park campus is a recently added
theme house. Assignments to the house are made to students who are looking for a more
intense, focused, quiet living environment.
Photo: Greg Grieco
By Karen I. Wagner
Morning greetings in French, social hours without alcohol and quiz sessions in quantum physics are just a few of the many reasons more than 1,900 Penn State students chose special living options this year, selecting residence halls based on their academic, personal and social interests.
The Board of Trustees got an overview of the University's "theme housing" program at the Sept. 12 meeting. Gail Hurley, director of Residence Life, traced the history of a program that has enhanced the residential environment for an increasing number of University students.
Theme housing began at Penn State in the early '70s to increase faculty-student interaction outside of the classroom and create learning communities with faculty advisers.
It started with five interest houses and has grown to 13, including arts and architecture; business and society; earth and mineral sciences; engineering and applied sciences; health and human development; helping across the community; international cultures; international languages; Martin Luther King Jr.; Renaissance; science technology and society; sustainable living; and wellness.
A faculty associate, recruited by the students, helps plan programs and activities that further learning and understanding. Students get advice on internships and career opportunities and meet to discuss current issues in the field. International language houses include three graduate students who are native French, German or Spanish speakers.
"The success of the earlier interest house program really motivated us to explore other special living options," said Hurley. "We wanted to offer a variety of alternatives that would appeal to a larger number of students with diverse interests."
Hurley highlighted two of the more recent additions: the Atherton Living-Learning Center and Learning Edge Academic Program (LEAP).
Housed in Atherton Hall on the University Park campus, the Atherton Living-Learning Center shares 80 percent of its space with students enrolled in the University Scholars Program. The remaining 20 percent is assigned to students who are, similarly, looking for a more intense, focused and quiet environment. Seminars, cultural events and group discussions support students' interest in learning outside the classroom.
LEAP, which is offered only during the summer months, is geared toward incoming freshmen who want to get a head start. They live together, while taking courses and attending workshops on library resources and the latest in computer technologies. During the 1997 summer session, LEAP offered seven different course options in engineering; political inquiry and writing; communications; information systems; business leadership; language and writing; and literature.
Both options are enjoying the popularity of their predecessors, according to Hurley. The Atherton Living-Learning Center remains one of Penn State's most highly-requested living environments and LEAP enrollment jumped from 100 to 430 students in two years.
Faculty advisers note the sharing of academic interests, work and study experiences offers encouragement and motivation to students as they pursue their studies -- ultimately leading to success in college.
"The preliminary data we have on the academic performance of students and their retention at Penn State are quite encouraging," said Jack Mitchell, member of the advisory board for the Freshmen in Sciences and Engineering program (FISE). The rates of attrition for FISE women are one-half those rates for a matched control group of women not in FISE who are pursuing similar technical majors.
In conjunction with faculty, staff and students at all of the University's residential locations, Hurley and her staff will explore the possibility of increasing the number of options currently available at each site.
Back to top of page
The Center for Learning and Academic Technologies has been renamed in honor of the late Jack P. Royer. The center will now be known as the Jack P. Royer Center for Learning and Academic Technologies. The Board of Trustees approved the renaming on Sept. 12.
Royer was senior associate dean for the Commonwealth College until his death on July 17, 1997. He joined the University in 1987 as director of academic affairs at Penn State Fayette and later moved to University Park as associate dean for undergraduate education. In 1991 he was named senior associate dean of the CES and was involved in the restructuring of the CES, which became official on July 1.
Royer graduated with honors from Penn State in 1969 with a bachelor's degree in forest technology. He received a master's degree in environmental systems management from American University in 1973 and a doctorate in natural resources from Cornell University in 1980.
Royer and Robert Dunham, senior vice president and dean of the CES, worked closely together in the creation of the technology center. Royer collaborated with faculty on Project Vision and Project Empower -- two initiatives designed to enhance learning through the use of technology.
"Jack was a superb colleague who was devoted to increasing active and collaborative learning in the Commonwealth College. It is indeed a fitting tribute to his memory that we name the center for him," said Dunham.
Back to top of page
The Board of Trustees on Sept. 12 approved awarding an honorary doctorate of music degree to mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, a native of Bradford, Pa., and one of the greatest opera singers of the century.
Horne has been called "the greatest singer in the world" by Opera News and "the most American of all operatic singers" by The New York Times.
Born in 1934 in Bradford, Horne was singing songs at the piano just before her second birthday. By the time she was four, she sang at a rally for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She has sung at the White House for presidents of both parties and at President Bill Clinton's inaugural ceremonies in Washington, D.C.
Horne's family moved to Los Angeles when she was 11, and six years later she began vocal studies at the University of Southern California. She first came into the public spotlight as the dubbed voice of Dorothy Dandridge in the motion picture "Carmen Jones" in 1954, the same year she made her debut in Los Angeles as Hata in "The Bartered Bride."
Horne has been acclaimed in Italy as the supreme interpreter of Rossini operas. Her appearance at La Scala in "The Siege of Corinth" in 1969 marked the beginning of Horne's reign as the undisputed mistress of the bel canto style of singing as well as one of the most versatile singers in history.
Her great roles have included Handel's Rinaldo, Rossini's Isabella and Rosina, Verdi's Amneris and Princess Eboli, Meyerbeer's Fides and Bizet's Carmen. Currently, Horne is devoting more time to teaching and encouraging young operatic singers in their careers.
Back to top of page
The Penn State Conference Center Hotel at Penn State Research
Park will now be known as the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. The center
is the largest of its kind in American higher education.
Photo: Greg Grieco
The Penn State Conference Center Hotel is getting a new name. On Sept. 12, the Board of Trustees approved changing the name to The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel.
"Both Hospitality Services and the Alumni Association at Penn State saw this change as mutually beneficial. It is a name that is instantly recognizable," said Jim Purdum, general manager of Hospitality Services.
The Penn Stater is also the name of the University's alumni magazine, which has a circulation of 140,000 alumni members.
Last May, Penn State announced plans to pursue a new direction and management of the former Penn State Scanticon Conference Center Hotel. At that time, the University consolidated management of the conference center as part of its own hospitality services and concluded its contract with Scanticon International Inc.
The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, located in the research park, is the largest center of its kind in American higher education. It offers full conference coordination services, state-of-the-art educational technology and professional staff on site.
"We see this as an opportune way for a new facility of this kind to take on more of the Penn State culture, as well as celebrate the flagship publication of the largest alumni association in the country," said Diane K. Ryan, executive director of the Alumni Association.
Back to top of page
The Board of Trustees approved a request for the 1998-99 state appropriation of $314,296,000, an increase of nearly $24.6 million over the total 1997-98 appropriation of about $289.7 million.
President Graham B. Spanier told the board, "The 1998-99 appropriation request reflects a cooperative effort among all of Pennsylvania's public colleges and universities to advance a four-year funding plan to make the Commonwealth and its public higher education institutions more competitive nationally."
The request includes an inflationary appropriation increase for basic operating cost increases of 3.5 percent, totaling around $10.1 million, and competitiveness funding with an increase of an additional 5 percent, totaling a little more than $14.4 million.
"The role of Pennsylvania's public colleges and universities is critical to developing an educated populace, one capable of meeting the full range of workforce demands and also of producing civic and social leadership at the highest levels," Spanier said. "Public higher education also can help the state to develop and sustain new ventures that can compete successfully in the global economy and provide jobs to residents.
"Yet by virtually every measure, Pennsylvania lags behind its competitor states in support for public higher education," he said.
The University's appropriation request includes planning priorities developed through the University's strategic planning process. Several areas have been identified for special investment. These areas will contribute significantly to the Commonwealth's progress and quality of life, Spanier said.
The University's highest priority for competitiveness funding remains the creation of 75 additional faculty positions to improve the quality of the educational experience for students, totaling $4.4 million.
"This year, we are able to fund approximately 100 new faculty through a combination of internal reallocation, new state funds and tuition," Spanier said. "But this still leaves Penn State more than 500 positions short of the number required to bring our student-faculty ratio to the average of the other state-related universities."
Competitiveness funds also are requested for information technology and libraries ($2.8 million); life sciences ($1 million); and critical academic program priorities ($1.4 million).
Other needs for competitiveness funding are deferred maintenance for projects at all campuses ($1.5 million); a continuing special investment in Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension ($2.2 million); College of Medicine ($561,000) for medical education; and Pennsylvania College of Technology ($582,000) for programs in environmental technology and plastics and polymer technology.
The University's budget plan includes basic operating cost increases such as modest salary adjustments for faculty and staff; employee benefits and fuel and utilities cost increases; and the continuation of the President's Excellence Fund established in 1997-98.
"The University will continue its program of internal budget reductions that is part of the current five-year strategic planning process," Spanier said. "We expect to generate $3.5 million for internal reallocation -- $1.5 million to help fund basic operating costs increases and $2 million targeted for highest priority program needs."
If Penn State receives the requested appropriations increase, the basic tuition increase for 1998-99 will be 3.2 percent, or an increase of $90 per semester for resident lower-division undergraduate students at University Park. The actual tuition increase for students will vary, as a result of the phased differential tuition program begun this fall semester.
"An increased investment in Penn State by the Commonwealth will return far more value than the dollars involved," Spanier said. "Penn State works hard to eliminate financial, geographic and programmatic barriers to quality higher education. Yet, we also must have a strong partnership with the Commonwealth to continue the tradition of excellence and to assure access to higher education for the people of Pennsylvania."
Back to top of page
One of the strategies for enhancing the educational experience
at Penn State, as outlined
in the University's strategic plan, is improving facilities. Above, site work continues on the
HUB/Robeson Complex on the University Park campus. The facility is being
expanded to better serve student needs.
Photo: Greg Grieco
By Lisa M. Rosellini
Two years of hard work marked by budgetary constraints, a realignment of priorities, reviews of programs, and answers to tough questions about the future direction of Penn State has come together in a 34-page document that is expected to strengthen the core missions of the University and move it into the year 2002.
Presented to the Board of Trustees on Sept. 12, "Academic Excellence: Planning for the 21st Century" is Penn State's strategic plan for the next five years. A blueprint for how Penn State can survive and thrive in the next century, the document spells out six overarching goals, as well as strategies within these goals. The plan does not yet include quantitative measures and the targets needed to fully assess the progress in meeting the goals. However, the document is being called "a work in progress."
"This will always be a work in progress," John A. Brighton, vice president and provost, said. "Times will continue to change and we have to be prepared to also change. The measures that are absent from this current document are being worked on and will be prepared over the next several months."
Brighton, chairman of the University Planning Council -- the 15-member group appointed in 1995 by President Graham B. Spanier to develop an overall strategic plan for Penn State, said the budget and strategies developed by the UPC were crafted with academic excellence in mind and with an eye toward enhancing the overall educational experience. The document is not a detailed work cast in stone, but rather a broad outline that spells out an understandable set of priorities, according to Brighton.
Under the direction of the UPC, departments and units across the University two years ago began to scrutinize their operations to better identify strengths, define shortcomings and decide what areas would receive needed resources. As departments and units embarked on the difficult task of adjusting priorities to meet changing student needs, the UPC began its task of defining an overall vision for the University -- one which reaffirms Penn State's commitment to teaching, research and service.
While keeping "the big picture in mind," the UPC reviewed the strategic plans and budget requests of every major division within the University -- 31 units and 137 departments -- to ensure that Penn State's strengths were being maximized.
"This is not the whole plan for the University," Brighton told Trustees. "While it does give an overview, the whole plan is actually made up of this document and plans from those 31 units and 137 departments. The real effort is done at the unit level, engaging not only the leaders but also faculty and staff in preparing and following these plans."
Brighton and Spanier have often referred to the UPC process as one that has integrated a "top-down" and "bottom-up" approach.
The six overarching goals identified by the UPC in the document include:
1) Enhance academic excellence through greater support of high-quality teaching, scholarship and research.
2) Enrich the educational experience of all Penn State students.
3) Build a more considerate and civil community.
4) Serve the people of the Commonwealth.
5) Develop new sources of income.
6) Reduce costs through improved efficiencies.
Within each of these goals, the UPC has described several ideas on how to achieve these aspirations. One strategy for enhancing academic excellence asks deans to systematically evaluate every program for quality and student demand. According to the UPC, deans should also look at programs for their relation to the University's mission and overall objectives.
Increasing the quality and size of the faculty, as well as freeing resources to move ahead the best units and reallocating funds from administrative to academic functions are identified as feasible strategies that would help improve educational quality.
Some recurring themes in the document include improving teaching and learning, enhancing support for research endeavors, promoting cross-departmental and cross-college efforts, increasing partnerships with business and industry, bolstering outreach efforts and increasing the use of technology for learning and as a way to create efficiencies.
The development of an honors college, to become a reality with the recent $30 million gift from Joan and William Schreyer, is another strategy identified as one which would enrich the educational experience.
Some of the strategies, particularly those that would help Penn State better serve the Commonwealth, have already been accomplished or are currently under way, such as a reorganization of outreach and Cooperative Extension, the merger of The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center with the Geisinger Health System, the merger with The Dickinson School of Law and the reorganization of Penn State's 24-campus system.
The strategic plan also touches upon general ways to reduce costs by improving or merging operations, and briefly mentions the idea of creating cost centers for various services that would establish a direct link between available funds and income generated.
"We are facing many great challenges both internally and externally," Brighton said. "We must take some bold steps to keep pace with these challenges, yet still remain committed to our mission. The Penn State of the future, guided by this plan and the unit-level plans, will help advance the University in its drive for excellence."
Anyone who would like to read the strategic plan in its entirety, can find it on the Web at http://www.psu.edu/ur/state/stratplan.html.
John A. Brighton, chair and executive vice president and provost; William W. Asbury, vice president for Student Affairs; Jill A. Bush, graduate student, kinesiology; Jamie L. Desmond, undergraduate student, Spanish; Rodney A. Erickson, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School; Louis F. Geschwindner Jr., chair, University Faculty Senate; R. Scott Kretchmar, immediate past chair, University Faculty Senate; Eva J. Pell, Steimer Professor of agricultural sciences; Rodney J. Reed, dean, College of Education; Betty J. Roberts, assistant vice president for Business Services; Karen Wiley Sandler, dean, Abington College; Gary C. Schultz, senior vice president for finance and business/treasurer; Elliot S. Vesell, Evan Pugh professor and chairman and assistant dean for graduate education; Susan Welch, dean, College of the Liberal Arts; and David N. Wormley, dean, College of Engineering.
P. Richard Althouse, budget officer of the University; Stephen R. Curley, assistant to the executive vice president and provost; Bill Mahon, director of the Department of Public Information; and Louise E. Sandmeyer, executive director, Center for Quality and Planning.
Terri L. Dowdy, Administrative Fellow, Office of Vice President for Finance and Business/Treasurer; and Susan B. Shuman, Administrative Fellow, Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.
Back to top of page
Frank Ball is one of the Police Services officers on bike
patrol at the University Park campus.
The program has been in operation at the campus for the last six years.
Photo: Greg Grieco
Proactive initiatives such as crime avoidance programs, community awareness and community cooperation and support programs have successfully helped to combat crime at the University Park campus.
David Stormer, assistant vice president for safety and environmental services, gave a report on campus safety issues before the Board of Trustees on Sept. 12.
"Since the 1980s, the officers assigned to the Residence Hall Police Team focus on providing one-third of the residence hall students with a crime avoidance program during an academic year," Stormer said. "That means seven or eight officers contacting approximately 3,000 to 4,000 students over the year with information about preventing crimes."
Another important activity is continual community information and awareness about crime, including distributing notices in the residence halls, media publicity, police reports and electronic communications, he said. The University Police Services was publicly sharing information long before the passage of the 1988 Pennsylvania Right-to-Know law on campus crime and the federal law in 1990.
The Penn State Emergency Phone System allows students to call without charge and report criminal activity or seek assistance on campus. The emergency phones are located throughout campus and inside some buildings, such as residence halls.
Police Services employs a total of 46 professional police service officers and supervisors, seven community service officers, three property protection guards and four police telecommunicators who provide protection and service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
In addition, approximately 250 students are employed and trained as student auxiliary officers. This includes a residence hall security unit, which works from 7 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. in the residence halls with the coordinators, resident assistants and student residents.
A bicycle patrol has been added to become more visible and close to the University community. The Penn State Escort Service provides students, faculty or staff with a walking escort to or from any location year-round within a reasonable walking distance of campus. Each year, these student employees accompany more than 6,000 people around State College and University Park.
A victim/witness advocate offers support and guidance to victims or witnesses who need additional information, such as canceling credit cards when property is taken and what to expect when they appear in court.
While enrollment at University Park has increased for the past 20 years, crime has decreased, Stormer said.
As University Park enrollment has steadily grown from 32,588 in 1977 to 39,782 in 1996, Part I offenses, have fallen from 1,042 in 1977 to 748 in 1996. Part I offenses include murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, theft, auto theft and arson.
"Overall, the crime rate in the United States has generally been falling since 1981 contrary to the media reports," Stormer said. "This holds true for Pennsylvania and for University Park. Plus, the campus' central location has been a major factor in the low crime rate at University Park when compared with more urban universities.
However, "we have made available a high level of police services, comparable to all other police agencies, which also has contributed to a lower crime rate," Stormer said. "All the officers have earned a baccalaureate degree and have been members of the higher education community, as well as working side by side with the many student officers. Each officer understands and views the students on this campus as our community."
Back to top of page
One year ago this week, a terrible tragedy struck the University Park campus as a sniper opened fire on the HUB lawn.
One student, Melanie Spalla of Altoona, was killed in the Sept. 17, 1996, shooting. Another, Nicholas Mensah of Philadelphia, was seriously wounded. Mensah returned to University Park this semester and has resumed taking classes.
For those who would like to observe the anniversary of the tragedy, Campus Ministries at Penn State, in partnership with the University's Center for Ethics and Religious Affairs, have dedicated the Eisenhower All-Faith Chapel as a place of remembrance, reflection, meditation and prayer from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 17. Throughout the day, members of various campus ministries will be present in the chapel, offering silent meditation and prayer and occasional readings and prayers aloud.
In addition, professional campus ministry staff will be available for conversation and counseling as needed.
During a memorial service last year shortly after Spalla's death, the University announced the creation of a scholarship in her memory. The first recipient of this $1,000 annual scholarship is Anessa J. Lynn, a junior in the College of Communications. Lynn of Altoona attended Penn State Altoona for two years; the 1997 fall semester is her first semester at University Park. All full-time undergraduate students enrolled or planning to enroll at the University Park campus who have achieved superior academic records or who manifest promise of outstanding academic success are eligible for the scholarship.
The Undergraduate Student Government also has memorialized Spalla with the planting of a tree outside Simmons Residence Hall, where Spalla lived. A plaque in her memory will be erected alongside the tree this month.
The suspect in the shooting, Jillian Robbins, has been released from a six-month commitment at Norristown State Hospital and returned to Clinton County Prison. Attorneys on both sides of the case have indicated that it could be at least several months before the case goes to trial.
Back to top of page
Two public meetings on the University Park master plan have been scheduled. The meetings will be held Tuesday, Sept. 16, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in 111 Wartik Lab and from 7:30 to 9 p.m. in the Ferguson Township Municipal Building meeting room.
The public may attend either or both meetings and provide input on Penn State's composite plan. For more information on the University master plan visit the Web site at http://www.opp.psu.edu/upmp/upmpapp.htm.
Back to top of page
Back to Intercom home page