Paterno Fellows program inducts 125 student-achievers

In recognition of their outstanding academic achievement, 125 Liberal Arts freshmen, sophomores, and juniors were inducted the evening of Jan. 9 into the Paterno Fellows Program, the signature honors and leadership program of the College of the Liberal Arts. They join 200 Fellows in a unique collaboration between Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts and the Schreyer Honors College.

"The College of the Liberal Arts has scores of students with outstanding academic potential," said Jack Selzer, the Barry Director of the Paterno Fellows Program. "The program offers a pathway to excellence for those students who realize they want to make the very most of their Penn State education. By working hard and fulfilling the academic and leadership components, our students will be especially well prepared to succeed and contribute to their professions and their communities."

At this year’s recognition ceremony, keynote speaker Rick Barry, 1980 political science graduate, told the new Fellows: "I’m a big believer in a liberal arts education. Liberal arts students have a unique ability to analyze and think for themselves." A retired hedge investment fund managing director, Barry emphasized the key liberal arts skills he found to be valuable in his business career:

-- Ability to communicate, particularly writing. "If you can write, the world is your oyster," Barry said.

-- Critical thinking, seeing how various disciplines relate to each other. "As a portfolio manager, I wanted to know about the industries we invested in, ranging widely from biotech to retail. I got on the phone, established a rapport with the executives, and found out what I needed to know," he added.

-- Ability to think differently. Barry gave examples of 1970s and 1980s political and economic events and subsequent trends that contradicted popular beliefs of the time, such as the Cold War and fall of the Berlin Wall, and the rise and fall of Japanese economic power in the 1980s and 1990s. "You never know what’s going to happen," Barry said. "I have looked for areas that people believed in and chosen another direction."

After a long and successful career in the financial industry, Barry today is part owner of the San Diego Padres baseball team. He and his wife, Sue, endowed the position of director of the Paterno Fellows Program with a leadership gift, amongst their other major gifts to the University.

The student speaker was Danielle MacIntosh, a junior in crime, law, and justice. She emphasized the great benefits of her Paterno Fellow experiences so far, including her study abroad experience in the Netherlands and the research work she is planning for her thesis project.

"After we graduate and go on to the real world, we will be able to look back and see that this program places us into a community that goes above and beyond what is expected, a community that accepts a challenge instead of avoiding one, and a community that stands for outstanding principles and leadership," said MacIntosh.

Starting in fall 2008, between 300 and 400 first-year Liberal Arts students have signed up each year for “the Paterno Fellows challenge,” and since then, at least 100 students each year have earned the right to become a Fellow by taking several honors courses and achieving a high GPA. Once they are inducted as Fellows, they also commit to completing a series of academic requirements including a second major, an excellence in communications certificate, an ethics course, and a capstone research project. They also complete a leadership or service commitment. In return, Fellows receive benefits such as funding for study abroad or an ambitious internship and special learning, research, or networking opportunities. In short, the Paterno Fellows exemplify the values of excellence, service, and leadership championed by the Paterno family, who have been major supporters of the program.

On Monday evening, before the crowd of several hundred Paterno Fellows, Liberal Arts faculty, and aspiring Fellows, Selzer drew attention to the classic Latin epic poem, "The Aeneid," often cited by Joe Paterno over the years for its themes on human struggle and the overcoming of adversity. The program director recognized the Paterno family, represented by Mary Kay Paterno Hort, Jay Paterno, David Paterno, and Olivia Hort for their family’s significant and distinguished contributions to Penn State, the college, and the community. Barry added, “I am thrilled to be associated with the Paterno Fellows Program… and I feel so fortunate to be connected to the Paterno family.”


Last Updated January 17, 2012