To some, working at the same place for nearly 40 years may sound a little dull. But for Denny Stewart, who is retiring at the end of this year, today’s Penn State Altoona is a lot different than the Penn State Altoona he started at.
In 1970, Stewart was hired as the assistant dean of Student Affairs at Penn State Altoona. Since then, he has worked his way through several jobs at Altoona up to his present position as special assistant for Commonwealth Campuses.
“A lot of people think it’s unusual to stay in one place for so many years,” he said. “I was lucky. I got to grow with the campus and move up through the ranks to reach my pinnacle position.”
Today, the Altoona campus has nearly 4,000 students, 20 four-year degrees, 30 buildings and 15 varsity sports that play at the Division III level. That is a big difference from the campus Stewart began his tenure 38 years ago. Penn State Altoona’s enrollment was 1,200, the school did not offer four-year degrees and tuition was $750 a year.
“I believe Altoona is one of the gems in the University system,” Stewart said. “Our development as a campus has turned us into our own small liberal arts-type college.”
A retirement party was held for Stewart on Nov. 12 at the Nittany Lion Inn. Friends and colleagues shared stories and memories from over the years with the more than 40 attendees.
“Denny’s dedication to Penn State and Altoona has been very impressive and inspiring over the years,” said Gary Schultz, senior vice president for finance and business/treasurer. “Even though he wasn’t with us here at University Park, I am glad to have had the chance to work with him and we’re going to miss him.”
Stewart’s last official day will be Dec. 31, but he plans on staying involved with the University by being a part of Penn State Altoona’s Campus Advisory Board and the Mount Nittany Society. Stewart enjoys traveling and sports, and he also is the president of the Ms. Pennsylvania Scholarship Pageant.
“I am not worried about having nothing to do,” he said. “I am an active sports enthusiast and I have grandchildren that are a delight to be around. I have plenty of things to do.”