University Faculty Senate honors President Erickson, elects new officers

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State’s Faculty Senate on Tuesday (April 29), in its final meeting of the 2013-14 academic year, honored University President Rodney Erickson with a special resolution recognizing his service.

"I feel I'm leaving the University in very good shape," said Erickson, whose final day in office is May 11 after 37 years at Penn State. "I believe we've never been stronger academically."

Erickson noted that enrollments have remained strong, with record applications so far this year at about 119,000 total. Graduate, professional school and new faculty recruitment across the University is strong as well.

"There are no shortage of issues before you in the next several years as a Senate," he said. "I think we've accomplished a lot in the spirit of collaboration, and I know that you will extend that same spirit to incoming President Eric Barron and his administration.

“I thank you again for 37 great years. Thank you for being wonderful colleagues. I will ride off into the sunset, but I will be around occasionally, and here if ever needed."

Senators passed a special resolution expressing appreciation for Erickson's years of dedicated service to the University community as president, executive vice president and provost, and vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School. In these roles, Erickson has been an ex-officio Senator since 1995.

Senate Chair Brent Yarnal, E. Willard and Ruby S. Miller Professor of Geography, in his opening remarks announced a new discussion forum for Faculty Senate matters to foster further transparency and provide additional opportunities for discussion.

Executive Vice President and Provost Nicholas P. Jones presented an update and led discussion on the University's strategic planning process, which began last July and will conclude in July 2015. This summer is the deadline for submission of unit strategic plans.

Jones shared with senators an overview of the University’s strategic planning process and a dynamic structure for the overall strategic plan, which outlined the emergence of several broad, thematic areas, including: stewarding resources, promoting health, transforming education, building a digital future, and valuing and exploring cultures. He emphasized the importance of engaging everybody at the University in the process.

“I think if we’re successful in the strategic planning process, one of the things that we will be able to do is articulate a way in which Penn State, moving forward, can have a profound impact beyond the boundaries of the institution, on our communities, on the Commonwealth and on the nation, and beyond,” he said.

In other business:

-- Yarnal announced the 2014-15 Senate officers: Jonna M. Kulikowich, professor of education, as chair; James A. Strauss, senior lecturer in the Eberly College of Science, as secretary; and Mohamad A. Ansari, associate professor of math at Penn State Berks, as chair-elect. In addition, Ellen A. Knodt, professor of English at Penn State Abington, was elected to the Faculty Advisory Committee to the President. The full election results are available on the Senate website.

Yarnal also welcomed the Senate's new ombudsperson, Pamela Hufnagel, assistant professor of education at Penn State Dubois, beginning July 1.

-- Keith Crocker, William Elliott Chaired Professor of Insurance and Risk Management in the Smeal College of Business, and Healthcare Task Force chair, responded to questions about the task force's special informational report, released April 24.

-- Senators passed several motions to clarify policies and Standing Orders to bring language in line with current practices, as well as implementing previously approved recommendations on the structure and organization of the Faculty Senate.

-- The Senate approved the recommendations of three advisory/consultative reports: a joint report from nine standing committees on Engaged Scholarship; a report from the Committee on Educational Equity and Campus Environment on Procedures Used to Hire Faculty; and a report on Implementation of the Affordable Care Act: Health Benefits for Part-Time Faculty.

-- Senators received informational reports on 2-Factor Authentication and Grade Distribution as well as reports on the activities of the Commission on Racial/Ethnic Diversity (CORED) and the Sustainability Institute

Reports that appeared in the agenda only and posted on the Senate website included annual reports on high school students who are enrolled in credit courses at University Park; faculty tenure rates; changes in retirement plan loan policy; visits to University Park colleges by Senate officers; and plans for student housing expansion at Commonwealth Campuses.

The full agenda for the meeting is available on the Senate’s website. Meetings also are video archived via Mediasite. Meeting minutes will be posted approximately three weeks following each meeting at

The University Faculty Senate will hold its next regularly scheduled meeting at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9, in 112 Kern Graduate Building, University Park.

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Last Updated May 01, 2014