A message from the leadership at Penn State

For more information on this topic, click here to view a video message from President Eric Barron.

Dear friends:

For decades, few universities could match the considerate manner in which Penn Staters treated both friend and opponent. In particular, to see someone wearing a Penn State T-shirt while traveling was a guarantee of a common bond and warm conversation no matter how distant the location.  Today, that rather remarkable bond is under stress.

Unfortunately, there are many examples in every university where differences of opinion lead to incivility. For Penn State, one issue is of particular concern.  There are honest disagreements on fundamental issues related to whether our institution acted appropriately, how our institution handled a crisis, and whether the sanctions that resulted are appropriate.  Reasonable people can be found on all sides of these issues.  The reasons for this disagreement are clear.  Much is still left to interpretation and the issues have considerable emotional significance to us all.  We are likely never to have the full story.  We are equally likely never to reach consensus. 

The question is whether a lack of civility in discussing these issues will create a deeper divide, one that alters the remarkable bond that exists between all those who are a part of the Penn State community.  Consider just a few examples that you may have also come across – the alumnus who says he lost his best friend over his opinion of the Freeh report; the alumni trustee candidate that faced dozens of unkind comments; the long time donor of time and treasure who no longer feels welcome. 

Debate and disagreement are critical constructs in the role of universities in testing ideas and promoting progress on complex issues.  But, the leaders of your University at every level, from the administration, faculty, staff and students, are unanimous in deploring the erosion of civility associated with our discourse.  Reasonable people disagree, but we can disagree without sacrificing respect.  The First Amendment guarantees our right to speak as we wish, but we are stronger if we can argue and debate without degrading others. 

Today, civility is an issue that arises in many areas of campus debate.  Some may argue that the lack of civility is a national issue, promoted by a growing community involved in posting anonymous comments on blogs or by acrimonious national politics.  We cannot afford to follow their lead, not if we are to serve our students as role models, not if we expect to continue to attract the outstanding volunteers who serve our University in so many ways, and not if we wish to have Penn Staters take our University to new levels of excellence.

Respect is a core value at Penn State University.  We ask you to consciously choose civility and to support those whose words and actions serve to promote respectful disagreement and thereby strengthen our community.

Signed,

Members of the President’s Council (unanimous)

Eric J. Barron, President

Janine S. Andrews, Director, Office of the Board of Trustees and Associate Secretary

Anne (Sandy) Barbour, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics

Susan M. Basso, Vice President for Human Resources

Blannie E. Bowen, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

Michael J. DiRaimo, Special Assistant to the President for Governmental Affairs

Stephen S. Dunham, Vice President and General Counsel

David J. Gray, Senior Vice President for Finance and Business/Treasurer

Madlyn L. Hanes, Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses

Craig Hillemeier, Chief Executive Officer, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center; Senior Vice President for Health Affairs; Dean, Penn State College of Medicine

Nicholas P. Jones, Executive Vice President and Provost of the University

Rodney P. Kirsch, Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations

Robert N. Pangborn, Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education

Thomas G. Poole, Vice President for Administration/Secretary

Neil A. Sharkey, Interim Vice President for Research

Damon Sims, Vice President for Student Affairs

Craig D. Weidemann, Vice President for Outreach and Vice Provost for Online Education

Marcus A. Whitehurst, Interim Vice Provost for Educational Equity

 

Members of the Academic Leadership Council (unanimous)

Francis K. Achampong, Chancellor, Penn State Mont Alto

Michael A. Adewumi, Vice Provost for Global Programs

Kelly M. Austin, Chancellor, Penn State Schuylkill

Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry, Chancellor and Dean, Penn State Altoona

Donald L. Birx, Chancellor, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

Blannie E. Bowen, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

Christian M. M. Brady, Dean, Schreyer Honors College

David W. Chown, Chancellor, Penn State York

Barbara J. Christ, Interim Dean, College of Agricultural Sciences

Ann (Nan) C. Crouter, Dean, College of Health and Human Development

Charles H. Davis, Chancellor, Penn State Wilkes-Barre

Barbara I. Dewey, Dean, University Libraries and Scholarly Communications

William E. Easterling III, Dean, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences

Craig S. Edelbrock, Chancellor, Penn State Great Valley

Amr S. Elnashai, Dean, College of Engineering

Gary S. Gildin, Interim Dean, Penn State Law in Carlisle

Davie Jane Gilmour, President, Pennsylvania College of Technology

Madlyn L. Hanes, Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses

Marie Hardin, Dean, College of Communications

Melanie L. Hatch, Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer, Penn State DuBois

Nancy L. Herron, Interim Chancellor, Penn State Greater Allegheny

A. Craig Hillemeier, Chief Executive Officer, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center; Senior  Vice President for Health Affairs; Dean, Penn State College of Medicine

R. Keith Hillkirk, Chancellor, Penn State Berks

James W. Houck, Interim Dean, Penn State Law at University Park

Nicholas P. Jones, Executive Vice President and Provost of the University

Barbara O. Korner, Dean, College of Arts and Architecture

Mary-Beth Krogh-Jespersen, Chancellor, Penn State Worthington Scranton

Donna J. Kuga, Interim Chancellor, Penn State Beaver

Jonna M. Kulikowich, Chair, University Faculty Senate

Mukund S. Kulkarni, Chancellor, Penn State Harrisburg

Daniel J. Larson, Dean, Eberly College of Science

Gary M. Lawler, Chancellor, Penn State Hazleton

Kenneth F. Lehrman III, Vice Provost for Affirmative Action

Paula Milone-Nuzzo, Dean, College of Nursing

David H. Monk, Dean, College of Education

Kevin M. Morooney, Vice Provost for Information Technology

Robert N. Pangborn, Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education

W. Charles Patrick, Chancellor/Chief Academic Officer, Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus

Mary Beth Rosson, Interim Dean, College of Information Sciences and Technology

Karen Wiley Sandler, Chancellor, Penn State Abington

Neil A. Sharkey, Interim Vice President for Research

Damon Sims, Vice President for Student Affairs

Kevin J. G. Snider, Chancellor, Penn State New Kensington

Regina Vasilatos-Younken, Interim Dean of the Graduate School

Craig D. Weidemann, Vice President for Outreach and Vice Provost for Online Education

Susan Welch, Dean, College of the Liberal Arts

Marcus A. Whitehurst, Interim Vice Provost for Educational Equity

Charles H. Whiteman, Dean, Smeal College of Business

Ann M. Williams, Chancellor, Penn State Lehigh Valley

Kristin R. Woolever, Chancellor, Penn State Brandywine

 

Members of the University Faculty Senate's Advisory Committee to the President (unanimous)

Mohamad A. Ansari, Penn State Berks, Chair Elect, University Faculty Senate

Thomas O. Beebee, Member, Faculty Advisory Committee to the President

Ellen A. Knodt, Penn State Abington, Member, Faculty Advisory Committee to the President

Jonna M. Kulikowich, Chair, University Faculty Senate

Chester A. Ray, Penn State Hershey, Member, Faculty Advisory Committee to the President

James A. Strauss, Secretary, University Faculty Senate

Brenton M. Yarnal, Immediate Past Chair of the University Faculty Senate

 

University Staff Advisory Council Executive Officers (unanimous)

Jeremy Warner, Security and Facility Manager, Palmer Museum of Art, Chair

Jennifer C. Blew, Administrative Support Assistant, Schreyer Honors College, Co-Chair-elect

Devon Marie Mower, Residence Life Coordinator, Co-Chair-elect

Susan A. Johnson, Manager of Planning and Operations, Liberal Arts, Secretary

Madhavi Kari, Cocurriculum Programs Manager, Information Sciences and Technology, Secretary-elect

Pauline M. McCarl, Administrative Support Coordinator, Earth and Mineral Sciences, Past Secretary

 

Student leadership (unanimous)

Anand R. Ganjam, President, University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA),

John Shaffer, President, Council of Commonwealth Student Governments (CCSG),

Danielle C. Rhubart, President, Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA)

Contacts: 
Last Updated September 05, 2014