Award recipient credited for pioneering Penn State distance learning program

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Three members of the Penn State community will be honored for their vision, time and commitment to Penn State Outreach and Online Education (OOE) at an upcoming appreciation dinner.

Craig Weidemann, vice president for Outreach and vice provost for Online Education, said the annual event is used as a forum to say thank you to OOE’s many volunteers and donors.

“This year we are proud to recognize three long term colleagues for their support: Dr. Sara C. Parks, Jonathan E. Dambrot and Beverly A. Wise,” Weidemann said. “They have each made huge contributions to our overall success, to our students and the communities we serve.”

Parks, nutritionist and professor emerita for the School of Hospitality Management, will receive the Dubin Pioneer Award. Parks is credited for being one of the first to envision distance learning when she arrived at Penn State by creating what would later become the dietetic technician degree program.

“[Early in my career I met] bright, energetic and extremely competent individuals who because of family, financial and location responsibilities were unable to pursue an advanced education,” Parks said. “They were excited to hear I was coming to Penn State because at the time [1970’s], the University offered a noncredit food supervisor course through Independent Learning. They asked me to commit to developing a degree program.”

Today, more than 120 distance education degrees and certifications are offered through Penn State World Campus.

Dambrot is CEO and co-founder of Prevalent, an information technology security company based in New Jersey, and a member of the OOE and Penn State World Campus iMBA Advisory Boards. Dambrot earned his iMBA through Penn State World Campus and will receive the Penn State World Campus Outstanding Alumnus Award. He is creating a co-sponsored scholarship for students in the iMBA program.

“My hope is that the scholarship will lead more security professionals to receive a strong business education and build the tools necessary to become leaders in business,” Dambrot said.

Wise, senior vice president of Susquehanna Bancshares, is former chair of the OOE Advisory Board and has been a member since 2006. Wise will be presented with the Fischer Award of Distinction. The award is given annually to a volunteer who has distinguished themselves through extraordinary service to OOE.

“My Penn State education made a huge difference in my life and is still paying dividends today,” Wise said. “Couple that with watching the work OOE does to change the lives of so many people for the better and it was an easy decision to get involved.”

Parks, Dambrot and Wise will be honored at the OOE Appreciation Dinner on Oct. 8 at the Nittany Lion Inn.

Last Updated October 14, 2015