Patricia Farrell, professor emerita of leisure studies, dies at 76

Patricia Farrell, Penn State professor emerita of leisure studies in the College of Health and Human Development and the first participant in the University’s Administrative Fellows Program, died Thursday, Nov. 4, at age 76.

Farrell joined the recreation and parks program in 1967. She was instrumental in building the University's leisure studies program and participated in numerous other administrative activities of the University.

She received a bachelor's degree in recreation education from Penn State in 1956 and her master's degree at the University of Minnesota in 1958. She worked as a state recreation specialist and assistant professor for the University of New Hampshire, delivering extension services throughout New England and setting up a curriculum for a recreation and parks undergraduate major. She also worked as a recreation specialist in Detroit, at Northern Illinois University and in Harrisburg, Pa.

In 1967, she returned to University Park to study for her doctorate and join the team of recreation and parks faculty. In doing so, she became the third generation in her family to teach at Penn State. She was named associate professor in 1975.

Farrell's research interests were focused in leadership and programming, designing models and techniques for measuring the effectiveness of recreation programs. She published two books and was an active member of the professional community. She served as chair of the Recreation and Park Management Department from 1976 to 1983. She was Penn State's first affirmative action officer, a position she held from 1973 to 1975; from 1984-85, she was chairperson of the Commission for Women; in 1986 she was the first Penn State Administrative Fellow, working in the Office of the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business.

Farrell was well known for her work within the University and for her community service. In 1975, she received the McKay Donkin Award for her contributions to the economic, physical, mental and social welfare of the University faculty; in 1991, she was awarded the Barash Award for Human Services, recognizing her local public service activities. Farrell was honored as Penn State’s Renaissance Woman of the Year in 1998, an award given each year to prominent volunteers and philanthropists who have University connections. She was an active member of many local community and charitable organizations throughout her life in State College, including the Centre County Community Foundation, the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, the Mount Nittany Conservancy and the Girl Scouts. She also was involved with several local musical groups, including the State College Choral Society, and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity.

Memorial contributions are being accepted for the Patricia Farrell Renaissance Scholarship Fund, University Development, 105 Old Main, University Park PA 16802.

Last Updated January 10, 2015