Board of Trustees actions: March 16-17, 2006

March 23, 2006

Penn State's Board of Trustees met on March 17 at the William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh. The following items were presented to the board for action or informational purposes:

Penn State Board of Trustees meets in Pittsburgh; President Spanier's remarks
Penn State's Board of Trustees held its regular, bi-monthly meeting March 17 at the William Penn Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh -- one of the rare meetings of the board held at an off-campus location. In his opening remarks to the board, President Graham B. Spanier talked about Penn State's impact in the greater Pittsburgh region. The University has three undergraduate campuses in the area -- Beaver, McKeesport, and New Kensington -- enrolling more than 2,220 students. A recent economic impact study cites that these campuses had a combined direct and indirect impact in the region of more than $160 million in 2003. In addition, approximately 22,300 Penn State alumni reside in Allegheny County, and combined with the five contiguous counties of the greater Pittsburgh region, that number grows to 41,000. One Penn Stater in every six residing in Pennsylvania calls the region home. In fact, Pittsburgh almost was the original location what was then called The Farmers' High School before the Board of Trustees settled on an offer of land from James Irvin of Centre County.
Read the full text of the president's remarks at

Student engagement initiatives prepare Penn State students for future
Providing a wide array of cocurricular - or out-of-class - learning opportunities and building a more cohesive Penn State community through inclusive events and programs are strategic directions that the University has embraced to enhance every Penn State student's experience. Vicky L. Triponey, vice president for Student Affairs, and a panel of University students and staff shared an informational report about the University's cocurricular programming efforts at the Board of Trustees meeting today (March 17) in Pittsburgh, Pa. "We are working to enhance the student experience, build a greater sense of community and prepare students to be effective leaders who will make a difference in the world," said Triponey. Recent research conducted by the University reveals the majority of Penn State students - 86 percent of the sample population - believe out-of-class learning opportunities are either moderately or strongly important to their overall collegiate experiences. Penn State is strategically focused on two priorities: to find ways to increase the opportunities for students to learn both inside and outside the classroom and to build a more engaging and cohesive community.
Read the full story at

Dean describes role of science in U.S. economic competitiveness
The nation's economic competitiveness, which relies on its continuing world leadership in science and technology, is the focus of growing bipartisan concern in the federal government and among influential business and scientific organizations. Such was the basis of a report to Penn State's Board of Trustees today (March 17) by Daniel Larson, dean of the Eberly College of Science. Recent reports highlight the importance of science education and research in supporting the nation's competitiveness and quality of life during the 21st century. Larson described the enthusiasm within the college for contributing to the nation's competitiveness in science and technology through the existing and planned programs of the college and the achievements of its faculty and students. "Unprecedented developments in recent years have changed the playing field for economic competitiveness," he said. "As a result, the locations where significant scientific and technological innovation can occur are changing, and our nation needs to respond in order to maintain our position of scientific leadership."
Read the full story at

Forensics major attracts students, national attention
The new forensics major program is in its second semester but has attracted much interest nationally from students, law enforcement and the general public and media. Program director Robert Shaler, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, gave an update of the program today (March 17) to the Penn State Board of Trustees. The first classes - a first year seminar, a seminar on crime scene investigation and an upper-level course in forensic chemistry and upper-level special topics course in forensic molecular biology - are being held this spring semester. "Our goals are to establish the most comprehensive and rigorous scientific forensic program in the nation and to establish a state-of-the-art research program," said Shaler, former director of forensic biology, New York City's medical examiner's office, and leader of the DNA identification of World Trade Center victims. "We will create tomorrow's forensic leaders in both the public and private sectors to help society with natural and man-made disasters and also law enforcement." So far, the program has enrolled 3 junior majors, 15 sophomore majors and candidates, 55 freshman candidates and 42 high school seniors who have indicated interest.
Read the full story at

Board approves Paz to lead Penn State Hershey Medical Center, College of Medicine
Harold Louis Paz, dean of the Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine in New Brunswick, N.J., has been appointed to head Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and College of Medicine, effective April 24. Penn State's Board of Trustees approved the appointment today (March 17) at its regular meeting in Pittsburgh, Pa. Paz will take over for Darrell G. Kirch, as Penn State's senior vice president for health affairs, dean of the University's College of Medicine, and CEO of Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Kirch will assume the presidency of the Association of American Medical Colleges in Washington, D.C., the nation's top leadership position in academic medicine. "Penn State is incredibly fortunate to have an individual with Harold Paz's abilities and accomplishments lead our College of Medicine and our world-class medical facilities in Hershey," said Penn State President Graham B. Spanier. "His record of success and achievement in medical education, research and clinical affairs has made him a leader among his peers nationally."
Read the full story at

Board endorses Thomas as next dean of Penn State's Smeal College of Business
James B. Thomas, dean of the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) at Penn State since its creation in 1999, will return to his roots at the University through his appointment as the next dean of the Smeal College of Business. Thomas, who had planned to return to the faculty after announcing his resignation as IST dean effective June 30, 2006, will assume his new deanship on July 1. He will replace Judy Olian, who departed on Jan. 1 to become dean of UCLA's Anderson School of Management. The appointment was approved today (March 17) by Penn State's Board of Trustees at its regular meeting in Pittsburgh, Pa. "Jim Thomas excelled at the lofty challenge of building and leading a unique academic college from the ground up," said Penn State President Graham B. Spanier. "His leadership has helped make the College of Information Sciences and Technology a model program nationally. I have every confidence in Jim's ability to take The Smeal College of Business and its highly regarded programs to even greater heights. We're fortunate to benefit his continued academic and administrative leadership for Penn State."
Read the full story at

Penn State announces trustee election ballot positions
Ballot positions for the 2006 election of trustees by alumni have been determined by a drawing, a procedure established by Penn State's Board of Trustees. Paula R. Ammerman, associate secretary for the board, conducted the drawing. Ballots for the election will be mailed to Penn State alumni by Monday, April 10, 2006. All ballots must be returned by the close of the election at 9 a.m. EDT on Thursday, May 11, 2006.
Read the full story, including the names on the alumni trustees election ballot, at

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Last Updated March 19, 2009