Board of Trustees actions: November 4, 2005

November 10, 2005

Penn State's Board of Trustees met on Friday, Nov. 4, on Penn State's University Park campus. The following items were presented to the board for action or informational purposes:

Penn State Board of Trustees meets; President Spanier's remarks
Penn State's Board of Trustees held its regular, bi-monthly meeting Nov. 4 at Penn State's University Park campus. In his opening remarks to the board, President Graham B. Spanier focused on current state legislation seeking a constitutional amendment to severely limit state spending. He characterized the bill as potentially "devastating to Penn State and other public universities" and has addressed these serious concerns in a letter to legislators co-signed by the leaders of other state-related universities in Pennsylvania. "The spending cap in the proposed legislation relies on a formula that does not reflect the reality of the pressures facing our institutions or our shared responsibility for ensuring that our institutions continue to provide accessible public education to Pennsylvanians," said Spanier in his letter. The president also discussed his recent appointment as chair of the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, which he considers a valuable tool for bridging the gap between government and higher education while promoting national security and American research enterprise. Other topics included a review of recent research discoveries at Penn State, a new report outlining progress in fight against illegal file-sharing on campuses and an update of the multiple championships being garnered by Penn State athletic teams this fall.
Read the full text of the president's remarks at

Penn State maintains enrollment; minority enrollment, applications reach record levels
More students are attending Penn State than any other university in the Northeast, according to official enrollment figures for the 2005-06 academic year. A total of 80,124 students are enrolled at 24 campus locations, including 40,709 at University Park. Enrollment at University Park maintains Penn State's commitment to limit its largest campus to a maximum of 40,000 to 42,000 students. Total statewide enrollment declined modestly, largely reflective of a dramatic increase in four-year graduation rates along with demographic influences and continuing public funding challenges that impact tuition rates also play significant roles in enrollment trends. Despite the challenges, minority students comprise a growing portion of Penn State's student body -- now more than 12.5 percent. This year, the University enrolls a record 10,071 minority students, with African-Americans continuing to comprise the largest ethnic group among minorities with a record 4,039 students. Since 1991, minority enrollment has almost doubled - 91 percent - and African-American enrollment has risen nearly 79 percent. In addition, Penn State remains popular for students exploring their college choices. The past three years have successively set records for the largest application pools in Penn State history - all yielding more than 50,000 undergraduate applications. Currently, the pace of applications for 2006 admission to the University is up 15 percent over last year.
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University students receiving financial aid in record number
As college costs rise nationwide in the face of shrinking state support for public higher education, Penn State is supporting more students in their quest to pay for college and continues to seek ways to stem the growth of post-graduate debt. A report today (Nov. 4) to the University's Board of Trustees noted that in the last decade, the number of students receiving some type of aid package from Penn State has increased from 68 percent to 80 percent of the undergraduate student body -- a total of 50,862 students. The dollar amount of that aid distributed within just the last three years grew by 33 percent, from approximately $405 million in 2001-02 to $538 million in the last academic year, with most of that increase in the form of federal student and parent loans. Over the past several years the University has played a significant role in trying to steady the level of debt students face after they graduate. The average debt of graduating seniors in 2004-05 was $22,420 -- an increase of $1,920, or 9.4 percent, over the debt incurred by students in the previous year, while that rate of increase over the past five years was 25.3 percent.
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Room and board rates for 2006-07 set by trustees
Penn State students are continuing to enjoy enhancements to a growing number of on-campus living options, evidenced by ongoing improvements to existing housing and dining facilities and recently completed renovation projects at multiple campuses. The University's Board of Trustees today (Nov. 4) received an update on the state of Housing and Food Services at Penn State, and approved a modest increase of less than 5 percent to Penn State's average room and board rates effective for the 2006-07 academic year at all nine of the University's residential campuses, including University Park. The room and board schedule is part of the 2006-07 Housing and Food Services budget of $136.2 million authorized by the board. Housing and Food Services at Penn State are an auxiliary enterprise, operating independent of tuition and state subsidies received by the University. Penn State operates the largest housing and dining system in Pennsylvania and one of the largest in the entire nation, with 91 undergraduate and graduate residence halls accommodating 16,477 students and five apartment complexes with space for 1,672 students. Together with the food service, these facilities represent six million square feet of living and dining space.
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Board approves three honorary degree recipients for 2005-06 academic year
Penn State's Board of Trustees today (Nov. 4) approved the granting of honorary doctorates to John S. Carroll, former editor of the Los Angeles Times; H. Robert Horvitz, Nobel Prize laureate and cancer researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); and C. Peter Magrath, president of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC). Each recipient will speak and receive an honorary degree at one of the University's 2005-06 commencement ceremonies. Carroll has been widely credited with orchestrating the Los Angeles Times' dramatic turnaround after the publication suffered through difficult times in the 1990s. H. Horvitz is a professor of cancer biology at MIT, investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and for the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, and a member of the MIT Center for Cancer Research. He is a 2002 Nobel Prize laureate for discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death. Magrath is the president of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC) and is the former president of three public universities: The University of Missouri, the University of Minnesota and the State University of New York at Binghamton.
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Penn State Hershey Medical Center campus master plan updated
With notable progress made on the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center campus master plan since its creation three years ago, the plan has been updated to further advance strategies and strengthen the identity and vitality of programs at the medical center, the Penn State Board of Trustees were told Friday (Nov. 4). Gordon Turow, director of campus planning and design, explained that the master plan called for the development of two quadrangles flanking the crescent building housing the College of Medicine and main hospital at the center of the campus. On the east side is a new clinical quadrangle, while the west has a new research quadrangle. n the east campus, Turow said notable progress has been made, with an outpatient surgery center opening in 2004 and plans underway for a new building to house a variety of outpatient services, such as an imaging center, breast center, neurosurgery and orthopedics. Meanwhile, construction has begun on the Oncology Treatment Building and final designs are ready for a fitness center expansion. Construction on a connector road linking east campus with existing roadways will begin soon and new parking has been installed adjacent to the University Physicians Center.
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Trustees approve final plans for Hershey fitness center, parking garage
Final plans for the expansion of the fitness center and construction of a new garage at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center received approval from the University's Board of Trustees Friday (Nov. 4). The board also approved the employment of an architectural team for the design of the new Children's Hospital and an addition to the parking garage at Hershey. The fitness center expansion will include a new conference center with a lobby, audio/visual room, break out space and a conference room that will accommodate 150-200 people. The expansion also plans for new fitness facilities adjacent to the existing gymnasium and free weight area. The new facilities include cardiovascular workout space, an aerobics room, a personal training studio, spaces for massage and first aid and an office for observing the cardio area, as well as new locker rooms. Outdoor amenities will include a covered patio and sand volleyball court. The proposed parking garage -- which will be located near the future Children's Hospital, the new main hospital entrance and new Cancer Institute -- will accommodate increased parking needs for the new Cancer Center and address other parking shortages. The first phase of the garage will accommodate 1,305 new spaces as well as 24 surface spaces.
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Architects appointed for design of Life Sciences II, Materials Science Building
The planned Materials Science and Life Sciences II buildings at Penn State's University Park campus will be combined into a single building designed by a team of architects originally appointed to design Life Sciences II, following approval by the University's Board of Trustees Friday (Nov. 4). Rafael Viñoly Architects and Perfido Weiskopf Architects will design the facility. The decision to combine the planned projects into a single building was determined in the earliest phase of the design process, said Gary C. Schultz, senior vice president for finance and business/treasurer of the University. "In addition to accommodating the strong programmatic links, this will accelerate the completion of the Materials Science Building, reduce effects of inflation and take advantage of economies of scale," Schultz said. The building is slated to be located near the initial Life Sciences Building, between Shortlidge Mall and Bigler Road.
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Penn State preparing citizens for a diverse world
Penn State has been actively pursuing and developing ways to prepare students for a diverse and global workplace, and more will continue to be done to engage students in these endeavors, a panel of Penn State administrators told the Board of Trustees Friday (Nov. 4). Vicky Triponey, vice president for student affairs, led an informational report on preparing citizens for a diverse world. She told the board that more than a third of Penn State students reported a substantial increase in the level of their skills and comprehension related to diversity issues while at the University, while more than half of Penn State students saw a significant increase in their comfort level in working with people from different backgrounds. "This indicates that we are on the right track in our efforts to improve our students' ability to understand and value cultural diversity," Triponey said. "But we also know that this effort must be ongoing." Student affairs staff and administrators are seeking to develop strategies to engage students in learning inside and outside of the classroom, while also encouraging students to improve their ability to interact with students of different backgrounds.
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College of the Liberal Arts ranks among best in the nation
With the largest class enrollments of any college at Penn State and nearly all of its academic departments ranked nationally, the College of the Liberal Arts is meeting its strategic goal of being among the top public liberal arts colleges in the nation. "The College of the Liberal Arts is a college on the move, a college whose faculty are working at the frontiers of their disciplines while still teaching 30 percent of all the undergraduate student credit hours at University Park," said Dean Susan Welch in a report to Penn State's Board of Trustees today (Nov. 4). Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts includes almost all humanities departments at the University Park campus, including English, history, philosophy, classics and the languages; most social science departments, such as anthropology, psychology and political science; and life sciences programs in neuropsychology, anthropology-based human genetics and bio-behavioral sociology. In addition, the college has several interdisciplinary departments -- such as African-American studies and labor studies and industrial relations -- that integrate liberal arts disciplines.
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Last Updated March 19, 2009