Bellisario dean discusses digital innovation with trustees

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A variety of efforts to drive innovation promise to position Penn State as a leader in teaching, research and economic development across a dynamic digital landscape in coming decades. Some of those initiatives – funded by Penn State through a grant program tied to its strategic plan – were shared with the Board of Trustees Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning during a meeting Sept. 13.

Marie Hardin, dean of the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, outlined the plan put together by an interdisciplinary group of Penn State administrators and educators. It includes goals to improve digital infrastructure, promote collaboration across areas of academic expertise in research, personalize education options for students and increase economic development throughout the Commonwealth and beyond.  

New degree programs and a University-wide center focused on security are among the educational efforts. Undergraduate degrees in data sciences and cybersecurity are designed to leverage expertise across Penn State. Likewise, the Center for Security Research and Education brings together expertise from multiple units to focus, as part of its mission, on cybersecurity. An effort is underway to explore a similar concept with a focus on data science. Another area of emphasis is on using immersive experiences in teaching, learning and research. The University’s investment in Adobe Creative Cloud access for all students, which includes tools for immersive content creation, provides foundational tools that can be deployed across courses and programs. 

The research-focused strategy aims to establish a digital infrastructure to facilitate the sharing of health-related data, increasing and streamlining opportunities for collaborations between Penn State Hershey, Commonwealth Campuses and various academic colleges at University Park. 

Initial economic development efforts have already been bolstered by initiatives from the Office of the Vice President for Research, including the launch of Invent Penn State, expansion of LaunchBoxes across Pennsylvania and building Penn State Startup Week into a broader effort to highlight entrepreneurship and innovation across campus, while providing students with the confidence, insights and knowledge necessary to pursue their own startup.

Hardin talked about two projects focused on access to broadband and wireless technologies. One is funded by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania to generate real-time mapping of broadband internet access across the Commonwealth. Penn State researchers also are working with Schlow Centre Region Library and State College Borough to extend wi-fi access through the use of TV whitespace, a model that could be replicated in communities across Pennsylvania.

Hardin and Andrew Sears, dean of the College of Information Sciences and Technology, are chairs of the committee focused on the University’s digital innovation plans. Other committee members are Kelly Austin, associate vice president for administration, Commonwealth Campuses; Jenni Evans, director, Institute for CyberScience; Michael Kubit, vice president for IT and chief information officer; James Nemes, chancellor/chief academic officer, Penn State Great Valley; and Kevin Snider, chancellor, Penn State New Kensington.

Last Updated September 13, 2018