Ivy Leaf - Fall 2004

Thoughts from the Dean

Dear Alumni and Friends,

I write this message to you during one of my favorite times – the start of the new academic year. Summer is relaxing and rejuvenating, but nothing matches the excitement of late August and early September…from the first-year students arriving on our campus, anxious and eager to begin a journey of personal and academic exploration, to the returning students excited to renew friendships and become reengaged in their academic pursuits.

Yet this year began with even more excitement and anticipation, as we experienced a change in our academic leadership. It was my great pleasure to share the platform during our fall academic convocation with Dr. Lori Bechtel, our new associate dean for academic affairs. Dr. Bechtel is no stranger to Penn State Altoona, having served previously as professor of biobehavioral health and also as the head of the Division of Education, Human Development and Social Sciences. After conducting a nationwide search to fill this position, the overwhelming consensus was that the person most capable to serve in this capacity was already right here at Penn State Altoona. Dr. Bechtel brings with her not only an extraordinary commitment to the success of our academic programs but also a keen sensibility about the role that each individual plays, whether faculty, staff, or member of the administration, in contributing to our success. We are most fortunate to begin this year with Dr. Bechtel at the helm of academic affairs.

But there is still more news in academics. We welcomed a new four-year degree in biology to our growing list of majors this fall semester, along with a new baccalaureate program in organizational leadership offered through our Continuing Education and Training office and the College of the Liberal Arts at University Park. The baccalaureate degree in history is under review, along with several new minor fields of study.

Our campus continues to change physically in response to how we are changing as an academic institution. The most obvious change this fall is the approaching completion of our new, 60,000 square foot, academic building. Occupancy is expected for the spring 2005 semester, and the campus community already is counting down the final days of the Birch Complex trailers.

Building projects, new degree programs and all of the other services essential to our growing and successful College certainly come at a price. Private support has always been important to us, but the changing nature of state funding and rising tuition create an especially critical time for success in external development. We are in a phenomenal period, finding new Penn State Altoona alumni from all over the country and new friends of the College. We now have five Trustee Scholarships in place and expect this number to continue to grow. We inducted over 100 individuals, couples, corporations, and foundations this fall into our Ivyside Society, a distinguished group who have provided extraordinary philanthropic support to Penn State Altoona.

But ultimately, our story is one of our students. As you read through the pages that follow, I hope that you will share my pride in our young people. They are incredible scholars, athletes, researchers, activists, artists, leaders, and servants of our community. They are what make each of our faculty and staff eager to come to work each day. They are what make this the best time of the year.