Ivy Leaf - Spring 2006
Ten Minutes with Tony DeGol
A Penn State Altoona student in the late '80s and now a part-time lecturer in the Communications degree program, local TV news director Tony DeGol reflects on his return to Ivyside Park.
So what's it like to return to Ivyside Park?
What a difference fifteen years make! After two years at Penn State Altoona during the late '80s, it is great to be back on campus this semester, not as a student, but as a teacher. And let me say how great it is to be giving exams instead of taking them!
What about the campus seems unchanged to you …
I'm only teaching one class, two nights a week, so I'm not on campus a lot. But I'm here enough to bring back great memories. Some things are just like I left them. The reflecting pond is still a beauty and the ducks are still roaming. And it's great to see many of the same professors still here.
… and what has changed?
A lot—most notably, the technology.
E-mail was not very common when I was in college. Now, every student has a university E-mail account. Forget social security numbers—the campus now revolves around firstname.lastname@example.org. Instructors must now download class lists and record final grades online. The new Hawthorn building is home to dozens of computers and an IT department.
In the '80s, it was typical for students to walk around campus with Walkman headsets on their ears. Today, a cell phone is the must-have accessory. Student after student strolls to class talking with mom, dad, buddy, significant other, who knows? Is there even a pay phone on campus anymore?
Other than technology, what are some of the other changes you've noticed?
Growth, without a doubt. The Community Arts Center [now the Misciagna Family Center for Performing Arts] was the crown jewel of campus during my time here. It's still a gem, but now it competes with Hawthorn, a new health center, new residence halls, and more. And I see big renovations to Eiche Library have been done. Gone is the rickety white bathhouse I used to pass everyday at the Juniata Gap Road entrance. It housed the office of one of my English professors, along with a pungent odor of mildew.
But there are so many other great changes, besides physical growth. Perhaps the most significant is the addition of so many four-year degree programs. It's great to see so many students taking advantage of the opportunity. The Communications program I'm now a part of is a great example. These classes were not an option fifteen years ago.
Are there any professors you had as a student who influenced you and are still around campus today?
Absolutely. It's great to see Irene Hurd still teaching Russian 100—one of my favorite classes as an undergrad. And the last time I talked with her, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is still required reading for the course. Some things never change.
After changing my major from business to English in my sophomore year, Irene encouraged me to apply for internships with newspapers and television stations. It was good advice, and helped set me up for a great career in the television news industry. These days, it's not unusual for Irene to send communications students to me for those internships.
Another former professor of mine is now making history at Penn State Altoona. Dr. Lori Bechtel is the first female chancellor at Penn State Altoona, and we're lucky to have her. Dr. Bechtel taught health during my sophomore year. It was a great class—not just because I got an A, but because she taught it with great enthusiasm for the subject and her students.
Any thoughts on the future?
I'm thrilled to see so many great changes at Penn State Altoona over the past 15 years. And I have a feeling the best is yet to come.