Ivy Leaf - Spring 2007

Thoughts from the Chancellor

Dear Alumni and Friends,

Every once in awhile we have an experience that makes our world pause, and in those moments we enjoy a clarity of vision, reminding us of our purpose and priorities, of who we are, and why we entered our chosen profession. I call these "renaissance moments"—they refresh our spirit, renew our commitment to our core values, and reaffirm our desire to make this world a better place. We are awakened and motivated, and we focus our efforts and actions with newfound conviction.

In the past few months I've had several such experiences.

One occurred late in the afternoon of March 2, in the Grand Ballroom in the Marriott Hotel by the Brooklyn Bridge. The room was filled with several hundred college students from around the country, each hoping to receive the Champion Award in the regional Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) competition in order to qualify for the upcoming national competition in Dallas. They came from across the country, ready to impress the judges representing various corporate sponsors for the event. Their twenty-four minute team presentations would summarize their year's work in providing service to their local communities with the goal of improving the lives of others.

Late the night before, I was fortunate to spend time with one of the recipients of the Champion Award. Like many of the other hopeful contestants, this team was rehearsing their presentation, being coached on every aspect of their speech and presentation—from gestures, content, and voice tone to inflection, mannerisms, and more—by their dedicated Penn State Altoona professors, Cynthia Wood and Donna Bon.

Watching these final preparations and the following day's competition—the energy, attention to detail, and professionalism of both students and professors—was pure magic. Listening to the goals and outcomes of our students' projects to improve the lives of children and adults in our community was pure gold. When the tournament director announced that Penn State Altoona's SIFE team won the Champion Award and would be advancing to the national competition, my heart swelled with pride, chills ran up and down my spine, and my eyes filled with tears. I had just witnessed the fulfillment of our mission of teaching, research, and service. I had just experienced a "renaissance moment."

It happened to me again during the spring performance of Ivyside Pride!, our student vocal/dance ensemble. While watching their production of "A Tribute to the Beatles," I found myself transported to another era. I vividly recalled seeing the Beatles for the first time on the Ed Sullivan show, and smiled at the memory of bringing my 45-rpm records of "She Loves You" and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" to show-and-tell in first grade. I am sure that there were others in the audience having their own personal trip down memory lane as well—all thanks to the hard work, talent, and passion of our students on that stage.

Most recently, I was privileged to attend our Student Awards Ceremony. During this evening, we celebrate the individual and collective achievements of our students. As I watched these young men and women receive their awards, I was overcome with an incredible sense of pride. And I left that evening with a renewed sense of purpose—about our college and our responsibility to fulfill its mission, about our work with our students and our community, and our work with each other.

As I look back on the many renaissance moments of this academic year, I feel hopeful for our future. And I thank each of you for the role that you have played, and continue to play, in making our world a better place for all.