Thoughts from the Chancellor: Dear Alumni and Friends, - Fall 2007 Ivy Leaf Magazine

Ivy Leaf - Fall 2007

Thoughts from the Chancellor

Dear Alumni and Friends,

Community matters.

There is a wonderful sense of community at Penn State Altoona. From our vibrant and congenial campus community to our students' dedication to community service and our college's commitment to revitalize and enrich the greater community in which we reside, "community" is one word that aptly describes our college.

In the most recent issue of Ivy Leaf, our students' dedication to our local and regional community was illustrated through their involvement with the Bounce Marathon raising money for Easter Seals, dancing for Penn State's THON, and providing assistance to an elderly neighbor in need through Project Paul. A wonderful illustration of faculty-student collaboration for the betterment of our community is our college's work with the Community Outreach Partnership, featured on page 18 of the fall 2006 issue and on page 6 of this issue. This partnership is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and connects faculty and students with the community in a variety of ways to enhance and promote community-based learning for the students and improve the quality of life for members of the community.

Throughout the pages of this issue, our commitment to our global community is exemplified through the Orphanage Outreach project, wherein students, faculty and—for the first time—a member of the college's Advisory Board traveled to the Dominican Republic to help educate their youth (p. 17), as well as through the work of faculty and students who traveled to Africa this past summer to work with teachers in Tanzania and refugees from Darfur (p. 14).

Another significant aspect of community outreach for our college is economic development. As chancellor of Penn State Altoona, I strongly believe in the importance of institutions of higher education partnering with economic development organizations and local government to achieve this goal. This belief has guided our college in expanding its presence in downtown Altoona and assisting the city in its efforts at downtown revitalization.

Many towns around the country—small towns like Altoona—are recreating themselves, especially where there exist nearby universities strong in science and engineering like Penn State Altoona. True to our motto, Penn State Altoona is literally "opening doors" in downtown Altoona.

Success in revitalizing any small town or urban core does not happen automatically. Towns that thrive have a vision, are forward-thinking, are willing to change, and indeed are looking to change. We are fortunate to have visionary leadership in our city, with a mayor and city council members who are committed to revitalizing our downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, as well as progressive local economic development organizations and leaders.

Shortly after becoming chancellor, I spent an afternoon with one such forward-thinking individual, a gentleman whose "can do" attitude is infectious. John Kazmaier has dedicated his life to the betterment of this community, and he is a firm believer in our capacity to revitalize downtown Altoona. He invited me to walk the avenues with him and imagine how we might be able to transform them. We toured the old Penn Furniture building and, from the fifth floor window, together we visualized the many possibilities that downtown Altoona held.

Thanks to that afternoon with John, many of these possibilities are becoming realities. We dedicated the Devorris Downtown Center and announced plans to renovate the adjacent five-story building last spring. This fall, thanks to the generosity of John Kazmaier, his wife Deedra, and mother, Jane Patterson Kazmaier Lower, Penn State Altoona will be able to renovate the former WRTA building, which has been purchased by the college. The facility will bear the Kazmaier name in recognition of the family's generosity. More information on this project will be featured in an upcoming issue of Ivy Leaf.

At the end of August, I took a stroll through downtown Altoona with Altoona's Mayor Wayne Hippo and Eric Wolf, general manager of AMTRAN. This was the second time that we walked along the streets of downtown, talking with business owners about what they could do to reinvigorate interest in the area. What we found was a general positive feeling that things are beginning to happen in downtown Altoona and overwhelming excitement about Penn State Altoona's central role in this effort.

At Penn State Altoona, community matters.